NATO Statement in the UN Security Council on conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence
Thank you for the opportunity to address the Security Council, as the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, at this important open debate on preventing sexual violence in conflict, through empowerment, gender equality and access to justice.
NATO’s mandate is based on the Alliance’s core values: democracy, individual liberty, and rule of law; themes that resonate so clearly with the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
The adoption of the Women, Peace and Security resolutions and the work by this Council established a new course in understanding and responding to the grievous, systematic sexual abuse of women, girls, men and boys in and around conflict. Awareness that CRSV not only effects women and girls, but entire communities, is now entrenched in our collective thinking.
The international community has a responsibility to better protect women; but protection cannot exist without the promotion of women’s rights and acceptance that their full participation in all decision-making is critical.
The elevation of sexual violence as a peace and security issue has led to an increased expectation that actors, including NATO, take a more prominent role in addressing this issue. Without adequate response, CRSV will continue to significantly jeopardise stabilisation efforts as well as sustainable post-conflict reconstruction.
At NATO we understand that protection is at the core of the Women, Peace and Security mandate. NATO-led forces have a responsibility to protect and defend women against violence, but we also recognize this cannot be separated from the issue of empowerment and participation.
There can be no protection without participation.
NATO responds to sexual violence as a part of its comprehensive approach and holistic framework. Under the auspices of the NATO Policy and Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, we highlight that a response is needed within the wider framework of Women, Peace and Security. The development of the military guidelines to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual and gender based violence has given us base from which to work and serve as a practical tool for commanders to address and respond to CRSV.
But we also recognise that efforts must be coordinated with other international organisations and civil society.
For this reason we have established a Civil Society Advisory Panel to garner the views of women not only from within our borders, but also, and more importantly, the views of women from the crisis areas, to help steer our work. Women simply must be visible in voicing mechanisms for protection.
Earlier this year, NATO joined forces with the UN Special Envoy Ms. Angelina Jolie to advance the issue of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence by mainstreaming efforts through all our core tasks and functions and bringing light to what has often been hidden. We believe that NATO has an opportunity to be a leading protector of women’s rights, drawing on the strengths and capabilities of its nations, and working with its more than forty partner countries.
In NATO we tackle protection through a holistic approach to address the wider issues that affect women in conflict and post conflict. We equally focus on the importance of protecting women and girls from violence and the criticality of supporting and enhancing women’s participation.
We recognize that the best defence against sexual violence is prevention. We must make gender equality a central tenant of all our efforts to bring to light abuse and emphasize and expand areas of prevention. The adoption of early warning indicators, strengthened civil society dialogue, and reinforced public diplomacy has reinforced all our efforts
Ultimately in tackling the issue of abuse, and addressing sexual violence against women and girls, we do more than help individual victims, we set a tone for the respect for fundamental dignities and human rights. By doing this we can lay a foundation for lasting stability.