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Sexual violence in conflict: Massari urges prevention and response to criminal abuses

NEW YORK, JULY 14 – Addressing a Security Council debate on the theme of “sexual violence in conflict,” Italy’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Maurizio Massari, urged higher level action not just on prevention, but also on response to criminal abuse, including services for victims and mechanisms to ensure accountability. “Safe spaces” for participation is key, said the Italian diplomat, 

This year the United Nations celebrate the 15th anniversary of the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1820 (2008) that has established conflict related sexual violence as a self-standing security issue. Since then, the UN have built up a more robust normative framework to address this issue, in particular by establishing the mandate of the Special Representative. We reiterate our strong support for the mandate and the work of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, and the Team of Experts.

Massari highlighted a disturbing reality where conflicts increase by frequency, scope and intensity. Sexual violence, slavery and exploitation proliferate also in the context of internal and cross-border displacement, protracted displacement, abduction and trafficking. The respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law is being challenged to an unprecedented extent.

“We express our deep concern for the blurring of distinction of the responsibilities between State and non-State actors, highlighted in the SG Report, which complicates the attribution for the heinous crimes and undermines accountability. We condemn the use of sexual violence as a deliberated warfare tactic and we join the call of the members of the Group of Friends of WPS to urge the Security Council to use all tools at its disposal to support effective action against conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon of war. We also recognize the important role of the International Criminal Court in investigating and prosecuting sexual violence within the context of armed conflicts in accordance with its mandate under the Rome Statute and relevant Security Council resolutions”, he said.

Prevention is key to disrupt the gender inequality entrenched in harmful social norms and practices: “On the other, we must act on response, to remove the multiple barriers that hinder access to services, to reporting and to formal justice. We must invest in programs and policies aimed at ensuring that assistance (physical, psychological and legal) is accessible and safe for victims and survivors, free from fear of social stigma, intimidation and reprisal. We must invest in gender-responsive security and justice sector reforms. We must ensure that these same principles be embedded in the training of military personnel deployed at the national level, as well as in UN peace-keeping and special political missions”, said the Italian Ambassador.

Massari then pointed to the crucial framework offered to the international community by the Women, Peace and Security agenda and calling on the international community to reaffirm, in this context, the commitment to address the root causes of conflict and the structural gender inequalities and barriers hindering the full enjoyment of rights by all women and girls in all spheres of public and political life. (@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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