Statement by Turkey at the Security Council on “Sexual violence in conflict”

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 23.04.2019
Mr. President,

First of all, we strongly condemn the heinous terrorist attacks against worshippers and civilians in Sri Lanka, and express our solidarity with the people and government of Sri Lanka.

At the outset, I would like to thank you for convening this important debate and express our appreciation to the Secretary-General for his remarks.

We commend the work of Special Representative Ms. Patten and the valuable efforts of the Team of Experts on Rule of Law. We also extend our appreciation to our briefers today.

Mr. President,

As we mark the 10th anniversary of the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, we acknowledge the progress that has been achieved within the UN system to combat sexual violence. The Security Council deserves special credit for connecting the concepts of sexual violence and impunity to international peace and security, passing numerous resolutions and addressing the issue in various meetings. In this respect, we also welcome the adoption of today’s resolution.

Nevertheless, the Secretary General’s latest report to the Council reveals the fact that sexual violence continues to be a tactic of war and is widespread, particularly in armed conflicts, including its early stages and the aftermath. The report also confirms the nexus among sexual violence, human trafficking, terrorism and forced displacement.

Sexual violence has consequences for all affected – women and girls, men and boys. In addition to its devastating impact on the survivors, it has a broad and long-lasting effect on communities and states as a whole for generations.

Our responsibility must be to bring justice, recognition and reparations to the survivors of these horrendous crimes. The Secretary General rightfully identifies accountability for crimes of conflict-related sexual violence as a key element of his prevention strategy.

Unfortunately, in conflicts, national judicial and security systems are often characterized by incapacity, resulting in impunity. Absence of efficient criminal procedures and institutional capacity is common. Even when laws and institutions are in place, a selective application of laws and lack of accountability often prevails. As such, victims are discouraged from seeking civil remedy and a culture of impunity prevails.

To address this problem, comprehensive solutions should be sought, which combines ensuring the supremacy of the rule of law and building judicial and security institutions. Gaps both in legislation and implementation must be addressed. Impunity must come to an end both for perpetrators and those in the chain of command.

Mr. President,

The punishment of the crime often serves as the most important deterrent. To address sexual violence during conflicts and ensure that these crimes can be prosecuted in the post-conflict phase, necessary documentation and evidence must be gathered while the conflict is ongoing. The UN, other international organizations, humanitarian agencies and civil society have an important task in this respect.

We welcome the establishment and the ongoing work of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanisms for Syria and Myanmar as well as the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by DEASH.

International justice mechanisms are essential particularly when sexual violence is used as a tactic of war in the form of systematic rape and forced pregnancies. Especially in post-conflict settings, their work complements those of national systems in the fight against the culture of impunity.

Mr. President,

We concur with the Secretary General that achieving gender equality, empowerment of women and girls and recognition of their human rights are the essential steps for prevention and addressing impunity. This will also help further our agenda on women, peace and security.

Ending violence against women is a part of this effort. Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence Against Women, known as the “İstanbul Convention”, stands out as a landmark document in this regard. Turkey is committed to foster the objectives of this convention and stands ready to share its experiences in its implementation.

Mr. President,

As the conflict in Syria enters its ninth year, millions of Syrians, particularly women and girls, continue to live under the threat of sexual violence from various parties on the ground.

The horrific acts of sexual violence perpetrated by the Syrian regime especially during arrest, detention and at checkpoints have been documented in various UN reports.

As a neighboring country, which has an “open door” policy towards the Syrians fleeing war and violence in their own country, Turkey now hosts over 3.5 million Syrians. 1.6 million of these people are women. The empowerment and self-reliance of especially Syrian women and youth, without any bearing of sexual and gender-based violence, is one of the tenets of our policy. This is why we exert every effort to provide security and safety for them, including through partnerships with UNFPA.

Mr. President,

The findings of the report of the Secretary General on the situation of Rohinga in Myanmar is once again quite disturbing.

The international community expects the government of Myanmar, to create necessary conditions for peaceful coexistence in Rakhine State and safe return of refugees. This requires ending all types of violence including sexual ones, giving humanitarian agencies immediate, unhindered access to populations in need and implementing international humanitarian and human rights law in Rakhine State.

We acknowledge the signing of the joint communique between the government of Myanmar and the UN in December 2018 as a right step towards this end. We expect its full and swift implementation, including the commitments regarding accountability for conflict-related sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by the Myanmar Armed Forces and border guards. Bringing the alleged perpetrators of sexual and other violence to justice will also be of critical importance to put an end to this vicious cycle.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate our full support to international, regional and national efforts to end conflict related sexual violence and respond to its consequences.

Thank you.