High-Level Dialogue on Lessons Learned and Continuing Challenges in Combating Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Statement by the delegation of the United States
Delivered by Paula Schriefer
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
Head of the U.S. Delegation to the 25th Human Rights Council
25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
March 25, 2014
Thank you, Mr. President.
The United States welcomes the candid discussion on this challenging and difficult topic by the distinguished panelists. After decades of conflict in the DRC, women and girls–and men and boys–continue to suffer unspeakable brutality as fighting groups routinely use rape and sexual violence as tactics of war. Vulnerable individuals, including internally displaced persons and refugees, are treated as pawns in the various conflicts afflicting the eastern DRC.
Every single country – including my own – can, and must, do more to combat sexual and gender-based violence, and we encourage the continued exchange of best practices among all countries, including those engaged in or emerging from conflict. In the DRC, where sexual and gender-based violence represents a glaring and appalling symptom of the disease of conflict, breaking the cycle of conflict and achieving lasting peace are necessary starting points for ending this horrific practice. We continue to support the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework Agreement, which we believe presents the DRC and the Great Lakes region with the best opportunity for resolving the root causes of conflict in the region. We support the prompt and full implementation of the Framework’s commitments, including through broader political dialogue between signatories. We also promote the full equal and effective participation of women in these processes.
We are encouraged by on-going efforts to ensure that those responsible for sexual violence, including members of the military and police, are held accountable. We strongly condemn the mass rapes that took place in Minova in 2012, and are encouraged by the trials currently ongoing or that have already taken place. We urge the current prosecution to respect minimum fair trial guarantees. We support the proposal for mixed chambers in the DRC in order to increase the country’s capacity to hold perpetrators of atrocities accountable and end impunity.
We welcome the government’s National SGBV Strategy and call for full implementation of its program.
To Madame Bangura: When rape and other sexual violence have been used as a tactic of war for decades, how do you overcome a culture of conflict? What models have you seen pursued by other countries emerging from armed conflict you feel could best be applied to the DRC?