UNSC humanitarian briefing on Ukraine 6 June 2022
(Sexual violence and trafficking of women and children)
Statement of Italy, delivered by Amb. Maurizio Massari, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations
Thank you, Mr. President,
I want to thank Albania for organizing this timely meeting and the briefers for their insightful description of the situation on the ground. Italy aligns itself with the statement delivered by the President of the European Council and would like to add some remarks in its national capacity.
During all conflicts, including in this illegal and unjustified war launched by Russia the internally displaced and refugee women and girls are the groups at higher risk of sexual violence.
As we have heard by the Special Rapporteur Patten, in addition to this already alarming situation, Ukrainian women are facing the risk of trafficking, yet another channel for sexual violence and exploitation.
In fact, women continue to represent the vast majority of victims of trafficking. Such women, who are often mothers, are attacked as symbolic representatives of their people. Rape is indeed like a military aggression on an individual scale, used also as a psychological tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instill fear in, and then forcibly relocate the children of the victims through trafficking or forced adoptions.
In this regard, it is important to strongly reiterate the extent to which minors are also the main victims of this conflict. They experience both its immediate and indirect consequences: the loss of their parents, of their Country, their schools, and their homes; factors that may result in the loss of a future. Displaced and refugee children are indeed less safe and more exposed to violence and trafficking.
These considerations prompted Italy to include the issue of trafficking of persons in conflict among the priorities of its last mandate at the Security Council in 2017. Our efforts resulted in a unanimous adoption by the Council of Resolution 2388 on combating trafficking of persons, which emphasizes the urgency to strengthen protection and assistance for displaced persons falling prey to trafficking, especially women and children.
Italy also believes that the response to this terrible phenomenon should be based on a common understanding and a widely accepted legal framework. Therefore, we support the universal ratification and full implementation of the UN Palermo Convention and the related Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, adopted in Italy more than 20 years ago.
The rape of women in armed conflicts can’t go unpunished. To avoid the risk of impunity, we must also increase the risk of legal consequences for all those who commit this barbaric war crime. The blatant non-compliance with UNSC Resolutions and International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law in this conflict, show us that much remains to be done.
The work of the Security Council, if not hindered by the abuse of the veto power, can benefit from a more systematic involvement of International Justice. However, when investigations and prosecutions by national or international courts are impossible or ineffective, the General Assembly should consider creating international fact-finding mechanisms in order to conduct gender-sensitive investigations and ensure the collection and preservation of evidence.
At the same time, it is crucial to assist Countries in situations of conflict in strengthening the rule of law and accountability mechanisms. Italy welcomes the Framework of Cooperation on Prevention and Accountability for Sexual Violence in Conflict, recently signed by the Government of Ukraine and the UN Special Representative, Pramila Patten.
In addition to accountability, we have only another form of prevention of sexual violence and trafficking in this conflict: namely, humanitarian assistance to protect women and children from the heinous crimes that are currently being committed in Ukraine. We must use them both.
In conclusion, of course the true solution to this problem, needless to say, is to stop the war, and we reiterate our call on Russian Federation to stop it.
I thank you.