Statement by Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN at the Security Council Open Debate on ‘Women and Peace and Security: sexual violence in conflict’ (New York, May 15, 2017)

Mr. President,

My delegation welcomes this Security Council Open Debate.

We thank Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohamed and Under Secretary General, Adama Dieng for their briefings.

Sexual violence is amongst the most egregious crimes in armed conflict, one that disproportionately affects women and girls. For far too long, sexual violence has been considered as an unfortunate and inevitable reality of conflict. For far too long, humanity has stood at the sidelines, seeking justification for its collective inaction, in an evasive sense of fatalism.

Yet, as conflict situations from across the world have so tellingly shown, exploitation of women and girls is not an incidental byproduct of conflict, but instead, an instrument widely employed to humiliate and terrorize civilians. For its survivors the scars of sexual abuse are often indelible and enduring, extending well beyond the limits of their physical and physiological suffering. Social stigma and marginalization further complicate any attempts to seek closure.

Mr. President,

Within the ambit of its Women and the Peace and Security Agenda, the UN Security Council has led global efforts to end this dehumanizing practice. The landmark Security Council Resolution 1325 both ushered in and institutionalized a new focus on gender in conflict, moving women’s participation and rights to the forefront of the political debate.

Subsequent Council resolutions have built on this momentum, in recognizing sexual violence as a tactic of war and a threat to international peace and security, and evolving measures to respond to and prevent such occurrences.

The progress, thus far, has however, been both uneven and varied. As the recent report of the Secretary General shows, women and girls continue to serve as a ‘form of currency in the political economy of war’. The world has watched in horror as several state and non-state actors have employed rape and sexual abuse as a deliberate policy to subdue and suppress entire populations. We see this in Pakistan’s neighbourhood as well. Unfortunately, those who commit and condone sexual violence are often not fully held to account.

Mr. President,

The critical challenge for the international community now is to convert ‘political will’ into ‘practical action’ and drive real change on the ground. The effectiveness of our collective action will depend on an inclusive, broad based and comprehensive approach.

The top priority should be to combat impunity for these crimes. We must redirect the stigma and the consequences of sexual violence from the survivors to the perpetrators of such acts. As prosecution is critical for prevention, emphasis should in particular, be placed to strengthen and enhance the capacity of national institutions and criminal justice systems in countries facing armed conflict.

Mr. President,

Multidimensional peacekeeping missions with protection mandates play a key role in combating violence against women in conflict and post-conflict situations. As a leading troop contributing country, Pakistan remains committed to this cause.

For my country,the protection of the vulnerable including women and children is not only a global peace and security concern but more importantly, an obligation of humanity.

I thank you,