Finland’s President supports creation of new UN agency on gender issues

President Halonen of Finland

26 September 2007 – The President of Finland today backed the creation of a new United Nations agency to deal with gender issues and urged greater involvement of women in peacemaking and peacekeeping.

“We do need to take decisive measures to promote gender awareness across the entire UN system,” said Tarja Halonen, voicing support for a proposal “to set up a new consolidated gender agency” headed by an Under-Secretary-General.

Addressing the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate, she stressed the importance of “engaging women in all phases of crisis management: conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding – not forgetting peace talks.”

As an example of the positive role women can play in dealing with conflicts, she cited an initiative by the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), which has brought together Israeli and Palestinian women under its Middle East initiative. The President said this effort “can help restart peace negotiations.”

In his address to the General Assembly, the President of the Czech Republic called on Member States to proceed with a serious discussion of reforming the United Nations so that this “irreplaceable” institution can better reflect current global realities rather than the era in which it was founded.

The UN is an extremely important forum for dialogue among its 192 Member States, based on mutual respect for differing opinions, Václav Klaus said, adding that “there is no substitute for it in the current world.”

But to move forward and adapt to current realities, “some changes are inevitable and we should discuss them seriously.”

At the same time, Mr. Klaus stressed the need to ensure that the reform process does not take place at the expense of individual countries for the sake of expediency. “It is crucial that every Member State has equal status and that its voice is not ignored,” he stated, urging that the views of all countries be respected, regardless of their size.

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