Statement delivered by Ms. Farzana Zahir, Deputy Permanent Representative and chargé d'affaires 

 Permanent Mission of Maldives to the United Nations

UNSC Open Debate on "Sexual Violence in Conflict as a Tactic of War and Terrorism"

United Nations, New York, 15 May 2017

Mr President,

At the outset, I would like to thank the Uruguayan Presidency for convening this very important and timely open debate on the topic of sexual violence in conflict as a tactic of war and terrorism. I also wish to extend our appreciation to the Deputy Secretary-General and the briefers for their updates as well as their dedicated efforts regarding this issue.

I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his annual report on this topic, issued last month, which makes clear both the scale and significance of the challenges we must now consider.

Mr President,

As so vividly described in the Secretary-General's report and by those who have spoken before the Security Council today, sexual violence has increasingly become part of the toolbox of terror with which armed groups seek to consolidate their influence and extend their power, at the expense of those who are exposed to their predations.

Indeed, while sexual violence is often closely linked with gender-based violence, its victims include women and girls as well as men and boys. It is often the case that those who deign to use sexual violence as a tool in conflict see neither gender nor age as any hindrance. This is even more so the case with terrorist and violent extremist groups. Some, such as Da'esh, even use the prospect of being able to commit such acts as part of their recruitment strategy.

Mr President,

With this stark reality in mind, the Maldives believes that the United Nations, and especially the Security Council, should comprehensively adapt its prevention, protection, and recovery efforts to the increasingly asymmetric threats posed by non-state, extremist, and terrorist armed groups with respect to sexual violence.

The Maldives welcomes Security Council resolutions 2242 and 2331, which makes clear its recognition of the fact that sexual violence frequently constitutes a tactic of terrorism and which provide a clear starting-off point for deepening the strategic alignment of efforts against sexual violence, both across the United Nations and by member states. These resolutions make clear that the protections of international human rights law apply to state and non-state actors alike, and that it is incumbent upon all parties to respect their provisions.

In this respect, the Maldives welcomes and fully endorses the Secretary-General's recommendation that the Security Council employ all means at its disposal to ensure that all parties to conflict, comply with international law with respect to protections against sexual violence. This should, in turn, be enforced through the systematic monitoring of compliance, the implementation of legislative and institutional arrangements, and, when violations do occur, the referral of matters to the International Criminal Court.

Mr President,

While people of both genders are very much at risk of being the targets of abuses, it goes without saying the burden of targeted sexual violence in conflict is one that falls overwhelmingly and disproportionately on women and girls.

In this context, the Maldives recalls the resolution 1325 (2000), which is a landmark guide for ensuring womens' full involvement and equal participation in all elements of the peace and security framework, including conflict prevention, humanitarian response and peacekeeping efforts. Resolution 1325 also makes clear the need for all parties to conflict—including, again, non-state parties—to take women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual violence. This resolution provides a strong foundation for our efforts in this regard, and is a natural starting point for developing ways to reinforce existing mechanisms and exploring new avenues through which we can protect civilians against the threat of sexual violence.

Mr. President,

The Maldives also fully supports the zero-tolerance policy of the Secretary-General with regard to the sexual abuse and exploitations by UN peacekeepers and encourages the Security Council to include tasks related to women, peace and security in the mandates of the Peacekeeping Missions. In this spirit, the Government of Maldives has pledged a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of gender-based violence as well as enacted the Prohibition of Sexual Harassment and Abuse Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act and Social Protection Act in our efforts to raise awareness and create the fundamental necessary provisions for the protection of all women and girls. The Gender Equality Act enacted in 2016, contains comprehensive provisions that further strengthen the Article 17(a) of the Constitution, which entitles rights and freedoms to everyone without discrimination of any kind, including race, national origin, sex, age, mental or physical disability.

Mr President,

Renewed and reinvigorated action, at the local, regional, and international levels alike, is needed to protect and empower the victims of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict. Given the heinousness of such acts, it is essential, if we are to remain credible as an organization, that the United Nations and its member states be especially vigilant and adhere to a standard of zero tolerance and the highest probity regarding this matter.

The Maldives is strongly committed to deepening our co-operation with international partners in this regard, and pledges to continue offering, wherever possible, our support, so that every woman, man, and child, no matter their situation, may have the chance to determine their own future and realise their own aspirations.

I thank you.