(Check against delivery)
Thank you, Mr. President,
To begin with, I would like to join others in thanking the briefers for their important insights.
Japan is seriously concerned that sexual violence continues to be perpetrated as “a tactic of war”. Japan condemns these acts in the strongest terms.
In preventing and deterring sexual violence, we need to reflect on its root causes. Discrimination of women and gender inequality are one of the root causes and drivers of sexual violence.
It is critically important to support the efforts of the United Nations and the Member States to seek political commitments from parties to conflict to address these root causes, and to ensure the implementation of those commitments. In this regard, Japan commends the important collaborations between the Office of the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict and relevant countries on both Joint Communiqués and National Action Plans.
Moreover, economic and political empowerment is a surefire way to prevent and deter sexual violence. Women are active peace-builders and safeguards against violent extremism, not just victims of conflict. Empowering women enhances the resilience of families, communities, regions and beyond. Japan believes that it is through contribution for the empowerment that donors can contribute most effectively.
With this in mind, Japan has recently decided to provide additional financial assistance of around 18 million USD through UN-Women for women’s empowerment and leadership programs where they are needed most.
The year 2017 marked the liberation of territories and the release or escape of women and girls formerly held by armed groups. These developments shed light on the cruel reality surrounding women and girls in conflict, and the increased need and urgency of ensuring accountability for perpetrators and justice for survivors.
The end of conflict does not mean the end of sexual violence. If perpetrators are free or still have power, the stigma never ends which leads to distrust in the government. Under impunity, people may seek their own retribution, which can easily lead to relapses of conflict.
Women and men are affected differently during conflict. Because of this, women and men provide different information to investigations on invisible crimes such as sexual violence. Women and men also have different needs when it comes to victim assistance such as the compensation process, establishment of safe spaces, and support for war widows.
To address the complex issues around accountability, a gender-responsive rule of law and justice should be ensured in conflict and post-conflict settings. Japan has been financially supporting the work of the Team of Experts in the Office of the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict since 2014. The Team is deployed effectively in some of the world’s most challenging contexts and is delivering practical results.
For example, the DRC is one of the priority countries of Japan and the Team. As the DRC is currently facing a difficult situation, we have set up seven specialized units on sexual violence. Their activities provide training, mentoring, infrastructure and technical support to judicial investigations and mobile courts, and reflect the qualitative and quantitative improvements in the judicial response to sexual violence. From 1 January to 31 October 2017, 1,726 sexual and gender-based violence cases were registered by these units, which have so far resulted in 643 judgments. These are the first concrete data on accountability related to sexual violence in the DRC.
To conclude, we need concrete interventions with concrete results, based on the idea of human security. It is never too late for justice and accountability. However, the sooner they come, the sooner the healing can start and the sooner a sense of dignity can be restored to survivors. Japan calls on the international community to unite and take concrete actions as steadily and as quickly as possible. Japan will always be a part of it
Thank you, Mr. President.