Allow me to begin by thanking you for organizing this open debate of the Security Council, and by complimenting the Secretary-General and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict on their important statements. I also wish to assure the Special Representative of the Italian Government’s full support for the fulfillment of her mandate.
Italy aligns itself with the statements delivered by the European Union and by the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, and I wish to make the following remarks in a national capacity.
The Secretary-General’s report on sexual violence in conflict gives us a comprehensive picture of a daunting challenge for the international community. In far too many conflict-related situations, women, men and children are not protected from these international crimes. We are particularly concerned by the serious human rights violations in northern Mali, including rape; by the heightened risk of rape for refugees and internally displaced persons and the perpetration of rape and sexual violence in detention centers in Syria; and by the alarming number of incidents of sexual violence in Somalia last year. We also note with concern emerging trends such as the perpetration of sexual violence against men and boys, the plight of children born as a result of a rape, and the practice of forced marriages by armed groups.
There are key early-warning and conflict-prevention tools that the international community can use to prevent such heinous acts. For example, timely briefings to the Security Council by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and by UN Women; the roll-out of UN-system monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements; and the inclusion of women’s protection advisers on peacekeeping missions and political missions.
At the same time, we need a powerful response. Again, the Security Council needs to step up pressure on perpetrators of sexual violence in armed conflicts through the adoption of targeted measures by the relevant sanctions committee. When there is no ad hoc committee, the Council should close any protection or impunity gaps. The Council should incorporate measures on sexual violence in all relevant country resolutions and in the authorization and renewal of peacekeeping and special political mission mandates. The commitments of the parties to a conflict should be monitored and followed up, and a zero-tolerance policy should be taken toward sexual misconduct also by peacekeeping, political and peacebuilding personnel.
International justice has placed a welcome emphasis on combating sexual violence as a complement to national efforts, in particular under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Comprehensive justice strategies are essential, including accountability and reparation following a victim-centered approach. The Security Council should also contribute to ensuring that there no safe havens for perpetrators of sexual violence in armed conflict.
Cooperation with civil society organizations, particularly women-led civil-society organizations, should accompany these actions. Governments must ensure the protection of women’s human rights defenders, who face particular risks in conflict situations.
In March the Commission on the Status of Women approved agreed conclusions with a strong condemnation of all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence. The Arms Trade Treaty adopted by the General Assembly just this month obliges States Parties to take into account the risk of conventional arms being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence. The G8 made a strong commitment to address impunity and prevent sexual violence in conflict. Italy has always supported all these commitments, which must now be followed by concrete actions.
As a supporter of the landmark Security Council Resolution 1820, Italy is convinced of the evident connection between ending sexual violence and promoting peace and security. This is why the Italian National Action Plan on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 includes specific provisions to address sexual violence in conflict. The 2013 Italian Development Cooperation strategy includes capacity-building activities and assistance to survivors in Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Sudan, and Syria. The Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units, the Vicenza-based training center created by the Italian government in 2005, systematically includes the prevention of sexual violence in their courses for peacekeepers.
Let me conclude by urging everyone not to forget that the primary responsibility for addressing sexual violence still lies with the States, as the Secretary-General indicates in his call for national ownership and leadership. As responsible Governments, we owe this to the survivors of sexual violence, and the families of the victims. Italy stands ready to assist and support such efforts.
DISCORSO PRONUNCIATO DAL VICE RAPPRESENTANTE PERMANENTE D’ITALIA PRESSO L’ONU, AMB. ANTONIO BERNARDINI, AL DIBATTITO IN CONSIGLIO DI SICUREZZA SU DONNE, PACE E SICUREZZA (17 aprile 2013)