Mr. President, Lord Ahmad,
I would like to begin by thanking you and welcoming you for chairing this important open debate. We are delighted that the UK has joined the shared Women, Peace and Security Presidency Commitments, and we welcome the growing number of signatories. I would also like to thank Special Representative Pramila Patten for her detailed briefing and the critical work of her office. I also want to thank Ms. Murad for her insightful briefing. The UAE has always admired Ms Murad’s courageous work and we are proud to support Nadia’s Initiative, her non-profit empowering the brave Yazidi women of Iraq. I listened also carefully to the briefings by Ms Karkoutly andMs. Berhanu.
Sexual and gender-based violence is a despicable scourge, and this Council must do more to prevent it in conflict situations. When such violence is used as a tool of war, it exacerbates conflict and sets back progress towards inclusive, equal, and stable societies. As the rate of conflict and instability around the world increases, so too have the disturbing reports on the situation of women and girls in these settings.
Women and girls in Afghanistan continue to be subjected to sexual slavery and rape. In Syria and Iraq, the heineous acts of Da’esh continue to have an impact. At the Ukrainian border, women and girls are targeted by human and sex traffickers as they flee the conflict, and as we also heard today, the tragic experiences women and girls face in many other conflict settings.
The United Arab Emirates therefore welcomes the focus on structural prevention, resilience-building, and accountability in the Secretary-General’s report this year. As members of the international community, the Security Council and the wider UN Membership have a responsibility to prioritize prevention, ensure accountability, and end this horror. In this regard, we would like to make the following recommendations:
First, the most effective response to sexual and gender-based violence is preventing it from happening in the first place. As the Special Representative has pointed out time and again, effective prevention strategies require addressing root causes, most notably structural gender inequality and harmful social norms. This includes strengthening women and girls’ resilience by ensuring they enjoy equal access to public life, education, and economic participation. Recognizing and understanding their role as active agents of change and dynamic members of society is thus the first step in prevention.
Second, accountability needs to be pursued by upholding and strengthening the rule of law. There is a transformative period following conflict and crisis to strengthen the capacity of relevant national institutions, such as law enforcement and the security sector, so that they may better uphold the rule of law. Capacity-building, if coupled with the deployment of gender and protection expertise that focuses on a survivor-centered approach, can be a critical tool to establish a system that promotes accountability.
Third, the international community must hold non-state armed groups accountable for conflict-related sexual violence, not least because they are increasingly central actors in conflict settings. Grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law require accountability. A strong tool for the Security Council to achieve this is to include conflict-related sexual violence as a stand-alone designation criterion for sanctions and to list individuals and entities whenever they are responsible for the commission of such acts. In this regard, we welcome the recent decision made by this very Council to designate the Houthis as an entity, including for perpetrating a policy of sexual violence in conflict. Efforts like these contribute to the prevention of and response to these crimes on the ground, and Council members must remain consistent in their approach.
In conclusion, there is no justification for the fact that conflict-related sexual violence remains a reality. The Council, the UN, its Member States, the private sector, and civil society must work together and make it a priority to eliminate these crimes once and for all.
I thank you, Mr. President.