Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Joyce Msuya, closing remarks for Side Event at the United Nations General Assembly: Ensuring Accountability for Sexual Violence and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law


As delivered

Excellencies and guests, thank you very much for being here. I should also thank the organizers for this timely event today, Belgium, the DRC and EU.

It’s very clear that we have a strong sense collectively, of what needs to be done. Now we need to chart the way forward.

But, before we turn to how to achieve stronger accountability for sexual violence in conflict, we as we have heard, start with better prevention.

Prevention starts by understanding the problem.

But if we want to understand the problem, we need to listen. We need to listen to survivors of sexual violence. And we need to listen to organizations working on the front lines that confront sexual violence every single day.

With a greater understanding, we can begin to put survivors of sexual violence at the centre of our work. As we heard today, the role of a survivor-centred approach cannot be overstated. We can begin to reshape how we respond to humanitarian crises while addressing the extreme power imbalances and inequalities that breed this devastating form of violence.

We must also work tirelessly to ensure that women and women’s organizations lead and participate in every single area of humanitarian action. This means empowering the survivors of sexual violence while strengthening the women’s organizations that play such a central role in confronting a crisis of epidemic proportions.

Second – and this has been raised by many here today – we have to fill the chronic funding gap for programmes that are working to end gender inequality and genderbased violence.

Without funding, we simply cannot address the problem. Survivors need accessible, quality assistance that covers sexual and reproductive care, psychosocial support and legal services. With proper funding, we can treat survivors as the unique individuals they are, prioritizing their specific needs in ways that also truly empower them.

It is about their integrity.

Third, we must continue to strengthen collaboration across the humanitarian, development and peace sectors. This is what makes the UN Action Network so unique and critical.

And finally, we need to see much greater progress in holding perpetrators to account for violations. It’s disturbing that the majority of incidents still go unaddressed.

The cost of inaction is quite high.

Finally survivors demand and deserve justice, so let’s all do a better job of delivering it.

Not just in statements but in action.

Thank you.


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