Chinese envoy calls for integrated approach to eliminate conflict-related sexual violence

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UNITED NATIONS, April 14 (Xinhua) — A Chinese envoy on Wednesday called on the international community to adopt an integrated approach to eliminate conflict-related sexual violence.

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts and terrorist activities do not press the pause button, while humanitarian and security crises continue unabated. Sexual violence is still used as a means of war and terrorism, with women in conflict bearing the brunt and suffering the most, said Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

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 this issue and implement integrated policies to eliminate conflict-related sexual violence, and advance the women, peace and security agenda, he told the Security Council.

Zhang stressed the need to focus on tackling the root causes and increase inputs into conflict prevention and maintaining peace.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres once emphasized in his report that the ultimate goal of the agenda to combat conflict-related sexual violence is not to make conflicts free of sexual violence, but rather to make the world free of wars, he said. “As long as conflicts and wars continue, there will be the possibility of sexual violence being used as a means of war and terrorism.”

The international community should focus on resolving the root causes to eradicate the breeding grounds for conflict-related sexual violence, follow such principles as non-interference in internal affairs, and non-use of force, and stay committed to settling disputes through peaceful means, Zhang said.

The Security Council should actively promote political settlements of hot-spot 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 cease-fire appeal and resolve their differences through dialogue and consultation, he said.

Zhang called for efforts to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and support women in playing a greater role in economic and social development and peace and security.

The problem of conflict-related sexual violence does not occur in a vacuum. It often reflects deep-seated frictions due to gender inequality and insufficient development, among others. Under the framework of women’s empowerment and development, the international community must respond to the issue of conflict-related sexual violence in an integrated manner, endeavor to eliminate gender-based discrimination and differential treatment, advance women’s development and overall socio-economic development simultaneously, he said.

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, he added.

The countries concerned bear the primary responsibility for preventing and combating conflict-related sexual violence and protecting women and children in their respective countries. The international community should encourage and support the countries concerned in advancing the women, peace and security agenda according to their national conditions, and in taking strong actions to combat conflict-related sexual violence, said Zhang.

On the basis of respect for the sovereignty and jurisdiction of all countries, the international community should help the countries concerned strengthen 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 sub-regional organizations to leverage their unique advantages and encourage them to explore programs and practices based on the actual conditions of their regions. Women’s groups and civil society need to be guided to play a constructive role, he said.

Women and armed conflict is one of the 12 key areas listed in the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action. As the host country of the Fourth World Conference on Women and 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 conflict-related sexual violence and the advancement of global women’s development, the Chinese envoy said. Enditem

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