Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Women: Open debate in the Security Council

Statement by H.E. Herman Schaper

Permanent Representative

of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

Open Debate on “Women, peace and security

& the SRSG report on sexual violence in conflict” in the Security Council

NEW YORK, 17 April 2013

Mr. President, Excellencies, distinguished participants,

My delegation welcomes this debate and would like to make a few remarks in addition to the EU statement and other statements underlining the importance of the topic of Women, Peace and Security.

The Netherlands & women’s rights

The Netherlands has put gender equality at the heart of all its policies for decades. Internationally, we support female leadership, the follow-up of SC resolution 1325, women’s economic empowerment and the elimination of (sexual) violence against women. Equal rights and opportunities for women, and their full participation in society and decision-making, are not only important for the security of women themselves. Women are powerful agents for peace, stability and prosperity in any society.

Violence against women, especially sexual violence, has a huge impact on many aspects of family and society. For example, it is used until this day as a Weapon of War to break down societies.

The Netherlands welcomes the report of the SG on conflict-related sexual violence and supports especially the recommendations on:

1.    Enhancing monitoring, research and reporting and putting in place an appropriate mechanism or procedure of the Security Council to systematically monitor commitments by parties to conflict to prevent and address conflict-related sexual violence.

2.    Involving civil society organizations and effective cooperation with the signatories of the National Action Plans.

3.    Increased attention to the role of small arms as successfully included in the Arms Trade Treaty.

4.    Strengthening the role of the ICC as the ultimate resort in fighting impunity against the most serious crimes.

Because of the important role of women, the Netherlands has invested since 2007 in National Action Plans together with civil society organizations, research institutions and other government institutions, altogether more than forty partners. The objective of this partnership is to create an enabling environment in which women are better able to take a leading role and participate in political decision making processes. Within the UN, the Netherlands wants to continue its pro-active role within the Human Rights Commission, the General Assembly and the Commission on the Status of Women. We are also a committed and a long term supporter of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

Practical examples of activities in the field of sexual violence against women

The Netherlands supports many activities between government bodies and civil society in the Netherlands and their partner organizations in the developing countries and fragile states. Let me mention a few examples:

-    The serious consequences of sexual and other types of violence for girls’ participation in education are not sufficiently recognised. Therefore, the Netherlands supports the UNICEF programme aimed at improving the quality of girls’ education in 18 fragile states. We hope hereby to improve the ability of children to cope with conflict and attend school in unsafe areas.

-    In the DRC, the Netherlands supports a program focused on medical and psychological help for survivors; prevention and protection against violence within communities; and the empowerment of women. The Netherlands supports the national Women’s Fund in the DRC to promote participation of Congolese women in the coming elections. In the Kivu’s we support women who can play a mediation role in the conflict.

-    Together with Spain, the Netherlands government organises the six-monthly training programme in capacity building entitled ‘A Comprehensive Approach to Gender in Operations’. With this training, diplomats, soldiers and officials are better able to operationalize gender aspects in their work in fragile states.

-    Finally, with the ‘Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women’s Fund (FLOW) and the Human Rights Fund, the Netherlands supports many women’s organizations in their struggle to combat violence against women. By supporting the political and economic empowerment of women, their vulnerability to sexual violence will be reduced.

Mr. President,

Today two representatives of Syrian women’s organisations participated in a debate with the Minister of Foreign Affairs on Human Rights. They highlighted the role they can and should play in promoting durable peace in a future Syria. It is this kind of strong women that we need to continue supporting.

Thank you.