7 October 2011
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Recipients


The work of Nobel Peace Prize recipients, Liberian President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf and peace activists Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman, embodied exactly what Alfred Nobel had in mind for the Prize, a senior United Nations rights advocate said today at a Headquarters press conference.

Speaking via phone, Margot Wallström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said there was a very clear history of women as peacemakers, particularly in post-conflict cases such as Liberia.  President Sirleaf, and her compatriot, peace activist Ms. Gbowee, were examples of the vital role women had played in making peace in that country.  Similarly, Ms. Karman, an activist from Yemen, so clearly worked to achieve peace and development on that country and throughout that region.

A correspondent asked how the awarding of the Nobel Prize to three women such as those could contribute to any substantive changes, particularly in the Middle East where there was said to be less freedom and choice for women.  Ms. Wallström responded that the work of those women, and the awarding of the Prize, helped to keep the issue of women’s involvement in peace and security high up on the agenda of the Security Council.

In Liberia, for example, she said that a team had worked with the Government to ensure that anti-rape legislature was up to date and effective, and that capacities were strengthened in order to deal with those types of crimes.  Such violations were a very serious part of the imprint of war, which lingered on in today’s Liberia.

In the case of new or transitional constitutions, such as in Sudan and Libya, it was important to ensure that there was no impunity or amnesty for crimes committed, and to keep the debate alive at the United Nations.  It remained unsatisfactory that less than 10 per cent of negotiators and signatories of peace agreements were women.  That was “really bad”, she said, so many years after the Security Council had adopted its landmark resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.

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For information media • not an official record