Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at Security Council Open VTC on Sexual Violence in Conflict
14 April 2021
China wishes to thank Vietnam for the initiative to hold today’s open debate. We also thank SRSG Ms. Patten and the other briefers for their briefings, their comments and suggestions will help the Security Council better discuss and handle this important issue.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts and terrorist activities do not press the pause button, while humanitarian and security crisis have continued unabated. As the latest report of the Secretary-General pointed out, sexual violence is still used as a tactic of war and terrorism with women in conflict bearing the brunt and suffering the most. China firmly opposes the use of sexual violence as a means of war and strongly condemns any acts of sexual violence against women and girls. China calls on the international community to attach great importance to the issue and implement integrated policies to eliminate sexual violence in conflict (SVC) and advance the Women, Peace and Security agenda so that new progress can be achieved.
First, we must focus on tackling the root causes and step up efforts of conflict prevention and maintaining peace. Secretary-General Guterres once emphasized in his report that the ultimate goal of the agenda to combat SVC is not to make conflict free of sexual violence, but rather to make the world free of wars. As long as conflicts and wars continue, there will be the possibility that sexual violence may be used as a tactic of war and terrorism.
The international community should focus on addressing the root causes to completely eradicate the breeding grounds for SVC, follow such principles as non-interference in internal affairs and non-use of force, and stay committed to settling disputes through peaceful means. The Security Council should actively promote political settlement of hotspot issues, and play a greater role in conflict prevention and peacekeeping. Parties to conflict should earnestly follow and effectively implement the Secretary-General’s global ceasefire appeal and resolve their differences through dialogue and consultation.
Second, we must promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and support women in playing a greater role in economic and social development as well as peace and security. SVC does not occur in a vacuum. It often reflects deep-rooted problems such as gender inequality and inadequate development, among others. The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to conflict situations, putting women in an even more vulnerable position.
Under the overall framework of women’s empowerment and development, the international community should respond to the issue of SVC in an integrated manner, to eliminate gender-based discrimination and differentiated treatment, promote women’s development in tandem with social and economic progress and create synergy with 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is necessary to continue to support women’s broader and deeper participation in peace processes, and in carrying out mediation, while giving women more opportunities to participate in decision making with enhanced capacity and voice.
Third, it’s important to ensure the ownership of the countries concerned and support their capacity building. The countries concerned bear the primary responsibility for preventing and combating SVC and protecting women and children in their respective countries. The international community should encourage and support the countries concerned in advancing the WPS agenda according to their national conditions and in taking strong actions to combat SVC. On the basis of respect for the sovereignty and jurisdiction of countries concerned, the international community should help with their security and judicial capacity building, among other aspects.
Relevant UN entities should carry out their work based on their respective mandates and expertise, do their best with existing resources, strengthen coordination and forge synergy. It is necessary to support regional and subregional organizations to leverage their unique advantages, and explore programs and practices based on the actual conditions of their regions. It’s also important to encourage women’s groups and the civil society to play a constructive role.
Women and armed conflict is one of the 12 key areas in the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action. As the host country of the Fourth World Conference on Women and as an advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment, China will continue to work with the international community to make greater contributions to the elimination of SVC and to advancing women’s development around the world.
Thank you, Mr. President.