UN SECURITY COUNCIL OPEN DEBATE ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT
13 April 2022
Statement by H.E. The Hon. Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Australia thanks the United Kingdom for convening today’s Open Debate and for its continued leadership on sexual violence in conflict.
Australia also thanks today’s briefers and we welcome the Secretary-General’s analysis and recommendations presented in his report.
Women and girls do continue to face appalling levels of sexual violence in conflict-affected settings, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Syria and Iraq.
We are also concerned by increasing reports of acts of sexual violence against women and girls in Ukraine.
Australia very much supports the work of the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine that will investigate all alleged violations and abuses of human rights.
Australia is gravely concerned by the ongoing use of military interventions at the expense of political processes, and the devastating and disproportionate affects these actions have on women and girls.
The ongoing targeting, including through sexual violence and harassment, of women peacebuilders and human rights defenders, is unacceptable.
We must ensure that women, girls, men and boys affected by sexual violence have access to comprehensive support including sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial, legal, and other crisis support services.
Australia is proud to partner with the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the United Kingdom, UNFPA, UNHCR, International Rescue Committee and INGOs, including Danish Refugee Council, to provide these support services.
For our part, the second Australian National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2021-2031 uses a survivor-centred approached to reduce sexual and gender-based violence and to increase access to justice.
In almost all settings covered in the Secretary-General’s report, impunity for crimes of conflict-related sexual violence remains the norm and the pace of justice remains unacceptably slow.
Gender advisors are critical to embedding gender-responsive planning and resourcing into peace operations, and to advancing prevention, protection, compliance, accountability, and justice for survivors.
Australia trains and deploys military and civilian gender advisers on military, police, humanitarian, relief and recovery, and crisis management operations and missions.
We also support the Elsie Initiative and Female Military Officers’ Course, promoting the meaningful representation of uniformed women across all levels of UN peace operations.
Australia is also a founding member of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies. We are proud to work with diverse regional and global partners in this endeavour.
Australia strongly condemns sexual violence in conflict and rape as weapons of war.
Efforts to prevent and resolve conflict cannot be separated from efforts to address gender-based violence. We must do more.
We must put an end to sexual violence against women and girls in conflict if we are to fulfil the promise of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.