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Speeches, 6/13/2014

Remarks by Minister Haavisto on Somalia in London

Remarks by Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto in the ministerial forum on Somalia, in London, 21 June 2014

  • Ending sexual violence in conflicts is a precondition for a stable and secure world where human rights are respected.
  • I thank Foreign Minister Hague for this initiative and reiterate Finland's strong commitment to this work.
  • The situation in Somalia is severe as sexual violence, including rape, continues to prevail.
  • Somalia's commitment to tackle the scourge is to be commended. I welcome the promise by the president (Hassan Sheikh Mohamud) that no more alleged rape victims would be imprisoned and that a specialized crime unit and dedicated clinic would be created and encourage further efforts.
  • Important tool to end sexual violence in conflicts is empowerment of women. Equal participation of women in political processes is vital.
  • Therefore, it is with regret that I note that the quota for women in Federal Parliament was not reached. Urgent action is needed to reverse the development before the general elections in 2016 to avoid a major step-back.
  • At the same time, the African Union is setting good example for the whole world in this field. Six out of ten current Commissioners are women, including the chairperson Zuma.
  • Gender equality does not get promoted by a chance - we need to invest in it. Increased support to the UN Women is one example of our investments. I encourage everyone around this table to challenge Finland's position as UN Women's top contributor – no hard feelings should we lose our rank.
  • Sexual violence in conflict is a war crime. The use of sexual violence as a tactic of war must be condemned and addressed.
  • Often neglected in the related UN Security Council's resolutions is the crucial role of police. In Somalia, yet more female police officers are needed as they have a special significance in addressing sexual violence. (Finland has decidedly increased the participation of women in civilian crisis management operations and now 36 % of the Finnish experts are women.)
  • All ceasefire agreements and peace agreements should include provisions on sexual and gender-based violence. Amnesties must not be provided for these crimes in any agreements (as recommended also in the UN Guidance for Effective Mediation).
  • An important step further was achieved as gender-based violence was included – for the first time in an international treaty - as licensing criteria in the Arms Trade Treaty.
  • Fighting impunity is extremely important and the role of ICC is crucial. Bringing justice to victims and ensuring their needs are taken into account is vital for successful peace andstate building.
  • Finland has been a long standing supporter of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims, the Justice Rapid Response facility and the UN Team of Experts on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
  • Finland will also support the UN "Stop rape now" – initiative (with 2 M€) to help victims on the ground and put an end to this horrendous crime.

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Updated 6/13/2014

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