Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the fourth Ordinary Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Kampala on 15 December:
It is a great pleasure to be with you for this important gathering. I bring you warm greetings from Secretary-General Ban. It is an honour to represent him here.
Let me begin by paying tribute to all leaders of the region for your leadership and commitment to peace and stability in the Great Lakes region. I also pay tribute to the Government of Zambia on their outgoing Presidency and for their excellent stewardship over the past year. I thank the Government and the people of the Republic of Uganda for their hospitality.
I also commend all of the Great Lakes leaders for their decision to convene a special session on sexual- and gender-based violence, a plague that continues to affect the lives of many women in the region. Tackling this scourge is a high priority for the Secretary-General. He has identified the need to expand opportunities and hope for women and girls around the world as a critical imperative for the twenty-first century.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes region. Since it entered into force in all its 11 member States in 2008, the Pact has led to significant achievements.
Under a common political and legal framework, the region has established institutions and mechanisms to foster peace and development. These include the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Secretariat, the Special Fund for Reconstruction and Development, and the Levy Mwanawasa Regional Centre for Democracy, Good Governance, Human Rights and Civic Education.
The Regional Initiative against Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources is also proving to be a successful home-grown solution to help break the link between the exploitation of natural resources and rebel activities. The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Secretariat, through the leadership of Ambassador [Liberata] Mulamula, has been successful in focusing international attention on the Pact.
A number of United Nations agencies and bilateral partners have been supporting activities and projects in the region. Thanks to these efforts, and your political will, more people in the region are now enjoying the dividends of peace.
As we celebrate these advances, we must also acknowledge that there is still a long way to go. Some areas in the region remain affected by pockets of insecurity due to the shameless and ruthless activities of illegal armed groups. Hundreds of thousands of civilians, including women and children, continue to suffer. Indeed, the Pact on Stability, Peace and Development will not be fully meaningful unless women and girls of the region can enjoy a life free from violence. And as we all sadly know, that is simply not the case.
This Special Session should help us make progress in the fight against the scourge of sexual- and gender-based violence. Tackling impunity and ensuring access to justice for survivors is critical. Survivors also need access to health, psychosocial and judicial services, as well as other assistance to help them rebuild their lives.
We must also recognize the wider economic, social and political consequences. Sexual violence not only wreaks havoc in the lives of individual women and girls; it also causes lasting damage to the social fabric and economies of the Great Lakes region. We see it in failed harvests, lost productivity, fractured families, protracted insecurity and reduced political participation.
It is, therefore, essential that Member States increase their efforts. The Pact’s Protocol on Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence against Women and Children, as well as the Protocol on Judicial Cooperation, should be enshrined in national law. I am encouraged by the recommendations of ministers in charge of gender, which cover key areas, such as prosecuting perpetrators, supporting victims and strengthening national legal and financial capacities. I strongly encourage Your Excellencies to adopt these measures during this Summit, and then implement them as a matter of urgency.
We at the United Nations stand ready to support you. Secretary-General Ban is leading a system-wide effort to end violence against women, including domestic violence, harmful traditional practices and sexual violence as a tactic of war and terror. This effort includes the “UNiTE to End Violence against Women and Girls” campaign, launched in 2008. United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), are working to support your Governments in following up on the ground.
In recent years, Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009) and 1960 (2010) have helped to frame sexual violence as a development issue, a humanitarian priority and a core peace and security challenge in conflict and post-conflict settings. United Nations agencies are supporting Member States and civil society to implement these resolutions. More than a dozen United Nations system entities — working under the umbrella of UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict — have launched a global campaign to “Stop Rape Now”. As they have reminded the world, there can be “no peace without peace for women”.
We stand ready to continue working with you to end sexual- and gender-based violence, and build prosperous and peaceful societies throughout the Great Lakes region. My colleague, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict — Margot Wallström — is here with us today and she will speak further on this issue later in the afternoon.
Finally, I wish to pay tribute to Ambassador Mulamula and her team, as she completes her tenure as Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. Ambassador Mulamula’s able stewardship has reaped great dividends for the region in its pursuit of a more stable, peaceful and prosperous future. I know you join me in commending her strong contribution.
Thank you for your attention, and best wishes for a successful Summit.
For information media • not an official record