Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, at the VTC of UNSC members

Mr. President,

Let me thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the invited speakers.

The Russian Federation strongly condemns all forms of violence against civilians in armed conflict, including sexual violence. We welcome various multi-country initiatives and individual efforts to properly address this evil of any war. Russia stands committed to international cooperation in this regard.

We acknowledge the valuable contribution of the Special Representative Ms. Pramila Patten and her office. We appreciate her assistance in strengthening the national capacities to counter sexual violence, her dedication to develop dialogue, support victims and draw public attention to the consequences of those heinous crimes.

Last year, at the open debates on the same subject under the German presidency the Secretary-General said: "Despite all efforts, the reality on the ground has not changed. Sexual violence continues to be a horrific feature of conflict around the world".

It is true, but sexual violence is not a standalone phenomenon; it is a dirty, but inalienable part of an armed conflict. It might be naïve for international community to count on sniping at one particular crime in a situation of ongoing armed conflict. Eradication of war crimes goes along with resolving armed conflict itself.

It is not possible to combat sexual violence without the active involvement of national authorities in this process. It is well recognized that the primary responsibility in protecting civilians in their territory is borne by the Governments. Fighting impunity and ensuring accountability are the key parameters of a sovereign state. With increasing number of attacks by terrorists groups, including their use of sexual violence as a tactic of war, we need to intensify our efforts to address the threat of terrorism. Justice must prevail in the battlefield or be properly adjudicated primarily in courts where such crimes have been committed.     

We need to act jointly and vigorously.

We must avoid politicization of the topic. Any information submitted for the attention of the Security Council must be verified.  

Speaking about human rights, it is important not to confuse the perspectives through which we are addressing the issue of sexual violence in armed conflict.

 It is crucial to clearly distinguish between sexual violence as a war crime and sexual violence as a criminal wrongdoing.

The Security Council has to remain within its mandate of maintaining peace and security. We do not honor attempts to expand the interpretation of the relevant scope pertaining to armed conflict and post-conflict situations that has been agreed and laid down in resolutions of the Security Council.

Finally, United Nations and its affiliates must show up the highest standard of behavior. The zero-tolerance policy on sexual violence has to be applicable to all, including peacekeeping missions. Also that relates mutatis mutandis to the humanitarian actors and non-governmental organizations that are legally operating in countries affected by armed conflict.

Efficiency of the Security Council is directly linked to its ability to bridge different approaches through enhancing respectful dialogue and constructive cooperation. We are committed to act accordingly in the interests of peace, supporting the victims of sexual violence and for the sake of building just societies.

Thank you.