Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the Open Debate of the Security Council on Women and Peace and Security (17 April 2013)

Madam President,

We thank Rwanda for convening this open debate on Women and Peace and Security. Your presence here shows your country’s strong commitment to address the scourge of sexual violence in wars and situations of armed conflict. We welcome Vice Minister Cho's attendance of the Council debate.

We are thankful to the Secretary General for his comprehensive briefing to the Council. The Secretary General has placed women’s protection issues high on his agenda and he has put the power of the UN behind the efforts to combat heinous acts of violence against women.

Women bear the brunt of wars and armed conflicts. Today, 90 percent of the casualties in conflicts and wars are of non-combatants; and 70 percent of these are women and children. Moreover, women are left out of peacemaking, stabilization and reconstruction processes.

Women and girls are targeted deliberately. Sexual and gender-based violence in situations of armed conflict not only affects dignity of the victims and survivors but also affects families, communities and societies. It inflicts moral and psycho-social injury and is used as a tactic of war to force displacement of populations or to illegally acquire natural resources.

UNSC resolution 1325 recognized this disproportionate impact on women and launched remedial measures.

Member states have resolved to collectively oppose and fight unconscionable practices of rape, sexual slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced pregnancies, enforced sterilization and other forms of sexual violence.

Madam President,

We welcome Special Representative Zainab Hawa Bangura’s exhaustive briefing today. We pay tribute to her for her solid work and for the passion with which she is pursuing her mission.

We appreciate the presence and testimony of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. Civil society has a crucial role in protection of rights of women in conflict situations.

Madam President,

The United Nations is doing a lot to deal with the protection of women in situations of armed conflict. We all know this is not enough. A lot more needs to be done.

Madam President,

It is imperative to continue to mainstream a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations. As the largest troop contributing country, we can testify that appointment of gender advisors in the field has served a useful purpose. This practice must be strengthened. We are proud of our women peacekeepers who have served as police officers, doctors and nurses in peacekeeping operations in Asia, Africa and the Balkans. We have made gender-sensitization a mandatory part of the training of our peacekeepers.

Madam President,

Over the years, the Security Council has paid close attention to the cause of protection of human rights of vulnerable groups in situations of armed conflict.

The issues of women and peace and security have been integrated into the Council’s country-specific resolutions. This increased emphasis has resulted in a normative framework that is reflected in a series of resolutions on women and children; as well as the creation of the posts of special representatives of the Secretary General to deal with the issues of children and sexual violence.

The Secretary General’s has reflected these concerns in all relevant reports. Overtime, communication between the field offices, the UN Secretariat and the Council has also improved.

These mechanisms and measures have provided relief and justice to the affected populations. But it is a long haul.

In this context, we support SRSG Bangura’s call to all parties to conflicts to immediately put an end to violence against women and make specific time-bound commitments to ensure non-recurrence of such acts under appropriate monitoring mechanisms.

The SRSG’s six-point priority agenda is a good way to attack impunity; empower women to seek redress; strengthen international political response; and foster national ownership.

Moreover, full implementation of the Security Council Resolution 1325 will meaningfully address the plight of women and elevate their status to equal partners in prevention and resolution of conflicts as well as post-conflict reconstruction, peace and security. Women should participate in recovery and peace-building, as well as transitional justice system.

The Council has set a good example by sending strong signals that sexual and gender-based violence is unacceptable.

We should give due credit to the Security Council for transforming protection of women in armed conflict situations from a soft to a hard issue. Full compliance with international humanitarian law, end to impunity, and accountability for the perpetrators of crimes against women, including in transitional justice mechanisms, are now widely accepted norms of international law.

To give more credence to its actions, the Council must be ready to take targeted and graduated measures through relevant sanctions committees against the perpetrators of sexual violence.

We endorse the Secretary General’s recommendation for applying specific sanctions against parties to armed conflict that use sexual violence as a tactic of war.

Madam President,

We believe that concerned member states bear the primary legal and moral responsibility to prevent and address sexual violence.

We urge the SRSG to continue to work closely with member states and regional organizations to ensure that these concerns are addressed.

Continued appointment of trained gender and women protection advisers as well as provision of multi-sectoral assistance and services for victims have proved beneficial. Adequate resources must be allocated for this purpose.

We support the Special Representative's call to strengthen national institutions to provide sustainable assistance to victims of sexual violence. Technical assistance may be provided, on request, to concerned states for reforming and rebuilding judicial, legislative and electoral sectors as well as for economic, social and political empowerment of women.

As I close, I would say that punitive measures do not have all the answers. We must invest in consciousness raising, dialogue and engagement. Societies in conflict must address the root causes, resolve their differences, and avoid hurting their own communities and nations or fellow human beings across the borders. Humanity and humanitarianism must prevail, not primordial barbarism.

I thank you.