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Address at the conference Preventing Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict

- If we are to fight this problem successfully, a strong mutual commitment is needed. In this respect, the people of Somalia – in particular the girls and women –deserve our long-term support, said Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, in his address at the Somalia forum.

Thank you, Mr Chair,

Sexual violence represents one of the most serious forms of violation of an individual’s human rights.

We have to work together, share our knowledge and experience and mobilise resources – to show our determination to end the use of any form of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

We recognise the fact that Somalia is trying to reestablish itself as a functioning state after more than 20 years of conflict, terror and under-development.

Somalia has witnessed a paradigm shift in recent years. Development partners have been actively engaged in supporting Somalia’s recovery efforts. I welcome the fact that the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia has highlighted the need to end the era of serious human rights violations and violence against civilians, particularly women.

We should all take note of this commitment, which has been made at the highest level in Somalia. It comes in the wake of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict’s first mission to Somalia in April last year. The President and the Cabinet made a commitment then to address violations against women in a comprehensive manner and as a matter of priority.

I would like to commend the Federal Government of Somalia for developing a National Action Plan. I know that Minister Khadija has been committed to these issues for years, both as Minister and as a Member of Parliament in Somalia.

Norway is a longstanding friend of Somalia. We are committed to the principles of the Somali Compact and we recognise the importance of Somali ownership of the country’s development plans. We are participating actively in several of the working groups created under the Compact. The working group on security stresses the need for the institutions responsible for security to respect international humanitarian law. This includes zero tolerance for gender-based violence, particularly sexual violence.

Any action to address sexual violence in conflicts needs sufficient and predictable resources. Key actors, including national institutions and civil society groups, need the resources to tackle these issues on several levels: from prevention, to service provision for victims, to longer-term measures to end impunity.

I am pleased to announce that Norway is about to sign an agreement with UN Women – which has worked closely with Minister Khadija and her Ministry – with the aim of building Somali capacity to promote gender equality and combat violence against women and girls, from both response and preventive perspectives.

Success in this area is very difficult to achieve. Hence, we must all show our commitment, vigilantly and consistently, if we are ever to end this devastating and criminal practice. If we are to fight this problem successfully, a strong mutual commitment is needed. In this respect, the people of Somalia – in particular the girls and women – deserve our long-term support.

Thank you.

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