Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

Speech, E&OE, (check against delivery)

24 September 2013

I thank the Foreign Secretary Hagueand the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence inConflict for their determined leadership in mobilising global attention andaction to respond to, prevent, indeed eliminate the horrific scourge ofconflict-related sexual violence.

Sexual violence is a deeply pervasive,often invisible and utterly devastating tool of war that terrorises women, men,boys and girls, and destroys families and communities.It is a grave human rights violation.

Deterring would-be perpetrators is atthe very heart of prevention efforts.Wemust counter the culture of impunity.

While we have recognised that Stateshave an obligation to investigate and prosecute sexual violence crimes, we haveseen only a tiny number of perpetrators brought to justice.

This sends a dangerous message thatsexual violence is still tolerated; which tragically so often is the case.

As an international community, wemust act.

This is why Australia so stronglysupports the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, and the Declaration ofcommitment.I am pleased to note 111States have committed to supporting it.Andit is why I am so personally honoured to be a Champion of the Preventing SexualViolence Initiative.

To my mind, the Initiative is anessential step in raising awareness and developing responsive capacity toaddress sexual violence.

Coordinated action is critical toensuring international and regional initiatives are complementary and have amultiplying effect.

National capacity must bestrengthened to translate substantive laws into successful investigations andprosecutions.This needs strongpolitical will and national leadership.

In this context, Australiaacknowledges the work being done by the UN, civil society and others to developrapid deployment expertise.

Australia is working to complementthese efforts through the development of our own sexual violence experts withinour Australian Civilian Corps, which assists the delivery of our aid.

Preventing sexual violence also requiresus to recognise and address the nexus between sexual violence and weak rule oflaw, illicit extraction of natural resources, forcible displacement ofcivilians, security sector reform, and the often all too easy availability ofsmall arms, and the illicit trade in them.

And we must ensure in all our effortsthat we do not lose sight of the survivors of sexual violence.We must ensure they receive the care andsupport they need.

We must work together to shareexperience and expertise to prevent sexual violence crimes, and to challengethe culture of impunity by holding perpetrators to account.

We must be resolute in ourdetermination that these crimes will not be allowed to continue unabated.

Thank you.

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