Allow me to begin by thanking you for organizing this open debate of the Security Council. I also wish to thank the distinguished speakers for their important statements and to reiterate Italy’s full support for the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on sexual violence in conflict.
Italy welcomes the adoption by the Security Council of a resolution on sexual violence in conflict. The resolution signals the commitment of the Council to address a key issue for international peace and security. We expect the resolution to give new momentum to the implementation of the women and peace and security agenda.
Italy aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union, and I wish to make the following additional remarks in a national capacity.
We appreciate the focus of this debate on impunity for sexual violence crimes. We cannot expect to eradicate sexual violence if we do not ensure that those who are responsible are systematically brought to justice and that reparation is offered to the victims and survivors. Impunity makes those responsible of crimes confident enough to use sexual violence as a tactic of war. Impunity takes away the hopes for justice from victims and survivors. Impunity is a stumbling block in rebuilding peaceful societies after conflicts.
I will focus on six specific points.
First – the importance of providing timely and accurate information to the Council. Regular briefings to the Security Council by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and by UN Women; enhancing the UN monitoring, analysis and reporting mechanism; and systematic inclusion of women’s protection advisers on peacekeeping and political missions can strengthen the capacity of the Council to effectively respond to impunity.
Second – strict implementation of zero tolerance policies toward sexual misconduct by peacekeeping, political and peacebuilding personnel. These actors are the face of the United Nations for the people who are suffering from the plague of conflict. They must ensure the highest standards of respect of human rights and humanitarian law and be accountable for its violations.
Third – address sexual violence in peace agreements. Sexual violence should be included in the definition of acts prohibited by ceasefires. The principle of no amnesty for perpetrators of sexual violence crimes should be always respected. The participation of women in peace negotiations and ceasefires are the best way to ensure that these issues are not traded-off for other agendas.
Fourth – support to national authorities in their efforts to fight against impunity. Governments have the primary responsibility to protect their population from sexual violence and to ensure that justice is done. The international community must stand ready to provide technical assistance and capacity-building, and to help strengthen the rule of law, which represents the best institutional safeguard against these crimes. The United Nations has a key role to play, as proven by the work done by the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict. Former judges and staff of United Nations’ Ad Hoc Tribunals are potential resources that should not be lost. Peacekeepers could be trained and tasked to investigate on crimes of sexual violence. Cooperation with civil society organizations, particularly women-led civil-society organizations, is also essential.
Fifth – enhanced cooperation between the Security Council and the International Criminal Court, particularly when dealing with sexual violence cases. Perpetrators of large scale sexual violence should never benefit from differences within the Council on a specific situation. Well-documented crimes should act as a clear basis for “fast-track” referrals by the Council to the ICC.
Sixth and last – comprehensive strategies. As much as we are committed to bringing to justice the perpetrators of sexual violence, we must give equal priority to the health, safety and the dignity of survivors. National and international programmes for post-conflict reconstruction must ensure that their needs are met and their voices are heard. All forms of reparation and redress must follow a victim-centered approach.
Italy has placed the protection of women from sexual violence high in its human rights policy. Last week the Italian Parliament ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. We strongly encourage States to ratify this important instrument. Moreover, the Italian National Action Plan on the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 includes specific provisions addressing sexual violence in conflict. National action plans are an important tool to advance the agenda at the domestic level. Finally, Italy will enhance its support for the United Nations Trust Fund on Violence against Women, the global grant-making mechanism dedicated to addressing violence against women and girls in all of its forms, including sexual violence.
To conclude, today we must all send a strong message to the perpetrators of sexual violence: sexual violence is NOT cost free. The more seriously we endeavor to make this message a reality, the closer we will come to finally relegating rape in war to history books.