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Consiglio di Sicurezza – Dibattito aperto su Donne, Pace e Sicurezza

Discorso pronunciato dall’Italia al dibattito in Consiglio di Sicurezza su “Women, peace and security: preventing sexual violence in conflict through empowerment, gender equality and access to justice” —

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to commend the Peruvian Presidency for today’s debate, particularly for the angle that you have chosen, and thank all the briefers for the insightful and informative contributions.

Italy aligns with the statements delivered by the EU and by Canada on behalf of the Group of Friends on Women, Peace and Security.

Mr. President,

our concerns about the use of sexual and gender-based violence have deepened, particularly for two reasons. First, the widespread and systematic use of sexual violence by terrorist and violent extremist groups. Secondly, the increased vulnerability of migrants, especially women and girls, to trafficking for the purposes of sexual and other forms of exploitation. Women and girls fleeing conflict must be afforded safe passage and protection, including from sexual and gender-based violence, while in transit and at their final destinations.

For these reasons, last year Italy promoted the adoption of resolution 2388 with the concurrence of the Council, which further explores the nexus between trafficking in persons and conflict-related sexual violence as laid down in resolutions 2242 and 2331 with special attention to the trafficking of children in conflict situations. We encourage the Security Council to keep the attention high on these issues and to ensure a follow-up to those resolutions.

Mr. President,

Conflict-related sexual violence can be prevented, and more effectively addressed, through the empowerment of women, gender equality and accountability for the crimes perpetrated.

First of all, the empowerment of women is key to any strategy that aims to help women take control of their lives and prevent them from falling prey to sexual violence, in conflict and non-conflict situations. In keeping with the Secretary-General’s commitment to women’s leadership and gender equality as a vital element of his prevention agenda, Italy launched the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network. The Mediterranean region, as we all know, is key to international peace and security, is currently facing a number of threats, including violent extremism, transnational organized crime, human trafficking and humanitarian emergencies. In such a context, women can effectively help countries prevent conflicts and strengthen national reconciliation processes by ensuring a gendered and inclusive perspective on issues such as security, justice and governance, which are often the root causes of violent conflicts. The Network is specifically aiming at increasing the number of women involved in peacemaking efforts, and at facilitating the appointment of women mediators and Special Envoys at a local and international level, notably in the Mediterranean region.

Accountability. Prevention fails if there are no consequences to sexual and gender-based violence. At a national level, we must assist governments in strengthening accountability for these crimes. This is what we are doing with the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units in Vicenza, which provides high-quality training and specialized courses for peacekeepers on the “prevention and investigation of sexual and gender-based violence”. At a global level, the Statute of the International Criminal Court expressly lists various forms of sexual and gender-based crimes as underlying acts of both crimes against humanity and war crimes. In this context, we welcome the recent surrendering of Al Hassan Abdul Aziz, wanted for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Mali, including rape, forced marriage and sexual slavery. Justice, if appropriately supported, including by this Council, can become a relevant deterrent for human rights violations.

The Council can do so also by imposing targeted sanctions against individuals who have committed sexual violence, like in January 2017 when sexual and gender-based violence was included as a stand-alone designation criterion in the renewal of sanctions in the Central African Republic. The Security Council certainly has the potential to create deterrence by imposing targeted sanctions. It is necessary to ensure that sanctions are effectively implemented in order to increase the cost of allowing or using sexual violence in conflict.

Indeed, only when the cost of this weapon – sexual violence – becomes visibly more expensive to its perpetrators, will there be a significant step towards the eradication and the prevention of this scourge.

I thank you.