Summary of SRSG Remarks Pramila Patten on the occasion of the global observance of the 8th “International Day on the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict South Sudan”
Conflict-related sexual violence continues to be one of the most traumatic features of the conflict in South Sudan. Women, men and children continue to be at risk while facing pandemic-related restrictions, spiking violence, and reduced access to services and legal protections. Sexual violence continues to be perpetrated by parties to the conflict, with a steady increase in the number of incidents of conflict-related sexual violence perpetrated by community-based militia. The recent record numbers of sexual violence, which has doubled compared with the same period last year, and the reports that emerged from Leer County in April, are extremely concerning.
Despite these challenges, modest progress has been made in terms of implementing the Action Plan for the Armed Forces on Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence. Training initiatives for the armed forces, focused on the prevention and response to sexual violence, as well as command responsibility, have continued. A Joint Implementation Committee on conflict-related sexual violence was formally launched in November 2021. Since then, I have received their first progress report detailing the actions that are being taken to curtail sexual violence by the armed forces. Furthermore, the Mission provided advisory and logistical support to justice actors to ensure steps are being taken on accountability for sexual violence crimes, and to promote access to justice.
I call on all actors, including the South Sudan National Police Service, to continue to meaningfully implement their respective Action Plans and commitments, in line with the survivor-centered approach articulated in Security Council Resolution 2467 (2019).
However, impunity for crimes of CRSV remains pervasive, with limited progress made in relation to the thousands of cases reported over the past decade. To ensure we address the root causes of sexual violence, we must redouble our focus on prevention. Equally critical is empowering survivors which requires investing in broad-based social protection and employment opportunities, including to enhance economic and food security. Increasing access to care, particularly services tailored to treating chronic reproductive health issues, and psychological trauma, is of paramount importance to helping victims of sexual violence in South Sudan to move forward as survivors. Local women’s rights organizations, working tirelessly to ensure that services reach survivors, must also be protected.
I would emphasize that all tools must work in tandem to reverse the emboldening effects of impunity; that prevention must be paramount; and that we must reinforce, at every opportunity, the message that the only shame of rape is in committing, commanding, or condoning it. The rights, needs, aspirations, and wellbeing of survivors must be at the heart of all of our interventions, as we strive to prevent the occurrence and recurrence of these grave crimes.