Statement by H.E. Mr. Md Muhammad Abdul Muhith, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security: Preventing conflict-related sexual violence through demilitarisation and gender-responsive arms control at Security Council Chamber, UNHQ on 23 April 2024.

Madam President,

I thank the Presidency of Malta for convening today’s open debate. I also thank the distinguished briefers for their remarks.

Madam President,

Significant efforts have been made by the United Nations in the last couple of years to address conflict related sexual violence, including through the inter-agency network – United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict. However, the scourge of CRSV continues to remain a serious concern for the global community. With the rise of armed conflicts and proliferation of weapons, including small arms and light weapons, increased the risks of conflict related sexual violence. Research has shown that, approximately 70 to 90 per cent of incidents of conflict-related sexual violence involve small arms and light weapons.

It is therefore imperative for the Council to undertake and advance a gender-responsive demilitarization and non-proliferation agenda to end sexual violence in conflict.

Madam President,

Bangladesh went through the painful experience of conflict related sexual violence during its war of liberation in 1971. Over 2,00,000 women and girls bore its brunt. We had taken measures for their rehabilitation in 1972. The local perpetrators have been brought to justice through a trial process and the contribution of the victims has been recognized officially.

We are experiencing a repeat of that traumatic experience while hosting over a million forcibly displaced Rohingyas. Many of those Rohingya women faced sexual violence in Myanmar. Considering their specific needs, our National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security has incorporated provisions for capacity building of local humanitarian actors on gender responsive and victim-centered humanitarian actions. The Rohingya women have also been made part of our efforts to address various security threats in the camps, including threats of human trafficking.

As we discuss conflict related sexual violence, I cannot but express my delegation’s deep concern at the current situation in Gaza, which has taken a severe toll on Palestinian women and girls. We are appalled by the credible allegations raised in the reports of UN experts that the Palestinian women and girls in detention centers have been subjected to multiple forms of sexual assault. We echo the calls of those Experts to conduct an independent, impartial, prompt, thorough and effective investigation into the allegations.

Madam President,

Allow me to highlight some specific thoughts on today’s topic:

First, we would like to emphasize the importance of implementing Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, including in the context of disarmament and non-proliferation. In this regard, we wish to highlight the need for enhancing accountability and compliance and call for concrete actions from the Council to address non-compliance.

Second, we echo the call for women’s enhanced participation in ceasefire and political processes, security sector reform and arms control. We highlight the contribution of Peacekeeping Operations in engaging the women in Security Sector Reform (SSR) and Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) processes. We also support the recommendation of the Secretary-General for dedicated operational provisions on addressing conflict-related sexual violence, in mandate authorizations and renewals of peace operations, including those undergoing transitions and phased drawdowns.

Third we wish to recognize the important role of Peacebuilding Commission in strengthening the capacity of national institutions and stakeholders in prevention of sexual violence in conflict, and advancing rehabilitation and reintegration of the survivors of CRSV. The Council can leverage PBC’s advisory role, which is an effective platform for sharing best practices and strengthening CRSV prevention and response.

Fourth use of sexual violence as a weapon of war must be strongly condemned and accounted for. We call for ensuring justice and accountability for such crimes including under the auspices of International Criminal Court.

Finally, ending conflict related sexual violence would require comprehensive strategy to advance political solution to armed conflicts as well as greater efforts towards achieving general and complete disarmament. The Council must remain focused in fulfilling its primary responsibility to end armed conflict, including by preventing its abetment through supply of arms to the parties in conflict.

To conclude, I wish to reiterate my country’s full commitment to the UN’s gender-responsive disarmament agenda and our support to all global efforts for ending sexual violence in conflict.

I thank you.