26 September 2011 The United Nations should select more women to serve as mediators in conflicts and during political transitions, Liechtenstein told the General Assembly today, calling on the entire international community to do more to promote the participation of women in conflict prevention and resolution.
The European country’s Foreign Minister Aurelia Frick told the Assembly’s general debate – whose theme is the role of mediation in the settlement of disputes – that women have been “a driving force” in the Arab Spring, the political uprisings that have swept North Africa and the Middle East this year.
“But as some countries are transitioning to a new era, women risk being left behind once again,” she said.
“The United Nations are often involved in transitional processes. If and where it is, it must ensure a strong role of women and apply a gender perspective. Most importantly, the UN must lead by example and appoint more women as leaders in mediation and other transitional processes.”
Ms. Frick said she supported the call of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the UN and the broader international community to turn conflict prevention from an abstract concept to a core operating principle.
“It is simply paradoxical that only a small fraction of the [UN] Secretariat’s resources are dedicated to mediation, when we are spending $7 billion a year on peacekeeping.
“In many situations, the good offices provided by neutral and trusted actors, such as envoys of the Secretary-General, can make a real difference on the ground. These are highly intense, often heroic efforts, which deserve much stronger support from us Member States.”
Ms. Frick also underlined that justice must be a key value of any mediation process, particularly given the current era of accountability for serious crimes and human rights abuses.
“In this new age of accountability, mediators can never offer amnesty from criminal prosecution or the withdrawal of arrest warrants issued by the ICC,” she said, referring to the permanent war crimes tribunal known as the International Criminal Court.
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