Discorso pronunciato dall’Italia alla Riunione della Terza Commissione sul “10-Year Anniversary of the Establishment of the Mandate on Sexual Violence in Conflict” —
I would like to thank South Africa and the office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict for organizing this important event to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the mandate of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
The live testimony of the courageous survivors who shared their stories with us, today, reminded us once again that fighting the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence must remain a priority for all of us. For Italy, it is indeed at the top of our agenda: it was pivotal during our last term in the Security Council in 2017 and we continue to devote to it our greatest attention as we plan further initiatives in view of the twentieth anniversary of UNSCR 1325.
In his 2019 Report on Conflict Related Sexual Violence, the Secretary General described a picture that remains utterly gloomy: sexual related crimes continue to be used, all too often, as part of a global war strategy by State and non-State actors, and States continue to face frequent setbacks when exercising the responsibility to protect their nationals. Even though progress towards combating the culture of impunity has been made in some countries, accountability and non-compliance with UNSC resolutions are still an open wound, and much remains to be done. As we had the chance to express during the Open Debate of last April, Italy is ready to support the horizontal recommendations set forth by the Secretary General.
In particular, we support the inclusion of sexual violence as an automatic and independent designation criterion in all relevant sanction regimes. We also agree that the work of the Security Council should benefit from a more systematic involvement of the International Criminal Court. When investigations and prosecutions by national or international courts are not possible, the Security Council should create international fact-finding mechanisms in order to conduct gender-sensitive investigations, and ensure the collection and preservation of evidence.
Tackling the root causes of violence is key, as the prevention of systematic sexual violence begins in times of peace, when national laws should be sufficiently robust to prevent permissive attitudes in wartime. Training on gender sensitivity and the prevention of sexual exploitation should be a mandatory component of national military and police training, as well as pre-deployment and in-mission training of all UN Peacekeeping and civilian personnel. To this end, Italy stands ready to provide its contribution through the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) in Vicenza, offering specialized courses on the rule of law, protection of civilians, sexual and gender-based violence in conflict, and the WPS Agenda.
Establishing a stronger women presence in UN missions should also be a priority, in order to facilitate the dialogue with local populations and encourage victims to speak out. At the same time, it is fundamental to assist Countries in situations of conflict in reforming their judicial systems and strengthening the rule of law and the accountability mechanisms.
We concur on the need of a survivor-centered approach: the international community should provide appropriate reintegration support, in order to restore the social fabric of societies after conflict. This includes reaffirming our commitment to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right of every individual to have full control and responsibly over their sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence.
Italy is the largest contributor to the UN Trust Fund on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. The launch of a new Fund for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence is timely and important, and we will positively consider the possibility of contributing.
Finally, female leadership opportunities are essential for prevention and reconciliation: violence stems from deeply entrenched patriarchal societal rules, which can only be dismantled through the active engagement of women in the decision-making system.
Involving the civil society is also key to achieve sustainable results over the years. The presence in this room of the Nobel Prize laureates Dr. Denis Mukwege and Ms. Nadia Murad is the paramount evidence of the essential role that the civil society can play.
Let me conclude by reaffirming once again, as stated during yesterday’s Open debate, Italy’s strong commitment to the WPS agenda and, in this context, to the fight against sexual violence in conflicts. We will continue to support fully the work of the Secretary-General and that of his Special Representative in order to pursue greater and increasingly tangible results in this field.