Delivered by: His Excellency Mohamed Abushahab, Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to thank the United Kingdom for organising this important debate and its unwavering dedication to the cause of ending sexual violence in conflict once and for all. I would also like to thank you, Lord Ahmad, for presiding over this meeting.

I also thank Special Representative Patten for her detailed briefing today and reaffirm our full support for her mandate and the tireless work of her Office. We listened carefully to Ms Nah and Ms Nadine, and I want thank Ms Nadine in particular for sharing her personal and heart-wrenching testimony with us today. The voices and recommendations of survivors are critical for this Council’s work.

The United Arab Emirates condemns all acts of sexual and gender-based violence, particularly in conflict. As co-chair of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security, alongside Switzerland, and as a member of the International Alliance on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, a UK-led Initiative, the UAE remains a steadfast partner in strengthening the global response to these crimes.

Fifteen years have passed since this very Council adopted Resolution 1820, which condemned sexual violence as a tactic of war and an obstacle to peacebuilding. Since then, the international community has taken important steps, but much remains to be done.

In this regard, I wish to share three points today.

First, we need to bolster survivors’ access to necessary services and support.

This requires taking into consideration the needs of women and girls, from early warning mechanisms to humanitarian aid provision. These efforts can only be successful if carried out with a whole-of-society approach, throughout the entire conflict continuum. We must include women and youth, as well as religious, community, and education leaders, in the design and implementation of gender-responsive strategies. These, in turn, can act as one of the key pathways to the prevention of such crimes. This is critical across ongoing conflicts, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, where we continue to receive increasing reports of conflict-related sexual violence.

Second, prevention of these crimes demands strengthened national judicial institutions and consistent implementation of the rule of law.

National authorities with robust judicial institutions stand a much better chance of countering sexual and gender-based violence. This could certainly be the case in Haiti, where gangs employ these heinous acts as a weapon to terrorise, abuse, and control populations.

The UN’s capacity building expertise should also be leveraged to bolster survivor-centred justice and accountability. This includes supporting those who are uniquely positioned to engage with national government entities, such as peace operations, as well as engaging with entities with expertise, such as the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence.

Close cooperation with the Office of the Special Representative [of the Secretary General] on Sexual Violence in Conflict and UN Women can also strengthen global norms and standards for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. To this end, I am pleased to share that last month, the UAE renewed its commitment to UN Women and pledged an additional USD 15 million over the next three years.

Third, we must utilise technology and education to combat the shifting nature of these crimes.

In recent years, the threat has metastasized from a physical threat to one that pervades the online space.

When the threats evolve, so too must our tools to protect against them.

We do not need to be overly creative, even commonly used digital technologies, such as WhatsApp, can provide access to reporting mechanisms and protection networks. Echoing Shabana Basij-Rasikh during the Afghanistan briefing last month, ensuring equal access to technology can be a lifeline to women and girls at risk.

Education must also be deployed to tackle the root causes of these crimes, such as gender discrimination, hate speech and incitement to violence. Education has the potential to promote gender equality and eliminate stigma. Just last month, this Council unanimously adopted resolution 2686, co-led by the UAE and the UK, which urged Member States to support quality education that promotes the principles of tolerance to prevent sexual and gender-based violence.

Mr. President,

To conclude, we have seen promising progress. In the normative framework, there are women’s protection advisers in UN peace operations and these abhorrent crimes are included as a listing criterion in various UN sanctions regimes. Reparations for survivors, as well as increased access to data also speak to the direction of travel of our efforts.

By enhancing our commitment and advancing these gains, the international community can better address these heinous crimes and provide women and girls with the protection and dignity they need and deserve.

We have the mechanisms in place, it is high time for their implementation. 

Thank you, Mr. President.