On the occasion of this year’s Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I join the calls for a world free of violence against women and children.

Women and girls around the world continue to be the victims of unspeakable crimes, from sexual and gender-based violence to harassment, human trafficking, child marriages, and being forced to serve as child soldiers.

Despite progress made in the fight against impunity for such crimes, they remain prevalent. These are crimes that have traditionally gone un-reported and un-punished for too long. Their impact on women and girl victims is profound, with sometimes irreversible physical and mental repercussions. The suffering is also extended to their families and communities.

This annual commemoration offers the international community writ large an opportunity to take stock of the progress made, but also the hurdles and challenges that still stand in the way and which must be addressed.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”) serves as an important legal instrument in the fight against impunity for atrocity crimes.

Building on my Office’s Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender Based Crimes (“SGBC”) and the Policy Paper on Children, we have sought to systematically investigate and prosecute sexual and gender-based crimes and crimes against or affecting children. The charges we have brought in the Prosecution’s cases and the successes we have secured in court attest to this reality. Much more work remains to be done but we are committed.

My Office will continue to exert all efforts to meet challenges and ensure a measure of justice for the victims of these crimes. Together, with the competent authorities at the national level, we can and must close the impunity gap for violence against women and children, each within our respective complementary mandates.

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