(translation of statement made in French)
First of all, I would like to thank the United Kingdom for having taken the initiative of holding this ninth open debate on women and peace and security. I would also like to welcome the Secretary-General here today and to thank him for the presentation of his first report on implementation of resolution 1820 (2008). More broadly, we welcome his determined commitment to this issue. My delegation, of course, completely supports the statement that will be made by the Permanent Representative of Sweden on behalf of the European Union.
The Secretary-General’s assessment of sexual violence is, unfortunately, definitive. Sexual violence is widespread and often systematic, and is sometimes even used as a weapon of war in several regions and in many situations on the Council’s agenda. The United Nations has a special and critical role to play in responding to this phenomenon. In many instances, it has specific tools to assist national authorities in supporting the victims of sexual violence, prosecuting and trying suspects, and arresting those who are guilty of such crimes. The Organization also has the responsibility to encourage relevant authorities to act to that end.
At the initiative of France, the fight against sexual violence was a high priority of the Security Council’s annual visit to Africa in May. Because we believe in the value of deterrence in the struggle against impunity, we argued with the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for five officers accused of perpetrating sexual violence to be brought to justice. Earlier this week, the Council noted with satisfaction that judicial procedures had been launched against those individuals and that they had been removed from their command duties. That is an important message in the fight against sexual violence and impunity. The United Nations and the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo played an important role in achieving that outcome. The Council will continue to monitor the matter closely.
France also welcomes the significant institutional progress that was achieved two days ago with the adoption of resolution 1882 (2009), which, inter alia, extends the reporting and monitoring mechanism of resolution 1612 (2005) to sexual violence committed against children, regardless of whether or not child soldiers are involved. The extension will allow the Security Council and the international community to focus greater attention and response on this widespread phenomenon, which targets girls in particular.
In his report (S/2009/362), the Secretary-General notes that many interesting initiatives have been undertaken to address the gravity of the situation. We must strengthen those initiatives and ensure the dissemination of good practices. The role of peacekeeping operations is essential in that respect, and I welcome the presence here of female police officers deployed in those operations. To the extent possible and necessary, peacekeeping operations must develop ambitious strategies to address sexual violence. They must engage in dialogue with the parties to armed conflicts, and their components — primarily gender and human rights advisers, as well as special representatives of the Secretary-General — must take every opportunity to make the parties aware of their obligations in this area and to encourage them to change their behaviour. We hope that the parties’ response to the issue, or lack thereof, will be reflected in the Secretary-General’s next report so that we can be better informed and assess to the best of our ability the international community’s action and progress with respect to the scourge.
France welcomes the work undertaken by the sanctions committees on the matter under consideration today. Pursuant to the commitment it made in resolution 1820 (2008), the Security Council must systematically consider the relevance of including sexual violence among the triggers of sanctions during the establishment or revision of the committees’ mandates. When the criteria are met, it will be up to the committees’ experts to raise the matter.
In that regard, we recall the role of France, alongside the United Kingdom, Belgium and the United States, in the inclusion by the sanctions committee on the Democratic Republic of the Congo of the names of four members of the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda on the list of those targeted for individual sanctions.
France welcomes the set of recommendations proposed by the Secretary-General to strengthen our action against sexual violence. We are ready to play an active role in any initiative to promote Security Council action on those recommendations as soon as possible. For our part, we believe that the implementation of the following proposals, referred to by the Secretary-General in his statement, is of special importance.
First, the Secretary-General should submit to the Council an annual report on the implementation of resolution 1820 (2008). We invite him to formulate proposals on the modalities for the Security Council’s consideration of measures taken by parties to a conflict to meet their obligations, including in the fight against impunity, and its identification of appropriate steps in response.
Secondly, a commission of inquiry should be established. France endorses the concept of creating a commission to investigate and advocate the most effective mechanisms for prosecuting those who commit sexual violence. The commission’s competence should be limited to sexual violence, and its work coordinated with peacekeeping operations mandated to counter sexual violence. In that respect, we would be interested to learn more about the criteria that led the Secretary-General to propose that we focus initially on three geographical situations. We are ready to discuss that and should like the Secretariat to explain how it foresees extending that mechanism in its future phases.
The third and last proposal that I wish to highlight is that of appointing an official to lead the fight against sexual violence throughout the entire United Nations system. We strongly endorse that proposal.
In conclusion, I reiterate France’s full commitment to fighting sexual violence against women. The Council can rest assured of our full commitment to that issue within the Security Council in the months to come and of our resolve to pursue our efforts to strengthen the role of women in conflict prevention and settlement and in rebuilding peace in the context of the follow-up to resolution 1325 (2000), which we will be discussing shortly and concerning which there remains a great deal to be done.