I would like to thank the United Kingdom for organizing this debate and the speakers for their contributions.
"We must combat sexual violence in times of armed conflict by all means, and prevent bodies from being used as battlefields." This is the reminder of Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Nadia Murad who briefed us today.
Fourteen years ago, with Resolution 1820, the Security Council made sexual violence in armed conflict a security issue in its own right. Since then, a strong normative framework has been established. However, as the Secretary-General notes in his annual report, "Impunity remains the norm and the pace of justice remains painfully slow."
Switzerland remains very concerned that the report shows that sexual and gender-based violence continued to be used as a tactic of war in many conflicts in 2021. In addition, data from the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism indicate that rape and other forms of sexual violence against children increased in 2021. Women and children in Ukraine now face an increased risk of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, abuse and trafficking. Just this week, the Council was informed of an alarming increase in allegations of sexual violence in Ukraine. We call on all parties in all conflicts to immediately stop committing these crimes. Facts and responsibilities must be established and we must put an end to widespread impunity.
I would like to highlight three issues in this regard:
First, let us be clear: the root causes of conflict-related sexual violence can only be truly addressed if women's participation, autonomy and rights are guaranteed. When mandating UN missions, the Council must ensure that it includes provisions for the promotion of gender equality and the full, equal and meaningful participation of women at all levels of decision-making. In order for the UN to fulfill its mandates, women's protection advisors must be deployed and adequately resourced.
Second, we must fight impunity at the local, national and global levels. One way the Council can support this is by including designation criteria that focus on sexual violence in sanctions regimes. We welcome the increasing use of such criteria. Switzerland supports the efforts of the International Criminal Court to investigate these crimes and to develop gender-sensitive approaches. In addition, through our civil society partners, we are helping survivors to assert their rights by collecting evidence. For example, Switzerland has supported Rohingya women to file applications to the International Criminal Court on behalf of hundreds of survivors of gender-based violence.
Third, the rights and needs of survivors, especially their sexual and reproductive health and rights, must be central to our actions. In line with Resolution 2467, we call for adequate funding to support prevention and response efforts, including community solidarity networks. Switzerland works closely with civil society and women human rights defenders. In countless conflicts, they are at the forefront of the fight against sexual violence and provide essential services. States have an obligation to ensure a safe environment for them.
14 years after the adoption of Resolution 1820, we must – as Dr. Mukwege puts it – end the use of bodies as battlefields. We must put an end to impunity. As a candidate to the Security Council, Switzerland strives to continue to be a plus for peace and humanity, and remains fully committed to this goal.
I thank you.