Sierra Leone at the UN Security Council

Sierra Leone at the UN Security Council Open Debate On Women And Peace And Security: ‘Preventing Conflict Related Sexual Violence Through Demilitarisation And Gender responsive Arms Control’ 

Thank you, Mr. President.  

We thank Malta for convening this open debate.

We thank the briefers, Ms. Pramila Patten, Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Niemat Ahmadi, Founder and President of Darfur Women Action Group, and Ms. Danai Gurira, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, for their comprehensive briefings and for their various efforts to drive forward much needed global action to tackle conflict related sexual violence (CRSV).

Having experienced firsthand the devastating impact of conflict related sexual violence on people and communities, Sierra Leone remains committed to joining proactive efforts toprevent conflictrelated sexual violence through demilitarization and genderresponsive arms control.   

The prevalence of sexual violence relating to both conflict and peace time situations is alarming. In the ongoing conflicts there are harrowing reported accounts of women, men, girls, and boys of disparate ages being deliberately targeted and victimized 

sexually.  Bringing this “historically hidden crime” to the forefront of our discussions is the only way to address it.  

Sierra Leone notes with appreciation, the important report of the Secretary-General, which outlines progress made and emerging issues on sexual violence in conflict-affected areas for the reporting period, as well as forward-looking recommendations aimed at strengthening mechanisms for compliance of State and non- state actors with Security Council resolutions on conflict-related sexual violence.

We have taken note, with grave concern, the listings in the annex of parties credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape or other forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict that are on the agenda of the UN Security Council.

In particular, we note with regret that Sudanese women are experiencing the impact of the escalating conflict acutely and face a range of risks, including kidnapping, rape and sexual exploitation, and forced marriage. We call upon all member States to stop arms transfers when there is a substantial risk that they may be used to “commit or facilitate serious acts of violence against women and children in Sudan and in all conflict situations. We have the responsibility to ensure compliance with resolution 2724 reiterate the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Sudan and call on parties to respect international humanitarian and human rights law.  

Mr. President,  

The burden on women and girls warrants particular emphasis. Of the 3,688 verified cases of CRSV across 21 settings highlighted in the current report, 95% are women and girls.   

In conflict situations, the bodies of predominantly women and girls have become battlegrounds, not because of bombs and shells, but because of the heartless human hands and minds of armed groups of State actors and non-state actors, who continue to take advantage of the anarchy of wars to inflict violence on the most vulnerable members of their communities. Women are being disempowered, raped, tortured, abducted, and humiliated, and many are ostracized at the end of conflicts because they bear the effects of the abuse, including through pregnancy.

Increased militarization and the proliferation of weapons, particularly small arms, and light weapons (SALWs), fuel the systematic and widespread occurrence of sexual violence in conflict.  Weapons and ammunition are used by perpetrators to commit rape, to threaten or force individuals into sexual acts against their will, and to injure and kill survivors and victims of sexual violence.  

As stated in the concept note for this debate, a study by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) across six countries in 2021 approximates that “70% to 90% of sexual violence incidents were reported to involve weapons, particularly firearms.” Therefore, the role of arms control and disarmament in CRSV prevention is very critical. In this regard, there is need to strengthen information sharing platforms where Member States can share best practices, lessons learned, and emerging threats related to CRSV and the role of arms. This will foster collaboration and allow countries to learn from each other’s experiences.  

Mr. President,  

Sierra Leone believes there is light at the end of the tunnel, because evidence bears witness to the fact that rigorous enforcement of appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks do reduce incidences of CSRV.  

Our commitment to addressing CRSV, for instance, is informed by our experience, including the development of critical 

jurisprudence in the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).  The SCSL first international tribunal to recognize the new crime against humanity of forced marriage as an “other inhumane act”.  

In the post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding phase, Sierra Leone continues to demonstrate significant commitment to addressing CRSV and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including through the declaration of a national public emergency on rape in 2019.  

Sierra Leone continues to prioritize the prosecution of perpetrators, ensuring accountability while also recognizing the distinct harm inflicted on victims, and the need for redress. In this regard we wish to recall the importance of UN Security Council resolution 2467 (2019).

In view of the foregoing, Sierra Leone would like to reiterate the following three points:

Firstly, we emphasize the need for state and non-state actors engaged in conflict to comply with their obligations under international law protecting civilians from CRSV.  

Secondly, we call on all member States and partners to strengthen networks for collaboration and cooperation for  arms control and disarmament instruments and treaties, including the  Arms Trade Treaty and the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA). In this regard, we believe that States and other partners should advocate for stronger 

accountability mechanisms, including judicial action, against those who are proven to have committed acts of CRSV, as well as establishment of reparation mechanisms for victims.  

Global, regional, and national mechanisms for arms control and disarmament should seek the active participation and views of survivors of gender-based violence, including conflict related sexual violence, as key stakeholders.    Similarly, gender analysis and gender-responsive monitoring should be incorporated into these mechanisms, to effectively address the gendered impacts of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

Thirdly and finally, we must improve our efforts to address systemic gender inequality, which can be a causal factor for conflict related violence, particularly against women and girls. In this regard, the achievement of targets related to gender equality, justice, and strong institutions in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and particularly SDGs 5 and 16 are of critical importance. Addressing the underlying historical, political, cultural, social, and economic factors of conflicts are also key to tackling 


In closing, Sierra Leone reiterates its commitment to the protection of vulnerable populations and inclusive efforts to combat CRSV.  

I thank you.

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