Statement by Alice Walpole, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General Commemoration of the International Day on the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

“The Plight and Rights of Children Born of Sexual Violence in Conflict”

26 June 2018

Your Excellencies,
Council of Ministers,
Honourable Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Civil Society Representatives,
Distinguished Guests,
Colleagues in the United Nations family,

I should like to start by expressing my appreciation for the continued close cooperation between the United Nations and the Government of Iraq in implementation of the Joint Communique on Prevention and Response to Conflict Related Sexual Violence. In particular, I thank our government partners for extending an invitation to the United Nations to collaborate with the Government of Iraq in observing this, the third annual commemoration of the of International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. The global theme for this year’s event is: “The Plight and Rights of Children of War”. To address the specific context of Iraq, we have modified the theme to focus on ‘The Plight and Rights of Children Born of Sexual Violence in Conflict’.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Addressing the needs of children born of rape and their mothers remains an enormous challenge in Iraq. For those who lived under Daesh control, the suffering during that time was unprecedented. Unfortunately, following the defeat of Daesh, many of these children continue to face terrible difficulties, often rejected by society – specifically, their local communities - and viewed as affiliates of Daesh rather than victims. Children born of rape and forced marriages are currently in a legal limbo in Iraq, unsupported, unprotected, some without families to care for them, some susceptible to trafficking or exploitation, and others subject to radicalisation or recruitment by terrorist groups, with broader implications for peace and security as well as human rights. It is therefore vital that we ensure that they do not suffer any further, now that Iraq has been liberated from the scourge of terrorism.

Priority Three of the United Nations-Iraq Joint Communiqué on Prevention and Response to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence calls for “ensuring the provision of services, livelihood support and reparations for survivors and children born of rape”. To this end, the implementation plan of the Joint Communiqué provides a platform for collective activity by all sectors of society, including political, religious and tribal leaders, civil society and women’s and children’s rights activists to foster a national environment that promotes positive attitudes and behavioural change towards survivors of sexual violence and their children. In fulfilling this commitment, the principle of the best interests of the child as articulated in Article 3 of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child should guide all actions supporting child survivors and the protection and reintegration of children born of rape.

To strengthen this collective response in protecting children born of rape, an examination has been initiated of the legal and procedural deficiencies that could hinder access to civil documentation for survivors of sexual violence and children born of rape, with a view to recommending legal reform. In the spirit of the Joint Communiqué, I urge the Government to ensure that children born of rape grow up in dignity, with official legal status, so as not to be perpetually marginalised and stigmatised.

We are also developing strategies to build the support of religious leaders in advancing acceptance of rape survivors and children born of rape, in the face of social stigma, silence and shame. The fatwa issued by the Baba Sheikh in 2015 and the Sunni Endowment leadership in 2017 on accepting survivors of sexual violence are valuable initiatives that might usefully be replicated more widely across religious communities to promote the acceptance of children born of sexual violence in conflict.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), renewed on 14 June in UN Security Council resolution 2421, explicitly instructs UNAMI to assist the Iraqi Government’s efforts, and those of the United Nations Country Team, to strengthen child protection, including the rehabilitation and reintegration of children into Iraqi society. To this end, we stand ready to support the Iraqi Government in the implementation of the Joint Communiqué and other relevant commitments. We look forward to assisting the incoming government, once it is formed, in protecting the rights of all children, especially the most vulnerable, including children born of rape and survivors of sexual violence, as part of our core commitment to advancing human rights and supporting the achievement of lasting peace and stability in post-Daesh Iraq.

Thank you.

 

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  • Agency: UNAMI
Last modified on Wednesday, 27 June 2018 14:50

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