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Statement by H.E. Mohan Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations at the Security Council on :Accountability as prevention: Ending cycles of sexual violence in conflict

Wednesday, 13 April 2022
H.E. Mr. Mohan Pieris
New York

Statement by H.E. Mohan Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations

at the Security Council on :Accountability as prevention: Ending cycles of sexual violence in conflict


Madam Chair, 


Sri Lanka appreciates the United Kingdom’s role in supporting the discussion on Women, Peace and the Security Agenda, which has featured prominently in the recent debates. The importance of highlighting the risks women and girls face during conflict is particularly important in today’s environment where women and girls are marginalized.

The UN Security Council’s recognition of sexual violence as a tactic of war as recognized by the UN Resolution 1820 of 2008 was a milestone in recognizing how conflict impacts women. The bounds within which sexual violence in a conflict occurs are not constrained to a battlefield. It occurs in refugee camps, at the hands of non-state actors, spouses, or those designated to protect womenkind. It includes the sexual exploitation of children, pornography, and sexual assaults. Victims of abuse are often abandoned with children to care for with little societal support. When the avenues for abuse in conflict are so rife and the threat ever so present, it is pertinent to ask the question as to how the international community can make tangible decisions with regard to the aspect of accountability?


In order to address this issue we need to make a global and concerted effort to shift conflict-associated sexual violence from a secondary concern to a primary one. All member states need adequate training, research, and policy program sharing where intervention techniques addressing sexual violence within peacebuilding efforts are better understood and accessible.


We recall in 2004, the bold step taken by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan when he appointed Prince Zeid to help form a comprehensive strategy to eliminate future sexual exploitation and abuse within our peacekeeping forces.


Another discernible feature of note is the hyper-masculine culture that exists which seems to encourage exploitation and abuse, as majority of personnel engaged in an armed conflict are men. Such behaviour has been dismissed in the past with a ‘men will be men’ attitude. This forms a bond of misplaced camaraderie that helps protect the reputation of the offender, but also results in the stigmatization and ostracization of the complainant. The final result being, that instances of sexual abuse are swept under the carpet. 


We must train our personnel investigating crimes of sexual violence to uphold sharp skills of investigation. Investigators must maintain the highest level of integrity and probity without fear or favor. In addition to intensive training, we must focus on community outreach and engage in the education of women, children, and vulnerable groups on gender-based violence and remedies. 


We must bridge the gap in addressing the canvas of sexual offences; we cannot only hold rape or sex trafficking to a higher degree of accountability and allow the offenders of domestic abuse and mental harassment to enjoy impunity. This creates a hierarchy where certain violations can be considered as being acceptable.


It is also observed that in these uncertain times, parties involved in an armed conflict have adopted a new modus operandi. It appears that engaging in the traditional contours of a battlefield is no longer the style of aggression. Instead attacks on the cradle of our civilization: our educational institutions have been the launching pads for aggression. Both parties in armed conflict have begun to use educational facilities as bases, barracks, detention centers, and weapons storage units. This modus operandi lends itself to the use of educational facilities that enhances the risk of child soldiers being inducted. In Sri Lanka non-state actors inducted 594 child soldiers who were exploited in multifarious forms, but were mercifully taken into the welfare camps, rehabilitated and returned to their parents. To combat this atrocity and stop it from becoming a reality, Sri Lanka  lends its support to the Safe Schools Declaration and calls upon member states to ensure the foundational elements of school safety are prevalent; ensure that the school is possessed of characteristics that are safe and responsive to all contingencies, and to ensure that infrastructure, crisis communication, geography and procedures, which are the four security factors are established in schools in conflict areas. It also calls upon member states to help prevent the use of school premises for the launching of military operations.

Madam Chair

It is time that we firmly pledge to take every possible step to eliminate the occurrence of sexual violence in armed conflict in the resolution of disputes between member states and establish an institutional mechanism based on dialogue and diplomacy.

I thank you!