Remarks by Ambassador Ferit Hoxha at the virtual meeting on judicial response to conflict-related sexual violence in Mali

New York, 8 February 2022

Albania is happy to join the Permanent Mission of Germany, and you dear Antje, and the office of SRSG Patten in organizing today’s briefing. We pay tribute to the excellent work Germany has done while in the Council, a couple of years ago, and are happy to follow suit.

As you may know, strengthening the WPS Agenda and fighting conflict-related sexual violence are key priorities of our tenure in the Security Council.

Therefore, today’s discussion on Mali – in the particularly difficult times the country is going through – and the work of the Team of Experts, is very timely.

Madam Moderator,

I wholeheartedly congratulate the Office of SRSG Patten, MINUSMA, the Team of Experts and the UN Justice and Corrections Standing Capacity (JCSC) for their essential works to help and assist Malian national judicial authorities improve their response to the appalling sexual violence cases.

Accountability is a key factor in fighting this scourge. It is only when perpetrators of sexual violence are brought to justice that others are deterred from committing such horrific crimes. It is only when command structures understand that the days of impunity are over that they will no longer turn a blind eye. It is our duty to make the world smaller and smaller for perpetrators.

Comprehensive documentation is key in ensuring that justice system can do its job. We therefore commend the role of civil society actors and UN Entities in documenting conflict-related sexual violence cases in Mali and in ensuring adequate and survivor-centered responses to those crimes.

We welcome the adoption of the action plan by the transitional Government of Mali and the UN to implement the provisions of the joint communiqué addressing conflict-related sexual violence, signed in March 2019. We strongly believe that the full, continuous and timely implementation of the action plan will ensure the country’s compliance with its commitment to prevent, judicially respond to and holistically support survivors of such violence.

While the adoption of this action plan is a first step, the prevailing lack of accountability and recognition of such crimes as well as the stigmatization of victims and survivors remain a devastating legacy of this brutal conflict. Two years have passed since and the results are scarce.

In this context, we welcome that the national judicial authorities have prioritized the prosecution of three cases of appalling sexual violence involving a total of 146 victims. It is the right message: sooner or later those responsible will have to respond for their crimes!

Madame Moderator,

Sexual violence has a dehumanizing nature. It doesn’t just harm a single individual or a single family or even a single group. It negatively affects and endangers whole families and communities, erodes social and political stability, and undermines economic progress.

We are speaking today about the situation in Mali, and rightfully so. Let’s not forget that this terrible crime has been and is being committed in various parts of the world.

Wherever there is a conflict, women and girls will be first to suffer and pay the highest price. Coming from a region which in not a too distant past has been a center of major conflicts and human suffering as a result of the bloody disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, Albania has witnessed how sexual violence has been used as a horrible tactic of war against civilians. In the conflict in Kosovo alone, just 20 years ago, more than 20 000 women and girls were sexually abused. To this day, many of them remain anonymous, live in their silent suffering, knowing that they have been denied justice.

This is a reminder to us all that much more needs to do more – so much more.

It starts by documenting CRSV when it happens, ensure a dignified treatment of victims and a survivor-centered approach, improve accountability – including with sanctions when national justice systems can’t respond. At the same time, we need to support national authorities and build their capacities. Impunity must not be tolerated; it must become a thing of the past.

Therefore, we look forward to hearing more from the Team of Experts, MINUSMA, and JCSC on their work in Mali which can serve as a best practice for others dealing with similar challenges. You can count on Albania’s active support.

Thank you!

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