Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict. We join others in thanking the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, for her briefing. We also thank the SG’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, and offer our continued support to her Office and the Team of Experts for their important work in combatting these heinous crimes.

As a member of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, the UAE would like to endorse the Group’s joint statement.

Ten years have passed since the Security Council adopted resolution 1820, for the first time recognizing that sexual violence is used as a tactic of war and is therefore a matter of international peace and security. Since then, subsequent resolutions have sought to strengthen the UN’s response to end these crimes and ensure accountability for perpetrators. They have sadly fallen short through lack of implementation.

Furthermore, the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment cannot be understated in efforts to prevent, and respond to, these crimes; in fact, gender equality and women’s empowerment – fundamental principles of the UAE’s foreign policy – are core values which can prevent violence against women when they are woven throughout society.

That is one of many reasons why the UAE stands with the Report of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, which rightly affirms that women’s physical security is inextricably linked with their political, social, and economic status and rights.

Mr. President,

Our region is one in turmoil, under siege by terrorist groups such as Da’esh, who utilize sexual violence to terrorize and displace populations. To be under Da’esh control is to live with the constant fear of rape as a weapon of punishment for resisting Da’esh’s sick world view. The gains made in the fight against Da’esh in 2017 were significant, but we must be vigilant against the continued risk of the trafficking of women and children who remain under their control.

The 2018 Report of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict makes clear that most incidents of mass rape continue to be met with mass impunity. For example, not a single member of Da’esh has been prosecuted for sexual violence offenses, to date. This sends a dangerous message to groups that utilize sexual violence as a tactic of terror, with the aim of destroying lives and communities.

This is why the situation of the Rohingya is so alarming. The mass exodus of the Rohingya community from Myanmar has created a humanitarian crisis that has rightly captured the attention of the world. The international community must ensure accountability for these victims – mainly women and girls, but also men and boys – who have been unacceptably targeted for their religion or ethnicity.

Mr. President,

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are key tenets of the UAE’s worldview. This is why “Women’s Protection and Empowerment” form one of the three pillars on which our entire Foreign Assistance Strategy rests. It is through the mainstreaming of these ideals in our global engagement that we can prevent sexual violence in conflict by creating stable, tolerant, and prosperous societies.

We must intensify efforts to combat impunity for these crimes and to utilize the tools of the United Nations and the Security Council more effectively to ensure accountability.

With UAE support, the UN’s Team of Experts has carried out its vital Security Council mandate to strengthen Member States’ capacity to address sexual violence in conflict in some of the world’s most challenging contexts.  The UAE encourages other Member States to support their work.

Mr. President,

The UAE believes that smart foreign policy is inclusive foreign policy – one that puts the rights of women front and center and at the heart of our collective response. The UAE will continue to do all that it can to address these crimes, and to continue to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as a critical element of this agenda. 

Thank you.