Remarks at a UN Observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict

Trina Saha
Deputy Political Counselor
New York, New York
June 19, 2023


Madam Ambassador, SRSG Patten, distinguished panelists, we sincerely appreciate your remarks on this important topic.

Thank you for shining a spotlight on the need to bridge the gender digital divide as we commemorate the 9th official observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The United States is firmly committed to preventing and responding to conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and all other forms of gender-based violence, including technology-facilitated gender-based violence.

Gender-based online harassment and abuse attacks and silences women and girls, particularly those already marginalized due to their disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, or religion. An estimated 85 percent of women and girls globally have experienced some form of online harassment and abuse.

Authoritarian powers are increasingly finding ways to repress civil society, spread disinformation, and undermine confidence in democratic institutions. Women in politics, civil society activists, peacebuilders, and as Ms. Lima highlighted journalists are often disproportionately targeted and impacted by threats and attacks.

We need a sense of urgency and determination to call out misuse and abuse of technology, and determination on the part of NGOs and civil society to hold governments and the private sector to account.

We need to find better ways to use information and communications technology to support early warning and prevention efforts and help women in imminent danger so they can receive emergency help. As SRSG Patten referenced, we need to utilize technology—in a survivor-centered and trauma-informed way—to document cases of conflict-related sexual violence so that perpetrators cannot act with impunity. Thank you to Physicians for Human Rights for your incredible work to do just that through your MediCapt mobile application and much more.

I want to underscore that the best long-term protection from conflict-related sexual violence is building equal and just societies, including those where the human rights of all women and girls are respected; they have equal protection under the law; and they have timely access to justice, technology, opportunity, and the educational opportunities they deserve.

We look forward to working together to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence, strengthen accountability for perpetrators, protect and advance the rights of women and girls, and elevate their role in promoting peace and security.