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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at Security Council open VTC on Sexual Violence in Conflict

2020/07/17

Mr. President,

China commends the German Presidency for hosting this morning’s open debate. I thank SRSG Pramilla Patten and Special Envoy Angelina Jolie for their briefings. I also thank civil society representatives for their presentations.

The year 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the World Conference on Women in Beijing and the 20th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325. It is an important moment to reflect upon and renew our commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and also to the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

Throughout the years, many actions have been taken to advance the development of women and girls, across economic, social, political, and peace and security domains. Meanwhile, gaps remain between words and actions, ambition and reality. Women and girls are still bearing the brunt of wars, suffering the most from terrorism and displacement, and are at particular risk of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations.

China strongly condemns sexual violence in conflict, especially the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war and terror. Taking this opportunity, I would like to highlight three points.

First, all countries should work together to build a peaceful and prosperous world free from conflict. As Secretary General pointed out in his recent report, the ultimate goal of the agenda of sexual violence in conflict is not a “war without sexual violence”, but a world without wars. The best and most effective way to protect women, girls and other vulnerable groups from sexual violence is to prevent conflicts from happening and resolve these conflicts by peaceful means.

Therefore, the international community needs to redouble its efforts to preserve peace for development, promote development for peace, and address the root causes of armed conflicts. The Security Council should effectively implement its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, by promoting peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue, mediation and negotiation, and ensuring the timely and complete implementation of the resolutions it has adopted.

In this context, we reiterate our strong support for Secretary-General Guterres’ Appeal for a global ceasefire, and urge all parties to conflicts to heed this appeal and realize a general and immediate cessation of hostilities.

Second, a holistic approach is needed to promote gender equality, advance women’s empowerment and address sexual violence in conflict.

The spirit of the Women, Peace and Security agenda is recognizing women not only as victims of war, but as contributors to peace with strength and expertise. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are key to this transformation and for women to fulfill their potential.

We need to intensify efforts on gender equality, to remove structural disparities, eliminate discrimination and stereotypes, and ensure women’s equal access to education, health care, and decent work. We also need to move faster on empowerment of women, to lift them out of poverty, increase their representation and leadership in decision-making, and strengthen their role in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

As the Secretary General observed in his report, sexual violence in conflict doesn’t occur in a vacuum, it is often linked with factors such as resurgence of hostilities, collapse of the rule of law, mass displacement, rise of terrorism and violent extremism, etc.

We need to adopt a holistic and comprehensive approach in combating sexual violence in conflict, making sure that the proposed solutions take economic, political, counter-terrorism, security and humanitarian aspects all into consideration. Our response must tackle both immediate threats and long-term consequences, and should be carried out in a coordinated and integrated manner.

Third, we need to join hands to eliminate sexual violence in conflict while respecting national sovereignty and ownership.

Building on the existing normative and institutional framework, we must support actions on preventing and deterring sexual violence at national, regional and international levels. We must do our best to protect and assist survivors, always prioritizing their needs and rights, and hold the perpetrators accountable.

In this connection, the countries concerned bear the primary responsibility. As almost all governments whose national forces listed in the Secretary-General’s report have assumed formal commitments in this regard, it’s time to fill the gap between commitments and implementation.

The international community should step up its assistance to relevant countries for national capacity-building. In the meantime, national sovereignty, jurisdiction and legal systems, and the principle of non-interference into other countries’ internal affairs must be fully respected.

UN bodies including the Security Council, General Assembly, ECOSOC and UN Women, special representatives and envoys of the Secretary-General, and UN missions on the ground, should work within their respective mandates and intensify coordination to create synergy. Any mechanism operating in the name of the Security Council should follow the Council’s rules and practice. Regional and sub-regional organizations are well informed of local context and can therefore play an important role and provide customized suggestions.

Mr. President,

As the host country of the Fourth World Conference on Women, China is firmly committed to gender equality and women empowerment. We will continue to work closely with the international community to advance the Women, Peace and Security agenda, eliminate sexual violence in conflict, and build a peaceful and prosperous world where all women and girls can reach their full potential of development.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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