STRONGER DECISION-MAKING ROLE FOR WOMEN IN PEACE PROCESSES IS CALLED FOR IN DAY-LONG SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE
STRONGER DECISION-MAKING ROLE FOR WOMEN IN PEACE PROCESSES IS CALLED FOR IN DAY-LONG SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE
4208th Meeting (AM & PM)
STRONGER DECISION-MAKING ROLE FOR WOMEN IN PEACE PROCESSES
IS CALLED FOR IN DAY-LONG SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE
Speakers Note Continued Under-Representation of Half of Mankind
In Key Security Positions within United Nations System and Beyond
As the Security Council met today in an open meeting to consider the issue of women, peace and security, an overwhelming number of speakers stressed the need to include women in every aspect of peace-building initiatives, specifically calling for their involvement in decision-making processes.
While some of them emphasized further that that involvement should be at local, national, regional and international levels, a number of other speakers also underscored the importance of appointing more women as special representatives and envoys of the Organization. The Secretary-General was called on to address that particular imbalance.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the Security Council, in its statement on the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace on 8 March, had declared that maintaining and promoting peace and security required women’s equal participation in decision-making. “I am here today to ask you to do everything in your power to translate that statement into action”, he said.
He said women had proved instrumental in “building bridges rather than walls”. They had also been crucial in preserving social order when communities collapsed. Conflict resolution and prevention called for creative and flexible approaches. “In all these areas, we have seen examples of women playing an important role”, he said. Yet their potential contribution to peace and security was still under-valued and they were still under-represented at the decision-making level.
Reiterating that point, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Angela E.V. King told the Council, “We cannot exclude half the world’s resources from participating in the peace process”. Gender equality issues were absolutely essential to success of any peace operation, she added.
Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director, United Nations Development Fund for
Women (UNIFEM), said that without the participation of women in the peace processes, those processes themselves suffered, for there would be neither justice
nor development. If women were half the community, why were they not half the solution? Further, how could warlords be brought to the table and not women?
India’s representative said that while she appreciated the Council’s expressed sentiments that equal access and full participation in power structures and in all efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts were essential for the maintenance of peace and security, she noted that a Council dominated by men illustrated the problem, not the solution.
At the start of today’s meeting the Council members and delegations also viewed a short video presentation on women and peace.
Statements in today’s debate were made by the representatives of: Jamaica; United States; Tunisia; Argentina; China; United Kingdom; Bangladesh; Russian Federation; Netherlands; Canada; France (on behalf of the European Union and associated States); Malaysia; Ukraine; Mali; Mozambique; Egypt; Democratic Republic of the Congo; South Africa; Liechtenstein; Singapore; Pakistan; Japan; Cyprus, Republic of Korea; New Zealand; Zimbabwe; Indonesia; United Republic of Tanzania; Australia; Croatia and Belarus.
The meeting, which began at 10:30 a.m., was suspended at 1:30 p.m., resumed at 3:17 p.m. and suspended at 6:25 p.m.
The Council will meet again tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. to resume its discussion of women, peace and security.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council this morning met to take up the issue of “Women and peace and security”.
KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General, said the theme chosen today was crucial as it brought together two vital parts of the Organization’s mission as stipulated in the Charter: to save succeeding generations from war; and to proclaim the equal rights of men and women. “We must live up to both of those challenges or we shall not succeed fully in either”, he stressed.
He said the nature of conflict had changed since the Charter was written. Inter-State wars had been replaced by ethnic conflict. Civilians not only made up the majority of victims, they were increasingly the targets of conflicts. From rape and displacement to the denial of the right to food and health care, women bore more than their fair share of the suffering. Yet, women, who knew the price of conflict so well, were also often better equipped than men to prevent it or solve it.
He said that for generations women had served as peace educators, both in their families and in their societies. They had proved instrumental in building bridges, rather than walls. They had also been crucial in preserving social order when communities had collapsed. The United Nations was making special efforts to recruit more women for peacekeeping and peacemaking missions and also to make those operations more aware of gender issues. Conflict resolution and prevention called for creative and flexible approaches. “In all these areas, we have seen examples of women playing an important role”, he said.
Yet, he continued, the potential contribution of women to peace and security was still undervalued. Women were still under-represented at the decision-making level, from conflict prevention to conflict and post-conflict resolution. The Security Council, in its statement on International Women’s Day this year, acknowledged that women and girls were particularly affected by the consequences of armed conflicts.
The Council, he continued, also recognized that peace was inextricably linked to equality between men and women. The Council had also declared that maintaining and promoting peace and security, required women’s equal participation in decision-making. “I am here today to ask you to do everything in your power to translate that statement into action”, he said.
ANGELA E.V. KING, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, said the socio-economic fabric of a country had to be the major focus of attention. Groups within society, and especially women’s groups, must be a part of all stages of peace negotiations. A study issued by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Division for the Advancement of Women, “Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in Multidimensional Peace Operations”, showed that where there was a critical mass of women in the mission -– at least 30 per cent -- local women were more easily mobilized to join peace committees. Women’s participation had the capacity to expand the debate to encompass more diverse subjects, including what was relevant to women, children and communities. Women were frequently less hierarchical in dealing with local communities. Local women were more likely to confide in women peacekeepers about rape and other sexual violence.
The study also showed that the presence of a critical mass of women appeared to foster confidence in the local population, she continued. Women were active negotiators, able to see more clearly those issues where women were affected differently than men. Women’s participation in all aspects of the mission helped to break down traditional views of women in local communities, thus affecting the participation of local women in decision-making positions in the post-conflict phase. Women political monitors or observers were just as willing and capable of serving in dangerous or isolated areas as men. Moreover, mixed teams of women and men had a positive influence. More should be done to encourage women to enter the peacekeeping service
Ms. King said that women took on a number of peace-building activities, at both the formal and informal levels, although most were informal. Many of those informal activities had been encouraged, supported and documented by the United Nations system. Good practices were identified, studied and published. The exchange of information had enabled the United Nations system to encourage rehabilitating States to sustain women’s groups and civil society that were engaged in essential, but often unrelated, activities.
She said the basic blueprint for the future must include gender-equality aspects in the planning of any mission. The mandate of the mission and the guidelines for special representatives of the Secretary-General and special envoys must clearly indicate that gender considerations be integrated into the mission’s goals. The head of the mission should be accountable for ensuring that they were implemented. Each mission should have a plan for incorporating gender issues into all aspects of its work. All sectors of the transition or rebuilding process should take gender issues into account. Also, greater attention must be paid to ensuring the appointment of women as special representatives or special envoys in accordance with the Brahimi Report. The Council might wish to ensure that all of its reports on missions or other activities contained a gender perspective.
She stressed that the Code of Conduct for Peacekeepers should be regularly updated, and related training should include both gender mainstreaming and gender- sensitive modules. Where there were infringements, perpetrators should be disciplined, clear guidelines implemented and gender-sensitive training given to personnel officers concerned. Should a new Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations be appointed, strong consideration should be given to appointing a woman to one of the three Assistant-Secretary-General-level posts in the Department. The main finding of the study was that “the most important lesson learned is that lessons are not always learned”, she said. Gender equality issues were absolutely essential to the success of any peace operation. “We cannot exclude half of the world’s resources from participating in the peace process”, she said. There could be no peace without gender equality, and no development without both peace and equality.
NOELEEN HEYZER, Executive Director, United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), said that, without international action, women caught in conflicts would have no security of any kind. Also, without the participation of women in the peace processes themselves, those processes would suffer because there would be neither justice nor development. If women were half the community, were they, therefore, not half the solution? she asked. How could warlords be brought to the table and not women?
She said UNIFEM shaped its core activities for women in conflict situations around five fundamental points. The first was that no full-scale assessment of the impact of armed conflict on women had yet taken place. There was a need to examine every aspect of the consequences of conflict for women in order to guide future actions. Ironically, that had happened for children, but not for their primary caretakers and those most affected by conflict. But understanding the impact was simply not enough. “We must act with greater sensitivity”, she said.
She said the second point was that international protection and assistance systematically neglected women and girls. Protection of and humanitarian assistance for women was glaring in its inadequacy, “We have seen the failure of political settlements to protect women’s rights”, she said. “The complacency of the international system was the core of this very debate.”
The third point, she said, was that UNIFEM supported women’s participation in peace-building. “We try to leverage political, financial, and technical support so that women can have an impact on peace efforts nationally and regionally”, she said. The fourth point addressed bringing a gender perspective to intergovernmental peace and security initiatives. Women’s concerns would only be addressed when women, in significant numbers, were there to represent them. Gender expertise must inform the planning of peace and security operations.
The fifth point addressed gender justice in post-conflict reconstruction. During the transition to peace, a unique opportunity existed to put in place a gender perspective framework that dealt with gender equality. Unless a country’s constitutional, legal, judicial and electoral frameworks dealt with gender equality, then, no matter what happened after conflict, no matter how peaceful a transition, the entire country would never have a fair chance at development.
She said the Council could improve women’s protection in conflict and support their role in peace-building by: ensuring that human rights verification, observer missions and peacekeeping operations focus on gender-based violations and women’s human rights; calling for all peacekeeping personnel to be trained in their responsibilities to women and children; and calling for the elaboration of a code of conduct for peacekeeping personnel and the establishment of clear reporting on sexual violence in a peacekeeping environment.
The Council should also ensure that field operations protected and supported humanitarian assistance for women and girls, and that the peace-building elements of an operation were gender-sensitive. The Council should further ensure that any support it offered to a peace process involved women and addressed the substantive concerns they brought to the table.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said women had become increasingly effective participants at the peace table and had continued to assist in creating an enabling environment for conflict prevention, peacemaking, peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction. Their role in preserving social order and fostering reconciliation could not be overlooked without serious consequences to the peace process. Sustainable peace could hardly be achieved if the experiences and perspectives of some 50 per cent of the population were not given the attention they deserved.
Referring to yesterday's Arria Formula meeting, she said that the participation of non-governmental organizations working at the grass-roots level had brought into sharp focus the need for sustained attention to the plight of thousands of women victims of violent conflict and to their crucial role in preserving social order and fostering a culture of peace in their communities. The recommendations emanating from that meeting deserved the Security Council's attention, particularly because they came directly from women who were victims, as well as participants in peacemaking.
She said that the initiatives undertaken by women in Somalia, Burundi, East Timor, Guatemala and other countries in contributing to the creation of a peaceful and secure environment pointed to their important role as equal partners in securing peace. In Somalia, women had effectively mobilized civil society to promote dialogue among the warring factions and had given invaluable support to the national peace process. It was hoped that they would be given a role in their country's government when it was constituted.
Recent assessments of United Nations peace operations had overlooked important elements relevant to the incorporation of a gender dimension in peacekeeping, she said. Women were still under-represented in decision-making in the area of conflict resolution. While recognizing the important recommendations of the Brahimi Report on peace operations, Jamaica called for the inclusion, where appropriate, of women at all levels of their implementation. Qualified women should also be included in the Secretary-General's appointment of his representatives and envoys.
NANCY SODERBERG (United States) hoped that the day's meeting would spread awareness of the important role women played in preventing conflict, encouraging reconciliation, and helping to rebuild conflict-ridden societies. In too many places, women remained an undervalued and underdeveloped resource in those areas. The efforts of the United Nations had already changed the lives of many, by promoting equal opportunity and education, and redressing traditional imbalances. Much attention had been directed at protecting women from being victims of acts of sexual violence.
However, she said, women were an underutilized, positive force for peace. She called for formal mechanisms to support a prominent female presence at the peace table, in peacekeeping operations and in efforts to reconstruct institutions vital to lasting stability. She encouraged Member States to support the Secretary-General's appointments of qualified women to visible positions of influence, by bringing more such candidates to his attention and maintaining a roster of them as part of the United Nations Standby Arrangements System. In the immediate aftermath of conflicts, women should be involved in public security institutions. States should strive for gender-balanced contributions to civilian police and other peacekeeping contingents. All peacekeepers should be trained in gender issues. At managerial levels, such training should encourage participation of women in institution-building, particularly in rule of law areas.
She encouraged States to assist in other ways, as well. The United States supported the Bosnian Women's Initiative and the Rwandan Women's Initiative, which promote post-conflict social and economic reintegration of women, as well as similar efforts by the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children that operated in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and the Sudan. Worldwide, all concerned parties must follow through on promises already made to empower women -- striving for equality, not special treatment. She hoped that one day that would mean equal representation of women in the Security Council Chamber and among permanent representatives, as well.
SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said the commitment of the Council was particularly valuable. Women and girls were the prime target of violence in armed conflict. They were the first ones to suffer. They were the most exposed to the HIV scourge because of sexual violence against them. As new conflicts broke out, the number of poor defenceless women was on the increase. Their traditional load changed from one day to the next. The rights of women were an integral part of human rights, and the obligation to protect those rights was enshrined in international law. He joined the appeals to all in armed conflicts to respect those laws, and said that those who violated such laws should be punished. He encouraged an analysis of gender equality in planning for Council-mandated missions.
Drawing attention to the importance of the role women played, he voiced support for their inclusion in peacekeeping operations. He noted the adverse effects of sanctions on women and girls, adding that sanctions had extremely negative consequences on civilians, particularly women and children.
He expressed appreciation for the vanguard role played by UNIFEM, and supported its efforts to foster the participation of women at all decision-making levels. The multidimensional basis of peacekeeping offered women the possibility to contribute to peace and security, and would help strengthen the protection of women and girls in armed conflict situations. There must be real change in legislative texts, in people’s mindsets and in traditional practices. He expressed support for the institutional initiatives and measures that needed to be taken to guarantee the protection of women, particularly in armed conflict situations. He appealed to Member States for their cooperation.
ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said his Government warmly welcomed today’s discussion. When the Council had previously examined the role of women, it had been generally to condemn crimes of war against women. Such crimes must not remain unpunished, and women and girl children must be protected from gender violence. He supported the creation of a system to prevent gender-based violence and the exploitation and trafficking of women, with mechanisms to protect the identity of informants and control the behaviour of peacekeeping personnel. There must be a gender perspective in all operations.
He said that when a particular conflict had impact on women, it seriously affected future generations. He condemned the manipulation of any situation to deny women and girl children the enjoyment of their fundamental rights. He supported any initiative taken by the Council to pay particular attention to the needs of women affected by armed conflict. Peacekeepers should receive appropriate training. He welcomed all proposals to achieve greater gender awareness among States, so that the Member States would reflect that perspective in the training of troops.
Women must play an important part in peace-building operations, he said. Peace was intimately related to equality between men and women. If armed conflict had a disproportionate impact on women, then women had something particular to contribute. But, women were not represented on an equal footing when it came to the prevention and solution of armed conflict. He urged the Secretary-General to appoint more women as special representatives, special envoys and as spokeswomen in good offices related to peace. He urged also the participation of women at the negotiating table. Moreover, he urged that stereotypical notions of the role women should play be set aside.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said women had an irreplaceable role in creating civilization and fostering social development. Without their full participation, none of the efforts to maintain world peace and security could be fruitful or lasting. The Council was entrusted with maintaining world peace and security. The debate today could contribute to the better fulfilment of that mandate. His country condemned all armed conflicts and urged all parties currently engaged in them to observe international humanitarian law. It also urged governments to investigate and bring to justice those who had committed and were committing crimes against women.
He said he encouraged women to participate actively in every aspect of peace negotiations. He paid tribute to the role played by women in non-governmental organization and hoped that, in future peacekeeping operations, they could play a greater and better role. He also hoped that in the future he would see a peace operation comprised of women. Women were not able to participate fully in the various processes right now, not because they were not capable, but because not much attention had been devoted to the issue.
He said he hoped that in the wider United Nations system there would be a full assessment of the impact of armed conflict on women. The issue of women was a cross-cutting one, and the work of the Council in that area should be in synergy with the work of the various United Nations agencies.
JOHN GRAINGER (United Kingdom) said the Council should concentrate on three themes. First, how could it make sure that the rights and particular concerns of women and girls were properly considered and acted on in its everyday work? One way of doing that would be to encourage the Secretary-General to incorporate analyses of gender issues in his regular reporting to the Council on country-specific issues. The Brahimi Report recommended the establishment of an information and strategic analysis secretariat to improve the Organization’s capacity to gather and analyse data. His country hoped that gender expertise would be incorporated in that secretariat.
The second question to be asked was: “What can we do to mainstream gender within the objectives and organizational structure of peacekeeping operations?” Where the Secretary-General had recommended that specific gender concerns be addressed in peacekeeping mandates, “we should incorporate them into the heart of our decisions”, he said. The United Kingdom and Canada had jointly financed work in collaboration with the Lester Pearson Peacekeeping Training Centre to produce training materials on gender for peacekeepers. He hoped that work would be of use to as wide a spectrum as possible of the troop-contributing countries.
He said his country also encouraged the Secretary-General to provide training on the rights and particular needs of women and girls to civilian staff serving in peacekeeping operations. The third point he made was that “we should not fall into the trap of seeing women and girls only as the victims of armed conflict”. They could also play key roles in unlocking the door to peace. The full representation of women’s groups at all levels of peace negotiations was vital to building sustainable peace and security. His country was, therefore, embarking on an ongoing programme of support for UNIFEM to build its capacity to act as a catalyst for women’s participation in peace processes.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that finally the voices of women had reached the Security Council, as it began today to openly address how conflicts shaped their lives and how women were coming together to shape peace and security. The Council should explore options for facilitating women’s involvement in United Nations peacemaking and peace operations. The women had spoken. The onus was now on the Council to act. Through today’s meeting and through the resolution to be adopted in a few days, members must send a powerful message that women needed peace and, more importantly, that peace needed women.
He said that the Council’s work on that issue must be set in the broader context of the commitments of the Beijing process, which illuminated the way forward. Council decisions affected women in situations of armed conflict. It was appropriate, therefore, that those decisions kept women “squarely in the picture”. The Council should take into account three broad areas: the impact of conflict on women and girls; the involvement of women in the peace process; and United Nations peace operations and women. As the nature of conflict shifted in a post-cold-war globalized world, civilians, in particular women and children, were increasingly the victims. Women and girls formed the majority of refugees and internally displaced populations and were in particular danger of being harmed or abused. They faced horrible gender based and other human rights violations. As a Council participant of the Council Mission to Sierra Leone, he had seen first hand the ravages of war on women in that country.
At the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration sites, the different needs of women and men combatants and accompanying family members had to be addressed, he said. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court had recognized war crimes against girls and women. The Security Council must add its voice in ensuring that there was no impunity for gender-based war crimes. From Burundi to Somalia to Northern Ireland to the Middle East and Cambodia, women had shown a great capacity as peacemakers. They had assumed activist roles, while holding together their families and communities. At the grass-roots and community levels, women had organized to resist militarization, to create space for dialogue and moderation, and to weave together the shattered fabric of society.
He said it must be ensured that more avenues at all levels were open to women to promote peace. By bringing their experiences to the peace table, women could inject into the peace process a practical understanding of the various challenges faced by civilian populations. The mechanisms derived from such involvement were naturally more sensitive to the needs of civilians and, therefore, more sustainable and useful. Women also had a great role to play in promoting a culture of peace in “strife torn” societies. Without a culture of peace with women at its helm, long-term solutions would be elusive. At the decision-making level and on the ground, women had to be better represented. At the same time, “tokenism” should be avoided. Visibility in the representation of women was not the goal; wider and more effective representation was. His country had begun to send its women to peace operations, with the first five civilian police deployed in East Timor. The armed forces in Bangladesh had recently opened its doors to women and would soon place them in command positions.
One area where the United Nations and its Member States must act urgently was in improving the training of peacekeeping personnel by fully gender-sensitizing them. The peacekeepers must never violate the trust of civilian populations or receive impunity for their actions. It was opportune for the United Nations, and in particular the Council, to do much more than it had already done in promoting women’s issues in peacekeeping. A gender dimension of peacekeeping and peace-support operations must be highlighted. That was a missing link in the Brahimi Report. Women had made clear that they were willing to shoulder their responsibilities and take charge of their lives and peace in their societies. The Council, in particular, and the United Nations, at large, had to respond through concrete actions.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the words “women, peace and security” were a harmonious and natural combination. An unnatural combination was “women and war” as was “women and armed conflict”. The involvement of the Council in resolving armed conflicts presented a difficult task. In discharging Charter obligations, the Council had held debates on the protection of children, humanitarian personnel and others in armed conflicts. Such conflicts caused great harm to women on many levels. They bore the brunt of economic violence. The peacemaking potential of women was starting to be a reality, and he hoped today’s discussion would foster its development.
He drew attention to initiatives to involve women, which had been incorporated in the plans of action resulting from numerous conferences, including the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. He said there must be inescapable punishment for sexual violence whomever the perpetrator, and that punishment must be meted out by the International Criminal Court. There must be an end to impunity for, among others, crimes against women. Women must play an important role in eliminating and preventing crisis situations. There was no more reliable way to protect women than to eliminate war. That required unity of action by the world community.
He said it was particularly important to uncover the underlying reasons for conflict. The Council should heed women’s voices and mainstream the gender perspective in its decisions. The international community must see to it that the words “women and war” and “women and suffering” should never go together.
ALPHONS HAMER (Netherlands), subscribing to a statement to be made by the representative of France on behalf of the European Union, said his country had been working with key non-governmental organizations to increase the involvement of women in peace-building. In the Sudan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, the Netherlands had supported women's organizations attempting to take a more active part in conflict resolution and peace-building. It had also supported UNIFEM's work in that regard. The Netherlands would welcome joint efforts to increase women's involvement and was ready to share with others the lessons it had learned.
He said a gender perspective should be included in all policies and programmes addressing armed conflicts, not only within the United Nations system, but also in regional organizations involved in issues of peace and security, such as the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). In that regard, the Netherlands had decided to fund a gender adviser for the OSCE. It was hoped that with the necessary political support, such gender advisers could help to mainstream a gender perspective into peace and security matters.
A landmark breakthrough in the protection of women in armed conflict had been the inclusion of gender-based violence in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, he noted. Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization and other forms of sexual violence were war crimes when committed in the context of armed conflict, and under defined circumstances constituted crimes against humanity. The international community must aim at preventing such gender-based violence, support the prosecution of all persons responsible for such crimes, provide avenues for redress to victims, and increase awareness of the extent to which such crimes were used as weapons of war. Above all, the message must be that there could be no impunity for perpetrators.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said that recent Security Council resolutions had recognized the need to craft gender-sensitive measures to ensure that women and men both benefited fully from efforts to build peace, and to protect women from victimization during and after conflict. But the positive contribution women make to peace-building needed to be addressed, as well.
In support of resolution 1265, Canada and the United Kingdom had developed gender-training material for military and civilian personnel which explored responses to the experience and needs of women in armed conflict, including respect for and promotion of women's rights. Canada looked forward to cooperating with other Member States in advancing that work, and in creating an environment in which such training could find fertile ground. Missions should incorporate gender-issue experts and the deployment of women, in positions ranging from civilian police to special envoys.
Gender considerations should also help guide humanitarian assistance. Canada welcomed recent initiatives in that regard. Important steps were also being taken to include gender considerations in human rights and international law that confronted crimes against humanity, and, in that regard, he urged nations to join Canada as signatories to the Rome Statute. In addition, gender considerations must be included in attempts to rebuild democracy in post-conflict situations, with women's participation promoted at all levels. In all those areas, the Council should continue to collaborate with relevant civil society organizations whose work on the ground had been most valuable. Within the United Nations, all bodies must take responsibility for gender equality.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) also spoke on behalf of the European Union and the associated States of Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.
He said that while the role of women in all situations would be taken into account by the Security Council, when dealing with conflict that role was a passive one and one in which they were victims. No specific attention had been paid to sexual aggression as an act of warfare. Such acts should not go unpunished. The Union was pleased that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court had described sexual violence as a war crime and one that was committed against humanity. The Union appealed to all States to sign the Statute of the Court and ratify it. He also expressed concern at the development in the trafficking of women in conflict situations.
He said that ending violence was a two-fold challenge. There was need for both justice and reconciliation. Women had often played a decisive role in both those efforts, particularly in Africa -- Burundi being a case in point –- and in Latin America. That example showed that women were, therefore, not just victims, but could play an essential role in conflict resolution and rebuilding. Proof of that lay in their current and active participation in conflict resolution, peacekeeping and even foreign affairs. Also, within the United Nations more women needed to be appointed to the position of special envoy and special representative.
He said it appeared that the role of women had not been mainstreamed, especially in the recommendations on the training of United Nations peacekeeping staff. A balanced team composition should be sought, thus, making it possible for women to exercise their largely accepted ability to make contact in local communities. There should also be a study on better ways to involve civil society in the vital areas of conflict resolution and reconstruction. The rebuilding of democratic institutions and public life must be accompanied by the participation of women, he stressed.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said numerous studies had suggested that gender-based abuses were not an accident of war, nor incidental adjuncts to armed conflict. Rather, they reflected the inequalities and indignities that women faced in their everyday lives in peacetime. The abuses were used as instruments to punish, intimidate, coerce, humiliate and degrade. They were inflicted both to cause physical hurt to the victims and to humiliate a community, ethnic group or an enemy nation.
He noted that, in times of conflict, women played a significant role in maintaining order in the family and society. Yet, their contributions as peace educators within the family and their communities went unrecognized. They were hardly ever considered to be an integral and essential element in political decisions, conflict resolution, peace-building and peace processes. Despite the important perspectives they might have in regard to conflict resolution, peacemaking and peace keeping, they were still under-represented in political decision-making positions at all levels.
While the problems had been recognized, more needed to be done in terms of follow-up action. Several remedial actions had been identified in a number of initiatives on women, such as the Namibia Plan of Action, as well as the 1996 Machel Report and the Machel Review (1996-2000). He supported all such remedial actions. An increase in the number of women in decision-making positions, as well as peacekeeping, was crucial, but was not all that was required. Gender impact should also be a central concern in all decisions and actions with regard to peace and security and also in programmes of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants.
VOLODYMYR KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said the international resolve to safeguard women’s rights in conflict situations had substantially strengthened in recent years, in response to the increased targeting of women and other civilians, which had become a shameful instrument of contemporary warfare. In the legal field, the international community had further developed the body of law dealing with crimes against civilians, with special emphasis on the protection of women. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court incorporated gender-based persecution within its jurisdiction, and listed rape, enforced prostitution and other forms of sexual violence as war crimes and crimes against humanity. The International Tribunals on Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia both explicitly incorporated rape as a crime against humanity within their jurisdictions. Both had issued indictments charging sexual violence as genocide.
In spite of all international efforts, women continued to be the most vulnerable victims of armed conflicts, he continued. With the rapid proliferation of intra-State wars and other hostilities, civilians often represented the overwhelming majority of the victims, with women and girls targeted for the most brutal forms of attack, including rape, sexual mutilation, sexually humiliating treatment and forcible impregnation. Sexual violence brought with it the risk of the HIV/AIDS. In addition, women experienced the trauma of losing relatives and friends in times of armed conflict, and of having to take the responsibility for the care of surviving family members. In addition, they constituted the majority of refugees and displaced persons.
Ukraine was very concerned about that situation, and strongly condemned the targeting of women in situations of armed conflict, he said. The Council should give special consideration to the particular needs of women affected by armed conflict when considering action aimed at promoting peace and security. It was important that the Secretary-General’s reports to the Council, dealing with specific conflict situations and developments in the field, incorporate a gender perspective in addressing various aspects of conflict analysis and conflict resolution.
He said that the Secretary-General should ensure that personnel involved in United Nations peacekeeping and peace-building operations had appropriate training on the protection, rights and particular needs of women. Security Council resolutions setting up or extending peacekeeping operations should provide for a clear mandate to address the protection of women and girls against sexual violence, abduction, forced prostitution, trafficking and threats imposed by military, paramilitary and other groups. The presence of women in United Nations missions could foster confidence and trust among the local population, a critical element in any peacekeeping mission.
Women were still under-represented in decision-making with regard to conflict, he said. Their initiatives and visions for peace and security were rarely heard during peace negotiations. Women should not be viewed primarily as the victims of armed conflict. The international community should use the potential of women as agents of preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peace-building.
SEKOU KASSÉ (Mali) said that without the participation of women, peace was difficult to guarantee. Mali had not waited to include women in the attempt to prevent and resolve armed conflict. In traditional societies, the entire community played a part in resolving conflicts and the role of women and girls was important. Some community conflicts were resolved through marriage.
He went on to say that women had always been considered the wives of the entire community, and the rules of marriage were observed to avoid breaking social relations established by the bonds of marriage. African women had always contributed to supporting the interrelation of tribes, chains of solidarity and agreement. They strengthened unity through the links of marriage. Lately, however, individualism had begun to outweigh traditional values, in some instances. Mali had not escaped that misfortune.
Women did not traditionally declare or wage war, but they suffered greatly, he said. Accordingly, women in Mali had decided to participate actively in building peace and national unity, and in the prevention and resolution of conflict. With the restoration of peace in Mali, women had continued, along with the rest of society, the struggle to build the peace. They called on all women in crisis-prone societies to do likewise.
He supported the plan of action of Namibia for the integration of both sexes in the multidimensional operations to maintain the peace. The Council must display a capacity for action that would integrate women fully in all aspects of the process of peacekeeping, reconciliation and peace-building.
The Council recessed at 1:30 p.m.
The Council resumed its consideration at 3:15 p.m.
HIPOLITO ZOZIMO PATRICIO (Mozambique) said that peace and security would continue to be the major concern of humanity in the new millennium, as conflicts continued to grow and devastate many parts of the world. Women and girls were vulnerable both in times of peace and war, due to profound gender inequalities that still characterized societies. They comprised some 80 per cent of internally displaced persons and refugees. Women and girls were also victims of rape, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, trafficking, sexual humiliation and mutilation. Reversing that situation required political will and determination to fulfil all commitments concerning the protection and promotion of the women’s rights.
He said that women must play a relevant role in conflict prevention, resolution of disputes, peacekeeping, post-conflict peace-building and in reconstruction and development. In order to protect and promote women’s rights, including their involvement in maintaining peace and security, Mozambique had adopted political, social and economic frameworks, which employed a gender perspective in all spheres of activity. Indeed, it had committed itself to increase the effectiveness of all regional and international legal instruments to which it was a party, through a review of national legislation. It had also taken action to increase awareness of women’s rights in Mozambique society. As part of that process, a national debate was under way on a review of the law of family.
Women also deserved national recognition for their efforts to combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS. Their role had been incorporated in the national strategy plan. Maintaining peace and security meant tackling the root cause of conflict, in particular, poverty. Its urgent eradication required the commitment of all actors in society, including women. It was time to translate existing commitments into concrete action. The Council was, thus, urged to ensure that all concerned refrained from human rights abuses in conflict situations, particularly against women and children, respected international law, and promoted non-violent forms of conflict resolution and a culture of peace.
AHMED ABOULGHEIT (Egypt) said the protection of women came under the protection of all civilians. The Council must deal with those topics with respect for the delicate balance between the organs of the United Nations, as spelled out in the Charter. The pivotal principle was that implementation of international humanitarian law should not impede carrying out the provisions of the Charter. He recognized the need to respond to special situations such as those where humanitarian assistance was deliberately blocked. Where the Council failed to exercise its responsibility, one should consider the venue of the General Assembly for such matters.
He said that last June the largest political gathering in history met to recognize the role of women. They had pledged to leave no stone unturned to elevate the status of women and preserve their human rights. When women were denied the right to justice and participation in all aspects of life, development and prosperity were delayed, as was the chance for development and peace. Root causes had to be addressed in a comprehensive and just manner to avoid the displacement or eviction of people. Violence against women was an obstacle to equality, development and peace.
Women had an important role to play in peacemaking and peace-building, he said, and their participation in decision-making and negotiation was also important. Women were important to the preservation of social order and for their ability to foster peace and development. The achievements of women in all walks of life could not be ignored.
The deteriorating situation of Palestinian woman under occupation was of the highest importance, he said. They suffered violence and injustice, in addition to feeling bereaved because their husbands, brothers and children were wiped out by the bullets of the Israeli forces. While the Council was discussing the means of protecting women in armed conflicts, it could not ignore the appeals for dignity and succour made by the Palestinian women. He called on the Council to discuss the conditions of those women under occupation, specifying the Israeli agents who violated basic human rights with blatant unjustified violence against the Palestinian people. That would prove the Council’s seriousness in attacking the issue of violence against women. There should be no double standard in dealing with such matters in the future.
ATOKI ILEKA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the recognition of women as equal partners in the prevention of war was an important step. Recognizing their contribution to peace-building, however, was even more critical. Women must be involved in conflict resolution so that they could use their creativity to build consensus and find solutions for peace. He reminded the Council of the aggression committed against his country by Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. That conflict was still causing massive flows of refugees and internally displaced persons, most of whom were women and children. They were the first victims of a stupid and unjust war, which had a devastating impact on all aspects of life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said Ugandan and Rwandan troops had committed horrible acts of violence against women, particularly in Kisingani. The war had also wiped out everything his country had achieved in the area of rebuilding. Eighty per cent of its people were living in absolute poverty. Worse than that was the inhumane treatment meted out by armed aggressors. In some cases, women had been buried alive in common graves by the armies from Rwanda and Uganda. Those women had resisted rape and were subsequently bled dry and their bodies rubbed with pepper and salt in every orifice. In other incidents, women militants were arrested and raped, along with schoolgirls. The barbaric practice of collective rape had also served to spread the HIV/AIDS virus. That was an instrumental factor in slowing down development.
Moreover, he continued, in the eastern part of his country, which was occupied by Ugandan troops, AIDS had increased five times to 22 per cent in two years. Malaria had also reoccurred, while maternal mortality had risen. Congolese women had lost their lives, husbands, brothers and fathers in a war. For three years Rwandans, Burundians and Ugandans had been allowed to commit outrages with impunity. Women in his country must be helped –- the international community must condemn the war. Also, the three factions had to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process –- they had no right to withdraw from it. His people were tired of this war of aggression that was pointless and stupid. They wanted peace, and to be live peacefully with the nine States that bordered their country.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said the significance of the active contribution of women to his country’s liberation, and their relevance to today’s debate, went far beyond South Africa, his subregion and even the African continent. It was for that reason that on 9 August this year, at his country’s National Women’s Day celebrations, the President of South Africa paid tribute to the role played by women in shaping a democratic, non-racist, and non-sexist South Africa. Thanks to the positive examples and contributions of pioneering women leaders, his country was today committed to achieving and sustaining equal participation by, and representation of, women in its Parliament and Government.
He said in Africa, where there were already signs of a political and economic revival, it was clear that women had, must, and would continue to play a full role in the renaissance of the continent. Anything less would be short-sighted, and “our best intentions and collective commitment to address the root causes of conflicts would come to naught unless women are afforded an equal role”, he said. It had already been agreed that the root causes of conflict were the presence of poverty, disease, and the lack of education, human and political rights, economic opportunity and justice. “We must now equally agree that we cannot adequately address these problems if we exclude over half of humanity from enjoying these rights”, he said. “Neither can we do so if we continue to prevent womankind from participating in the process of finding and implementing solutions.”
He said that, as a minimum, special attention must be paid to the impact of armed conflicts on the rights of women and girls; to promoting and implementing specific strategies to protect and assist women and girls in armed conflict; to promoting strategies that maximized women’s participation in conflict prevention, management and resolution and at all decision-making levels; and to further promoting and strengthening of women’s participation in comprehensive post-conflict peace-building initiatives.
CLAUDIA FRITSCHE (Liechtenstein) said gender considerations in the peace process had not been adequately addressed. A full understanding of the impact of armed conflict on women and girls was necessary to effectively promote and maintain international peace and security. During armed conflict, every setting presented risks whether at home, while fleeing or in camps for displaced persons. Humanitarian assistance in armed conflict should include psychosocial and reproductive health services. Relief workers had to be trained to respond to needs of victims of sexual violence.
She welcomed the establishment of systems for reporting on sexual violence, abuse, exploitation and trafficking of women and girls within military and civilian populations, to be followed by enforcement and monitoring mechanisms for peacekeeping personnel. It was also necessary to establish disciplinary and oversight mechanisms in all peace-support missions. Peacekeeping personnel must meet the highest standards of conduct. Yet, violations against women and children had been committed by United Nations personnel. Those offences must be investigated and punished.
Although the contribution of women in peace-building, peacemaking and conflict resolution was increasingly recognized, the role of women in preventive diplomacy had so far been very limited, she said. The female ambassadors to the United Nations had started to address that problem in 1996 by establishing a list of female candidates. They intended to continue their efforts to enhance the role of women in preventive diplomacy. She welcomed the Windhoek Declaration which proposed that an advisory board be set up in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to ensure that a comprehensive data base, as well as existing lists of female candidates, be given due consideration. Gender issues needed to be mainstreamed into the actions that should result from today’s debate and also in the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Brahimi Report.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore), said that in the course of human history, women had been victims of direct and immediate physical injury in armed conflicts that ranged from rape, forced prostitution and sexual slavery to forced pregnancy, abduction and slaughter. Women also made up the majority of refugees and internally displaced persons that resulted from the beginning of conflicts. The consequences of sexual violations, loss of male family members and eviction from their homes imposed incalculable burdens on women, which may last years after the end of the conflict. One of the greatest contributions of the twentieth century, he continued, was to spell out the norms that should govern armed conflict. The tragedy we faced today was that these norms were written on the assumption that armed conflict would take place between well trained and well disciplined armies. Unfortunately, many combatants today were young and lacked the basic rudiments of education, and the international community could do little to try to educate such combatants. The only solution would be to deliver robust responses when major infractions took place. The death penalty would be an appropriate judicial response, as well as a key deterrent.
He said one major change between the second half of the twentieth century and earlier times was the growing recognition that women could play an important role in ending or resolving conflict. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) should be commended for highlighting the significant contributions women had made towards both achieving and consolidating peace. In South Africa, Northern Ireland, Georgia, Palestine, Cambodia, and Guatemala, women’s participation had led to positive outcomes. In Burundi, women were showing determined efforts to contribute to the peace process.
While it was true that women had often sought peace, he went on, women had also on occasion displayed equal propensity to encourage human rights violations, and, as wives, women had sometimes supported the evil deeds of their husbands. In not all situations had women marched for peace; some had marched for war. Neither vice nor virtue was gender based, and to achieve real peace and security, the international community must gain the commitment of both men and women to enhance peace.
SHAMSHAD AHMAD (Pakistan) said that the plight of women had not received adequate attention from the international community. The issues raised in the background paper and the elements which were being proposed for incorporation in the resolution on the subject of "Women and peace and security" were pertinent. However, their detailed consideration and implementation could not be the exclusive responsibility of the Security Council. In fact, most of the issues covered in the background paper were currently being discussed in the Economic and Social Council and relevant bodies of the General Assembly. Each organ had its own defined sphere of responsibilities that must be respected. Unfortunately, there had been less enthusiasm for ensuring the implementation of the provisions of the Beijing Declaration than for the formulation of its recommendations. There was a need to ensure the early and effective implementation of those recommendations. It would not be prudent to start the process anew in a forum that did not have the mandate to deal with all the relevant issues in a comprehensive manner.
Violence against women took a myriad of shapes and forms, including sexual slavery, systematic rape, sexual abuse and forced pregnancies, he said. Girls were also abducted or recruited, in violation of international law, into situations of armed conflict, including as combatants, sexual slaves or providers of domestic services. Civilians were subjected to enormous suffering despite the existence of comprehensive international legal instruments. Respect for those legal instruments needed to be ensured by all the Member States through an intergovernmental process. It could not be imposed from outside, not could it be subjected to any imaginary "international standards". It was unfortunate that rape was used as a tactical weapon of war to humiliate and weaken the morale of the perceived enemy. Rape was being used as a weapon of war against innocent women and girls in Jammu and Kashmir even today, where people were struggling for their right to self-determination.
In Afghanistan, the reluctance on the part of the international community to engage in that country's reconstruction and rehabilitation process continued to compound the suffering of the civilian populations, particularly women and girls. Apparently, he said, there was a cultural bias when it came to dealing with problems relating to the women in Afghanistan. Instead of addressing their genuine humanitarian needs, sanctions were imposed on Afghanistan, compounding their suffering. Sanctions imposed on other countries also needed to be revisited to minimize the suffering of civilian populations, particularly women and children. The background paper and the proposed draft resolution did not say anything about sanctions and their impact on women and children. It had been widely reported that poverty, hunger and desperation in conflict situations might force women and girls into prostitution for food or shelter. That aspect had not been highlighted in the background paper. The focus of the international community should be devoted equally to poverty eradication, development, conflict resolution and conflict prevention, so that crimes of any form against any section of society, be it men or women, were not allowed to take place in the first instance.
KIYOTAKA AKASAKA (Japan) said a gender perspective must be taken into account in addressing the major issues relating to conflicts. Such issues as the protection of women in armed conflict and their participation in peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peace-building should be further discussed if progress were to be made in that area. Clearly, efforts to provide protection to women and girls in conflict situations should be strengthened. All parties to conflicts, and the international community as a whole, should grasp a clear picture of the situation, face up to it, and together take the necessary measures to protect women and girls, and introduce the views of women victims in the peacemaking process.
Because women were such a vital part of every grass-roots community, he said, their involvement was essential to breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and conflict and succeeding in rehabilitation efforts. His country had long attached special importance to the role of women in addressing poverty, which was a root cause of conflict. For that reason, it had promoted the initiative “Women in Development”, which it launched at the Fourth World Conference on Women. Defining women’s role in peace and security required a comprehensive approach. Today’s debate was a turning point. Participants should move from an advocacy phase to one of concrete action. Relevant international organizations with gender expertise, such as UNIFEM, should study specific measures to realize gender mainstreaming in conflict-prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building, and to implement programmes to assist women in the field.
SOTIRIOS ZACKHEOS (Cyprus) said he hoped this open session of the Security Council would lead to practical measures on the role of women in peace-building, on humanitarian issues and on the protection of women during peacekeeping and post-conflict support operations. One way to achieve that could be through the establishment of an independent panel of experts. The painful experience of the displacement of almost one third of the population of his country in 1974 had demonstrated to Cyprus and Cypriots the central role of women in post-conflict and peace-building situations. Their role in facing the adverse consequences of war and displacement and in rebuilding his country’s economy, despite their suffering, had been immense.
He said he fully supported the position that women’s rights both during and following armed conflict must be safeguarded. Also, women’s participation in efforts to rebuild war-torn societies must be supported by every possible means. He stressed the need for human rights violators to be held accountable, and the need to address the question of impunity. The inclusion of all forms of sexual violence in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as war crimes was a major achievement in ending impunity for those abhorrent crimes.
He said the phenomena of sexual exploitation, trafficking and child labour were realities that could not be ignored. That was why it was extremely important that the rights of women in post-conflict situations be secured through constitutional means, so that injustices and suffering inflicted on them not be allowed to continue. Their contribution to rebuilding their societies must be guaranteed. Cyprus also strongly supported the inclusion of a gender perspective in the provision of humanitarian aid and in the reconciliation efforts following ceasefire agreements.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said though armed conflicts affected both women and men, the current pattern of conflicts made women and girls particularly vulnerable, because of their status in society and their gender. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court had taken gender concerns into account when defining genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. No impunity would be granted for the perpetrators of specific gender-related crimes. The relative absence of women in decision-making in regard to armed conflicts was a cause for concern. Peace was inextricably linked with the equality of women and men, and women should play an equal part in maintaining peace and security.
He said the international community must ensure the full participation of women at all levels of decision-making and implementation in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building. United Nations peacekeeping operations should pay more attention to gender-mainstreaming. The role of peacekeeping personnel in meeting women and girls’ specific needs must be enlarged. In addition, the number of women personnel addressing women’s special needs should be increased.
Considering that women were more likely than men to be placed in refugee camps, women refugees and displaced women should be more involved in the design and management of humanitarian activities, so that they could equally benefit from those activities, he said. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other relevant United Nations agencies must provide all women and girls in refugee camps with appropriate health care, education and safety. All Member States should fully cooperate with relevant United Nations agencies to effectively protect women and girls in armed conflicts, redress the violations of their human rights, and empower women as equal partners in every step of the process to achieve peace and security.
KRISHNA BOSE (India) said women bore a disproportionately large share of the burden of conflict, but had a marginal say in matters of war and peace. While she appreciated the Council’s expressed sentiments that equal access and full participation in power structures, and in all efforts for the prevention and resolution of conflicts, were essential for the maintenance of peace and security, she noted that a Council dominated by men illustrated the problem, not the solution.
She said women were the “favoured” victims of modern war because they were not combatants. Did the answer lie in giving women the dubious right to fight alongside their menfolk in modern armies? she asked. One needed to consider the impact on society and on the tendency to war if women became part of and glorified the military culture. In every culture, the organized violence of war and conflict had been a male preserve. That was a “steel purdah” that could be left to men, she said. Light automatic weapons had made it easy and tempting to use child soldiers. If women became a significant percentage of armies, weapons would be adapted even more to suit them and, consequently, young boys and girls.
In Western societies, whose norms tended to dominate thinking at the United Nations, women were increasingly permitted to go into combat, she said. At the United Nations, there were repeated calls for a gender balance in the composition of peacekeeping forces. She questioned whether it was in the interest of women, peace or gender equality for women to embroil themselves in conflict even in the cause of the United Nations. She noted that the Council had decided that all peacekeepers must be issued contraceptives. The Blue Helmets might now believe that if contraceptives were issued, they were expected to use them. AIDS had never been a problem in any United Nations peacekeeping force; the exploitation of women had. The Council’s decision could make that worse.
Continuing, she said the most egregious crimes of war were committed by irregular forces which obeyed no laws and were more immune to sanctions than were governments. How would the Council tackle those forces? she asked. There could be no “off-the-shelf” remedies or panaceas. Globalization had affected men and women, but women bore the double burden of inequality and marginalization. Empowering them was both crucial and urgent.
MICHAEL POWLES (New Zealand), speaking for the countries of the Pacific Island Forum in New York, said there had been increasing recognition in the past few years of the roles of women in relation to peace and security, and the effects on them of armed conflict. Their rights and their empowerment were fundamentally linked with the maintenance of peace and security.
He said the Beijing Platform for Action noted that women’s full participation in society was fundamental to achieving equality, development and peace. It also recognized the leading role of women in the peace movement, and that their full participation in decision-making, conflict prevention and resolution and all other peace initiatives was essential to the realization of lasting peace. In other words, women had both a key interest in and a key role to play in the maintenance of peace and security.
He said the differing effects of conflict on women, and the important role they played in peace-building, had been apparent in the Pacific region. Women had disproportionately borne the effects of regional conflicts, such as the secessionist crisis stretching from 1989 to 1998 on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville. Their insistence that peaceful means be found to attain a durable peace had been a constant underlying strength of the Bougainville peace process.
Women’s groups in the Solomon Islands had played a key role in bringing the parties together and maintaining the momentum culminating in the recent settlement agreed at Townsville. Hopefully, those and other members of civil society would continue to be closely involved in peace-building. As in Fiji recently, women’s full participation in peace-building was essential.
While the number of women serving in peace and humanitarian operations had grown in recent years, their employment in professional and policy positions had remained low. The Secretary-General was urged to work towards gender equity throughout the United Nations Secretariat, including in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
He said women and children tended to suffer disproportionately from the imposition of comprehensive economic sanctions. New Zealand supported “smart sanctions” to reduce humanitarian suffering and mitigate any unintended negative consequences, particularly on women and children. The Council should also encourage impact-assessment studies before, during and after the imposition of sanctions to ensure that their effects were appropriately focused and monitored.
MISHECK MUCHETWA (Zimbabwe) said the fact that women had everything to lose and an unbearable cost to pay in the wake of armed conflict established an undisputed mandate and role for them in all matters of peace and security. Women had been denied their full role in those efforts, both nationally and internationally. Virtually every war episode was accompanied by horrendous assaults on the dignity and humanity of women. No one could understand, let alone address, those issues better than women themselves. Current statistics showed that more than three quarters of all internally displaced persons and refugees were women and children. His Government therefore supported Security Council calls upon all to refrain from human rights abuses in conflict situations, to respect international humanitarian law and to promote non-violent forms of conflict resolution and a culture of peace.
He said preventive measures offered the best protection to all members of society. It was crucial to recognize the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building. The organized involvement of women at grass-roots and other levels made them the linchpins of any early-warning mechanism. Today’s meeting offered an opportunity to once again call on the United Nations and the international community to assist and cooperate with regional and sub-regional arrangements as seeking to build and develop common indicators for early warning, taking into account women and gender issues.
The victims of war often woke up to social disorientation in the aftermath of armed conflict, he said. In those collapsed communities, the role of women in re-establishing and preserving social order was unparalleled. He called for the promotion and sustenance of that role to prevent the resurgence or escalation of conflict. He noted that women were more likely than men to arrive at the peace table via civil activism. The direct participation of women at the peace table was the most secure way to ensure that women’s demands were incorporated in the agreements.
MAKMUR WIDODO (Indonesia) said that violence against women should remain at the forefront of all agendas and should be regarded as a criminal offence. His country had adopted a “zero tolerance” policy on violence against women and was working with national women’s groups, law enforcement and legislators to comprehensively address the problem. The issue before the Council today should not only be addressed by treating women as victims, but also peacemakers. The burden was disproportionately borne by women when peace broke down. Yet women were seldom given a visible role in the decision-making processes of peacemaking and maintenance.
He said the Council itself should consider the importance of injecting the gender dimension into its decisions on conflict resolution. Its resolutions should also provide a clear mandate for gender mainstreaming. In fact-finding missions, the Council should include gender issues in its terms of reference. Likewise, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations could provide gender sensitivity training for peacekeepers in the field and an awareness of the traumatic circumstances faced by women.
He said that in addressing the issue of women, peace and armed conflict, “we must not lose sight of the need to also address the root causes of conflicts”, and the link existing between social and economic development and peace and stability. There was a need to develop and strengthen strategies and initiatives to reduce women’s poverty levels and to protect them from the rapid changes inherent in globalization. In addressing the overall issue of women, peace and security, his country agreed that measures could be achieved through close cooperation between the Council, the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. None of those bodies was equipped to exclusively and comprehensively deal with the problem.
DAUDI N. MWAKAWAGO (United Republic of Tanzania) said there was no denying that it was women who shouldered the responsibility for supporting their families and communities, who served alongside their male counterparts in war times, and who served at the forefront of peace movements. Under those circumstances it was evident that they could not continue to be excluded from conflict resolution processes. Expanding the role of women in that area was imperative, not only to address inequities, but also to ensure that “our societies benefit from their approaches to solving and preventing conflicts and building peace”.
He said that, since they were often the direct victims of violence and discrimination, women had a greater understanding of the need to address peace comprehensively. It was encouraging to note that, given the prevalence of conflicts particularly in Africa today, women had taken initiatives to promote peaceful resolutions and generate a culture of peace. He hoped the Council would adopt a resolution that would give due weight to the role that women could play in peace negotiations and accord them due recognition. The international community needed to agree on a framework that guaranteed women that right. He called for intensified efforts aimed at realizing that objective.
PENNY WENSLEY (Australia) said thematic debates such as this one contributed to the ongoing process of opening up the Council, not just to non-members, but to new ways of thinking about what constituted threats to international peace and security. The theme of the debate helped in moving forward the broad agenda for the advancement of women out of the enclaves of the Third Committee and the Commission on the Status of Women into the central, vital organs of the United Nations.
The Council, on Women’s Day this March, had recognized publicly the inextricable link between peace and equality between men and women. Equal access to, and full participation of, women in power structures, and their full involvement in all efforts for the prevention and resolution of conflicts, were essential for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, she said. The gaps and the possibilities in relation to women’s participation had been identified, the linkages were becoming more evident, and the lessons learned were being examined and placed before the United Nations system.
She believed a number of practical steps could be taken to heed the lessons and calls for action. A more deliberate and concentrated effort at the regional and international level to increase women’s participation in peacemaking and peace-building operations was desirable. Renewed attention should be given to the consideration of qualified women for appointment as special representatives and deputy special representatives of the Secretary-General, and as senior field staff for peace support operations. More women should be placed in the international legal system. The International Law Commission had never had a woman serve on it in its 50-year history.
There was scope to consider and incorporate a gender perspective in the role of civilian police as well. More sensitive and sophisticated resources were needed for gathering evidence, interviewing victims, counseling traumatized persons and interacting with communities in post-conflict situations. She hoped that if there was a resolution, it would be strong and action oriented. “It should help us all not just to talk the talk, but to walk the walk”, she said.
JELENA GRCIC POLIC (Croatia) said the maintenance of peace and security required the contribution of all of mankind, not just part or half. If such a contribution was “skewed” and reflected either men’s or women’s perspective, it remained seriously impaired. She said there had been little research on such actions as the protection of civilians and children in armed conflicts, humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations, post-conflict peace-building and reintegration of former combatants, and the impact of armed conflict on children and women.
Asking what could be done here and now, she said speakers today could impress upon the Council the need to call on the parties to conflicts to take special measures to protect women. In determining mandates for peace operations, the Council could request that special mechanisms be established for reporting on all forms of sexual violence and exploitation of women, and provide adequate resources for the institutionalization of monitoring and enforcement mechanisms for peacekeeping personnel. The Council should require that all mission staff
receive pre-deployment or early post-deployment training in gender sensitivity and mainstreaming.
She went on to say that in the post-conflict period, efforts should be made to strengthen the precarious economic situation of women and provide support for local women’s peace-building activities as well as access to counselling and human rights expertise. If the Council required the mandatory participation of women in all the implementation mechanisms of peace settlement, it would increase the prospects for sustainable peace.
Of special importance were the contributions made in United Nations field operations. No woman was currently heading a United Nations peace operation or serving as a special envoy or special representative of the Secretary-General. Member States should submit two equally qualified candidates for senior United Nation positions, a man and a woman. Still, the issue clearly rested with the Member States and their domestic policies.
SERGE LING (Belarus) said that while the item on today’s agenda was unusual, it touched on the most important aspects of United Nations peacekeeping and peace-building. The Council’s statement on International Women’s Day this year defined the need for comprehensively taking women’s interests into account. An important task for that body would be to take steps to protect women as the most vulnerable sector in civilian populations. In that respect, separate provisions in peacekeeping mandates and Council resolutions were therefore very important.
He said there was also a need to have viable mechanisms to ensure that anyone violating humanitarian laws be held accountable. His country attached a great deal of importance to gender issues, and it was fully resolved to make its contributions to the current efforts.
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