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24 January 2023 morning

2023 - First part-session Print sitting

Sitting video(s) 1 / 1

Opening of the sitting No. 3


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Good morning, everybody. 

The sitting is open. 

This morning, the Agenda calls for the election of two judges to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Iceland and Denmark. The list of candidates and biographical notices are to be found in documents 15685 and Addendum 2 and 15670 and 15671.

The voting for each election will take place by individual electronic secret ballot using the Scytl online voting platform. Voting will be between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. today.

Each political group has appointed a teller according to the rules. The tellers are:

From the Group of the European People's Party: Ms Ria OOMEN RUIJTEN

From the Socialist Group: Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

From the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe: Mr Robert TROY

From the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance: Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO

From the Group of the Unified European Left: Mr Paul GAVAN

I will announce the result of the elections at this afternoon’s sitting.

For these first ballots, an absolute majority of the votes is required. If a second round has to be organised, it will take place tomorrow morning.

I now declare the ballots open. Please vote.

The next item on the Agenda is the debate on the Report titled “Conflict-related sexual violence” (Doc. 15677) presented by Ms Petra BAYR – she is here – on behalf of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.

In order to finish by 12:00 p.m., I will interrupt the list of speakers at about 11:30 a.m. to allow time for the reply and vote on the draft resolution.


I call Ms BAYR, as rapporteur. You have 7 minutes now, and 3 minutes at the end to reply to the debate. 


The floor is yours, Madam Petra BAYR.


Debate: Conflict-related sexual violence

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC, Rapporteur


Thank you, Mr President.

In my report on conflict-related sexual violence, I enshrine a couple of recommendations on different topics, beginning with –of course– prevention.

Prevention of sexual violence in conflicts starts long before the war, long before a conflict starts. It starts when it comes to education of soldiers. It starts when we see how the gender balance in an army or in police forces are. That's awareness raising on the possibility of sexual violence is made.

I also tackle the legal situation because it's so important – in this case especially – to really focus not only on the perpetrators who really do a rape, but we also have to be aware that there is a chain of command. Those who tolerate or even incite such violence must be held accountable.

Of course, there are several documentation requirements of such perpetrations, such atrocities I would say, because to really have the chance to go to court and ask for justice at a court requires sensitivity, which is not always easy to have in a situation like a conflict or like a war.

Of course afterwards comes the care of survivors: the medical care or psychological care. The integration into a community again is very sensitive, very important. Here it is also important to mention that sexual and reproductive health and rights services have to be fostered. You really must have access to institutions, to health institutions for instance. But also to the legal system, to courts.

Also in those countries where abortion is banned or forbidden, it is very important for those women who become pregnant because of rape of a soldier of a hostile army, it is important they have access to legal and safe abortion.

In this regard, the role of NGOs is very important. They not only play a crucial role by counselling survivors, but also play a role in supporting them.

We also see an important role of states, of course. When I look into countries like for instance – it's not the only one, its just one example – Croatia, who recently decided upon a law where victim survivors of sexual violence can claim protection and reparation, even if I know that the word reparation is a silly one in this regard, because you cannot repair sexual violence that happened to you.

But nevertheless, there's an important role of legislation. We see it, especially in the case of Croatia, that some women or many women only managed to speak about what happened to them decades after it happened, because they are ashamed, because they are not ready to speak about it.

We also have to realise that it's not only women who are victims of sexual violence. It's also men. Men are often even more stigmatised and even more afraid to talk about it. I would recommend that the Parliamentary Assembly looks into the specific case of male victims of sexual violence in their own report quite soon. I think it would be worth to also report this under-reported problem we have.

We also have to consider that conflict-related sexual violence is not only a problem in the moment it happens, or even some months later. It is a problem that has an impact for generations. It has an impact on the cohesion of a society. If a pregnant woman gives birth to a baby where the perpetrator is from the hostile army, then you have a kind of hostility or a kind of enemy within your family, within your society for the next decades, of course.

So, when we as societies and when we as politicians do not stop this exclusion of children of rape, then we finish the business of those who use rape as a tactic of war.

I want to quote Ajna Jusić who was with us at a hearing in a committee meeting, and she said "I'm not a child of rape, I'm a child of my mother". I think that expresses very well that we have to accept and respect all children regardless how the situation was when they started to exist. We must not fulfil the task of the perpetrators.

We also debated in advance whether, or whether not, conflict-related sexual violence constitutes an element of ethnic cleansing. In this regard, I would like to quote from a report of the European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights, that made a mission to survivors of sexual violence in western Ukraine and Poland. Let me quote at the end: "And then silence. A friend, Svetlana, gasps and thinks for a moment. Suddenly she seems to realise what exactly she is saying. She swallows her tears, clears her voice, and continues. Suddenly, her story is no longer about herself but about a friend. She tells how that friend in the basement of Mariupol was raped by the Russian soldier, while the other soldier held her son and forced him to watch. Svetlana also says that the soldier then turned to rape another woman in the air-raid shelter, and said her friend saw the Russian soldier push a gun into the woman's vagina and fired after the rape. He said he wanted to make sure she would never give birth to new Ukrainians again."

Colleagues, we must stop that.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Petra BAYR.

Now, we continue with the speakers on behalf of the political groups.

The first speaker for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe is Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK from Ukraine.


Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK

Ukraine, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Mister Chair,

First of all, I would like to thank Ms Petra BAYR for her report, which sadly turned out to be extremely relevant today, of course, because of the war in Ukraine. But it does not influence just Ukrainian women, it is a problem all over the world. Today I am wearing embroidery made by Kosovan women that were raped during the war.

The ongoing aggression against Ukraine has been accompanied by a consistent pattern of sexual violence. This issue for me, as a woman and a mother, is extremely painful, but it is very important that we not be silent about it.

The Russian military did not choose their victims. Statistics show that those who suffered were both female and male between the ages – just think about it – four and 80 years old. Soldiers raped children, their parents and the elderly, not just because they could, it became actually the instrument of war to discourage the resistance of people on the temporarily occupied territories.

There are cases where husbands and children were forced to watch their wives and mothers being abused or mothers watched how their children were raped. As much as we would not like to admit it, it is very doubtful that these children could ever fully recover from the trauma. What we will be able to bring hundreds of other abused children women and men back to completely normal life? What can we do then? It is in our power to mobilise all possible resources both at the level of the member States and the Council of Europe to assist Ukrainian researchers and international investigators to collect evidence of rape and properly qualify them.

Also, we might ensure that all those who made these crimes possible by unleashing the unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine were held accountable. Not just the perpetrators that did it on the ground. This is why it is crucial to establish the ad-hoc international criminal tribunal for the prosecution of the crime of aggression of political and military leadership of the Russian Federation.

We must also work on the establishment of rehab centres on ensuring that help for those who have suffered sexual violence is accessible and possible for them. I call upon the Council of Europe to provide Ukraine with the necessary assistance to set up such rehabilitation systems.

Finally, we should raise our voices. It is not customary to talk about sexual violence. Its victims, as noted by Ms Petra BAYR, are often silent, being threatened by social stigma. On the contrary, we should openly support those who suffer from the consequences of social sexual violence. It is important; their stories must be heard.

Thank you very much.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now may I invite Ms Nickie AIKEN to take the floor on behalf of EC/DA?

Ms Nickie AIKEN

United Kingdom, EC/DA


Thank you.

I would like to thank the rapporteur for her very powerful report and I am very proud that the United Kingdom has been at the vanguard of efforts to combat conflict-related sexual violence for the past decade since our former foreign secretary Lord Hague launched the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative in 2012.

Yet since then, people's perceptions and awareness of the horrors of warfare have been exasperated, enabled by the proliferation of social media, we now see the painful realities of conflict in real-time. Not only the brutality on the battlefield but also the devastation invading armies inflict on countries and their civilians.

When we think of conflict and of conflict-related sexual violence, this past year has been – and continues to be – a dark one for Europe. As ever, our thoughts turn to you, our valiant Ukrainian friends, who ask for nothing except to live in peace and freedom. The current situation in Ukraine, as well as events in too many countries, including Afghanistan and Ethiopia, make clear that this issue is very much alive.

This being said, I am very proud that the United Kingdom has done and highlighted this at the International Conference for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict (PSVI) held in Westminster last year. Here, a decade after the launch of the PSVI Initiative, the UK announced a three-year strategy to tackle conflict-related sexual violence, and I am heartened to see a new partnership between the UK government and the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, which brings a new accountability commission and the task force for survivors, developed by the UK to increase successful prosecutions. This will be practical support in establishing rapid response mechanisms in crises, mentoring prosecutors and advancing support for the UN to strengthen national justice systems. All of this work is rightly evidence-led. The UK strategy has been meticulously developed by experts, academics and NGOs to tackle all forms of preventing sexual violence in conflict. And by building on these advances to improve the documentation and analysis of these crimes policymakers can make effectively and can deter, intervene against and prosecute such violence.

I absolutely believe we have a duty – all of us – to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice and victims receive clear support. However, we can have as many of these policies in place as we like but they must be enforceable and the people responsible for these heinous crimes must be held to account.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now the floor is for Mr Andreas Sjalg UNNELAND from Norway on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left group.

Mr Andreas Sjalg UNNELAND

Norway, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


I would like to compliment the rapporteur for her great work and this important report.

I would like to emphasise that war inflicts damage on all people, the environment, cultures, and civilisations. Aggressors that afflict war on other countries are showing contempt for life itself.

One of the most degrading sides of war is conflict-related sexual violence. It is one of the worst atrocities of war, and it is used to humiliate, violate and ruin the minds and bodies of victims. Women are commonly victims of these crimes. It is despicable, and it is preventable. States, paramilitaries, and soldiers are perpetrators. These cruelties can be the result of war causing security in society to break down. The absence of police and legal authority increases the risk of all forms of violence and abuse against women and girls.

We have an obligation to prevent these war crimes.

A cruel example of where conflict-related sexual violence is happening now is Russia's brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine. The war is killing thousands. Men and women who have to defend Ukraine are dying. Children are losing their parents and millions are forced to flee only because of Putin's imperialist ambitions.

It is known that rape is used as a weapon in war. I would like to quote a woman who was held in a basement in Bucha. She was raped and "Russian soldiers told them they would rape them to the point they wouldn’t want sexual contact with any man, to prevent them from having Ukrainian children”. Some 25 girls and women in this basement were raped. Nine became pregnant.

This woman fled to neighbouring Poland. There, access to emergency contraception and abortion is practically closed.

Although one of three exceptions for abortion in Poland is rape, this does not apply as long as the abuse took place outside Poland's borders. This is another violation of her rights.

The right to abortion must be protected. Women who have been deprived of control over their own bodies must not be violated again by being denied access to safe abortions.

We are glad that the resolution points out that countries have a responsibility for holding individual perpetrators to account. We are glad that many countries have initiated universal jurisdiction as a means of prosecuting perpetrators wherever they have committed these horrible crimes.

Those who commit such abuse must be held responsible. In addition, all countries must take responsibility for ensuring that the victims are taken care of. That they get help and can live as fulfilling lives as possible.

One of the important tools to combat violence against women is the Istanbul Convention.

It is a shame to see that Türkiye, the first country to ratify it, ten years later is the first to leave it. I want to express solidarity with all women in Türkiye who are fighting for their rights. I encourage Turkey to once again become part of the Istanbul Convention

President, the resolution we are debating was unanimously adopted by the Committee and that sends a strong message. I hope that our Assembly will do the same today.



Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now the floor is for Ms Saranda BOGUJEVCI from the Assembly of Kosovo on behalf of the Socialist Group.


Assembly of Kosovo*


Thank you, dear Chair, dear colleagues.

I would like to start actually first by thanking Ms Petra BAYR for putting this fantastic report together on such a sensitive and hugely important topic.

The details of the report really illustrate very well the situation that we have in relation to the most horrendous and most unpunished crime: that of sexual violence.

Coming from a country where women – but not only, men, as was mentioned as well – have experienced sexual violence in conflict not so long ago, I never thought actually that today we would be talking about another country in Europe experiencing the same fate.

Looking at what's happening in Ukraine, I do hope that this report would push not only member States to prioritise and to put the resources needed in place to address sexual violence happening in Ukraine by the Russian army.

It is not the first time the sexual violence is used as weapon of war.

We've experienced this in the Balkans in the 1990s, including as I said, in my own country.

We have to make sure that those who plan and implement these inhumane strategies are punished as, unfortunately, way too often they are not.

We have to be firm and determined that those who do these horrific crimes are put in front of tribunals, are put in front of courts, and do face the charges that they deserve in relation to this crime.

One of the biggest elements when you discuss with survivors is this aspect of not bringing the perpetrators to justice, so we have to do more in regards to that.

We have the instruments in this organisation to support the victims, and we have to do it without hesitation.

I also would like to point out another aspect of the report which I think is really important, which is that the survivors are heard.

We have many ideas of what we need to put into place, but when you hear the survivors and what their needs are, it's crucial that the steps that we take be in relation to those needs.

Thank you.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now, I invite Ms Ria OOMEN-RUIJTEN to take the floor on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.

If she is on the floor, I don't see her.

Then we proceed with the individual speakers.

The first speaker is Ms Zita GURMAI, from Hungary.


Hungary, SOC


Thank you very much, dear Chair.

Dear Colleagues,

Human dignity is an inherent attribute we all as equal members of the human race possess.

Human dignity as the unity of personality, along with human life, means the essence of humanity.

Dignity is an elevated and absolutely respected quality of all human life and values. It is a standard of our human essence. It is a priority value in the same way as life and expresses the human dimension of life. Being a human and human dignity are inseparable from one another. Both are inalienable, imminent, essential properties of humans.

There can be no doubt about the essentially debasing character of rape that violates not just the body of the victim but their very fundamental sense of being: their dignity.

The usage of rape as a weapon of war is so inherently against the very funding principle of our democratic society that the perpetrators should never be allowed to escape justice. They must answer the crimes they have committed.

The report precisely and rightfully calls these acts as they are: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide. We absolutely need to treat them as such.

Thank you very much, Madam Petra BAYR, you did an excellent job.

We must do everything in our power to make sure that the human suffering inflicted by the Russian aggressor on the population of Ukraine is not forgotten and that the victims of war never become faceless numbers in a casualty report.

While we do so, we must ensure to protect everyone we can from the horrors of rape in our own community. Because our humanity doesn't only mean that we are being with dignity they should be respected, it also calls upon to show solidarity towards each other, especially towards those who need support and care in their times of need.

This solidarity needs to be more than a symbolic act of goodwill. They need to be meaningful steps to ensure the protection of human dignity all across our nation.

In Hungary we experienced the tragedy that happens when we roll back the solidarity, when the state decides to provide less. As the danger of exploitation, such as rape, drastically increases, so does the numbers of cases of such crimes.

All that while, the size of the support system diminished, and victims were less and less likely to get help from the state when needed.

The tragic extent of the situation was shown even more than as a neighbouring country to Ukraine, immigrants fleeing the war came to our country and the state apparatus unable to provide them with protection help and care for weeks.

We need to learn from our own example to be more inclusive, to be more caring, and show more solidarity, to create a system that is able to both have the victims of such crimes and make sure that the perpetrators are captured to protect our society from the repetition of such crimes.

The report does a fantastic job to extend mixed, meaningful, and progressive suggestions for the member States to follow, especially in relation to armed forces and their handling of inclusivity and gender-based violence.

Dear Petra, dear sister, you did a great job.

Thank you very much.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Zita GURMAI.

Now the floor is for Mr Alain MILON, from France.

Mr Alain MILON

France, EPP/CD


Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

I would like to start by thanking our rapporteur, Ms Petra BAYR, for this report, which reminds us that sexual violence is one of the worst atrocities of war.

This violence is aimed at humiliating victims and destroying their lives. They often survive the attack and so they are alive to tell others about their suffering, which has the effect of crushing any possible resistance to the aggressor.

We need to be ever more concerned about this today because, of course, we are seeing this type of humiliation and terror being perpetrated by Russia in Ukraine

I do believe that it is possible that we can put measures place to prevent sexual violence. We need inclusive recruitment to the armies and our police forces, so as to have a better balance between men and women, and we need better training. These are elements that can help us to combat sexual violence in war time. But this is only possible if the aggressing side does not take the aim of eradicating a whole population or culture and terrorising the civilian population.

We must ensure that sexual crimes do not go unpunished. Sexual violence is now recognised as a crime against humanity and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

We must ensure that we open enquiries wherever this is possible, particularly when citizens or nationals of our own countries are concerned.

As to the situation in Ukraine, this Assembly needs to continue to support the creation of a special international tribunal to investigate the crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine.

And, first and foremost, we must support the victims. They need to be able to give evidence in a safe environment about the violence they have suffered. They need to receive the various types of medical assistance that they need, both physical and psychological. I also support the setting up of a fund to help the victims. We, as members, should contribute to this fund, so that victims of conflict-related sexual violence can benefit from our support.

Colleagues, I shall certainly be supporting this draft resolution.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Alain MILON.

Now, I give the floor to Mr Jean-Pierre GRIN, from Switzerland.

Mr Jean-Pierre GRIN

Switzerland, ALDE


Thank you, Mister President.

Mister President, I would like to thank you for your attention,

Dear Colleagues,

The excellent report by our colleague Petra BAYR highlights the important problem of sexual violence linked to various conflicts and wars.

In addition to devastating entire territories and destroying buildings and vital infrastructures, the various wars inflict lasting damage on people, leaving individual, collective and family traumas that persist throughout the lives of the people affected by these various forms of violence.

The fact that members of different armies allow themselves to impose such sexual violence on girls and women, which marks them for their entire lives, is a real scandal organised during the different conflicts in so-called civilised countries.

This is why it must be openly denounced, as is done in the report of our colleague.

The recognition by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of sexual violence linked to conflicts as crimes against humanity and war crimes has made it possible to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes as well as their commanders, but some of them still too often go unpunished.

The prevention of such sexual violence must be put in place well before the outbreak of the various conflicts. This is why our Assembly, through this report, invites the member States and national parliaments to work towards prevention in times of peace as well as in situations of war.

Another point raised in this report is the incitement to sexual violence by military commands to include rape, sexual slavery and torture as indicators of success in conflicts.

The various atrocities revealed by the victims of this violence must incite all the countries of the Council of Europe to denounce and fight to put an end to these acts of inhuman barbarity by all the means in their possession.

Universal jurisdiction is an extremely important and effective way for states to show their determination to prosecute the perpetrators of these war crimes. It makes it possible to investigate and condemn these acts of violence against girls and women, wherever they were committed, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Several countries, including my country, Switzerland, have declared their intention to use this tool to investigate and punish these war crimes during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Conflict-related sexual violence is one of the worst atrocities of war and a tactic too often used to humiliate and destroy the bodies and minds of victims.

It is the imperative duty of all countries of the Council of Europe to fight, to repair through justice and rehabilitation programs, but above all to prevent, in times of peace as well as in situations of conflict, these grave violations of the physical and psychological integrity of innocent women.

Prevention is better than cure, because in cases of sexual violence, healing is problematic.

Thank you for your attention.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now, I invite Ms Boglárka ILLÉS, from Hungary, to take the floor.

Ms Boglárka ILLÉS

Hungary, EC/DA


Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Dear guests and delegates, this is my first time here and this is my first speech as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It is a great honour for me to speak with you and discuss with you in that place where our ancestors were on the ball to end the death penalty in Europe. And I think we should not only weather the storm but place an active role in making things better.

However, we face many crises and we also have to experience the brutality of a war and in particular conflict-related sexual violence. I would like to ask you, see me not only as a conservative young politician but as a proud and thankful mother of a one-and-a-half-year-old girl, and as an engaged woman, who was responsible for this area, as a dedicated leader for three years. So I can fully agree with most of the findings of this report. I can agree with the training of police forces. We in Hungary have already trained more than 5 000 people who work on the operation of our warning system. I can agree with campaigns for prevention, including civil society organisations. We in Hungary have raised public awareness with the Hungarian Interchurch Aid ACT Alliance year by year, and I can absolutely support those legal solutions which offer the widest possible procedural safeguards against the impunity of conflict-related sexual violence.

Therefore, I have to underline: from 2012 Hungary has applied universal jurisdiction for the most serious international crimes including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

And last but not least, I can agree with the survival-centred approach but I miss the blameless, harmless, absolutely guiltless and innocent approach.

Because all of us know: conceived foetus are the most defenceless human beings in this situation so far. And we know we would be less without Ajna Jusić who was admirably mentioned in the report. Or the beauty impressed part of the word but perhaps mostly Pennsylvania would miss Valeria Gotto, or those children who found a family in childless pairs thanks to adoption. So I cannot agree, indeed I disapprove of condemnation of any country that protects human life, especially if that country has received more refugees from Ukraine than any other country in Europe, including the country of the rapporteur. More respect to our Polish friends, more help, mostly but not only, to the survivors, to the really harmless and the youngest. 

Thank you for your attention.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now I give the floor to Ms Margreet De BOER from the Netherlands.

Ms Margreet De BOER

Netherlands, SOC


Thank you, Chair.

First I want to thank the rapporteur for this most important report.

I will not repeat what's in the report and what was said by so many speakers about the war, the horrors of the war, the need for prevention, prosecution, and protection.

I was present at the hearing of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination in September, and I was impressed by the testimony of Anja Jusic, president of the Bosnian NGO Forgotten Children of War, who showed us what it is to be a child born out of rape in war. For her, for her mother, and for their relationship. She also made it very clear that being born out of rape is not defining who she is, as Ms Petra BAYR clearly states in her report: "I am not a child of rape, I am a child of my mother”.

This touches the topic I want to bring forward; that of being a survivor, and not a victim.

The report consequently speaks of survivors, instead of victims. This is important, because it makes clear that victimhood is not an identity, and that victims can be strong and independent persons.

By doing so, we have to be aware that victims don’t become survivors just by calling them so.

They need support to overcome victimhood, victim blaming, and secondary victimisation. This goes for all victims of sexual violence –as I see in my daily work as I am a victim’s lawyer– but even more for victims of sexual violence in wartime. Often they are not only victims of the rape by the perpetrator, but have to face shame or even rejection of their partners and family, as do their children born out of the rape. Often, they have difficulty to love themselves, and to love the child that is born. Often, they find themselves in difficult circumstances, without a good support system. Often, they are re-victimised by the legal system that forces them to re-experience their trauma.

This can’t be solved by just calling them survivors. We have to really support them to become survivors. By providing psychological help, by giving them back the agency regarding their bodies and their lives. By not imposing on them what is best for them, but respecting their boundaries and decisions, even if we do not agree. By providing the means to be able to take care of themselves and their children: housing, education, economic independence, compensation. We should not only call them survivors, we have to shape the conditions so they can be survivors.

Let us do everything that is recommended in the resolution, and really put effort into supporting victims to become survivors.

Thank you.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you too.

Now may I invite Ms Edite ESTRELA from Portugal.


Portugal, SOC


Thank you, Mister President.

Dear Colleagues,

First of all, I would like to congratulate Ms Petra BAYR for her excellent work and thank her for her commitment to the fight against violence against women and the promotion of gender equality.

Conflict-related sexual violence is one of the worst atrocities of war. Victims are mostly women, children, disabled people, and minorities. Torture and rape are used to break, demoralise and destroy individuals, homes, families, and peoples.

Sexual violence has serious consequences for the reproductive system and psychological health of women.

In many countries and regions, victims of sexual violence are stigmatised because of social and cultural contexts. Women who have become pregnant as a result of rape are most likely to suffer further trauma and abuse, as the child will be considered a child of the enemy.

There is evidence that war crimes such as rape and other forms of sexual violence are taking place in Ukraine.

Conflict-related sexual violence is a crime against humanity. But sexual violence against women doesn't just happen in war. It happens in peacetime, on the street, in the workplace, and in the home.

Even in countries that are not at war, every day more women and girls are sexually harassed at work, raped on the street, and in their homes. Women and girls are persecuted, detained and killed in countries that do not respect human rights and deny women basic rights, such as the right to education and professional success. Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan are countries that are enemies of women, but they are not the only ones.

In countries in armed conflict, women and girls suffer the same atrocities as the rest of the population, as well as all kinds of sexual violence.

None of this is inevitable. It can and must be fought.

This fight is done with all human rights defenders. This fight is with all of us, women and men. This fight is with us.

Thank you for your support.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now may I invite Ms Catarina ROCHA FERREIRA from Portugal.


Portugal, EPP/CD


Dear colleagues,

As we know, armed conflict tends to be scene of the most horrible crimes.

In that context, sexual violence has been systematically used as a war weapon.

Besides being a violation of international law, conflict-related sexual violence represents a threat to our collective security.

Conflict-related sexual violence is an atrocity that leaves a stain on our conscience as humanity.

Despite these considerations, it continues to shock the international community, as this type of crime continues to occur in the most different regions of the world, and right now also in the war in Ukraine.

The recognition of this phenomenon as an international security problem is not sufficient, as this crime is increasingly frequent in contemporary armed conflicts.

We cannot continue to fail in this respect.

Although the past decade gave increased attention to women, peace and security, the truth is that major analytical and implementation gaps still remain.

So this report is foremost important.

We are speaking about an international security problem.

We are speaking about a war crime.

We are speaking about unacceptable atrocity, so it is crucial for us to review our efforts to protect unarmed civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.

Of course, it will be difficult to immediately eradicate all gender-based violence in conflicts, but we can - and we should - join efforts in order to reduce its prevalence, namely by creating better response mechanisms, and by bringing committers to justice.

Thank you for your attention.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now the floor is for Ms Sena Nur ÇELİK, from Türkiye.

Ms Sena Nur ÇELİK

Türkiye, NR


Dear President,

Dear Colleagues,

It is very timely for our Assembly to reconsider this issue in the face of horrific reports from Ukraine on the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Despite the progress made in several countries to put in place legal measures, impunity for wartime sexual violence, unfortunately, remains the norm, and accountability is the rare exception.

I congratulate the rapporteur for drafting a comprehensive resolution not only focusing on supporting the survivors but also on prevention, prosecution, and reparation for sexual violence in conflict situations.

I would like to highlight the important work Türkiye has been doing in this respect. Since the start of the conflict, over 4 million refugees arrived in Türkiye, including thousands of Syrian survivors of sexual violence by the Assad regime and ISIS, and thousands of Yazidi women who escaped from ISIS slavery in Iraq.

In order to address the situation, Türkiye implemented extensive capacity building and training programmes in co‑operation with international institutions, and has since been supporting the survivors by providing safe spaces, psychosocial support, unhindered access to health services, sexual and reproductive rights and rehabilitation, as well as adopting comprehensive measures to prevent early marriages.

Much more needs to be done in Europe in this respect, especially in addressing the intense stigma suffered by the survivors, the under-reporting, the often-neglected issues of supporting male victims of sexual violence, and children born of rape. I hope this report will be helpful in this respect.

Most importantly, I would like to emphasise that I strongly object to Paragraph 34 of the report, which mentions PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party), which is recognised as a terrorist group by the European Union, United States and all European countries, and YPG (People's Defense Units), which is an affiliate of PKK.

Referring to these terrorist organisations without mentioning their terrorist nature appears to be nothing more than a futile attempt to legitimise them and their crimes.

PKK has murdered 40 000 Turkish people in the last 40 years. PKK and YPG have launched 2 000 attacks on Türkiye from northern Syria since 2020.

They carried out the horrific suicide bombing in Taksim, last November, murdering 6 and wounding 81 Turkish people in the heart of İstanbul.

Several reports of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and United Nations, state that YPG has been committing war crimes in Syria by recruiting child soldiers below 15, kidnapping and abusing women and girls, and using the fight against ISIS as a pretext to expand its territories by forcibly displacing Arab towns.

Disregarding the security interests of an important NATO ally and praising a terrorist organisation that has a horrific record on women’s and children’s rights is outrageous and should have no place in a report of this importance.

Thank you.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now the floor is for Ms Andrea EDER-GITSCHTHALER from Austria.


Austria, EPP/CD


Thank you very much, Mister President,

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would also like to congratulate my Austrian colleague, Ms Petra BAYR, very warmly for this very important report. From my point of view, it is very important that we create awareness of the problems and ways in which we can really take action here.

We have already heard it today and I would like to repeat it anyway because it is just such a heinous thing. This sexual violence in the context of conflict is certainly one of the worst atrocities of war. It has been and continues to be deliberately used to damage, to break, to injure, to ruin the minds, the bodies of these victims, as a means of oppressing peoples. That is a war crime, a war crime under international law, and also under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. A crime against humanity, and that, thank God, can be punished nationally and internationally. These criminals, these perpetrators must be brought before the courts. They must be given their responsibility and punished.

You heard, at the hearing on 22 May, Ms Dunja MIJATOVIĆ, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, stressed that sexual violence in conflict is high on the Council of Europe's agenda due to the developments in Ukraine. She also told us that preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, especially by promoting the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention is still an essential part of her work. Unfortunately, unfortunately, unfortunately. It is very sad that in 2023 we have to deal with this issue here in Europe. That is precisely why this report is very, very important to focus attention on the issue of sexual violence in conflict, to create awareness and publicity.

Of course, a special focus is on the care of survivors. Here the national and international organisations are challenged. Ms Petra BAYR has worked out very, very well in her report what has to be done.

I would like to call on all member States to really take a look, to really do something so that these people are helped and, on the other hand, the perpetrators get their just punishment.


Thank you very much.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now I give the floor to miss Ms Fiona O'LOUGHLIN.


Ireland, ALDE


Thank you very much, Chair.

Over the last year, in this very chamber, we have borne witness to the testimonies of our female battalion from Ukraine, who spoke movingly and compassionately about the absolutely degrading practices that many of their women and, of course, some men have undergone in relation to conflict-related sexual violence, which is the most degrading experience for anyone.

And we are talking about rape, we are talking about sexual slavery, we're talking about forced prostitution and other such degrading practices.

I really want to complement the rapporteur Ms Petra BAYR in her report. It's incredibly timely and, I think, you know, how she talks about the use of sexual violence in war as a means to spread fear and as a type of ethnic cleansing is important. It's a very timely debate.

Her call, in terms of looking for support from member states to work on preventing sexual violence in times of both peacetime and times of conflict by implementing national and international policies, is very important by enforcing punishment and empowering vulnerable persons.

I echo here her position that preventing this type of gender-based violence has to begin long before the outbreak of armed conflict.

We must -and indeed my own country does- maintain strong support for holistic and survivor-centred approaches to prevent and address sexual and gender-based violence.

We must also think of the children born as a result of conflict-related sexual violence and put them at the heart of our approach. And this includes promoting access to and providing funding for comprehensive health services, including sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girl victims and survivors and other protection needs.

We must enhance support to grassroots organisations, especially women's rights and women-led organisations to monitor, prevent, and report on gender-based violence.

While at the UN, building on progress mainstreaming the agenda of women peace and security, Ireland has absolutely supported efforts to ensure prevention, monitoring, and reporting on a national basis with partners and through the EU.

Thank you.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Fiona O'LOUGHLIN.

Now the floor is for Ms Konul NURULLAYEVA from Azerbaijan.


Azerbaijan, EC/DA


Dear Honourable President, Distinguished Members of the Council,

First of all, let me express my immense gratitude to Ms Petra BAYR for preparing such a detailed and substantial report on the essential issue. The elimination of gender inequality and power imbalances, as well as normative change, are necessary for the prevention of this issue.

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to remind you once again, the Republic of Azerbaijan experienced all the negative aspects of conflict-related sexual violence. Thousands of Azerbaijani women have suffered from different types of sexual violence during the Karabakh war. Additionally, we have plans to execute a national action strategy that identifies a list of requirements for the reconstruction of Karabakh. The core part of the strategy, which will represent the start of a new era, is the return to Karabakh of women whose rights have been violated.

Dear Colleagues,

Armenia, which occupied Azerbaijani territories for 30 years and played the role of murderer of children and women, tries to present itself as an island of democracy. However, the controversal point is the visit of the Armenian prime minister's wife to Iran these days. How can we justify her participation in the propaganda campaign of the ruling regime where all the first ladies of 10 countries participated? Joining this event held in Iran contradicts the support of Armenia to the collective position of the Western countries on issues of democracy and human rights.

Dear Colleagues,

In the European community, it will be worth thinking about it once again. The Azerbaijani government understands the importance of this topic and supports all initiatives regarding the prevention of sexual violence in armed conflict. Our government has also developed a legislative framework in this area that complies with international standards, such as the law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the prevention of domestic violence to emphasise the importance of gender equality in the political, economic and social spares of our society.

Initially, I recommend default execution of the government's efforts to provide a more protective legislative and policy framework for women, children, and boys who are at risk, paying particular attention to rural and remote populations and working to end the impunity of sexual-assaults offenders.

Besides, I strongly encourage all parties to make a commitment to preventing and resolving sexual violence that occurs during armed conflict and to enable secure access for humanitarian service providers to deliver aid to individuals who have experienced sexual and gender-based violence. The importance of the provided issue will help to improve its capacity to effectively persecute cases of this issue and provide reparations including to survivors in rural and border areas.

Thank you for your attention.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now may I invite Lord Leslie GRIFFITHS from the United Kingdom to take the floor.


United Kingdom, SOC


Chairman and colleagues,

It is a duty to stand amongst others in response to this extraordinary report.

I'd share with all those who thus far have highlighted just how horrible the plight of women is when used in this particular way.

Also I'd want to echo all of those who expressed a determination to bring the perpetrators of these dreadful deeds to justice - nothing less could suffice.

However there is just one point I'd want to make beyond those two aspects of what's before us right now.

In yesterday's debate about the issue of Daesh foreign fighters and their families returning from Syria and other countries, it was pointed out that in many cases, such terrorists regained their countries of origin and cases were not brought against them, because of a lack of evidence or because they hid behind various other formulae under the head of human rights.

Therefore the point I'd want to make as a direct response to this report is that we need to be sure that whilst this dreadful war is going on, reports are being kept, details are being noted, evidence is being accumulated, and when this war is over the mass of that evidence can be used in perpetrating through the courts the cases against those who are responsible for these crimes.

There's no point expressing our horror; no point in telling people that we need justice to operate in cases like this, unless we are preparing ourselves now for the need we will have to prosecute the perpetrators of these dreadful deeds.

And so, in thanking my colleague for her report, and without in any way wanting to qualify it, I hope that she and others might feel that the case I've tried to make so, so briefly is an important one - otherwise all our anger will be dissipated as too often in the past it has been.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Sir.

Now I give the floor to Ms Arusyak JULHAKYAN from Armenia.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Chair.

Dear colleagues,

First of all, let me mention that we can have only facepalm and nothing more while hearing appraisal of democracy from a representative of one of the most autocratic countries of the world, which is fixed in all the reports of the international organisations.

However, let me continue with my speech.

Dear colleagues,

International humanitarian law protects the dignity of persons involved in armed conflicts, both during their lifetime and after death, and prohibits any kind of outrages upon personal dignity.

Moreover, under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, committing outrages upon personal dignity constitutes a war crime.

The Geneva Convention stipulates that women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape or any form of indecent assault.

As is fairly mentioned in the draft resolution, conflict-related sexual violence is one of the worst atrocities of war, used to humiliate, violate, and ruin the minds and bodies of victims, with the intention of spreading fear and breaking the spirit of the oppressed.

After the recent aggression, in September 2022, by Azerbaijan against Armenia, not only Armenia but also the international community, was shocked by a horrible video spread in the Azerbaijani media outlets. Armenian women who fell into the hands of Azerbaijani armed forces, fell victim to the utmost degrading and inhuman treatment. All of the female captives were stripped down to their breasts and left on the field of combat with their chests stripped naked.

In one of the videos, a completely nude woman's body was placed in a trophy-like manner above the rest of the nearby corpses. Her breasts and genitals were borne naked as a spectacle for witnesses. The perpetrators had left a message, Yashma, on her chest, which is a code name for Azerbaijani specially trained forces. I will skip all other horrible details, colleagues.

The filming and circulating of such operations on media is done for public appraisal and pride. The perpetrators had evidently intended to leave it as a message to the observers, as these videos were seen not only by the Armenian people in general, but also by the three children of this female soldier, causing unnecessary suffering and grief to them. It is worth mentioning that the body of this female service person had not been given to the Armenian side for a long time.

Colleagues, the video I am talking about is concrete evidence of a grave war crime cruelly committed by the Azerbaijani armed forces and attributable to Azerbaijan. The severe violence of the perpetrators is beyond imagination.

Moreover, these gruesome crimes are followed with actions demonstrating extreme cynicism based on the hatred against ethnic Armenians. This violence is not only gender-based, but also racial-based.

Colleagues, it is important to state that the outrage upon the personal dignity constitutes a war crime under the international criminal law. The perpetrators must be punished, as impunity causes new crimes.

It is extremely necessary that the Assembly addresses the issue of sexual violence during armed conflicts.

Thank you.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now the floor is for Ms Marietta KARAMANLI from France.


France, SOC


Thank you, Mr President.

Dear colleagues,

First of all, I would like to thank our fellow rapporteur, Ms Petra BAYR, for her findings and proposals on the important and sensitive subject of conflict-related sexual violence.

Her recommendations are based on a fourfold perspective: the definition of these crimes by international law, but also by the gender approach and the ages primarily concerned by these crimes; the various forms that they take with regard to populations attacked or victimised by armed forces or peacekeeping forces; the standards already applicable to dissuade and prosecute the offenders; and the measures to be taken to help the victims.

I share this fourfold concern. I will make two additional observations.

Firstly, the visibility of crimes and the punishment of perpetrators can and must be accompanied by the recognition of the voice given to victims through processes of dialogue, mediation, restorative justice, and new and full responsibilities for the different genders. I am thinking in particular of women in the police, justice and victim support bodies.

Furthermore, the right to compensation must be effective, which means that at the international level and in each state, funds must be budgeted, available and their allocation monitored and evaluated.

Victims must also be guaranteed the right to repatriation and resettlement when the violence of which they have been victims has forced them to leave their place of life or to be exiled.

As the rapporteur mentioned, we must have statistical monitoring of victims and violence. I would add, dear colleagues, that at the same time we need to know more about the follow-up of their right to a protected and assisted life.

So there is a human, even intimate, experience of sexual violence. It must be fought against by repression, but also prevented by education and accompanied by solidarity.

This is what I wanted to share with you this morning. Thank you again for this report. It would be interesting to be able to continue with these additional elements that have been brought.

Thank you, Ms. BAYR.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thanks, Madam Marietta KARAMANLI.

Now the floor is for Ms Khatia DEKANOIDZE from Georgia.


Georgia, EPP/CD


Thank you, Chair.

First of all, my congratulations to the rapporteur's excellent work and definitely it's very much important, especially for women, as we heard.

And I have to say that the war is a tragedy and war is a hell for women and girls, for sure.

This brutal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russia has once again shown this to the world.

Children as young as four years old and elders as old as 80 have been confirmed as rape victims in Ukraine. Russia is using rape as a weapon of war, that only deepens these tragedies, it's not surprising, when we keep our eyes open and realise the aggressive nature of Russian forces.

Georgia already faced this several times, including in 2008 and in the 90s. In 1993 a Georgian girl was raped, murdered, and cut in half in Abkhazia. Another was raped for days before being tortured and executed. Mothers were abused in front of their children, wives in front of their husbands, daughters in front of their parents. Among those civilians nuns were systematically raped. These were among these hundreds of cases of documented rape in that Russian aggression in Georgia in early 90s.

As gruesome as this sounds, we cannot be allowed to forget the crimes, those soldiers continue to use the same methods. The trauma of rape goes beyond conflict. It never leaves a person, a family. Entire generation will be affected long after the war is over and long after Ukraine wins. There is a psychological impact that Russia will have to answer for.

I want to use this tribune today to pay my respect to the victims of sexual violence orchestrated by Russia. And yes, I say orchestrated because there can be no doubt that this level of violence has been planned, not just by individual soldiers, but by the entire military machine and lead by the leverage of Kremlin and Putin.

Rape and sexual violence have followed the Wagner Group everywhere. This is why every member state of the Council of Europe should take steps to call the Wagner Group what it really is: a terrorist organisation. If we see the definition of terrorism as the use of criminal violence to cause terror and instil fear, there can be no other terminology to describe the criminal organisation.

I'm a woman, I'm a mother. The fact that these acts of barbarism still exist in 21st century shows me that the world is not safe and will not be safe as long as we don't treat sexual violence as real war crimes, not only on paper, but in action.

Russia must be held accountable.

Thank you.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Now I want to give the floor to Ms Lesia VASYLENKO from Ukraine, but I cannot see her. Is she somewhere?


Ukraine, ALDE


Thank you.

President, Colleagues,

I first of all would like to say thank you to Ms Khatia DEKANOIDZE also for raising the points and making such conclusions. With that, also to say thank you to Ms Petra BAYR. She has done an excellent job at highlighting the problems that come from wars and especially from such crimes as rape.

This discussion has done nothing else but raise awareness about the consequences and long-lasting damage that is caused to the survivors of rape.

As the report clearly and rightly points out, rape is genocide. Rape is one of the gravest crimes against humanity. Rape is a war crime. These are definitions from international conventions and international tribunals.

Conflict-related sexual violence – which I agree to be a more exact term – encompasses the full spectrum of humiliating and violent behaviour directed at breaking the body and the spirit of the oppressed. It has been recognised as the ultimate wrong by governments all over the world at the UN Security Council level. Yet in every war, rape is used as a weapon of war.

In the case of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, conflict-related sexual violence is more than a weapon. It's not even a tactic. It's a strategy. In the Russian military, there is an equal pride about the number of Ukrainians killed as there is about the number of Ukrainians raped.

This glorification of sexual violence is widespread in Russian society. It is everywhere. It's in Putin's speech, when he uses phrases like "like it or not, take it my beauty", which essentially compares Ukraine to a dead girl, symbolising some kind of necrophiliac sexual fantasy which is present in Russian folklore songs.

It is in the advice that military wives give to their husbands when over the phone, in intercepted conversations, they say "rape as many women as you can just as long as I don't know about it".

It is in the orders of Russian military command.

It is in systemic practice, which shows patterns of gang rape, rape in homes and shelters, rape of parents in front of their children.

When the first rape victims came forward, and when the bodies of naked women were uncovered in Bucha, I personally was thousands of kilometres out of Ukraine in another country in a parliamentary delegation.

Together with my female colleagues we could not sleep that night when we found out about this, because the fear of it and what the mind imagines is more than words can tell.

What if those rumours about the kill list, the torture list, the rape list for Ukrainian members of parliament and government weren't rumours after all? This was happening just kilometres outside of Kiev.

These thoughts, although weaker in nature, they came back not once, but many times during the past year, when Kharkiv region was liberated, when Kherson region was liberated, and the thoughts of the many hundreds, maybe thousands more, rape victims in occupied, still occupied, Melitopol, Mariupol, Donetsk, Luhansk, Crimea - they are there.

I know that I'm out of time.

I just want to say thank you for the accumulated best practices, that Ukraine is taking stock of and can use, drawing from the experience of countries like Bosnia and Croatia.

Also I would like to draw attention as to how hard it is for victims to come forward; how necessary it is to have more women on the boards of organisations which are investigating and documenting the rape crimes; and also how important it is to have more men participating in this discussion.

Out of 49 speakers, only 13 are men. This is 30%. I think we need to increase it.

We need to have a really gender-balanced discussion around this very delicate, but very important and painful topic.

Thank you for your attention and thank you for being generous with the time, Mister President.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Lesia VASYLENKO.

Now I give the floor to Mr John HOWELL from the United Kingdom.


United Kingdom, EC/DA


Thank you very much.

Let me begin by congratulating the rapporteur. Congratulating her for not only the way in which she has described these crimes but introducing the whole concept to us.

But we need to be careful in this hemicycle in how we describe these crimes. We need to be careful because, under the general term of war crimes, the impact of these crimes is lost. What we are talking about here is a real cause of crime, a real case of evil in the world today.

I am aware that this sort of crime has been going on for years. It has been going on since war was first invented and if we look back just over the last few years, it occurred in the Second World War. It occurred in Kosovo. It occurred in the Middle East and it has been described as unfortunate but inevitable. It is not inevitable. And it is about time that we stand up and claim that this is a real crime and we need it expunged. We are not living in the Middle Ages. We are not living even in the Second World War. We are living in a modern world where we need to make it clear that this is unacceptable.

If we turn to the situation in Ukraine, we have to decide who is responsible. Is it the individual soldiers and is it their officers that we can complain about? Or is it much broader than that? Is it the Kremlin itself that is ordering people in to do these deeds? Because I think that that is an important thing to bear in mind.

However we approach this, it must be approached sensitively. In the data collection, we must approach this with great sensitivity to the women who have suffered under this evil. And we must bear in mind that the sort of treatment that they are going to need really is life enduring for them, both of a mental nature and of a physical nature.

This is a very good report – a very good report – and I think it shows the Council of Europe doing something positive about this and I thank the rapporteur for all the work that she has put into this.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you, John.

Now may I give the floor to Mr Paul GAVAN from Ireland.


Ireland, UEL


Thanks indeed, Mr Chairperson,

I want to begin by warmly congratulating Ms Petra BAYR on what is a very powerful report.

I want to highlight the context that the rapporteur sets out, that these heinous acts are happening within.

She states that globally, state and non-state entities are turning away from political and diplomatic solutions towards military force, increasing spending on armaments, and reducing spending previously devoted to social and medical services, increasing the vulnerability of women and children.

As the rapporteur herself states, conflict-related sexual violence is one of the worst atrocities of war, systematically used as a tactic to humiliate, violate and ruin the minds and bodies of victims, as well as intending to spread fear and break the spirit of the oppressed.

Details of the horrors meted out to women across a whole range of conflicts are referenced in the reports and deserve to have a much wider hearing.

But the rapporteur also stresses that some men and many children are also victims of these abhorrent practices that are rightly recognised as war crimes.

I particularly welcome the focus of the rapporteur on the specific case of the Yazidi women at the hands of Isis and the so-called Islamic State in 2014.

As well as perpetrating acts of genocide on the Yazidi people from the Kurdish town of Sinjar, those women who weren't murdered were - and here I'm quoting again from the report - "taken captive, married off to the highest bidder, sexually enslaved and forced to convert. More than 6 000 women were taken captive, and 2 800 are still missing".

The rapporteur also highlights many instances of exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers operating in Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Haiti, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The current conflict in Ukraine has seen these horrific practices once again to the fore in Europe.

Like other speakers, I want to highlight that these victims of the most horrendous abuse and rape are Ukrainian sisters.

When they arrive in Poland, they must have access to full healthcare, including the right to emergency contraception and abortion.

The rapporteur also rightly recognises the work of the United Nations. I want to quickly quote from one of their own reports which states that: "for every woman who comes forward to report sexual violence in the midst of a conflict, it's estimated that a further 10 to 20 cases go undocumented. That means, at a conservative estimate, that of the 3 293 UN verified cases of conflict related to sexual violence in 2021, an additional 32 000 to 65 000 cases go unreported".

Finally, in the few seconds I have left, in terms of the recommendations - I want to highlight one in particular.

Anyone who reads this report and doesn't think that every country should be signed up to the Istanbul Convention seriously needs to consider an alternative career.

It is outrageous that every country is not signed up to the Istanbul Convention. That change needs to happen now.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Paul GAVAN.

Now, the floor is for Ms Ruth JONES, from the United Kingdom.


United Kingdom, SOC


Thank you, Mr President,

And I ought to welcome the report on conflict-related sexual violence, and many thanks to Ms Petra BAYR for her measured and clear report. And, of course, I fully support the recommendations.

Late last year, the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative Conference was held in London. And at that conference, the political declaration on conflict-related sexual violence was endorsed by 53 countries, including the UK. That political declaration states that conflict-related sexual violence is "fundamentally rooted in gender inequality and occurs alongside other forms of gender-based violence before, during and after conflict". I do welcome the UK government's commitments in that conference and I note that the political will is there to combat this issue, and this resolution here before us today shows a clear commitment by the European community to continue addressing conflict-related sexual violence.

The resolution rightly notes that documentation, reporting, evidence collection and research are essential in uncovering crimes and prosecuting perpetrators. We saw this issue prominently in 2017 with the removal of thousands of citizen journalists' videos documenting the war in Syria. Vital evidence was removed of thousands of citizen journalists without thought by YouTube and this led to delayed investigations and in the delivery of justice. 

The explanatory memorandum accompanying this resolution written by Ms Petra BAYR is detailed and at times harrowing reading. On the trust fund for victims, the memorandum notes that only 14 of the 123 State parties to the Rome Statute contribute regularly and sustainably to the fund, while 48 make occasional payments and therefore, an increase in these payments is essential. My pledge to this meeting today is that I will raise this with the appropriate government ministers in the next session of the UK parliament to ensure that our country is doing all we can to support these systems of reparations for victims and that we are having an open discussion with other countries about the best way for us to play our part in this.

But, as the memorandum and resolution note, reparations are not justice. Twenty-five years after war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, survivors received some level of financial support. One survivor in the memorandum states it clearly, "I want them to answer for their crimes to say why they came to Vukovar to kill and rape". Reparations are not justice. Political declarations are only as useful as the political will to carry them through. Actions speak louder than words, and we need to act now, and we can start by fully endorsing this report.

Thank you.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

We are almost out of time.

The last speaker will be Ms Dubravka FILIPOVSKI, from Serbia.


Serbia, EPP/CD


Chairman, colleagues,

Women and children are most often victims of sexual violence and human trafficking in conflicts. The victims face terrible humiliation and physical and psychological trauma. That is why we must be ready to promote their rights and respond to efforts to improve the help that victims of sexual violence need, as well as to punish the perpetrators.

In the 20th century alone, Serbia lost a third of its population in conflicts. During the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, it experienced the largest ethnic cleansing in Europe after the Second World War, the trade in the organs of its population from Kosovo and Metohija, and the most monstrous sexual violence against women and children. Thanks to Dick Marty’s report on the trafficking in human organs of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, and the Yellow House in Albania, as well as the Council of Europe Resolution on this serious crime, the trial of the accused in the Hague tribunal is underway. The concealment and attempt to deny and dispute the crimes against the Serbian people last as long as those crimes.

The consequences of the war due to the breakup of the former Yugoslavia are felt even today in the area of the Western Balkans. The number of victims of sexual violence is being manipulated without evidence, which is absolutely reprehensible. The so-called Kosovo is leading the way, telling lies that 20,000 Albanian women were raped. For the sake of truth, the Secretary-General’s Report 964 to the UN Security Council in 2020 states, inter alia, that the commission of the so-called Kosovo government, in charge of verification and recognition of the status of survivors of sexual violence, received 63 applications, bringing the total number of applications received since its establishment in February 2018 to date, to 1 303 applicants. Out of 846 applicants, 819 women and 20 men were granted the status of survivors of sexual violence, while 262 persons, 224 women and 38 men, were rejected.

I believe that this report will help countries to assist rehabilitation of victims of sexual violence in conflicts.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

I must now interrupt the list of speakers.

The speeches of members on the speakers list who have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the table office for publication in the official report.

I remind colleagues that typewritten text must be submitted electronically no later than 4 hours after the list of speakers is interrupted, I mean now.

I call Ms Petra BAYR now, as rapporteur, to reply to the debate in 3 minutes.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC, Rapporteur


Thank you all for your support, for your commitment and I hope that we will all together get active against this atrocity. I also want to thank Ms Penelope DENU from the Secretariat who did a great job on this report as well. It was a great co-operation as always.

And let me make three remarks content-wise. First of all, this morning, we appointed the very first male rapporteur on combating violence against women in the history of the Parliamentary Assembly. Mr Even ERIKSEN from Norway will, for sure, do a good job and it is also related to it in a report we will debate tomorrow on the role of men and boys when it comes to combating violence in general, violence against women. And I think that is an important sign and important signal to really involve men. Some of you, in your debates, already mentioned that it is so important to involve and include men. So that is the first step we will do.

Secondly, I wanted to point out that – thank you for mentioning it – that the Istanbul Convention is when? Why not now? It is applicable to times of war as well not only for times of peace, and so, I really call on every country that has not yet ratified to do so. I am very happy that Ukraine did last June and I just was informed that their implementation is going on and I think that is really an added value for combatting and eradicating violence against women, also when it comes to conflict-related sexual violence.

Thirdly, it was also mentioned that it would be a great initiative to establish a fund to support victims. I want to line out that such a fund already exists, the International Criminal Court has a victims' fund and it is possible to sponsor that, states can pay into this victim fund. Austria, for instance, will do so for the very first time this year, and I know that it is also possible to earmark the money you donate for special victim groups. And so it is possible to do with this fund, which already exists under the Rome Statute, can be used for such psychological but also individual support of victims, individuals and also communities. I think in this regard, it is also important to respect that.

And last but not least, I am very grateful that we managed to have this report in the kind of fast track and bring it very, very speedily here to the Assembly because it is not only important to speak about it, it is really important to act on it and I hope that this report gives us all a basis so we really can eradicate this atrocity. 

Thank you very much.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you Ms Petra BAYR.

Now if she wishes to speak, the chair of the committee Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA has three minutes.


Ukraine, EPP/CD, Chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination


 Teşekkürler, Chair.

Thank you very much.

Dear colleagues,

It's a big and huge privilege and a very important role which I have taken just yesterday as a Chairwoman of the Committee. But you know, back in March, when we were getting rid of those who started, restarted, the aggression against all of us, who have brought us to the terrible figures of the war crimes within which a high number is rape, within which rape is used as not only a weapon but also a damage to the long lasting causes and traumas which not every individual can deal with.

It is very unfortunate that our continent is experiencing various wars and armed conflicts. Even though, with the dedication of our rapporteur – and I thank you, dear Ms Petra BAYR, highly on that, and dear Ms Penelope DENU and the Secretariat – that this timely report will not only be the words, but it suggests that all these war crimes being committed have one cause, which was the crime of aggression. It recalls international tribunal which we will vote on the fifth resolution already within 11 months only.

Colleagues, war crimes are something... These two words can be very particular when it comes to rape. I would like to suggest you hear several lines of what men, women – regardless of age – young girls, and also boys, might be experiencing in Ukraine at the temporary occupied territories or in the battlefields as we speak right now.

We have victims who are aged, according to UN information, from 4 years old to 80, of different genders.

As of December 2022, according to our prosecutor's office, there were 155 cases. But forget about the numbers. There are many more people who experienced rape, genital mutilation, forced nudity, threats and attempted rape, coercion to observe sexual violence. These cases were mentioned in the capital of Kyiv and in its region, and in my home region Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, and I can go on and on.

But it's not only about the European continent. We set a good example for those countries which are still thinking to join the Council of Europe or the Istanbul Convention, and considering this at a governmental level.

Colleagues, there was also a suggestion to co-share the information Lord Leslie GRIFFITHS mentioned on how we can trace back the memories of the victims, collect the evidence, and bring the perpetrators to justice. These several pages are bringing so much difference to the 46 member states, to the victims, their families, and those who can't be seeking for justice any longer because they are simply dead.

Thank you so much for this tremendous work, colleagues. I encourage you to vote in favour of this report.


Ukraine, ALDE


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear Mr President, dear colleges!

I would like to command a reporter, Ms Petra BAYR for good report as it is of utmost importance, especially today when sexual violence is perpetrated in the heart of Europe in my country, Ukraine.

This report is giving a visibility to awful atrocities committed by Russia, showing evidence of violence against victims: not only women but men, the elderly, children and even infants. There is also a gender-based component - in particular, servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces torture wives, mothers, children, sisters of Ukrainian soldiers, using them as a psychological weapon against men.

I would like to give you some examples of sexual violence committed by Russian militaries provided by the Office of General Prosecutor:

rape of a woman by a group of persons, during which the victim's husband threatened with violence, one of the men also raped their daughter;

rape of a pregnant woman and her minor daughter;

 group rape of a young LGBT man

forced undressing and humiliation

men genital mutilation by electric torture

Russia's war against Ukraine caused enormous suffering to the civilian population. In Ukraine, 155 cases of sexual violence perpetrated by the Russian military were recorded, most of them in the liberated territories of the Kherson and Kyiv regions.

More than 80000 crimes committed by the Russian occupiers in Ukraine have been recorded since the beginning of the war.

Sexual crimes committed by the Russian military took place systematically for last 30 years in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria and other countries. For the attackers, this is a way to break the resistance of the civilian population.

That’s why it is so important for us to gather as much evidence as possible. We have been actively working with our international partners, joint mobile groups of prosecutors, investigators and psychologists systematically revealing new facts of the sexual violence in the de-occupied territories.

A Temporary Investigative Commission were I am a vice-chair woman has been established in Ukrainian Parliament to investigate the facts of sexual violence committed as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. A draft law is being developed on the legal status and guarantees for victims of sexual violence.

As together with you, we must ensure that the dignity of every Ukrainian, especially those who have suffered violence from the occupiers, is protected, Russia must be held accountable.

Mr Christophe LACROIX

Belgium, SOC


Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in French.


Germany, SOC


Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in German.


Portugal, EPP/CD


Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in French.


Switzerland, SOC


Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in German.


Ukraine, EC/DA


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear Mr President, dear members of the Assembly!

I would like to thank Ms Petra BAYR, for presenting this report today.

For any democratic country, the protection of human rights and freedoms is the highest priority of public policy. Sexual violence in wartime is considered one of the most traumatic and widespread violations of human rights.

I fully stand behind the clause 2 of the Draft Resolution stating that conflict-related sexual violence remains, unfortunately, the mostly used tactic to humiliate victims after the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Moreover, not only to violating the physical body of victims but also devastating them emotionally is what russian barbarians are aiming at when occupying various regions of Ukraine. In particular, it very much refers to civilian women and girls. Therefore, Ukraine continues to state that Istanbul Convention Ratification was a progressive step for our country in June 2022 to prevent violence against girls and women making international law applicable and binding and that other CoE members who have not ratified it should do that.

Moreover, in 2023 the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is considering a draft bill "On Amendments to the Criminal Code of Ukraine", aimed at bringing Ukrainian legislative norms in line with international law, in particular, the Rome Statute. We stand strong and firm to ensure that criminal prosecution for international crimes - genocide, aggression, crimes against humanity, in particular, acts within the framework of an attack on the civilian population, rape, sexual exploitation, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced sterilization or any other forms of sexual violence are within the national legal framework and international norms and principles.

In December, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine reported that between February 24 and October 21, 2022 it had documented 86 cases of sexual violence, including rape, gang rape, forced nudity and forced public stripping in various regions of Ukraine. Stigma, shame, and fear of reprisals also deterred survivors from reporting sexual violence or seeking help. Women’s groups and civil society organizations have been quick to react to the immediate priorities of their communities, but face many challenges as they attempt to provide support to large numbers of internally displaced people, hostcommunities and those directly affected by violence and insecurity.

We’ve arelady made sure that the protection from sexual violence in conditions of war occurs with the help of guarantees and prohibitions established by international humanitarian law. Moreover, it was pivotal for us that the efficient and effective mechanism of documentation, assessment, compensation for damages and responsibility for violence is regulated by the national legislation of Ukraine. As marked in the clause 7 of the Draft Resolution, these steps are important in uncovering conflict-related sexual violence and war-related crimes.

The National Police of Ukraine work days and nights to record the facts of such crimes. Since February 24, they have initiated (or investigated) 59 criminal proceedings based on the facts of sexual violence committed by the Russian troops against at least 52 women.

As MPs we strongly believe that promoting equality and combating gender stereotypes are also crucial elements of ending and preventing gender-based violence against women and girls. Moreover, Ukraine presents a world precedent in moving forward on holistic care and urgent interim reparation of survivors of the CRSV.

I want to express gratitude to the Council of Europe member States, who provided thousands of Ukrainian families, especially women and children, with health care, education, psychological support, food, clothes, and books in the past months. Your contribution is a sign that fundamental human values still matter.

Ms Nicole HÖCHST

Germany, EC/DA


Speech not pronounced (Rules of Procedure, Art. 31.2), only available in German.


Ukraine, EPP/CD


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Dear colleagues,

Dear chairman,

Dear Raporteur,

6 months ago the UN has already recorded 124 cases of sexual violence during the full-scale war in Ukraine.

However, these data are only the "tip of the iceberg" and do not demonstrate the true scale of sexual violence in the context of Russia's war against Ukraine.

"Mom, they hurt me." That was a words of a small Ukrainian kid after the deoccupation of one of the Ukrainian villages.

The field of sexual violence is the most complex crime in terms of consequences, which causes a feeling of helplessness, violation of internal and external boundaries. This is humiliation, depreciation.

During the war, this crime is not as specific as in peacetime. This is part of the genocide, the humiliation of the people. Those who do so gain power and control over other people.

Tactics to humiliate, abuse and destroy the spirit and body of the victims, with the aim of keeping them alive to tell their story, with the intention of spreading fear and breaking the spirit of the oppressed.

The recognition of conflict-related sexual violence as a crime against humanity and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court allowed the prosecution of both the perpetrators directly on the ground and their commanders, in combination with other crimes.

On the other hand, the national level is the most appropriate for bringing individual offenders to justice.

Universal jurisdiction is also an additional possibility for prosecution, and we thank Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland for launching war crimes investigations in the context of the Russian war and aggression against Ukraine under universal jurisdiction .

With regard to the prosecution of conflict-related sexual violence, I call upon the Member States of the Assembly to:

sign and ratify the Rome Statute as the legal basis for the work of the International Criminal Court, if they have not already done so;

use universal jurisdiction as a means of prosecuting perpetrators wherever they commit conflict-related crimes of sexual violence;

use international criminal provisions in accordance with their respective national criminal codes that expressly and implicitly cover conflict-related sexual violence where perpetrators or victims are present on their territory, or acts related to the crime are committed on their territory;

use the 2021 Model Legal Provisions and Guidelines for the Investigation and Prosecution of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence of the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Sexual Violence in Conflict to ensure effective investigations for use in courts and with the same with the aim of encouraging and supporting civil society non-governmental organizations in compliance with the Guidelines of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and Eurojust on documenting international crimes and human rights violations for the purpose of prosecution;

cooperate with international courts to ensure the effective transfer of court decisions to national prosecution authorities, including shared access to evidence collection databases;

support with the Assembly the creation of an ad hoc international tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine and ensure that investigations into conflict-related sexual violence are prioritized.


United Kingdom, SOC


(Undelivered speech, Rules of Procedure Art. 31.2)

Thank you Chair for calling me to speak in this debate.

I would like to congratulate the Rapporteur, Ms Petra Bayr, on this timely report.

When conflict occurs, sexual violence generally follows.

As noted in Point 2 of the resolution sexual violence is used as a tool to oppress and humiliate victims, and is sometimes used with the intent to commit ethnic cleansing and genocide.

One example of these barbaric acts were the mass assaults of Bosnian Muslim women during the 1990s, planned by Serbian authorities.

As part of my membership of the International Development Committee we were able to visit Sarajevo to see the work that is being done by organisations on the ground to promote memory and reconciliation in the country.

This research helped contribute to a report the Committee has produced on how the UK government should work to help prevent mass atrocities.

What we heard on the ground and a point we made in the report is when working to prevent atrocities, gender-sensitivity and accounting for the specific threats faced by women in conflict zones, is crucial.

This must be front of mind when Governments are coordinating their humanitarian response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Our report’s proposals do chime with many of the recommendations in Ms Bayr’s report.

Especially Point 79 in the Conclusion, the advocacy of early warning tools for atrocities and the importance of training for international staff on effective prevention when potential conflict may arise.

In its recent response to our report the UK Government has acknowledged there are improvements to be made, which is why its essential that we keep up the pressure.

This excellent report is a great resource for members to take back to their respective countries and pressure Governments to put in place more effective mechanisms to help prevent and tackle conflict related sexual violence.

Vote: Conflict-related sexual violence


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA.

The debate is closed.

The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination has presented a draft resolution, Document 15677, to which 12 amendments have been tabled.

I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.

I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments Nos. 5, 11, 7, 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the Committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly.

Is that so Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA?


Ukraine, EPP/CD, Chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination


Yes it is, dear Chairman.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Does anyone object?

No objection.

Then I declare that Amendments 5, 11, 7, 1, 2, 3, 8, and 9 to the draft resolution have been agreed.

Now I call Ms Maryna BARDINA to support Amendment 4 in 30 seconds.


Ukraine, ALDE


I will move the amendment.

First of all, I'd like to thank Ms Petra BAYR for supporting all of the other amendments, and about this one.. we think it's very important to underline that the aggression the Russian Federation on Ukraine started not in 2022 but in 2014. And there are victims. I know them personally that experienced sexual violence since the war started in 2014, since the annexation of Crimea, and also the war in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Thank you so much.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

Mr Christophe LACROIX

Belgium, SOC


I attended the committee meeting. This amendment was rejected because, as we explained and as the author of the report explained, the case law of the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly is to consider the Russian invasion from 2022.

So, while we understand the position of our colleague and our Ukrainian colleagues, in this case, we want to remain as objective as possible and maintain the case law of the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


The committee rejected the amendment.

I shall now put to the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Please display the results.

So the amendment is carried.

So Amendment No. 4 is agreed, carried.

We move to Amendment No. 12.

I call Ms Olena KHOMENKO to support Amendment No. 12 in 30 seconds – if she's here.

...What is the point of order about?


Hungary, SOC


It shows that I'm unable to vote and I don't know why, because I was one of the speakers of this panel, even I am a substitute but it was told that this is me who is voting and it shows that I'm unable to vote and I really would like to vote.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Now of course the voting is closed.

The Secretariat took note of your intention.

The voting is closed.

Now is Ms Olena KHOMENKO here to support Amendment No. 12?

Does anybody else wish to support Amendment No. 12?


Ukraine, EC/DA


Amendment No. 12 states, I would like to update it in a way that "exploring the relation of this speech with prohibited and criminally sanctioned war propaganda and proper reaction on online platforms".

So we should find the linkage between this, between glorifying war criminals and exploring these online platforms.

Thank you.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


I have been informed that Ms Petra BAYR wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment as follows.

I read it: "replace the words 'proper reaction on online platforms' with 'countering and prosecuting them also online'.

In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules. However, do 10 or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated?

There is no objection. There is no objection then I call Ms Petra BAYR to support her oral sub-amendment.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC, Rapporteur


Yes, but it was already voted unanimously in this way, you just quoted in the Committee.

Well, according to us who were present, yes, but it is fine to call it "the exploring the relation of this speech with prohibited and criminally-sanctioned war propaganda and prosecuting them also online," which I think is what you read out.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


So anyhow, I think it should have been dealt here also in the plenary.

Does anyone wish to speak against this oral sub-amendment? No?

What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment? Ms Olena KHOMENKO?


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


The committee is obviously in favour of the amendment.

I will now put to oral sub-amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.


The vote is closed.

Let's see the results.


With the results, the sub-amendment is agreed to.


We will now consider the main amendment as amended by the sub-amendment.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment as amended?


What is the opinion of the Committee on the amendment as amended?

Madame Petra BAYR?


Ukraine, EPP/CD, Chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination


To vote in favour, we suggest, please, of the amendment as amended.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Now I shall put Amendment 12 as amended to the vote.

Please vote.

The vote is closed.

I call for the result to be displayed.

It is with a huge majority agreed. Thank you.

Now I call Ms Heike ENGELHARDT to support Amendment 6 in 30 seconds.

Does anyone else wish to support? She is there, it is okay.


Germany, SOC



Yes, I would like that there are some formulations that will make it more precise.

So I would like you to confirm the amendment.

Thank you.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


I have been informed that Ms Petra BAYR wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment as follows.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC, Rapporteur


We would like to keep this paragraph as it is in Amendment 6, but put it to a new place after 10.2 as a new 10.3, because the whole paragraph 10 deals with health institutions and it fits better into 10 and not so much into 5.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules.

However, do ten or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated?

It seems no.

Then, in this case, I call Ms Petra BAYR to support the oral sub-amendment.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC, Rapporteur


 I support my oral sub-amendment.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Then, does nobody wish to speak against it, I think?

What is the opinion of the mover of the main Amendment?


Ukraine, EPP/CD, Chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination


The Committee is in favour with unanimity. 


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment, Ms Heike ENGELHARDT?

Okay then.

Then, the Committee is obviously in favour.

I will put the oral sub-amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Please display the results.

The oral sub-amendment is agreed to unanimously.


We will now consider the main amendment as amended.

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment as amended?

The Committee is obviously in favour of the amendment.

I shall now put Amendment 6 to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Please display the results.

Amendment 6 as amended is agreed to almost unanimously.


Now, may I call Ms Lesia VASYLENKO to support Amendment 10 in 30 seconds.


Ukraine, ALDE


President, the given amendment is actually on integrating into the text of the resolution a proposal, a resolution that has already been passed and voted on in the UN and was motioned by France and Mexico, and which states that perpetrators, countries perpetrators of rape as war crime and sexual violence need to have their veto right suspended when they have one in the UN Security Council.

Thank you.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


It does not seem so.

I have been informed that Ms Petra BAYR wishes to propose an oral sub-amendment as follows, I read: "to add after the words 'signed by 104 UN member states', add the words 'and other initiatives, restricting the possibility to veto'".

In my opinion, the oral sub-amendment is in order under our rules. However, do 10 or more members object to the oral sub-amendment being debated?

It does not seem so. Then, therefore, I call Ms Petra BAYR to support her oral sub-amendment.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC, Rapporteur


Yes, I support the sub-amendment because there are also other initiatives that are really important to minimise or curb these vetoes.

This reflects other initiatives like from Liechtenstein and from Jennifer Trahan, and we also have them now language-wise included.


Türkiye, NR, President of the Assembly


Does anyone wish to speak against oral sub-amendment?

It does not seem so.

What is the opinion of the mover of the main amendment, Ms Lesia VASYLENKO?

She supports it.

The Committee is obviously in favour of the amendment. I will now put the oral sub-amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

Voting is closed.

Display the results. Okay.

It is carried out by a huge, huge majority.

We will now consider the main amendment as amended. Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment as amended?

There is no one. The Committee is obviously in favour of the amendment as amended, I shall now put Amendment 10 to the vote.

The vote is open.

Let's close the vote and display the results. Okay.

Amendment 10 is agreed to unanimously.

We will now proceed to vote on the draft resolution contained in Document 15677 as amended. A simple majority is required.

The vote is open.

Voting is closed.

Display the results.

Okay, with these results, the draft resolution as amended in Document 15677 is adopted unanimously.


Unanimity makes us happy. I must remind you that the vote is in progress to elect two judges to the European Court of Human Rights. The poll will close at 3:00 p.m. Those who have not yet voted may still do so using the Scytl online voting platform.

Thanks for everything.


Address: Ms Annalena BAERBOCK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear colleagues,

It is now my honour and privilege to welcome to our Assembly the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Ms Annalena BAERBOCK.

Madam Minister, we are very pleased to have you back in this chamber, the place you know from your time as a member of this Assembly.

I can tell you, many of our former colleagues have found their ways to various governments in our member states. And you, Madam Minister, have managed to become the the leader of the German Foreign Affairs Ministry ever since 2021.

We are very thankful to you that you take the time now, as one of the leading politicians in Europe, to exchange views with our parliamentarians in these challenging – and I may say dangerous – times.

Until recently, Madam Minister, the prospect of a war of aggression on European soil seemed almost impossible.

However, today war has returned to Europe with all its atrocities, with the start of Russia's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, which was a blatant violation of international law.

This war has caused already so many victims. Tens of thousands of people have been killed or wounded, millions had to leave their homes and even their country.

This war highlights the crucial importance of the founding principle of the Council of Europe: the pursuit of peace and democratic security can only be achieved through justice and international co-operation. We need the effort of every member state to safeguard the multilateral system founded now more than 70 years ago.

We now are, Madam Minister, I believe more than ever obliged to put our principles into practice.

I would like to use this opportunity to sincerely thank you and the German government for taking a leading role in ensuring the organisational and financial sustainability of the Council of Europe in the aftermath of the Russian Federation's expulsion from the organisation. As well, for your strong support for the organisation of the Reykjavik Summit of heads of state and government in half May. A summit which has been asked for on many occasions by this Assembly.

Madam Minister, with your valuable presence here today, you reaffirm Germany's commitment to achieve a greater unity between all Council of Europe member states on the basis of protecting and promoting the rule of law, human rights, and democracy, as the Statute of the Council of Europe stipulates.

Therefore, we are looking forward, Madam Minister, to hear your intervention and then your answers to the questions that our delegates might propose to you.

Please, the floor is yours, Madam Minister.

Ms Annalena BAERBOCK

Germany, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany


Mister President, Madam Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Madam Secretary of the Parliamentary Assembly, Members of the Parliamentary Assembly, ladies and gentlemen,

"When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant".

These are the words of Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust Survivor and Noble Peace Prize winner. His experience of the horrors of the Shoah and the second world war made him a lifelong believer in the need to stand up for human rights, regardless where violations occur and to who.

Wiesel was convinced that when human rights are violated that this is a warning signal for what there is to come.

The Council of Europe was founded in 1949 with exactly this in mind. As an early warning mechanism against human rights violations to prevent new wars, human suffering and tyranny on the European continent. And as a common European home for democracy, human rights and the rule of law. For all Europeans. Protected by strong walls formed by the Convention on Human Rights and the Court of Human Rights.

The council also comprises more than 220 conventions and treaties. And, probably, if we are all frank, no one in this room – maybe except for the President and the Secretary General – could name all of them. And feel free to do the maths on how many bilateral treaties it would need to replace them.

With all these conventions, with the European Court of Human Rights and its monitoring mechanisms, the Council is setting the highest human rights standards.

Through its rulings, the court has strengthened women in the fight against domestic violence.

It has bolstered the freedom of the press and it has applied us, as governments, to build polling stations that are accessible to persons in a wheelchairs and with other disabilities.

Moreover, the court is currently pushing towards intergenerational justice in groundbreaking cases, for example on the climate crisis.

This direct axis that individuals have to an international human right court is unparalleled in the world. And that is why Germany has made available additional means for the court. And we call on others – and actually I would say it very bluntly and openly – we urge others to step up their support as well. Because if we want a court to run in the future, it needs obviously sufficient financial resources.

And let me be clear: the Court of Human Rights is something we can be more than proud of. However, we are also committed through social conventions and resolutions to a fair income. And we cannot expect that with more cases at the Court, less judges would do the same amount of work. So it's up to us, the government, to strengthen the Court, our Court of Human Rights, also in the future.

The court reflects our convictions as member states of the Council of Europe that our governments must put the people's fundamental rights first.

Still, if we are honest to ourselves, we also probably, I would say again all of us would have to admit, that, before we became parliamentarians and politicians, many of us might indeed have had sometimes a bit confusion if they would have to explain the difference between the Council of Europe and the European Council.

And did we actually all know that the anthem of Europe and the European flag, with its 12 stars, were first used by the Council of Europe?

The President this morning reaffirmed me again that they do not really care about copyrights in this regard as long as the EU also copies or finally ratifies the European Convention on Human Rights. Without joking, I believe that this is actually not a bad thing, even though as a journalist you can write "well, people confuse the Council of Europe and the European Council", and it shows the neglect of the Council of Europe, I think this is not the true story.

I believe that younger people and even people of my generation – I'm being 42 years old, having the incredible luck to have lived my whole life in peace and not in a dictatorship because being born in Western Germany –, we took freedom and democracy for granted, but not because we neglected freedom and democracy, but because our ancestors built this Council of Europe. And we all believe that we could live in this house of freedom, of peace, all together forever.

So the crucial point is not whether the Council of Europe or also the OSCE has played a strong enough role in the past, the crucial point is what we are doing now. Now when our European peace order, when the Council of Europe, the OSCE, is being under attack.

This is our responsibility as politicians of our generation of this time.

Because Russia's war of aggression is not only a war against Ukraine. It is a war against the common European peace order. So, what we have done in the last months was crucial. And I would like to thank and applaud you also here in the Council of Europe that you have shown Putin that he would never succeed in destroying Ukraine, but that he would also never succeed in destroying our common home of peace, the Council of Europe.

But we have to be also self-reflective, because we have seen also what we neglected in the past too much is the early warning system of this Council of Europe, because when human rights are undermined or disregarded, these are the early warning signs Wiesel was talking about.

And ladies and gentlemen, such warnings have been there in the past.

When our friends and partners in Central and Eastern Europe, and particularly in the Baltic, pointed to Russia's aggressiveness, especially my country did not listen carefully enough.

When we saw the show trials against Alexei Navalny. When we saw Russia ignoring judgments by the European Court of Human Rights calling for his release. And when we saw Russia's refusal to sign the Istanbul Convention, and drastically curbing women rights.

These were all early warning signs, and we didn't see them, we didn't take action.

As early as in 2017, Russia changed its laws on domestic violence so that men, husbands, partners who beat up their wives would not get in legal trouble for beating their wives. But the law has been changed. You would have to beat your wife – since 2017 in Russia – repeatedly. She has to be sent to the hospital. And then the criminal core law would act.

That should have sent a clear and loud warning. Because women's rights are yardsticks for the state of our democracies. When women aren't safe in a society, no one is safe.

And when human rights are not respected in a country then ultimately peace and freedom are at risk.

President Putin has made this obvious. His language of rape, for years. His repression at home goes hand in hand with his attempt to destroy Ukraine and our common European peace order. That is why I'm convinced that today the Council of Europe, as early warning mechanism, is more important than ever. Its work for human rights makes a crucial difference to people across Europe.

And to be clear, Europe is bigger than the EU. The Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe create a common European home for human rights and democracy for almost 700 million people. 700 million people who, thank God, do not look alike, do not dream alike, they have different traditions, different histories, and different plans for the future. But 700 million people all united by their firm belief in fundamental rights.

I had the privilege of seeing what this actually means: fundamental rights.

When I spoke with teenagers in Kharkiv earlier this month. I was at different spots in Kharkiv and saw all the destruction, but actually what touched me most was my last stop at the heating point set up with so much care. And I would even have to say love. We were sitting around the table, there was a warm stove, and we were offered tea and cookies because it was minus 12 degrees outside. And I was sitting with different teenagers.

Their school had been destroyed in the early beginning of that war. So I was asking them "where do you go to school?". And they looked at me and said "our school has been destroyed". So they haven't been to a school because not only their school had been destroyed but many schools in Kharkiv have been destroyed for almost an entire year, because going to a makeshift school would be too dangerous, because Kharkiv is a place 35 kilometers away from the Russian border. So if there is a rocket... being targeted at Kharkiv, at a Kharkiv school, like before, there is no single air-defence system which can prevent that this rocket would not hit their school again. They have 45 seconds to hide. And 45 seconds is obviously way too little to hide. You can only pray.

So I asked them "what do you do if you're not going to school?", and the impressive thing is that even in a partly destructed town they have online teaching in classrooms. And I said "what are you doing otherwise? If you have 45 seconds only to pray because you cannot hide". And one of the girls told me "well, I used to play volleyball, but obviously also my volleyball pitch was destroyed, and I'm 16 years old, I normally hang around with friends, but also this is not possible any more."

So, actually, even though these school children, these teenagers survived, they are not living a normal life like teenagers. They hide every day and night praying that the next rocket will not hit them. So when I asked them "why didn't you leave?", this girl, the 16-year-old, said "well, I left with my parents to Italy", but obviously she came back. So "why did you come back here? Coming back to your neighbourhood of Saltivka, which was wiped out by the bombs?". When we were driving through them, you could see still the coffee table in a house which has been partly destroyed. People just drinking coffee before the rocket hit their home.

She simply said, with tears in her eyes, because this is my home. Even though my home is now a prison, because I cannot go to school, I cannot go to volleyball, I cannot go out with my friends anymore: this is my home, this is where I want to be, this is where I want to survive, if I'm not dying.

So the only thing this girl and all her friends were asking for is to live a simple normal life again, every-day life, where you go out as a teenager to meet your friends, to play volleyball, and to go to school. It is this girl's simple wish for a life in freedom, in peace and with basic human rights that brings home to me what our agenda here at the Council of Europe is all about.

Or, if you want to put it big, as German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer said it here at the Council of Europe when it was founded: "the Council of Europe is the soul of Europe. It is our duty to keep this soul alive."

That is why we are here. That is why I'm speaking here as the German foreign minister. That is why you are here and you are coming back every month to work for our European soul to solve it. For every person in Europe, for the teenagers in Kharkiv. To make sure that we are not missing the warning signals of human rights violation that can lead to violence and war, and to ensure that the fundamental freedoms of women, men, and children are better protected every single day: the right to live a life indignity and freedom.

Yes, I believe we need the Council of Europe today more than ever to put the power of those rights above the power of might.

President Putin wants to drag Europe back in a past dominated by power politics where states can trample on individual rights in the pursuit of imperial glory, where rulers dispose of their citizens like pawns in geopolitical chess games. That is why, in the face of Russia's war, neutrality was not an option. We had to make a choice between injustice and justice, freedom and oppression, between standing on the side of the aggressor and standing on the side of the victims, the teenagers in Kharkiv, and we did.

The Council of Europe, we all together adopted a clear and united stance against Russia's war. We jointly voted to expel Russia from the Council and we made clear that the Council stands with the brave woman and men and children of Ukraine, who are fighting for their country and their freedom. But also for democracy and human rights on the entire European continent, because the council is not a geographical concept, because the Council unites us in the concept of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

But we have also to critically assess why we did not fully recognise the early warning signals.

This is why at the last meeting of the Committee of Ministers in Turin in summer I advocated for a Fourth Summit of the Council of Europe that will now take place in Reykjavik under the Icelandic Presidency.

At this upcoming summit we will have an opportunity to set up the Council for a new era in European history.

We know that institutions are only as strong as the political and financial support they get. And that means we also have to give the Council the financial and other means it needs.

As I said in the beginning, in this era marked by Russia's war, we can no longer take the progress of liberty and human rights in Europe for granted. Fundamental rights and freedoms are under pressure on too many fronts. Therefore, if we want to show that despite repression and war the power of democracy and the soul of Europe remain unbroken on our continent, then we have to stand up and fight for them.

Let us keep this in mind as we prepare for the Reykjavik Summit, building on all our valuable ideas and suggestions, and there are many floating around, you took a decision just these days and I would like to focus on three crucial points for this Summit.

First, the Summit should reaffirm our joint commitment to the core values of the Council of Europe. Or let me put it in another way, if the Council is to remain our common home, our common soul, for European democracy and human rights, we have to fix the cracks in its walls, stop the erosion of its foundations, and make sure that all residents abide by the house rules.

I'm aware of the fact that our 46 member countries have very different historical and cultural paths. I also know that no legal system and no democracy is perfect. Thank god, because no human being is perfect, because we are all different. But what we all wish for is to get better every day, because there is not such single form or type of a perfect democracy. But, what binds us all in the Council is our commitment to the rule of law and to the division of power, our pledge to protect our people's fundamental rights and daily freedoms. And that is what we have signed up to.

So let me say loud and clear: all member states have to respect the European Convention on Human Rights and implement the Court of Human Rights' judgments based on it. And it worries me deeply that for years the Turkish authorities have been ignoring the Court's demands to release Osman Kavala whose detention the Court considers to be politically motivated. And yes, it was good that there has finally been a visit, but this is nothing to applaud about because Osman Kavala shouldn't be imprisoned. It's simply unacceptable for a member state of this Council to imprison someone for political reasons. That is why the Committee of Ministers has initiated infringement proceedings against Türkiye.

Co-rapporteurs of the Council have recently underlined this by the visit. And I'm reiterating our call for the Turkish authorities to release Osman Kavala. And also to release Selahattin Demirtaş and the others whom the Court has also ruled to be unlawfully detained.

We all, as members of this Council, have to respect this basic rulebook. That is a legal obligation and no wishlist. And that is what our citizens expect from us. This also applies obviously to every country in this room. Also to my own country. And that is why Germany has been taking steps to fully adopt the Council of Europe's legal instrument protecting women and girls from violence, because if we call on others to ratify or to comply with conventions, then obviously reservations from ourself might be a bit biased.

So, therefore, when my government entered office just over a year ago, we said we would leave Germany's reservation to the Istanbul Convention. And that is what we have done. We will apply the Convention without restrictions as of next month. I invite all member states that have signed the Istanbul Convention to also ratify it very soon.

And I think if a country in war like Ukraine could do it, then every other country in peace can do it as well.

This also continues our work as part of the EU. At the same time, our ambition for the Reykjavik Summit should not only be to reserve what the Council of Europe has achieved, as crucial as that might be. Together we cannot only refurbish our common European home of human rights and democracy, but also expand it with new rooms and more inhabitants. And that is my second point. Let us work together to adapt the Council and our democracy to a changing world.

That means finally making the European Union's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights a reality, creating a common European human rights protection standard.

Most importantly, however, the Council can help pave the way for a new generation of human rights.

Democracy and human rights are based on universal values, but they are also constant works in progress, because our societies evolve and new technologies obviously emerge. Take the digital revolution that is transforming how we all shop, meet our friends, and go on a date, if they used to go on a date. How entire industries work, or how scientists predict storms and droughts. The internet, social media and artificial intelligence have already made our lives so much better, but obviously they also bring new challenges and risks. We have seen that AI facial recognition can have racial bias, that it is used to target children with aggressive advertising, and that autocratic regimes are exploiting it to track down dissidents. That is why democratic governments, we, have to work together to protect human rights in the digital world. We cannot simply leave this to algorithms, to Tiktok or to Elon Musk.

This is a political task, this is a democratic task.

In the Council of Europe, we are working on a convention on the development, design, and application of AI systems. This convention can set a pan-European standard for human-centric and human-rights-based AI making sure, for example, that companies and governments are not spying on people by running their social media posts through AI analyses.

Together we can ensure that technology makes human rights stronger, not weaker. Because technologies are there for humans and not for industry or autocracies.

That is why the German government is committed to working with you all to see this new Convention adopted this year.

And finally, there is a third point we should keep in mind: the outreach to what I would call neighbours and friends of the Council of Europe. When I travelled to another region, to Kazakhstan, last year I met again a young woman in her mid-20s who work for an NGO and plan to establish a political party. And all of a sudden she said: "you are so lucky in Europe!" And I was thinking "okay, what comes now?", and then she said "you're so lucky: you have the Council of Europe". And for a moment I was stopping and thinking again these old prejudices: so is she talking about the EU or the CoE? And she said "yes, the Council of Europe!". And I said "why?". "Because you have an instrument to which your government has to relate, you have conventions where I, as an NGO could say: you're not complying with these simple convention or to the Human Rights Convention, because you have the Court where every citizen can go to".

And I think this is also crucial in these times. There are so many people, especially people around the world, who are not arguing about democracy, human rights to be one geographical pattern, but who are saying: we would like to benefit from your experience, from your lessons from the past. And this morning, during my visit of the Court of Human Rights, I was shown what this right means that the young lady in Kazakhstan was talking about.

I entered this room of registers and I mean – this is really interesting when you're talking about AI – and I saw these piles of post on the table, and people going through all these papers, and some – we also get this as politicians in our offices where you think, okay this is a bit crazy – but they are going through every letter, letters written on paper, some tabled in the internet, but also still letters written on a tiny sheet of paper, because when you're in a prison and when you're a political prisoner obviously you do not have the best access to this Court, to our Court.

So that any individual can initiate a complaint and be it with a simple handwritten request scribbled on a postcard or even on a piece of toilet paper sent from a prison: this is, as simple as it is, what this soul of Europe stands also for.

In many places around the world people do not have this privilege and we should remind ourselves of this everyday. And that is why it's on us to stand by their side as they, around the world, strive for human rights when they seek peace and a better future for them and their children. The work of the Venice commission is a beautiful example of how the values of the Council of Europe can have an impact around the world, even though again from the first-hand you would say "the Venice Commission? Not having any real power."

But the influence from the Venice Commission is maybe bigger than a big institution with a lot of money, because with its advice on how to reform electoral laws and constitutions, the Commission is a compass for democracy guiding us and member states from no less than five continents all around the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, we could go on and on, and you know it better than me about the hidden but so powerful tools of this Council of Europe, and it's up to us whether we use them or whether we leave them aside. It's our responsibility. We are the politicians of our times.

"When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant." That is how Elie Wiesel put it, reminding us to be watchful whenever human rights are violated.

To us here in this plenary hall these words might seem beautiful and aspirational, but to the boys and the girls in Kharkiv, to the 16 year old who came back from Italy to her home, to her destroyed home, because that is her European soil, this is their future, this is their trust, this is their destiny.

For their sake and the sake of so many others these words must be a concrete call on us to stand up to what this Council stands for: human rights and dignity of all.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Madam Minister.

We are not a German Bundestag where you applaud after every second sentence. But I hope that you understand that the applause that you received at the end shows that we are proud that a former member of this Assembly – now one of the leading politicians in Europe – is still a true advocate of the cause and role of the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly. Thank you very much.

You have agreed to answer also questions of our members.

I remind members that questions must be limited to 30 seconds and no more.

I will first take the questions of the political groups and then we see how many other questions we we can take.

First, I call Ms Selin SAYEK BÖKE, from Türkiye. She speaks on behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group.


Türkiye, SOC, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you.

Dear Minister,

On behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group I welcome you, and welcome you back.

Our Assembly realises the very critical importance of the Reykjavik Summit, and in this regard, I'd like to ask you if you could further detail what do you think are concrete and critical pillars of a new strategic vision that should be included in a political action plan that we hope would come out of the Summit.

And also, which concrete steps you think should be taken to speed up the progress of the EU joining the Council of Europe conventions and instruments, and for giving the Council of Europe a structured role in the EU enlargement process, especially in light of the very depth that you put forth in your speech, in opening room in our refurbished family of values, not just of geography.

Thank you very much.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Selin SAYEK BÖKE.

Madam Minister.

Ms Annalena BAERBOCK

Germany, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany


Well, on the first part of your question, I tried to outline it in my speech but I will try to do it shorter and sharper now.

Well, first of all, I think it is not about a vision because it is about now, it is about these times and the worst that could happen would be to say in 20 years' time, "we should be this and this", because this is a perfect excuse for politicians to not do it today and right now.

So for me the Fourth Summit is more about reality than a vision and this is why, even though this is not really philosophical or really like out of the sphere, but the question of finance is so crucial because you can have the greatest vision but if you do not have the financing of an institution – and I was not here only as a parliamentarian but back in time also as an intern, and I was in a division where my boss at that time was not sure whether she would get their next payment again. I mean, and if we have an institution which we believe stands for democracy, human rights and also rule of law, I think the employees of this house should not have to wonder whether their payment is also in the future safe.

And this counts for the Council of Europe but also the Court because the Court I heard it today, gets especially, from certain countries, so many complaints that they hardly can handle it every day. And this is a call from me to other countries. If we do not raise our national, also voluntary, contributions, we will not fulfil this cause. So my first goal for the Summit is to increase the budget of the Council but also of the Court.

The second point is, for me, I also tried to say it in the speech, to really focus on the most crucial points and this is the human rights violations. If we see cases of violation, a report is one thing, but acting afterwards. I think we have seen during the last 11 months what the Council is capable of, to be united in expelling Russia, to be united on formulating some of this resolution, I would believe that we need it also for other countries, for other human rights violations.

And the third part is about the new conventions. An institution is only as strong as it keeps up with the pace of development, so the new resolutions, the new conventions but also the new setup, for example, fighting climate crisis, the rights with regard to a safe and healthy environment, this is not a nice to have topic, this is a core security topic, so this is also the third part for me for the next Summit to really focus on the new human rights as a new generation.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Minister.

The next question comes from Ms Ingjerd SCHOU, from Norway.

She speaks on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.

Ms Ingjerd SCHOU

Norway, EPP/CD, Spokesperson for the group


Thank you.

Madam Minister, initially I was going to ask you on a special tribunal to prosecute Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. But I understand that you are in agreement with our Assembly that a tribunal must be set up.

I will therefore ask what your position is on supplying Ukraine with Leopard II tanks.

Freedom and democracy for Ukraine is paramount.

I understand you are not against other countries delivering Leopard II tanks to Ukraine. But Germany has been urged to send its own, will you?


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Ms Ingjerd SCHOU.

Madam Minister.

Ms Annalena BAERBOCK

Germany, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany


I think my position on this is very clear. You could hear it on television the last two days. But because I'm in the Council of Europe – and this is not to hide away from an answer because you can just read the answer in the news, obviously – Ukraine needs more military support.

But not only by one country, like mine, or the US, by all of us.

We can fight this war only together. This is about our common European peace order, and this is why we are calling with regard to tanks and other support for a big big international group.

But obviously, the Council of Europe is not delivering tanks, and I say thank God, because we could not have to duplicate things.

This institution is about bringing accountability and justice. This is why, also to your question here, I would like to answer with accountability.

This war is not only led by military action from Russia. This war from Russia against Ukraine, against the European peace order, also attacks our justice system. It attacks an institution like the Council of Europe. It attacks the international criminal law.

So I, speaking here as a foreign minister of Germany, but also as a European, yes, we have to do more military aid, but we definitely have to do more also on humanitarian aid, on winter help, on accountability, on the question about the missing children. Nobody is speaking about it because we do not have any facts about it.

So what I'm saying here is we keep up with our military support, but we will definitely keep on going and call on others with the humanitarian support, with stabilisation, and especially with accountability.

I believe that the Council of Europe, together with the Court, can play a crucial role, together also with the International Criminal Court, on this.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Minister.

Next, I call Ms Petra STIENEN, from The Netherlands.

She speaks on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.


Netherlands, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group


Minister, thank you very much.

On behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, I would like to complement you for your leadership on feminist foreign policy.

All of us know that as long as half of the population lacks in opportunities to getting good education, good health care, good job opportunities, and to participate in the political arena without being attacked, or the misogyny all of us know many women get, we don't have human security.

But Madam Minister, actions speak louder than words. So on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, we really would like to know how are you going to bring this leadership into practice? Not only for the people inside of Europe, but also for the people in Iran. We have a large Iranian diaspora in many of our cities. And also for the people in Ukraine.

We just had a report adapted on sexual violence in conflict situations. So yes, wonderful that you want to have this tribunal, but how can we ensure that also accountability will take place on these horrible acts of sexual violence against women, girls, men and boys?

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thanks, Ms Petra STIENEN.

Madam Minister.

Ms Annalena BAERBOCK

Germany, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany


Thank you for this important question. Because words only matter when they come into practice.

However, I would say, speaking out about these crimes is also crucial. Because when we remember – with regard to the Balkan war – and we heard from many, those times, that rape actually happens in war. And I still hear that around world. When I was in Ethiopia, "why are you talking about rape?", "rape is just normal in a war".

But speaking out back then, the brave women in Bosnia and in many many other countries of the Balkans, saying: "this is not normal". And we had to fight in front of the International Criminal Court, which was not even established at those times, that rape and sexual violence is actually a crime, and you cannot just count it under war crimes.

This was a big big fight. I'm making this curve because we are not finally there, also not with the International Criminal Court.

When I was in The Hague, for example, I did not only speak about the special tribunal. But I spoke also on the need to develop further the accountability of these crimes. We had one of the cases against the against Daesh fighters in Germany, also against Yazidi women. And what we have seen in these cases – and this is why I'm always talking about my country and other European countries as well – that it's so much easier also for a prosecutor in Germany to bring the complaints of terrorism in front of a court. Because even in our special prosecutor division, they have a division on terrorism, but they do not have a division on sexual violent crimes in war.

So to coming back to your question, we have to look at our individual national cases. How we can strengthen the law there. We have to work on the ICC, that they also bring these cases to justice. We have to work with regards to Iran. This is why I was lobbying so much for the Human Rights Council resolution, that we have an investigation in Iran. Obviously nobody can go there. But the same as in Ukraine.

We have to collect the evidence now, maybe even from outside. We have to set up a special prosecution division that at some point, like with Yazidi woman, back in time, we collect the evidence and we bring the perpetrators to justice in the name of the victims.

So it's a lot of work, again, on the judicial part, but naming them today is the first step that accountability comes into play at some point. This means also naming the Revolutionary Guard as what they are. I believe they are terrorising their own citizens in Iran. So obviously, they are a terrorist organisation.

So far, we are not clear whether we have the legal ground that we can put them on the sanction regime also in the European Union. This is more than true because we had a legal debate yesterday in the Parliament, and this is a German colleague, we discussed it all in our committee on foreign affairs. Because the sanctioned regime of the terrorists was set up for the 9/11 case. So yesterday, the colleagues from France, from The Netherlands, and myself, we called on the legal service of the European Union to identify whether and how this will be possible.

Because we shouldn't forget, our strongest power is that the people in Europe believe and have the trust in the rule of law. That means even in the most difficult times, like setting up a sanctions regime. This has to be based on the rule of law, that it can also prevail at the end in front of the court, and therefore, sometimes it takes time, but in the end the trust in the rule of law is the most important one.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you Madam Minister.

Now I call on Sir Christopher CHOPE, from the United Kingdom.

Sir Christopher CHOPE speaks on behalf of the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.

You have the floor.

Sir Christopher CHOPE

United Kingdom, EC/DA, Spokesperson for the group


Madam Minister, although you don't seem to recognise it, today you have made the most powerful and eloquent case for Germany to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

Germany's refusal of these essential resources to Ukraine is prolonging the war and emboldening Putin.

What can we do to help convert your generous words about Ukraine into actions by your government?

If the United Kingdom Parliament can be united across all parties on this, why can't the German Government and Parliament?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Mr Minister?

Ms Annalena BAERBOCK

Germany, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany


I will give the same answer as I did yesterday in the foreign affairs ministers meeting because my answer is that finger-pointing at each other does not bring peace and freedom to Ukraine. If we start or continue this game to finger-point at others because it is more convenient for oneself, then Russia and Putin win. And this is why I am personally doing the opposite. And this is why as a democratic politician in my country where we have a government with different actors, we are discussing things and we are taking action jointly together with other partners. And this is why I am not calling now on your country, on other countries, asking so why have the howitzer 2000s not been delivered when Netherlands and Germany delivered them? Why did it take so long that one country delivers now when others have delivered already tanks? This ends nowhere. This ends only in dividing Europe and therefore I have said already in the last few days, yes, we have to do more to defend Ukraine. Yes, we have to do more also on tanks but the most important – and the crucial part is – that we do it together and that we do not do the blame game in Europe because we are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Madam Minister.

Now, the last speaker on behalf of the political groups is Mr George KATROUGALOS, from Greece.

He speaks on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.


Greece, UEL, Spokesperson for the group


Madam Minister, you are a politician of principles, that is why I want your personal position on two issues.

Julian Assange. In the past, you have endorsed our resolution for his immediate release. Where do you stand now?

Second, German arms exports to Turkey, a country which has now occupation forces in three other countries, Syria, Iraq and Cyprus. Do you find this compatible with the EU Common Position of 2008, which forbids military sales to countries which affect regional stability or do not comply with their international commitments?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Madam Minister.

Ms Annalena BAERBOCK

Germany, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany


Well, for the first part, my position has been when I was in opposition and also when I am a foreign minister that, obviously, as a European country, every European country, be it the UK or be it Germany or be it Poland, our action has to be in line with the judgments of the Court of Human Rights and this counts during the Assange case as it counts for every other case.

And with regard to weapons delivery, we have outlines in Germany, we have also European regulations on arms delivery. I think also there we are on a crucial point. We call it Zeitenwende in Germany, your colleagues before you, are calling for common weapon delivery. This means also we have to realise that we need a common European weapon production. Because what we have seen right now is that we are aligned in the NATO treaty and the EU treaty but obviously, with regard to our military equipment, we are not so much aligned because, when I take the example of the Panzerhaubitzes, for example, it is the same production, but we realise in Ukraine that obviously the munition does not work and is not compatible between the two systems.

So when I am talking about regulation on military equipment exports, I think this is not a national, individual decision anymore, this has to be a European question. We have the common standpoint of the European partners, but I believe if we move forward also on the question of deterrence and securing peace in Europe, we have to combine not only military equipment, but also our export roles. So far, because you mentioned countries and actions in the past, we have clear guidelines in Germany with regard to the delivery of weapons in areas of conflict, of massive human rights violations, anyhow it is always a single decision with every case, that we are not delivering in these areas, and this is why we have taken some of the actions in the past. Obviously, with regarding Ukraine, we are underlining right now, if this is a question of self-defence with regard to Article 51 of the UN Charter, we are also delivering weapons now to Ukraine, even though this is a conflict area.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you.

Madam Minister, we have run out of time, but I will allow four more questions.

We will combine them, and then you'll have a few seconds left to answer them, because the Holocaust commemoration is also waiting.

I will now give the floor to Mr Ruben RUBINYAN, Mr Titus CORLĂŢEAN, Ms Andrea EDER-GITSCHTHALER, and Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO.

Mr Ruben RUBINYAN, from Armenia, 30 seconds.


Armenia, EPP/CD


Thank you.

Madam Minister, last week the European Parliament adopted a resolution that condemns the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan.

The European Parliament urged the European Union to be actively involved and ensure that the people of Nagorno-Karabach are no longer held under siege.

Madam Minister, as an EU member state, what does the Government of Germany intend to do in this situation?

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you, Mr Ruben RUBINYAN.

Mr Titus CORLĂŢEAN from Romania.


Romania, SOC


Madam Minister, as you know, all of us work hard in our countries, including in my own Romania, to strongly support Ukraine while facing the aggression coming from Russia.

At the same time, in some member States, we have accumulated, during the years and during the past year, an increasing concern and now a huge disappointment seeing the bad treatment granted to the national minorities in this country including the Romanian national minority. The law on education, the recent law on minorities and now the violation of freedom of religion.

My question is very simple: what is the German government's assessment and position while discussing this subject, also taking into account that this is a political criteria for EU accession and European standards in the Council of Europe.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Now I give the floor to Ms Andrea EDER-GITSCHTHALER, from Austria.

30 seconds.


Austria, EPP/CD


Dear Foreign Minister,

Last week you were in The Hague at the International Court of Justice. There you also said, in addition to the Special Tribunal, that it is a great concern of yours to get the abducted children from Ukraine back. What measures is Germany taking to ensure that these children are returned to their parents?

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Danke sehr.

The last 30 seconds go to our good colleague Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO from Ukraine.


Ukraine, EC/DA


Thank you.

My colleagues are telling you thanks.

And I want to tell you thanks.

I want to ask you to say directly, Council of Europe is about peace and justice. That's very important. But peace and justice today has one name: Leopard.

So please tell us directly, yes or no, and when.


Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Mr Minister, I told you that we have run out of time, but please do an effort to answer these four different questions.

Ms Annalena BAERBOCK

Germany, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany


Thanks a lot for all your questions. Also for the emotions. Especially when you're directly not only affected, but your whole family, your whole friends are living in Ukraine, and you're facing death every day. I totally understand this.

I also understand your question. But my discussion, first of all, peace is not only on tanks, even though this is a crucial question. This is why we are debating it intensively also in my my government. This is why we have delivered tanks: Gepard, Marder, battle vehicles which others are deciding right now.

But this is also about air defence. This is why I have been talking about Kharkiv here.

I've experienced over the last months, and I would like to share this with you to show that it's not this simple answer, if we would deliver Leos, if we would deliver tanks and the war is over.

We had this discussion also in the beginning. If we would just have an oil embargo, then this war would be over. But unfortunately not. Because what Putin is doing is so irrational. This is what we have to understand. This is not a logic. If we do one step, then the other step would follow. This makes it so complicated for us.

So I totally support. We need everything that you, that Ukraine, can defend your country, your citizens, your children, your grandparents. And you defend also our European peace order. So obviously, it needs more military equipment, be it with regard to tanks, be it with regard to air defence, be it with regard to munition.

But however, we have to also understand, unfortunately, that this probably won't prevent that the war is going on. So we need all the other factors as well.

This is why my plea to you is not because I want to bypass the military question, but we need every part of support: humanitarian, financial, and especially aid support right now. Because the strategy is also, from Putin, in Kharkiv, it's not killing people only by rockets. They want to freeze people to death. I've been visiting one of these shelters, but it needs way more shelters. It needs demining projects.

So this is also something every country can do. My country, your countries. This is really my plea here. Let's fight about or discuss about tanks, and we will give an answer. I can promise you this. But let's not forget about the other tasks. They are at least as important as the military support. Also in the future, when we are talking about reconstruction.

So with regard to the question from the Austrian colleague, thank you for bringing this up, the deportation of the children. Because in this topic, we don't even have figures. The International Committee of the Red Cross is not capable of going to eastern Ukraine. This is also my argumentation, why I'm saying that we need more military support to free these areas. We don't know about the children. We don't know about the families in eastern Ukraine.

This is why I'm also saying to those who say "you should just try harder with diplomacy and speak nice to Putin", that this is not possible. Because if he would be ready for diplomacy, the first thing would be that he would allow humanitarian access to eastern Ukraine. He would allow to treat not only soldiers, but also children and family in eastern Ukraine. But obviously he's not ready to do this.

To answer your question. The first thing is, again, to speak about it.

I've heard from many, "don't speak about it because we don't have secured numbers". Well, obviously we don't know whether they are thousands or tens of thousands of children. But even if it's only a hundred, we have to care for every single child. These are more than war crimes, if you deport a child to another country and if you give it free to adoption.

So we look together with also the Council of Europe, with the Criminal Court, together with EU actors to trace the tracks, where did the children go? What we can we do to get them back to the country? To bring those to justice who commit these kind of crimes. To support the Ukrainians in their effort. To prevent that further children are being deported, because this is based also on fake news in eastern Ukraine.

So these are tiny steps, but I think the most important one is to not be silent on this matter, because we are not sure how big these war crimes are.

The question with regard to Romania, and I'm sorry that I maybe didn't get it right. What I understood was that minority rights in Ukraine was your question? We are also discussing this with Hungary and other countries in the Foreign Ministers Council of the EU.

Obviously, because we are not only a geographical Europe, but we are a common Europe of values, be it in the Council of Europe and be it in the EU, we said, when we said about the membership of the European Union, that yes, Ukraine belongs to the EU, but they have to fulfil all the European laws and conventions and treaties.

I'm find it quite impressive that in a time of war they ratified, as I said before, the Istanbul Convention. They are working on so many legal aspects within their national constitution and national law. This counts obviously also to minority rights. So this is also work we are doing with the Council of Europe but also with the EU.

The Armenia question – thank you that you brought up this topic, showing that unfortunately we are not only looking at Russian war in Ukraine, but that we see other regional conflicts which we have to pay attention to. This is also the situation with regard to the blockade of the Lachin corridor.

Yesterday we decided as a European Union, to have an EU mission in Armenia. But obviously this mission only makes sense if there's also access from the Azerbaijan side.

You asked what are we doing there. First and most important, that also this mission can work from the Azerbaijani side to monitor the humanitarian situation in the conflict area and to bring, also there, justice to the people in the region.

Thank you very much for this exchange. Thank you also very much for this discussion. It shows what we are: a democracy and democratic countries where everybody can have their own and free opinion. But the most important is to listen to the others, to be ready to see it from their side of view.

So thank you very much, it was a really fruitful exchange also for myself.

Have a good day.

Thank you.

Mr Tiny KOX

Netherlands, UEL, President of the Assembly


Thank you very much, Madam Minister. 

I invite you all to go outside because there will be the Commemoration of the Holocaust. 

Before leaving the room, I inform you that I must remind you that the vote is still in progress to elect two judges to the European Court of Human Rights. The poll will close at 3:00 p.m. Those who have not yet voted should still do so on the Scytl online voting system. 

The sitting is adjourned. 

The sitting is closed at 1.15 p.m.