Ministry Statements & Speeches:
New Zealand associates itself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security statement delivered this morning by Canada and wishes to make a few additional remarks in our national capacity.
New Zealand thanks the Security Council for holding this open debate on Accountability as Prevention: ending cycles of sexual violence in conflict, as an agenda item under Women, Peace and Security.
We acknowledge and thank this morning’s briefers for their powerful testimonies and reports, keeping conflict-related sexual violence at the forefront of the United Nations Security Council agenda.
New Zealand was one of 13 signatories to a joint statement in November 2021, which condemned the use of sexual violence and rape as weapons of war as a ‘red line’ akin to chemical weapons.
Conflict Related Sexual Violence is no longer seen as an inevitable by-product of war, crises or emergency. Rather, it is a crime that is punishable under International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law.
Holding perpetrators to account whether they be states, non-state actors or individuals, must be a priority, along with supporting survivors and ending such heinous crimes which predominantly target women and girls. Disturbingly, these crimes have become a daily occurrence in places such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, the DRC, Iraq, Syria, Myanmar, Ukraine and elsewhere.
New Zealand is determined to strengthen international and national responses by supporting legal accountability architecture. This includes the United Kingdom’s initiative for a new Convention on Conflict Related Sexual Violence.
The prevalence of sexual violence in conflict will continue unabated unless the culture of impunity is addressed. All member states must prioritise the implementation of laws and policies that enable a meaningful response. Eliminating impunity by prosecuting those who perpetrate such horrific crimes remains the key to ending the cycle of violence and providing justice for survivors.
In operationalizing the conflict-related sexual violence agenda, it is important to recognize the nexus between sexual violence crimes and security sector reform processes. In this vein, New Zealand believes a comprehensive response to conflict-related sexual violence should also include proactive and purposeful engagement with the security sector.
Working to improve the protection and promotion of women’s rights in all instances, including in conflict settings, is one of New Zealand’s top tier priorities under our international human rights action plan.
Sexual violence is already recognised as a war crime, including by the International Criminal Court, and as a crime against humanity.
New Zealand has and will continue to make a steadfast commitment to ending the scourge of gender-based violence in all instances, including conflict. We call on the United Nations Security Council and all Member States to hold perpetrators fully accountable for their actions and to deny them any exemption from prosecution, regardless of status.
Thank you, Mr President.