Statement by H.E Valentine Rugwabiza Permanent Representative to the UN and Member of the Cabinet at the Security Council Open Debate on Women and Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Conflict

Mr. President,

I thank you, Hon. Minister of Uruguay and your delegation for organizing this important open debate. I also thank Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, and USG, Mr. Adama Dieng, for their briefings. It is our hope that today’s debate will continue to mobilize collective action against this war crime given the alarmingly growing number of conflicts where sexual violence is used as a weapon of war and terrorism against civilian populations.

Sexual and Gender-based violence is not inevitable. The prevention of and protection from mass atrocities, including sexual violence is a primary state responsibility. As member states, it is our responsibility to put in place the normative and legal framework, enforcement measures to ensure zero tolerance to sexual violence in times of peace or war. However, as we all know, in times of conflict, the rule of law is broken. In such situations, it is our collective responsibility to ensure the protection of those targeted by sexual violence and most in need of protection during conflicts is guaranteed.

Mr.  President,

As situations of conflict continue to worsen in many places with women and children continuing to be the main target of sexual violence, all UN PK missions should have a robust mandate to protect civilians. The Kigali Principles on Protection of Civilians are an effective instrument towards that end. Protection of those in need should be given a priority by ensuring that we take full measures, to provide more effective protection to the civilian population at risk, to create the conditions for humanitarian assistance and to allow investigation of violations and abuses.

Rwanda believes that member states should systematically train all peacekeepers to address gender issues, prevent sexual violence, and protect individuals, including women and girls. Rwanda has operationalized a curriculum for all our troops and Police in the pre-deployment training that includes lessons related to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. In the same vein, we call other member states to boost women’s participation in each contingent and units, more specifically to include gender advisors, female officers, and the increased presence of female peacekeeping personnel in general. Rwanda meets the target of 15% females in all peacekeeping deployment contingents.

Sexual violence in conflict is a crime that we can eradicate. We strongly believe that our joint efforts can yield tangible results through a combination of preventive and responsive measures; targeted sanctions against all categories of perpetrators, monitoring and systematic reporting, assistance for the victims, empowerment of women and girls, increase of female peacekeepers and advisors and training of all forces in creating an environment of zero tolerance to sexual violence as a weapon of war. Rwanda will continue to support and work closely with the office of the SRSG on sexual violence in implementation of its mandate.

I thank you.