Mr. President,

Switzerland would like to thank Germany and the Dominican Republic for organizing this debate as well as all briefers for their contributions.

The current COVID-19 crisis has far-reaching negative implications for the prevention of and response to conflict-related sexual violence. Switzerland therefore urges the Security Council and the international community to immediately implement Resolution 2532. We support the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict’s call on all parties to conflict to cease all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and welcome the Secretary-General’s recent report on conflict-related sexual violence. We also reiterate the primary responsibility of member states to protect all women and girls but also men and boys against acts of sexual violence.

Let me highlight three issues:

First, conflict-related sexual violence is deeply rooted in gender inequality and gender-based discrimination. Hence, it constitutes both an early warning sign and consequence of conflict. It is therefore crucial to empower women and girls as well as to engage men and boys to achieve gender equality. While the majority of survivors of sexual violence are women and girls, men and boys also suffer from such horrible acts of violence. Stigmatization and exclusion of victims can lead to even higher numbers of unreported.  The contribution of civil society, including women human rights defenders, in creating mutual trust and respect remains key to prevent and resolve conflicts.

Second, Switzerland advocates for a community-based approach in treating survivors of sexual violence, including children born of rape. The rights and needs of survivors, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights, must be at the center of every response. Survivors must be treated with dignity and respect. We emphasize the importance of the reintegration of survivors into their communities and related social structures. This is why Switzerland supports projects that strengthen solidarity networks and collective healing as conflict-related sexual violence affects a community as a whole.

Third, Switzerland is concerned about the persisting gaps related to accountability and justice for conflict-related sexual violence at national and international level. While supporting the crucial efforts of the International Criminal Court and its Prosecutor to hold perpetrators accountable for sexual and gender-based crimes, Switzerland also engages with national actors to facilitate access to justice for survivors. Such partnerships empower survivors to become key stakeholders and agents of change in efforts to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence. In line with Resolution 2467, Switzerland reiterates the need for a holistic approach, including legal and non-legal measures, and call on the Council to continue to fight impunity and uphold accountability with all means at its disposal.

This year, we commemorate important milestones, such as the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the 20th anniversary of the UNSC Resolution 1325 as well as the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Decisive progress in eliminating the root causes of sexual and gender-based violence is long overdue. The Security Council has a crucial role to play, in particular with regard to strengthening and monitoring the full implementation of commitments by all parties to conflict to prevent and address all forms of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations. We therefore urge the Council to continue its efforts in this sense.

I thank you.