May 23, 2024

Statement by the PR of Cyprus – SC Open Debate – Conflict-related sexual violence

amb-crsv-14-7-23United Nations Security Council Open Debate “Conflict-related sexual violence: promoting implementation of Security Council resolutions on conflict-related sexual violence
New York, 14 July 2023

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to thank the British presidency of the UNSC for the timely organization of this meeting on the important issue of CRSV, as well as the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict for her insightful presentation; we reiterate our full support to her mandate. We also express our appreciation to Ms. Naw Hser Hser and Nadine, for their presentations. 

Mr. President,

My delegation fully subscribes to the Statement delivered by the European Union.  I would like to make some additional remarks in my national capacity.

Cyprus strongly condemns gender-based violence in all its forms and manifestations, online and offline, including all acts of sexual violence against civilians in armed conflicts. Despite progress made since the unanimous adoption of resolution 1820 by the Security Council in 2008, the abhorrent crime of conflict related sexual violence continues, and impunity – regrettably – prevails in many cases. Victims and survivors are often living ashamed in the shadow, awaiting justice and redresses.

We are deeply concerned by the growing use of sexual violence as a tactic of war, torture, and terrorism, including by the severity and brutality of such incidents. Numbers cannot lie and are only the tip of the iceberg, since many cases remain unreported. These heinous CRSV crimes can be facilitated and promoted also online, utilizing digital channels. We note with concern that women and girls, constituting the majority of the CRSV victims, are disproportionately affected by the gender-digital divide.

Cyprus recalls that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide. CRSV is a peace and security issue and an impediment to restoration of peace, requiring specific operational and policy responses.

These heinous crimes should not remain unanswered and cannot be addressed in isolation. Member States have obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. It is their responsibility to prevent and address such violence, to protect and support survivors and bring perpetrators to justice.  In this regard, Cyprus joins others in calling all parties to armed conflicts, including non-state armed groups, to cease acts of sexual violence immediately and completely against civilians, and to implement action plans to prevent and address sexual violence, in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law and all the relevant Security Council Resolutions.

Prosecution and accountability are keys to ensuring long lasting peace. Therefore, we need to strengthen legal procedures at national, regional, and international levels, ensuring that all victims of sexual violence, particularly women and girls, have equal protection under the law and equal access to justice.

Addressing the culture of impunity is our common responsibility. The international community has also an obligation to ensure accountability for such crimes when national institutions are unable or unwilling to do so. The Security Council must use all tools at its disposal to support action against CRSV as a tactic of war.

A survivor-center approach must guide all our actions and responses to CRSV. We should always take into consideration that survivors are not a homogenous group: they have different needs and perspectives that we need to take into consideration in addressing the trauma that victims, survivors, and their families are experiencing, including by ensuring access to medical care and psychosocial support.

Mr. President,

As a country that has experienced the atrocity of CRSV first-hand, Cyprus attaches great importance to the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence and joins calls to accelerate efforts towards their elimination. In this regard, Cyprus has adopted Action Plans and strategies related to gender equality, including legislative measures, highlighting, and promoting the positive role women have as agents of change.

Mister President,

It is imperative to address the root causes of sexual violence in conflict settings, and of gender-based violence, deeply rooted in historical inequalities which perpetuate the problem. In this regard, the full, equal, and meaningful participation and involvement of women in all efforts for the maintenance of peace and security is a sine qua non for the full implementation of the peace and security agenda, including in addressing CRSV.

To conclude, Cyprus remains committed to continue working with the international community to strengthen the global response to CRSV in order to protect and empower women, girls, men, and boys in all their diversity.

I thank you.