Security Council calls for ensuring women’s participation in building, sustaining peace

UN peacekeeper speaks with women refugees at Farchana camp, Chad

26 October 2010 – The Security Council today marked the tenth anniversary of the landmark resolution on women and peace and security by calling for the full and effective participation of women at all stages of peace processes, and for ending the abuse of women and girls in armed conflict.

Adopted on 31 October 2000, resolution 1325 marked the culmination of years of concerted appeals and efforts, especially by civil society and women’s organizations, to draw attention to and seek action to reverse the egregious and inhumane treatment of women and girls, the denial of their human rights and their exclusion from decision-making in situations of armed conflict.

In a presidential statement adopted at the start of today’s meeting, which was slated to hear from nearly 90 speakers, the Council noted “with grave concern” that women’s participation at all stages of peace processes and in the implementation of peace accords remains too low, despite their vital role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in rebuilding their societies.

“The Council recognizes the need to facilitate the full and effective participation of women in these areas,” it stated, adding that such participation is very important for sustainability of peace processes.

It also reiterated its demand to all parties to armed conflict to immediately and completely cease all forms of violence against women and girls, including acts of sexual violence.

“Resolution 1325 will never be implemented successfully until we end sexual violence in conflict,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is currently on an official visit to South-East Asia, said in a video message to the Council meeting. “We must hold those responsible to account, whether the crimes are committed by State or non-State parties.”

In his latest report on women and peace and security, Mr. Ban noted that the conditions that women and girls face in situations of armed conflict continue to be “abhorrent” and that effective methods for monitoring their impact are lacking.

The rape in July of more than 200 women and girls by rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is only one example of the severity of abuse of the human rights of women and girls, he added.

Mr. Ban also noted that despite an apparent firm foundation and promise, 10 years after the adoption of resolution 1325, significant achievements are difficult to identify or quantify.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s report to the Council, Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), said that there are a number of “sobering” messages in the report that call for concerted and urgent action.

“Although activities to implement resolution 1325 have been carried out with increasing intensity over the years, these activities have lacked a clear direction or time-bound goals and targets that could accelerate implementation and ensure accountability,” she said.

“While these discrete activities have indeed contributed to improvements in efforts to address the needs of women and girls in the context of armed conflict, evidence of their cumulative impact is inadequate.”

The report, she pointed out, recommends a comprehensive framework consisting of an agreed set of goals, targets and indicators concerning how the resolution will be implemented over the next decade.

She added that the Council could convene a review or summit at the ministerial level every five years to assess progress towards these goals and targets and to address the obstacles in implementation.

The Secretary-General’s report also stated that although a System-wide Action Plan was developed to bring greater coherence to the UN’s work on women and peace and security, the performance of that Action Plan has “fallen short of expectations.”

Among the other UN officials addressing the meeting was Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who emphasized several elements in moving forward. These included ensuring the necessary financing to support the implementation of resolution 1325, a greater focus on building capacities of women to build and sustain peace in their own countries, and investing more in facilitating women’s participation in political processes and in newly restructured security sector bodies.

“Our greatest indicator of success must remain however, the extent to which our collective energies contribute to building a sustainable, nationally-owned platform from which local women, working with men, can themselves define, shape and influence the course of peace in their countries,” he stated.

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