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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict

2023-07-14 15:34

Mr. President. 

First of all, I welcome you to New York as you preside over today's open debate. I wish to thank Special Representative Pramila Patten for her briefing earlier.

Sexual violence is a heinous violation of human rights. 15 years after the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1820 on sexual violence in conflict, sexual violence is still widely used as a tactic in wars and terrorism, causing immense harm to women and girls in many countries and regions. China firmly opposes the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, and strongly condemns all acts of sexual violence against women and girls. We call upon the international community to make joint efforts and take comprehensive measures to eliminate sexual violence in conflict as soon as possible and promote new progress in women, peace and security. I wish to address three points. 

First, we need to strengthen conflict prevention and resolution. Our world is witnessing an increasing number of violent conflicts with nearly one fourth of the global population living in conflict-affected areas. Vulnerable groups such as women and children face particularly severe security threats and risks of sexual violence, displacement, and human trafficking. Sexual violence in conflict cannot be eliminated in isolation, Only through ceasefires, ending hostilities, and restoring peace, can women and children be fundamentally free from harm and their basic rights protected. 

To achieve peace, we must adhere to a political settlement to disputes and increase efforts in negotiations, mediation and facilitation. We must practice true multilateralism and translate the purposes and principles of the UN Charter into action. We must also focus on addressing root causes and investing more in achieving common security. As the Council bears on the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, it must actively fulfill this role and demonstrate its commitment. 

Second, strong countermeasures must be taken. The Security Council resolutions explicitly prohibit sexual violence as a means of war, but this red line of international law has been repeatedly breached. If we cannot effectively punish the crimes that have already been committed, it will be difficult to deter and prevent new violations. The international community must strengthen the rule of law and implement the requirements for combating sexual violence in conflict, so that perpetrators can be held accountable and the justice can be served for the victims. 

The countries concerned shoulder the primary responsibility for the prevention and elimination of sexual violence and the protection of women and children. The international community, on the basis of respect of their sovereignty and leadership, should support them in strengthening security sector capacity building to effectively combat terrorist and violent extremist forces, strengthening the rule of law, improving the legal and regulatory system for the protection of women’s rights and interests, and strengthening humanitarian efforts and helping victims of sexual violence obtain assistance and reparation. 

Third, we must support the empowerment and development of women. In conflict situations, sexual violence is often intertwined with issues of discrimination and poverty, further worsening the plight and suffering of women. In addition to a peace-focused approach, the international community should also address this issue from the perspective of women's empowerment and sustainable development. Efforts should be made to eliminate gender discrimination and differentiated treatments to address the livelihood challenges and development gaps faced by women.

Digital and information technologies are important means of empowering women and the critical tools for early warning of conflicts, victim assistance, and investigation and accountability. However, the lack of reliable, accessible and affordable digital infrastructure is a common challenge faced by women in conflict areas. We welcome the focus of this year's International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict on the technology and digital divide. We support Special Representative Patten’s call to bridge the gender digital divide, and we advocate for the use of digital technology to enhance the protection of women, amplify the active role, participation, and transformative power of women in peace and security. 

Mr. President, 

The issue of women and armed conflict is one of the 12 priorities identified in the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action. As the host the country of the Fourth World Conference on Women, China has always been an advocate for gender equality, a protector of women's rights, and a practitioner of women empowerment. China has deployed a large number of female peacekeepers to UN Peacekeeping Operations, bringing hope to people in conflict areas, especially women and girls. China is committed to helping other countries in promoting women's development. It has provided training to over 130,000 women professionals in developing countries. China, in collaboration with UNESCO has established the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education, helping more women change their destinies through knowledge and skills. China will continue to work with the international community to make active efforts and greater contributions to the advancement of women globally. 

Thank you, Mr. President.

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