Fight against sex trafficking : "It’s a collective responsability" [fr]
Public Debate "Women, Peace and Security.Responding to human trafficking in situations of conflict-related sexual violence" - Intervention by M. François Delattre, Permanent representative od France to the UN- Security Council- 2 June 2016
I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of France.
I warmly thank everyone for their concrete and very useful interventions, which reflect a consensus — a unanimous will — to halt the unacceptable and revolting phenomenon of sexual violence and trafficking in women and children in conflict situations.
I would like to recognize in particular the efforts of the Secretary-General and the personal engagement of his Special Representative, Ms. Zainab Bangura. She has not only met victims of conflict in the field, but has also had the strength to propose ways of combating sexual violence in situations of crisis or conflict. The insight provided in that context by the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, Ms. Giammarinaro, on the particular plight of women and girls was particularly striking. Finally, the testimony of Ms. Davis here in the Council called for intensified efforts to address the causes and consequences of the various forms of gender-based violence.
The consequences of sex trafficking in women and children in conflict have been clearly identified and recalled today. On the one hand, they destroy lives, entire families and community social ties and serve to cast out the victims and children born of rape. On the other hand, sex trafficking directly fuels terrorism, not just by increasing the financial resources of such groups but also by attracting new recruits through forced marriage promises or “sexual compensation” — abominable acts carried out by the likes of Da’esh.
Faced with those well-known tragic consequences, the causes of trafficking for sexual purposes should be better taken into account. They are based on gender inequality, which is the first stage towards commodifying the bodies of women and girls. To remedy that situation, among other things, the empowerment of women must be strengthened in the areas of education and health, where they must have access to appropriate services. That includes in particular access to abortion in cases of rape in conflict situations, including in refugee camps. It is an essential right for every woman to make her own decision, which France has made a priority.
It is each Member State’s responsibility to take all necessary measures to give women autonomy, political and economic power, and control of their bodies. That decision-making power and freedom of choice cannot be nuanced or relativized by culture or customs in any country or society.
The Security Council also has a collective responsibility in the fight against sex trafficking. The Council’s inadequate treatment of gender issues owing to disagreements among its members hinders the improvement of the status of women in conflict. Similarly, sexual violence in conflict situations and the women and peace and security agenda are too often considered separate from the threats to international peace and security considered by the Council daily.
In reality, sexual violence is among the strategies used by terrorist groups, such as Da’esh or Boko Haram, and poses a short- and long-term threat to international peace and security. We see that in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and elsewhere. Children born of sexual violence today may become the criminals or terrorists of tomorrow.
That is why I would like to present four proposals for action by the Security Council and the Secretariat on this topic:
First, we must strengthen the protection of civilians mandates for peacekeeping operations through the establishment of specialized monitoring units, comprised of human rights experts and police and judiciary cooperation in order to better identify risks through patrols, detect the markets for women and dismantle trafficking networks. The open debate to be presided over by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, Jean-Marc Ayrault, on 10 June, will provide an opportunity to talk more about that possibility.
Secondly, we should better integrate the issue of human trafficking into Council discussions. Presidential statement S/PRST/2015/25 of December last year was an important step in that regard, as is the report of the Secretary-General that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is currently working on, which will be presented to the Council in December 2016. Further work to identify individuals and entities who, through their involvement in trafficking for sexual violence, finance terrorist groups is also necessary, including through the activities of the Sanctions Committees.
Thirdly, we need to more systematically integrate crimes with a sexual dimension into the mediation and negotiation efforts of peace or ceasefire agreements. They must be considered a breach of ceasefires, just like other atrocities.
Finally, we must strengthen the role and participation of women in strategies to combat trafficking and terrorism, particularly in the context of the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Particular attention should be paid to combating the real and virtual markets in which women and children are traded and sold with impunity. Combating impunity in this field is a priority in and of itself, and our mobilization in that regard is essential.
Let me conclude my remarks by welcoming the Secretary-General’s commitment to zero tolerance of all forms of sexual violence, including sexual abuse and exploitation. We must all serve as an example, in the context of United Nations-mandated missions and elsewhere. It is crucial that the United Nations, just like Member States, adopt concrete measures to prevent and fight against all forms of sexual violence. France has already implemented a broad spectrum of measures in that regard and has reported on them to the Security Council and the General Assembly. Our determination on that issue is unwavering.
Today’s debate is crucial for identifying the challenges and solutions regarding sex trafficking. The Security Council now has the collective responsibility to implement the most effective solutions and to remain mobilized on those issues. The first commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict is to be held this month on 19 June. It will provide an opportunity to maintain the mobilization of the international community on this priority issue for France and for the United Nations.