UN Security Council Meeting on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence and Human Trafficking
The gendered-impact of conflict is of importance to peace and security and must continue to engage the attention of the global community in order that appropriate and tailored responses are provided to the several women and girls who, unfortunately, fall victim to those actions that constitute both a violation of their rights and international law. We are, therefore, grateful to Special Representative Pramila Patten and the other briefers, Natalia Karbowska and Sherrie Rollins Westin, for their briefings and for drawing attention to the unfortunate development of conflict-related sexual violence and human trafficking in Ukraine and more importantly, on the protection assistance and support being provided to the women and girls. Two months ago, in this very Chamber, members of the Security Council and the wider UN membership were briefed by Ms. Pramila Patten during the open debate on conflict-related sexual violence with an emphasis on accountability as a form of prevention. At that open debate, Ukraine was listed among conflict environments where the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence remained a chilling reality for many.
Today, as Ukraine takes centre-stage in our discussions on conflict-related sexual violence and human trafficking, we, who are entrusted with the details of the heartbreaking circumstances, owe it to victims and survivors to channel our dissatisfaction into action. We are reminded of our obligation as an international community to ensure that prevention, accountability and a survivor centred approach, which are at the heart of Resolution 2467, are not reduced to mere rhetoric but are translated into real and tangible action on the ground. Ghana condemns all acts of sexual violence and human trafficking in Ukraine, including, as a weapon of war, and stresses the need to hold perpetrators accountable. We reiterate our support for all ongoing accountability efforts, including investigations by the Ukrainian authorities, civil society organizations and the International Criminal Court (ICC), among others.
We further express our support for global calls to designate such acts as war crimes and submit that conflict-related sexual violence and human trafficking should be treated as a basis for targeted sanctions against culpable actors in keeping with the importance this Council attaches to accountability and ending impunity. Ghana is appreciative of the efforts of all humanitarian and aid agencies present in Ukraine as well as the Member States who have responded to the call for real action and continue to offer a hand of hope in parts of the country where it is needed the most. Training and capacity building for UN field and humanitarian workers, civil society organizations, local women groups and media organizations in Ukraine are absolutely essential in ensuring that such entities are adequately equipped to provide sufficient sensitization against stigma. Dealing with the problem of stigmatization would encourage an increasing number of victims not only to report violations against them but also support justice delivery on their behalf by testifying and staying engaged throughout the prosecution processes.
In accordance with Resolution 2475 (2019), the UN must urgently reduce the risk of trafficking through the provision of effective assistance and protection to refugees and internally displaced persons, without discrimination, in particular on grounds of race, gender, disability or other status, recognizing that discrimination and racism may increase vulnerability to trafficking. No child in Ukraine should endure the horrible experience of being trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. We, urge all relevant UN agencies to ensure that child protection systems in Ukraine are continuously and adequately resourced. There is also a crucial need to ensure access to safe accommodation and enhance the protection of displaced and refugee children, taking into consideration their best interests to prevent them from being trafficked. It is important to recall that the effects of conflicts on populations are innumerable. Whenever conflicts occur, innocent civilians are often exposed to unspeakable physical, mental, environmental and economic damage with very little hope for restoration. When sexual violence and human trafficking are introduced into this already toxic cocktail, victims experience an agony most of us can never imagine.
A ceasefire is most urgent now to eliminate the conditions within which these unbridled and gross violations of international law, international humanitarian law and human rights abuses are manifested. Consequently, we re-iterate the call on the Russian Federation to unconditionally withdraw its forces from the internationally recognized territories of Ukraine and for the two parties to commit to diplomacy and dialogue for an early and negotiated settlement of the dispute. We believe that through a meaningful and sustained engagement centered on the principles of the Charter, international law and the norms that facilitate peaceful co-existence and assure stability, the parties will better be equipped to address their mutual security concerns.
In concluding, we urge the sustained engagement of the Council on this important matter towards ensuring freedom from sexual oppression and accountability for all acts of impunity against women and girls in Ukraine.
I thank you, Mr. President.