by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Digital Dialogue on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence online event
Thank you so much Clare.
And thank you for organizing this event, to mark the international day for the elimination of sexual violence in conflict.
Your Royal Highness, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, United Nations Special Representative Ms. Patten, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ms. Murad,
It is a great pleasure to see you all and let me thank you all for your co leadership and your tireless commitment.
Peace and security has been NATO’s job for 70 years. Of course, the idea of what it means to ensure security has evolved over these years. Suffering and destruction can come from missiles and bombs. But also from sexual violence. It is as destructive as the most advances and modern weapons. It leaves physical and mental scars. It destroys individuals, families and entire communities. And it leaves a profound impact on this generation and the next.
Therefore we must all do everything we can to stop this intolerable violence used against so many women and men, boys and girls.
NATO is playing its part. We train our soldiers, our commanders and our partners in the field to help prevent conflict-related sexual violence. And to recognise and report this crime to ensure that any incidents are flagged and threats are reduced.
NATO has stopped brutal wars in the Western Balkans, where rape and other forms of sexual violence were common practice. And we have a record of fighting extremist groups that have the oppression of women at their core.
For nearly two decades we have been in Afghanistan, helping to empower women and defend basic human rights.
NATO and all NATO Allies are part of the Global Coalition that liberated the vast territory and the millions of people that ISIS had captured.
Today, we train and advise the security forces in Iraq to make sure that ISIS does not come back. And can never commit atrocities such as the ones we witnessed against Yazidi women and children.
I recently launched my vision for NATO 2030, NATO for the next decade.
To advise me I appointed a group of ten experts. Five women and five men. NATO 2030 is about the future of our Alliance. So it must also be about human security issues. Only be addressing them will NATO remain the most successful Alliance in history.
NATO’s efforts to fight conflict-related sexual violence will be captured in the new NATO policy. It will provide the foundation for the continued commitment to this fight.
Sexual violence continues to be perpetrated on a large scale in many conflicts around the world. It is a clear obstacle to peace and security. That is why we all have an urgent responsibility to do more.
We need political and diplomatic efforts, to solve the conflicts that generate the breeding ground for sexual violence.
We need legal istruments to reveal the atrocities. Hold the perpetrators accountable. And bring justice to the victims. Impunity is not an option.
And we also need military means, to defeat ISIS and fight other terrorists groups that have sexual violence as an integral part of their strategy.
But most of all, we need to raise awareness. It is a pre-condition for any action. That is why this conference today is so important.
I want to thank you all for joining us today.
And for the work you all do to make sure that political decision-makers, military leaders, the media, the broader public never forget the brutality and the inhumanity of sexual violence in conflict.
Thank you and I wish you a productive discussion this afternoon.