June 13, 2024

Statement by Amb. Maria Michail – UN Security Council Open Debate

Women, Peace and Security: Preventing conflict-related sexual violence through demilitarisation and gender-responsive arms control

New York, 23 April 2024

Mr. President,

We express our appreciation to Malta for organizing this debate today.

Allow me to thank the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Pramila Pattern, for her insightful presentation, and Ms. Ahmadi and Ms. Gurira for their valuable inputs.

Cyprus fully subscribes to the statement of the European Union.

Mr. President,

it is a sad reality that conflict related sexual violence is entrenched in warfare. CRSV is not an isolated activity: it is deeply rooted in historical inequalities and patriarchal social structures, exacerbated by the proliferation of arms and increased militarisation. Victims and survivors are often living ashamed in the shadow, awaiting justice and redresses when the culture of impunity unfortunately prevails.

Cyprus strongly condemns gender-based violence in all its forms and manifestations, online and offline, including all acts of sexual violence during armed conflicts.

Security Council Resolution 1325(2000) recognised that sexual violence is a peace and security issue.  Security Council Resolution 1820 (2008) recognised sexual violence as a weapon and tactic of war, stressing the importance of ending impunity for such acts.

Despite the adoption of these two landmark Security Council Resolutions, it is deeply alarming that in conflict-affected regions around the world, conflict related sexual violence is still used as a tactic of war, torture and terrorism.

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.

 

Mr. President,

Proliferation of weapons, particularly small arms and light weapons, are factors that have been recognised as contributors to sexual violence in conflict. However, little has been done in addressing these factors so to prevent CRSV.

Allow me to add some points in today’s discussion:

First, arms control and disarmament instruments are critical tools of prevention.   A gender-responsive implementation of arms control has a substantial role to play in preventing CRSV and reducing the proliferation of weapons facilitating conflict related sexual violence.

 

Second, we lack specific data to better understand the link between weapons, and especially small arms and light weapons, and CRSV.  It is crucial to support the collection of more disaggregate data, as well as to pursue and fund specific research on the link between SALW and CRSV.  These data and research will assist us in elaborating more targeted policy, legislative and implementation frameworks, with special emphasis also on prevention efforts.

 

Third, women and girls are disproportionally affected by sexual violence, yet not fully included in the key decision-making structures related to peace and security. In this regard, concrete measures to secure the full, equal, meaningful and safe participation of women at all levels of decision making on peace and security, including in decision-making regarding security issues, is a sine qua non.

 

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. We pledge to continue working with the international community, to protect and empower women, girls, men, and boys, in all their diversity, in conflict-related situations, strengthening the global response to conflict-related sexual violence.

It is more important than ever to strengthen the global response against this heinous crime, adopt a survivor-centered approach, while at the same time ensure justice and accountability for all victims and survivors.

 

I thank you.