17 April 2013 – Security Council – Women, Peace and Security – Statement by Mr. Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I would like
to thank you, Madam President, for having convened
this debate. I also thank Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon; the Special Representative of the Secretary-
General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Bangura;
and Ms. Saran Keïta Diakité, representative of civil
society of Mali.
Sexual violence has been a part of all wars in
history but, as the Group of Eight recalled in its
ministerial statement of 11 April, it has long been seen
as an unimportant and secondary issue that does not
merit the international community’s attention. Sexual
violence was never taken into account in the context
of conflict resolution or after conf licts. In adopting
resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008), the Security
Council resisted that fate. It took up the issue and broke
the silence that hung over that abominable crime.
Since then, significant progress has been
made — political progress, first and foremost, thanks
to the efforts of the Special Representative of the
Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. I
welcome her commitment, which has made it possible
to increase the international visibility of the issue.
There has also been institutional progress, with
the monitoring and reporting mechanism on sexual
violence, upon which the annual reports of the
Secretary-General are based. Those reports provide the
Council with valuable tools for following up on those
crimes. In particular, the “list of shame” of parties
committing systematic and orchestrated acts of sexual
violence gives United Nations missions a solid basis for
engaging a dialogue with those groups.
Finally, with regard to legal progress, the ad
hoc tribunals created by the Council, and then the
International Criminal Court (ICC), have included
acts of sexual violence among the crimes within their
jurisdiction. They have been recognized as war crimes,
crimes against humanity and acts of genocide.
That progress was recently confirmed by the Arms
Trade Treaty, adopted by the General Assembly on
2 April, which contains provisions against genderbased
violence. France vigorously supported that part
of the Treaty.
France also welcomes the zero-tolerance policy
for United Nations personnel implemented by the
Secretary-General, a policy that should be tirelessly
pursued. Similarly, we support the Secretary-
General’s due diligence policy, his policy of screening
peacekeeping and political mission staff with regard
to respect for human rights, as well as his policy on
restricting contact with persons being sought by the
ICC. The Secretary-General has thereby confirmed his
commitment to the accountability of the Organization.
Despite that progress, we have no other choice
but to deplore the scope and frequency of sexual
violence in conf licts, which is continually being used
as a weapon to terrorize civilian populations. In the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, in spite of the
mobilization of the international community, sexual
violence remains omnipresent. Committed by all
parties, sexual violence is also perpetuated within the
Congolese army, particularly because of shortcomings
in the screening, selection and training processes for
ex-militia integrated into the Congolese forces. The
response to the Minova tragedy should stand as an
example. The Congolese authorities must do more, and
more quickly, to punish the guilty. They must also take
a determined and convincing stand for disarmament,
demobilization and reintegration programmes and
security sector reform programmes.
Brave men and women are fighting to end the
violence and help the survivors. In that regard, we must
pay tribute to the tireless work of Dr. Mukwege and his
teams, who have risked their own lives to treat victims
of sexual violence in the Congo. They must be heard,
supported and protected.
Furthermore, we expect that the Intervention
Brigade established under resolution 2098 (2013)
will help strengthen the work of the United Nations
Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo to protect civilians by helping to
neutralize and disarm the militias that are threatening
populations, and that it will work effectively with the
Congolese authorities to arrest the criminals.
In Syria, the regime and its supporters are
systematically using sexual violence to intimidate
civilians and to get them to f lee. Those crimes may be
added to the long list of those committed by the Syrian
armed forces against their own people. France believes
that the referral of the matter to the ICC is amply
After the defeat of the armed groups in northern
Mali, justice must follow its course for the victims of
sexual violence. The matter has been referred to the
ICC. Legal and psychological assistance will need to be
provided to victims and survivors. With the assistance
of the United Nations, the Malian authorities cannot
choose to overlook the issue.
We are concerned by the teterioration of the security
situation in the Central African Republic, where armed
groups are guilty of kidnapping and sexual exploitation.
Those crimes must stop, and the guilty parties must be
To deal with sexual violence, a number of
challenges need to be addressed. Protection, sanctions
and prevention must be our watchwords.
Protection is first. On the ground, women’s
protection advisers are bringing greater awareness of
sexual violence issues to the daily work of the Blue
Helmets. Their role is crucial, and France hopes that
their deployment within peacekeeping missions and
political missions will be expanded. Above all, when
they have the mandate to do so, missions should
provide the resources necessary to help the work of
With respect to sanctions, in order for victims to no
longer be stigmatized for the crimes they have suffered,
we must do away with impunity for sexual violence.
National Governments have the primary responsibility
to prosecute and punish perpetrators of such crimes.
When States fail to uphold their responsibilities, the
International Criminal Court should play its role in full.
France welcomes the exemplary cooperation between
the Court and the countries concerned that led to the
transfer to The Hague of Mr. Bosco Ntganda.
To protect, to sanction and, finally, to prevent — for
that, the participation of women in the resolution of
conf licts represents a basic element. It will, for example,
be a significant dimension for reconciliation in Mali,
which France took into account in the draft resolution
currently being discussed.
France, within the framework of its national action
plan for implementing resolution 1325 (2000), on
women, peace and security, is financing anti-violence
programmes in six countries in Africa and the Arab
world being implemented by UN-Women. The staff
we are sending abroad from our country are trained in
issues of sexual violence, and we support the integration
of gender issues in peacekeeping schools in Africa.
The Council can be assured of our commitment
and determination in promoting and defending the
rights of women and girls throughout the world, as well
as in implementing resolutions on women, peace and
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