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Statement: Ten Year Anniversary of the Establishment of the Mandate on Sexual Violence in Conflict

Remarks by Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations 

TenYear Anniversary of the Establishment of the Mandate on Sexual Violence in Conflict  

30th October 2019

Thank you South Africa and the Office of the Special Representative for today’s event. Ireland fully supports the mandate on Sexual Violence in Conflict and recognises its significant achievements in the fight against impunity for conflict related sexual violence. We welcome the focus on putting survivors at the centre and amplifying their voices, voices we have heard loud and clear today. We owe a great debt to survivors of sexual violence for having the courage to challenge taboos, speak out and drive forward international action. I am thinking of women of awesome resilience, such as Nadia Murad, and the moving testimony I heard from a female peacekeeper from South Africa this week who spoke of her experience of sexual violence on a tour of duty in Darfur.

Ireland recognises that gender inequality is at the root of sexual violence in times both of war and peace. We welcome the work of the mandate to drive home this understanding.  

To prevent sexual violence we need to advance gender equality before, during and after conflict, including by ensuring women’s full and effective participation in political, economic and social life and ensuring gender-responsive justice and security institutions.

Promoting gender equality is central to Ireland’s foreign policy. Earlier this year we launched our new policy for international development, A Better World, which recognises that gender equality is fundamental for the transformation required to achieve the SDGs.

In 2019, we have increased by 33% our funding to partners supporting gender-based violence prevention and response interventions in conflict affected and fragile contexts. This includes funding for the ICRC’s Special Appeal on Response to Sexual Violence and a multi-year partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to support the provision of GBV prevention and response services in conflict affected and fragile contexts in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Our Third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security includes commitments to support women and girl’s protection in fragile and conflict affected contexts and to strengthen mechanisms to ensure the protection and rehabilitation of women in Ireland affected by conflict. We recognise the need to be pro-active in continuing to prevent and respond to the crimes of conflict related sexual violence, particularly within our peacekeeping work.

Our determination comes not only from conviction but also from experience. One of the most malign impacts of the conflict in Northern Ireland was the effect it had on women, including in regard to domestic and gender-based violence.

As I have said elsewhere this week, the convergence of milestone anniversaries on gender equality in 2020 are not, in my view, moments for celebration, but rather calls to action.  We still live in a world where over 50 parties to conflict are credibly suspected of having instigated patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence in situations on the Security Council’s agenda, where women are increasingly targets of political violence, and where 1 in 5 refugee or displaced women experience sexual violence.

The cost of collective failures to stand up for women, peace and security is devastating and has generational consequences. It is time to move from talk to action. 

Ireland looks forward to continuing to support the Office in implementing its mandate to address sexual violence in conflict and in converting cultures of impunity into cultures of justice and accountability.

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