Statement by Foreign MinisterTimo Soini at the UN Security Council High Level Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict. New York 23 April, 2019.
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I wish to express my appreciation to Ms. Nadia Murad,
Dr. Denis Mukwege and Inas Miloud for their statements today. Your courage and persistent work should guide our discussions. I also want to thank the Secretary General and Minister Maas for organizing this important debate.
Violence against innocent people is used as a weapon of war: to cause fear and shame. Ending the abuse of civilians in conflicts is possible.
This is a question of our resolve. The international norms exist – we just need to make sure they are respected.
This very Chamber is the place where the change can - and must start. The Members of the Security Council bear an enormous responsibility. There can be no excuses. Every act against civilians must be condemned – in every conflict – by all actors.
Sexual violence in conflicts affects not only those directly targeted, but also their families, communities and entire societies. Actors such as
Ms. Murad and Dr. Mukwege have helped to bring the consequences of these dreadful crimes to full daylight. They deserve our respect – but even more they deserve action.
Preventing conflict-related sexual violence starts during the time of peace. Respect for human rights – of women and men – and the rule of law are of utmost importance. Enhancing women’s full and effective participation in society is a foundation for preventing also sexual violence.
Most victims are women and girls, but we should not forget that men and boys are targeted as well. All survivors have their own experiences of conflict and their own specific needs. That is why we need survivor-centered responses, as has been pointed out today.
Efforts to fight impunity for the most serious international crimes must be strengthened. This requires capacity building of national authorities in order to bring perpetrators to justice. The UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflicts is doing valuable work in this regard. Finland on her part has supported the work of Justice Rapid Response and the UN Women to train experts in investigating these crimes.
Measures to combat and prevent sexual violence should be part of all international crisis management operations and humanitarian aid.
For example, Finland, together with Norway, has deployed a Specialized Police Team to the UNMISS operation in South Sudan. What we want them to do is to strengthen the capacity of local police in prevention and prosecution.
Amnesty for these crimes in ceasefire or peace agreements must be ruled out. Perpetrators need to be held accountable – otherwise peace can be interpreted as condoning crime.
We need to improve assistance to victims, and access to health care and services. I would like to commend the important work of the International Criminal Court and its Trust Fund for Victims.
Finland will continue to support its work - our latest contribution was earmarked for victims of sexual violence.
Protecting innocent civilians is our first priority. Other considerations must come only afterwards. This is possible. But a change in our attitude is needed. And it is needed now.