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Remarks of SRSG Patten at the virtual Launch Event for the Handbook for United Nations Field Missions on Preventing and Responding to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

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Excellencies, Distinguished guests,

It is a great pleasure to join you today to launch this critical tool for UN field missions, the Handbook on Preventing and Responding to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence.

I wish to extend my appreciation to the Government of Norway for their steadfast support to the conflict-related sexual violence mandate for over 10 years, and for their strategic vision in supporting this new resource for frontline actors.

I also commend the critical work of the Department of Peace Operations, the Department of Peacebuilding and Political Affairs, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, not only for their partnership with my Office in the development of this Handbook, but also for their unwavering commitment to this agenda.

Over ten years ago, the Security Council gave peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development actors a new set of responsibilities. At the same time, it created my mandate to provide coherent and strategic leadership to global efforts. Today, around the world, we are working together to deliver lifesaving protection and assistance to survivors of sexual violence. We are striving to ensure they are able to access justice, reparations and redress.

There is increased awareness that conflict-related sexual violence is not only a violation of individual human rights, but also a threat to international peace and security. As the United Nations, we cannot rest until we ensure that comprehensive peace is delivered to all women, girls, men and boys, and this requires the immediate cessation of sexual violence in all conflict zones.

The Handbook we are launching today is, in many ways, the missing link in our efforts. The past decade has seen dramatic normative and institutional progress, which has, in turn, spurred the development of innovative prevention and response strategies. The Handbook codifies these efforts, building upon best practices and lessons learnt, to provide guidance on all levels of engagement, from political commitments to the provision of services. It charts a clear course from advocacy to action, and from resolutions to results. Moreover, it will help us to ensure that a survivor-centered, rights-based approach informs all prevention and response efforts.

In this regard, the two operational arms of my mandate, the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and the UN Action network, are delivering concrete projects to support survivors, including life-saving medical, legal and psychosocial services. This handbook will further equip them to engage key stakeholders on the importance of prioritizing this issue, given its lasting impact on individual lives and livelihoods, as well as on wider social and community cohesion.

The Handbook promotes interventions that give voice and choice to the survivors. It provides a basis for training field personnel to recognize that survivors are best placed to identify the assistance they need to recover and heal, in addition to outlining the actions required to prevent and deter future atrocities.

I would like to end by thanking our dedicated field colleagues, the Senior Women Protection Advisors and the UN military, police and civilian personnel, who work tirelessly to combat this scourge. I am grateful they have joined us today, even at this challenging moment of uncertainty and overlapping crises, to share practical experiences of putting survivors at the center of their work.
Thank you.

Friday, 5 June 2020