COUNCIL HEARS ARGUMENTS FOR BROADER, MORE SYSTEMATIC PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN PEACEKEEPING, PEACE-BUILDING OPERATIONS
COUNCIL HEARS ARGUMENTS FOR BROADER, MORE SYSTEMATIC PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN PEACEKEEPING, PEACE-BUILDING OPERATIONS
4589th Meeting* (AM & PM)
COUNCIL HEARS ARGUMENTS FOR BROADER, MORE SYSTEMATIC PARTICIPATION
OF WOMEN IN PEACEKEEPING, PEACE-BUILDING OPERATIONS
Lasting peace must be home-grown and based on indigenous processes – and local women, who held communities together during conflict, organized political movements, managed relief efforts, and rebuilt societies, were key, the Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women told the Security Council today.
Addressing the Council during an open debate on the question of women and peace and security, Angela King described Council resolution 1325 (2000) as the first-ever systematic overview of gender-related activities of the United Nations in the areas of peace and security. That text had emphasized that pervasive violence against women during conflict often persisted later as domestic violence. The forthcoming study of the Secretary-General on the subject had identified several recommendations, including putting gender advisers or focal points in place from the outset of all missions.
Also contributing to today's discussion were the Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), Noeleen Heyzer, and Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno.
Mr. Guéhenno, noting former scepticism about the issue, said it was now understood that gender mainstreaming was about understanding that all segments of society were affected by conflict and that each had a role to play in its resolution. Some concrete progress had been made to implement resolution 1325, most notably within the peacekeeping operations in East Timor, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said.
The findings of two independent experts appointed by UNIFEM, however, had indicated that a gender perspective had not been sufficiently incorporated into peacekeeping operations, Ms. Heyzer said. Rather, that effort had been isolated in the form of a single staff person or small unit lacking sufficient seniority and resources. Moreover, local women often had little contact with missions and believed that their needs had been largely ignored. The experts suggested that gender expertise shape all aspects of mission planning.
* The meeting number in Press Release SC/7465 of 24 July 2002 should have been
4588. The 4586th and 4587th meetings were closed.
Speakers in the discussion expressed appreciation for efforts under way to address the issue, but the representative of Singapore said he had detected a "huge invisible elephant of scepticism" in the room. Ms. King and Ms. Heyzer could try and slay that invisible elephant by emphasizing that today’s debate was not an abstract exercise, but one about real people and real-life situations, whose lives could be improved by the outcome of the discussion.
Collective efforts to implement resolution 1325 had not been as good as they could be, the representative of Canada asserted. Gender implications must be central to the Council’s decisions, and the periodic appearances before the Council of Special Representatives of the Secretary-General were an opportunity to press the issue with officials in the field. The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) must authorize resources to mainstream a gender perspective into all peacekeeping missions.
Victimization during conflict must be addressed scrupulously and painstakingly at the national level, the Syrian representative said. In his region, Israeli practices of oppression, killing, destruction and displacement of Arab women flagrantly violated international humanitarian law and basic human rights. Arab women in the occupied territories lived under tragic and inhumane circumstances. Their situation would not improve unless those practices were halted.
The United States representative insisted that in all conflicts, women on both sides were vulnerable. Regrettably, his Syrian colleague once again had used the Security Council forum to acknowledge the impact of conflict on Palestinian women without acknowledging its effect, particularly that of the suicide bombings, on Israel. Everyone should cease providing a safe haven for Palestinian groups that financed, planned, supported or committed terrorist acts.
The representatives of both Syria and the United States took the floor for a second time.
The representative of the United Kingdom, who holds the Council presidency for the month, made a statement in his national capacity. He ended the meeting by summing up the salient points of the debate, on which he would issue a note.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Cameroon, Jamaica, Chile, Guinea, Colombia, Norway, Republic of Korea, Bulgaria, China, Mauritius, Denmark (on behalf of the European Union), Nigeria, Russian Federation, France, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Japan, Liechtenstein and Grenada.
The meeting, which began at 10:40 a.m., was suspended at 1:16 p.m. It resumed at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 4:38 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider women and peace and security.
JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that he was pleased to address the Council as it prepared to mark the second anniversary this October of Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. When he arrived in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) two years ago, he had sensed scepticism over a dialogue on the issue. Now it was obvious that such an attitude was misguided. Gender mainstreaming was about understanding that all segments of society were affected by conflict and had a role to play in conflict resolution. A heightened gender perspective must be applied to all areas of work in a peacekeeping mission.
The DPKO, he said, had made some progress in implementing resolution 1325 within specific peacekeeping operations, notably, in East Timor, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There were five special focus areas: addressing gender-based violence; responding to the trafficking in women and children; incorporating gender perspectives into the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of refugees and displaced persons, including former combatants; facilitating the participation of women in constitutional and electoral reform and civil administration; and combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.
In the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), he said Mission personnel received training and advice on how to mainstream the gender perspective into all areas of their work. That ranged from human rights monitoring, including dealing with crimes of sexual abuse, gender violence and exploitation to dealing with the differing needs of male, female and child ex-combatants. In addition, a Handbook on Multidimensional Peacekeeping Operations was being finalized at Headquarters, featuring a key chapter on gender mainstreaming in peacekeeping, as well as best practices and lessons learned from mission experiences.
He reiterated that the Secretary-General maintained a “zero-tolerance” policy on the engagement of peacekeepers in acts of sexual exploitation, harassment and the trafficking of women and girls. He urged troops- and police-contributing countries to take appropriate disciplinary and -- if needed -- criminal action against their nationals who committed such acts. For its part, the Department was improving preventive measures and strengthening its policies and procedures for disciplinary action against anyone accused of being involved in such unacceptable conduct.
Much of the progress achieved to date in the missions in East Timor, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone was in large part due to the presence of full-time gender advisers. They made a real difference in ensuring that all parts of an operation were aware of the gender dimensions of their work -- beginning, first and foremost, by speaking to the women of the country concerned, who were best placed to set the agenda in a way that was sensitive to the local traditions and context. Gender advisers offered suggestions on practical steps to address gender concerns in a manner appropriate to each unique mission circumstance. Consequently, they significantly enhanced implementation of resolution 1325.
ANGELA KING, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, said the Secretary-General’s study on women, peace and security mandated by historic Council resolution 1325 provided, for the first time, a systematic overview of gender-related United Nations activities in the peace and security field. It revealed the impact of armed conflict on women and girls at every stage of conflict. It emphasized that violence against women and girls during armed conflict often persisted as domestic violence when the conflict was over.
She said the study showed that women and girls could also be combatants and perpetrators, and in such cases they must be brought on equal terms with men into the process of disarmament, demobilization, resettlement and capacity-building after the conflict ended. It spelled out the role of women and the obstacles they faced in contributing to all aspects of sustainable peace. And it set out the concrete gender perspectives at every phase of conflict and its resolution. If resolution 1325 was a blueprint for the integration of a gender perspective into peace and humanitarian operations, then the Secretary-General’s study was a tool from which practical recommendations could be drawn.
The study unequivocally demonstrated that women did make a difference when it came to peace and security, she said. Two wider issues were at play. First, a mere cessation of hostilities did not bring an end to today’s intra-State conflicts. To end conflict, the creation of sustainable peace by means of fundamental societal change was required. Such change included democracy, good governance, human rights, the rule of law, and gender equality. If half the population -– women -– were excluded from the equation, those changes would simply not occur. Second, lasting peace must be “home-grown” and based on indigenous processes. Local women held communities together during conflict, organized political movements, managed relief efforts, and rebuilt societies.
Moving women off the sidelines, she said, posed many challenges. They included the lack of political will to recognize women as equal partners, discrimination, and insufficient understanding of how to translate the goal of gender equality into policies and operations. Among the many recommendations in the study was the incorporation of a gender perspective in peace and humanitarian operations, a guarantee that all peace agreements and informal understandings included the issue of protection of women and children, and established mechanisms for holding parties to the conflict accountable. Also, from the outset, all missions should have gender advisers/focal points visibly supported by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, adequately resourced and backstopped by Headquarters in the person of a Senior Gender Adviser in the DPKO.
NOELEEN HEYZER, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), said that making resolution 1325 work meant making sure that the challenges facing women became a regular item on the political agenda, in thematic debates, and every time a country situation was addressed. In moving that agenda forward, the Council had invited the Secretary-General to carry out a study on women, peace and security.
To complement that initiative and to give women from conflict zones a vehicle for expression, she had appointed two independent experts to carry out a global, field-based assessment on the impact of armed conflict on women and women’s role in peace-building. It was crucial that women’s voices were heard and their work on the ground valued, recognized and supported. After all, it was they who bore the brunt of conflicts. Decisions should be made with them, not for them, she said.
Over the past year, the independent experts had travelled to 14 conflict areas, the majority on the Council’s agenda. Their full findings and recommendations would be launched in October to mark the two-year anniversary of resolution 1325. Together with the Secretary-General’s report, a comprehensive agenda for action would be proposed. She then shared eight principal findings and recommendations in the areas of prevention, protection, HIV/AIDS, peace processes, peace operations, codes of conduct, regional organizations, and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR).
Among the findings was that a gender perspective was not sufficiently incorporated into peace operations. Rather, it was isolated in the form of a single staff person or small unit lacking sufficient seniority and resources. Women in the local community often had little contact with missions and did not believe that their needs were taken into account. The experts recommended that gender expertise inform all aspects of mission planning and operation. That must begin with the very concept of operation. They also recommended that peace operations leverage their support for women by drawing more heavily on the strength of operational bodies, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UNIFEM.
There could be no justice without accountability, she said. With few exceptions, those responsible for crimes against women had not been punished and women had not been granted redress. Accountability meant being answerable to women for crimes committed against them; it meant punishing those responsible and ensuring redress for victims. However, accountability alone would not ensure lasting peace. Gender equality and inclusion were fundamental values on which peace-building must be based. Women’s leadership in creating and sustaining peace at the community level had proven essential for nation-building. The international community must support the women and girls who were rebuilding their lives and who had committed their lives to peace and justice, for which they had waited too long.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said that resolution 1325 (2000) on the role of women in peace-building represented a qualitative step in the work of the Security Council on gender and conflict. That issue must be addressed at national levels, scrupulously and painstakingly. Women and girls were among the main civilian victims during conflict. An estimated 80 per cent of refugees and internally displaced persons in many countries were women and girls. The root causes of those conflicts must, therefore, be sought in order to alleviate the suffering that often resulted from occupation, aggression and poverty. Women should assume an important role and become key partners in establishing peace and sustainable development.
He said that Israeli practices of oppression, killing, destruction and displacement directed against Arab women were a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and basic human rights, and all the objectives set forth by the United Nations in that field. Arab women in the occupied territories lived under “tragic and inhumane” circumstances, and did not enjoy even the minimum level of protection, health care, employment and education. Their situation would not improve unless those Israeli practices, which ran counter to everything so far heard in today’s discussion, were halted. He noted that many of the victims of the Israeli massacre in the Gaza Strip two days ago were women and girls. For its part, his Government was keen on ensuring full gender equality through its national legislation and efforts to ensure equal opportunities for both men and women in all walks of life.
MARTIN CHUNGONG AYAFOR (Cameroon) said that women and girls remained vulnerable both in war and peace. In times of conflict, they were targets for all forms of violence, including rape and other sexual crimes. They also formed the majority of victims of landmines and the most vulnerable to AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases as a result of sexual violence and the failure of health systems. Their rights were continually flouted. The abuses they faced in conflict were violations of international law. The need for scrupulous compliance with international humanitarian law could not be overstated.
He believed that it was up to Member States to put an end to impunity and prosecute those guilty of crimes and abuses of power against women and girls. He was pleased that the International Criminal Court had defined acts of sexual violence committed in times of conflict as a war crime and, in certain circumstances, a crime against humanity. It would be worthwhile to develop a code of conduct for peacekeeping personnel and a system for notification of such crimes within the peacekeeping system.
Women were educators for peace, he said, contributing to developing an environment conducive to conflict-resolution and peace-building. He fully endorsed incorporating gender parity into peacekeeping missions. In addition, peacekeeping operations were multifaceted and complex in nature, incorporating humanitarian, political, electoral, DDR and reconstruction aspects. All of that required a more complete understanding of the impact of armed conflict on local populations, specifically women and children. Resolution 1325 offered a global political framework to consider the role of women in the post-conflict political process. He encouraged the appointment of women among special representatives of the Secretary-General. He also welcomed UNIFEM’s role in promoting the participation of women at all levels of decision-making in peacekeeping and peace-building.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said he detected a “huge invisible elephant of scepticism” around the room. To some extent, that was reflected in the fact that only 11 non-members of the Council had signed up for the debate. One way to slay that invisible elephant was to demonstrate that this was not an abstract exercise, but one about real people and real-life situations. Since the end of the cold war, 90 per cent of those killed in conflict had been civilians, most of them women and children. So there had been a real sea change. With war now directly affecting women and children, the issue should be addressed accordingly and more concrete data could be presented.
Addressing Ms. King and Ms. Heyzer, he asked how one could expect men in the field to behave sensitively towards women when they had not always done so at home. How could efforts to incorporate the gender perspective into peacekeeping operations be improved? Were there concrete examples of situations where women’s participation had made a difference in sustaining peace?
Ms. KING replied that it was very important to have live examples, but she had been somewhat reluctant to provide them because of time constraints. The Secretary-General’s study had contained several examples. One good one concerned the women of Burundi, who had drawn up a list of demands which found their way into the final peace agreement in that country. Somali women had constituted themselves into a sixth clan because they had not been permitted to join the main factions, and had been very successful in bringing the warring leaders to the peace table. Delegations were also aware of how the Mano River Union’s peace network of women had brought the parties to the negotiating table.
Generally, she added, women often persuaded young children to lay down their arms and join the peace process. Women tended to be less hierarchical and to link up with women’s organizations and set role models for local women. Women also tended to be better conveyors of the message of peace than some men.
Ms. HEYZER said that in conflict situations that revolved around life and death, it really made a difference how those situations were guided. Her Office had been very involved in bringing women from all sides together in peace processes. In the Sudan, for example, women had come together from the north and south. The same was true for the processes in Burundi, the Congo and Guatemala, among others. Women crossed boundaries, and that had made a difference in terms of the issues incorporated into the peace accords. Those issues had included questions of land rights and redress, infant rapes and the systematic violation of women.
JOAN THOMAS (Jamaica) supported the view that the item under discussion should be regularly placed on the international agenda and given high prominence in thematic debates. The goal of mainstreaming a gender perspective in peacekeeping operations had yet to be met. The linkage between peace and gender was complex. Women and girls shared similar experiences with men and boys during conflicts, but the differences which existed in society in times of peace were exacerbated during periods of conflict. There was also a narrow definition of who a soldier or fighter was, which often discriminated against women and girls involved in fighting.
Nowhere was that more glaring than in the context of DDR programmes, she continued. The Security Council, the United Nations and its funds and programmes should consider practical ways for a structural approach to DDR to take into account the needs of female combatants. Violence against women was also a growing concern. The relevant international legal framework should be complemented at the local level with measures to deal with such violence. Training peacekeepers in gender sensitivity before they went into the field was of utmost importance and should not be a one-shot deal. There was a need for more counsellors and training in peacekeeping operations to deal with domestic violence.
Also needed were innovative ways of including women in peace processes and negotiations. One way to do that was to enhance engagement with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and women’s groups. The Council must ensure that women’s concerns were incorporated into its mandates and decision-making. Within the DPKO, there was a need for a greater level of coordination between Headquarters and the field to ensure gender mainstreaming. She supported the creation of a senior gender adviser within DPKO and endorsed the need to appoint more female special representatives of the Secretary-General.
CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) noted that women and children represented more than three quarters of the 40 million people throughout the world who had been displaced by armed conflicts or human rights violations. Therefore, his country -- whose armed forces were brilliantly led by a woman minister -- welcomed the adoption by the Council in 2000 of its resolution. That text attached great importance to the role of women in conflict-prevention, promotion of peace and assistance in post-conflict reconstruction.
The time had come to remove the barriers that prevented women from effectively participating in decision-making and denied them access to power, he continued. Mainstreaming the gender perspective into peacekeeping operations should become a priority item on the agendas of governments. Since the Beijing Platform of Action’s call to take all necessary steps to establish a culture of peace, the international community had witnessed a rapid increase in multilateral initiatives aimed at giving women an important role in conflict-related decision-making processes. Now it was necessary to achieve a just balance of opportunities for those who, in fact, represented the main targets in armed conflicts.
It was common knowledge that peace processes were weakened when women were not included, and there was a consensus that when a society collapsed as a result of conflict, women played a critical role in the maintenance of daily life. The words of the Secretary-General in that regard were unambiguous: “Women are the ones who build bridges and walls.” Chile looked forward to the appointment of a woman as special representative or special envoy of the Secretary-general for peace missions. It also advocated greater participation by women as military observers, civilian police and human rights and humanitarian affairs personnel. As an active member of the Group of Friends of resolution 1325, next November, the country was organizing an international conference on the role of women in peacekeeping operations.
BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said the Beijing Declaration and Programme of Action had demonstrated the international community’s recognition of women’s role in ending conflict and building peace. The primary responsibility for effective implementation of resolution 1325 belonged to governments, the United Nations system, regional and subregional organizations, NGOs and civil society. Within the United Nations system, everyone must identify clearly those areas in which they could make a contribution. Then complementarity must be sought, including cooperation between Ms. King’s Office and the Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs Departments.
At the regional and subregional levels, it was also necessary to strengthen cooperation and envisage appropriate solutions, he said. In that regard, he commended the role played by Guinean women in ending conflict in the West African subregion. That initiative had been supported by the women of the Mano River Union. He appreciated similar efforts undertaken in other regions and subregions. The United Nations should compile those experiences in order to share them with the international community. Also of value had been the efforts of the working group on women, international peace and security, set up by Ms. King’s Office. He awaited the Secretary-General’s report with interest. Hopefully, it would consider the impact of conflicts on women and children, and explore their role in conflict settlement. That should help identify the obstacles and assign responsibility.
ANDRES FRANCO (Colombia) hoped that Mr. Guéhenno's efforts to mainstream gender perspective in peacekeeping missions would be supported by the creation of a focal point within his the Department. He emphasized the need for a code of conduct to prevent and punish abuses committed by peacekeepers or members of the humanitarian community. It was fundamental to support the Secretary-General’s policy of zero tolerance.
The contribution of women to peace-building and reconstruction was often marginalized, he said. However, experience had shown that treating women solely as a vulnerable group was not appropriate. In practice, women could produce turnarounds in negotiations. They managed to produce commitments that were more community-based and more likely to be successful in the long term. Their involvement at every stage of the peace process must be promoted. That should include the involvement of women in post-conflict rebuilding, as well as in the daily decision-making processes of a State. The Council must play a central role in that regard by promoting specific measures for women within peacekeeping mandates.
He said that resolution 1325 was different from other resolutions in that it placed greater focus on the participation of civil society. Not least among the merits of that resolution was its message to the Council that a document could make a difference in the lives of people.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said his country, which had actively supported the strengthening of the DPKO with regard to gender issues, regretted that the gender adviser posts previously proposed by the Department had not been given the needed support. Norway continued to believe that those posts were needed, and hoped that the study and report on this by the Secretary-General would contain a recommendation to include gender advisers in the future.
He said his country also looked forward to seeing the standard operating procedures revised to include gender perspectives. Policy and decision-makers needed to pay closer attention to gender-based differences. In that regard, Norway was recommending the establishment of gender focal points in all United Nations-mandated operations and the inclusion of gender awareness in training packages intended for peacekeeping personnel.
He further suggested that a guidance note be prepared on gender perspectives, detailing issues that should be included in reports to the Council.
Mr. GUÉHENNO said the representative of Singapore had asked a very important question, namely, how to ensure and then preserve a focus on women. That was a core issue. To get that right, he said, “we have to start from the top”. The Special Representatives of the Secretary-General at each mission had to set the right example. A woman now led the Mission in Georgia; women were also assuming deputy special representative positions. But that was not enough. The men who ran most of the missions should possess the right sensitivities and priorities. It was, therefore, important that they were engaged at the highest level. Many United Nations staff members had the right values, but ignorance was still pervasive.
He said that centuries of neglect and, in some cases, arrogance had to be combated. It was essential to embark on a dialogue at the senior level. Gender mainstreaming should not be viewed as one of the many tasks to be performed as an afterthought in a myriad of issues. It had to be addressed from the start. That meant training at all levels, starting with the briefing packaging and moving up through all ranks of staff, including military and police.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said it was high time to assess the progress made since the adoption of resolution 1325. The issue of accountability for crimes against refugee women was a major element of the assessment exercise. The Rome Statute contained a modern definition of crimes against women in conflict situations. The Statute would ensure that the Court had the personnel and judges with the necessary practical expertise to prosecute crimes against women committed in times of war. The Court could be a central part of the international community’s response to gender-based violence.
While progress had been made in many areas, he believed that collective efforts in implementing resolution 1325 were not as good as they should or could be. Gender implications must be central to the Council’s analyses and decisions. The periodic appearances of Special Representatives of the Secretary-General before the Council provided an opportunity to press the issue with officials in the field. The provisions of 1325 were not being sufficiently implemented on the ground. He called on the Secretariat to go beyond abstractions and provide the straight facts.
He asked Mr. Guéhenno to comment on the progress made in some of the other missions that were not mentioned in his statement. Also, he agreed with Ms. King that gender expertise must be established within individual departments and agencies. He once again urged the Fifth Committee to authorize the resources needed by the DPKO to mainstream a gender perspective into all peacekeeping missions. Member States also had a responsibility to implement the resolution in their own domestic practices. Canada had been pleased to convene the Group of Friends for women, peace and security and looked forward to the release of the two reports on the issue.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) supported the strengthening of women’s capacities to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations, as well as in decision-making at all levels. He welcomed the establishment of gender units in peacekeeping missions, the most prominent example of which was East Timor. His country also welcomed the proposed establishment of gender posts in the DPKO.
“If we are committed to making gender mainstreaming an indispensable part of peace efforts in the field, it is only appropriate that such efforts be backed up and coordinated by full-time staff here at Headquarters”, he said. Korea applauded ongoing efforts to bring an end to the culture of impunity, for example, by listing the crime of rape in the Statutes of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the International Criminal Court. That established important legal precedents, he said. The international community was sending a clear and powerful message that gender-based violence would be prosecuted to the full under the law. In that connection, there was a need to establish an adequate system of reporting on gender-based violence, exploitation and trafficking of women and girls, along with enforcement, disciplinary and monitoring mechanisms for peacekeeping missions.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said the debate had allowed the Council to send a strong message of the importance it attached to the subject. He associated himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union. He said that civilian populations suffered the most from conflict, particularly women, children and seniors, who were exploited and used as strategic targets. Everyone remembered how rape had been used, especially in the conflict in Bosnia. Women and girls made up a disproportionate number of victims during conflict, particularly with regard to sexual violence. They also had the “unhappy privilege” of comprising the majority of refugee populations and displaced persons. International humanitarian norms, which were there to protect them, were rarely implemented on their behalf.
Besides being victims, he said, women played a crucial role in conflict settlement and reconstruction. Their participation at all levels of negotiation was essential, as well as in all phases of peacekeeping operations. Also necessary was the maintenance of basic social services, especially for women and children in post-conflict areas. Social cohesion, critical for a country’s stability, must be strengthened by establishing equality between men and women and protecting women’s rights. Building good governance went hand in hand with women’s participation in decision-making. Training on gender issues must be based on a code of conduct and the Convention to eliminate discrimination against women. Mr. Guéhenno’s remarks on training soldiers of peace had been encouraging.
WANG YINGFAN (China) appreciated the efforts made thus far for the full and equal participation of women in peacekeeping and peace-building. The question was increasingly the subject of attention and concern in the international community. In recent years, many documents had been adopted in addition to resolution 1325. All of which fully demonstrated the willingness of all States to enhance the role of women in peace and security. However, they had not been fully implemented.
It was necessary, he said, to tackle the protection of women’s rights in armed conflict. The potential of women should be utilized in conflict resolution, peace-building and reconstruction. Effective measures should be adopted to lessen the impact of conflict, landmines and HIV/AIDS on women. He strongly urged all parties involved in conflicts to abide by international humanitarian law. He called on the international community to dissolve the practice of double standards and investigate those actions which harmed civilians.
If more women could participate in conflict resolution and peacekeeping, he noted, it would be possible to minimize the impact of conflict on women and promote lasting and effective peace. That called for concerted efforts from all sides. In pursuing those goals, the Security Council should respect the work done by the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other organs. He looked forward to the publication of the Secretary-General’s report on the impact of gender in peace processes.
VIMLA HUREE-AGARWAL (Mauritius) was pleased to see the level of attention being given to the issue of protecting the most vulnerable in society -– women. The vast majority of victims of conflicts worldwide had been women and children. While women had sometimes actively fought side by side with men, in most cases, they had been used as human shields, sex slaves and porters. Their human rights had been flouted and their dignity undermined. And little had been done to alleviate their suffering. Indeed, women could play a key role in peacekeeping, as had been observed in the Mano River Union talks. Such endeavours at the local level should be encouraged.
She said that the United Nations, through its peacekeeping missions and humanitarian operations, should coordinate plans with regional and subregional organizations and NGOs, in order to sensitize everyone involved about gender-based violence. Gender specialists should be employed and the proper training of peacekeepers should be ensured. The DPKO should work closely with the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women to support the work of local police. The African heads of State had endorsed a set of recommendations allowing for a 50 per cent participation of women in the work of the new Union. Support should also be given to women during the post-conflict period, especially to those in need of counselling and to those who testified against the perpetrators of the crimes against them.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the Handbook on Multidimensional Peacekeeping should be revised to include a chapter on gender mainstreaming. Tools and mechanisms to mainstream gender in all aspects of peace operations should also be developed. Proper standard operating procedures on gender should be prepared to support a systematic implementation and monitoring of progress. All military operations mandated by the United Nations should operate in accordance with the Secretary-General's bulletin on Observance of International Humanitarian Law.
She also recommended that gender offices or focal points be set up in all missions and provided with necessary support. In addition, proper training packages for civilian, police and military personnel at all levels should be developed. The United Nations should spare no effort to increase participation of women at decision-making levels in conflict resolution and peace processes. There should be a focal point on gender issues in the DPKO to improve mainstreaming of gender issues in the entire work of the Department and to backstop the gender offices or focal points in the field missions.
Women were not just victims in armed conflicts, but could also be combatants, prisoners, leaders, negotiators, peacemakers and peacekeepers, as well as activists, she said. They had the potential to play a more important role in the peacemaking and peace-building processes. Therefore, a gender perspective should be integrated into any mandate and peace plan, as that would enhance the possibility of success. It was also important to develop some practical guidelines on how to include the community level and NGOs in peacemaking, especially women's groups.
ARTHUR C.I. MBANEFO (Nigeria) said the international community could not afford to ignore the continued exposure of women and children to tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in situations where conflicts had devastated the infrastructure essential for immunization. He urged Member States
to live up to their Charter obligations and responsibilities with international humanitarian law ensuring adequate protection for women and children.
In that regard, he said, it was necessary for the Security Council to take effective measures to alleviate the negative impact of economic sanctions on women and children, as well as ensure their timely release when taken hostage. The global commerce in and proliferation of small arms and light weapons, along with landmines and unexploded ordnance, threatened the lives of women and children more than others, he said, while malnutrition increased due to displacement and scarcity of food.
He noted that resources for social services were diverted into the war effort, which led to the deterioration of health services and a rise in infant and child mortality. Meanwhile, destruction of schools reduced school enrolment. All those elements were common features of today’s conflicts that deserved special attention if the well-being of women and children was to be guaranteed in the twenty-first century.
Continuing, he said the important role of women in prevention and resolution of conflicts and peace-building could not be overemphasized. Women had played a significant role in the peace process in Afghanistan, especially during elections to the Loya Jirga. In West Africa, the Mano River Women Peace Network continued to make important contributions to the peace process within the Union, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, gender issues were being negotiated by women in the inter-Congolese dialogue.
Ms. KING said that one of the projects on which her Office and the DPKO were working together was briefing notes on gender perspectives and peacekeeping, similar to what was done in conjunction with the Department for Disarmament on gender perspectives, development and disarmament. Also, there were already briefing notes on gender and small arms, on which the delegation of Colombia could build for its proposed December meeting in the Council on that issue.
On what was being done in the area of disarmament, she noted that UNICEF was doing its best to separate girl soldiers from adults and involve them in retraining. Another example was a recent weapons burning ceremony in Cambodia, in which around 90 per cent of the participants were women and children.
Turning to the question of senior gender advisers, she said that the roster of eminent persons was now in place and under the guidance of the Deputy Secretary-General. The senior appointments group was meeting on that issue.
Ms. HEYZER said that it was said that resolution 1325 was known for being the only resolution that had its own constituency. That constituency was the partner of the United Nations in implementation of the resolution. The Council might want to look at and map out the responsibilities of some actors of the United Nations system. It could respond to the gaps identified by the report prepared by the independent experts. The item could also become a regular item on the Council’s agenda. In addition, there should be more extensive dialogues with women on the ground on how things were working. There was also a need to address women’s organizations and quick-impact projects. The findings of the two studies would be a step forward in the journey.
The Council suspended its meeting at 1:16 p.m.
When the meeting resumed in the afternoon, GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that combating all forms of discrimination and violence against women figured increasingly on international and regional agendas. The Security Council was no exception to that trend. But despite focused attention on the issue, considerable efforts were still required to overcome the negative consequences of conflict on women and girls. Many initiatives were still on paper and had not yet been implemented. He attached importance to the focus group and to research, which would lead to specific practical recommendations, including on implementation of resolution 1325.
As to what could be done by the United Nations, he supported establishment of a senior gender adviser in the DPKO, whose work would enhance coordination among peacekeeping activities. At the same time, such measures alone were insufficient . What was needed was to take into account the requirements of women and children in conflict situations. A significant contribution could be made by civil society in that regard. It was advisable to involve not only NGOs but also local women’s organizations. Often, women and girls acted as combatants and active participants in hostilities. That was why excluding them from the whole settlement process could become a “slow-ticking mine” that would trigger further crises. He reiterated that women could play an important role in conflict prevention, settlement and peace-building. For that, it was necessary to ensure that they were fully fledged participants in measures to ensure international peace and security.
JOHN NEGROPONTE (United States) said that beyond being victims of conflict, women and children also played an essential role in its prevention and settlement. President George Bush had stated that fostering respect for women was an imperative of United States foreign policy, which was grounded in the universal demands of human dignity and reflected universal values. Secretary of State Colin Powell had called women the most vulnerable group when conflict erupted and societies broke down. Meeting the needs of female victims of conflict had meant including them on the receiving end of assistance, in shaping and carrying out relief programmes.
He said it was clear that in all conflicts, women on both sides were vulnerable. It was regrettable that his Syrian colleague, once again, had used the Security Council forum to acknowledge the impact of conflict on Palestinian women without acknowledging its effect, in particular, the suicide bombings, on Israel. Everyone should cease providing a safe haven for Palestinian groups that financed, planned, supported or committed terrorist acts.
Since the adoption of resolution 1325, the Council and peacekeeping operations had taken steps to take better into account the relevant concerns, he said. Although women were more likely to suffer in times of conflict, they should not be viewed only as victims. There remained a lack of awareness on the part of policy- and decision-makers that war affected men and women differently and that women brought much to the peacekeeping process. Work also remained to be done within the United Nations Secretariat. The Council, as well as regional and subregional actors, needed a systematic means of employing women as planners and beneficiaries of collective efforts.
He said that sustainable peace required the involvement of women, as well as men. Women’s participation should be ensured in peace operations. Concern that United Nations employees might have been involved in sexual exploitation activities in West Africa were a reminder that women should have been involved there, as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other United Nations missions.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said that implementation of resolution 1325 was not yet complete. The situation of women and children had not really improved. They still constituted the majority of those affected by conflict and the majority of refugees. He awaited the report of the Secretary-General in that connection. However, there had been some encouraging developments. The Rome treaty had recognized that rape and other forms of sexual abuse of women constituted war crimes, which were covered by the Court. Also, in a number of United Nations missions, there were personnel dealing with gender-specific issues. But despite those improvements, resolution 1325 had been implemented only very weakly.
Several delegations had spoken of the need to establish a specific post for gender issues in the DPKO, he said. He noted that some problems had arisen in the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) in that connection. It might be useful for that Committee to reconsider the matter so that such a post could be set up. Much had also been said about the role of women in peace processes and reconstruction. He asked Ms. King what her division could do to help women who wanted to take initiatives to end conflicts in their countries. Also, Ms. Heyzer had mentioned another report to be prepared by independent experts on implementation of resolution 1325. How would that study fit in with the report of the task force?
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said women were often excluded from the formal negotiation processes of building peace. Yet their efforts towards reconciliation could make the difference between war and peace. To give them a voice in the peace process, it was vital to incorporate the gender perspective into peacekeeping operations much more systematically. There had been advances, but there had not been enough. Moreover, the process had been slow and achievements had been limited. Peacekeeping operations should have better mechanisms for confidence-building in communities broken by hatred and rancour.
He said that communication between the missions and the local populations would allow the residents to truly contribute to the consolidation of peace. In considering the establishment or renewal of a peacekeeping operation, the principles formulated by the various global conferences and the guidelines adopted by the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council should be taken into account. Measurable concrete steps must be taken, leading to closer cooperation between the Council, General Assembly and subsidiary bodies of the Economic and Social Council. Member States must conduct more effective campaigns to recruit women and submit candidates for leadership posts. Few women had been in charge of peacekeeping missions; it had depended upon the willingness of Member States to make the necessary changes. Gender-sensitive training was also critical.
BASSIM BLAZEY (Australia) said that conflict prevention and resolution and peace-building clearly benefited enormously from the proper application of gender perspectives. The challenge now was to incorporate gender perspectives and enhance the role of women in communities experiencing conflict or at risk of conflict. That was where the bulk of future work should lie, if the widespread benefits of applying gender perspectives to conflict situations were to take hold.
He said that the forthcoming study by the Secretary-General, together with the complementary study being undertaken by UNIFEM on the impact of armed conflict on women and women’s role in peace-building, should provide a good basis for developing effective strategies. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to provide practical and focused recommendations. Consistent with that, caution should be exercised over recommendations for more action by United Nations legislative bodies. It would be more productive to allow Council resolution 1325 (2000) to be regarded as the definitive statement of the Council’s view on gender and security, rather than risk devaluing coin by issuing further resolutions.
The key task should be to turn that text into a “living document” of use to practitioners and communities in conflict. It should also provide concrete examples of situations where the participation of women and the application of gender perspectives had helped provide the conditions for the cessation of hostilities and the creation of viable, productive post-conflict communities. In his own region, the Bougainville process had benefited enormously from the active participation of women’s groups, which played a vital conciliatory role in bringing warring factions together and fostering more harmonious community relations.
TIM McIVOR (New Zealand) said that Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security had been a milestone. It had expressed concern about the particularly adverse impact of armed conflict on women and girls –- as civilians, refugees and internally displaced persons. The resolution promoted the role of women in preventing conflicts and peacemaking, and recommended that a gender perspective be mainstreamed into United Nations peacekeeping operations.
New Zealand was particularly aware of the impact of armed conflict on women, and the constructive role they could play in the peace process and rebuilding of society. Women were instrumental in bringing the 1989-1998 secessionist crisis in Bougainville to an end. In the Solomon Islands, women’s groups had helped develop a momentum towards peace.
He praised the commitment of the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) to implementation of resolution 1325 in that country. Not only did UNTAET make sure its staff integrated gender issues into its work, it actively collected data and information about the situation of East Timorese women, and ensured that East Timorese women had a say in issues of importance to them. UNTAET's report noted, however, that it was important for the implementation of the resolution that Member States increase the number of women in their military and civilian police forces serving in peacekeeping operations.
PHILOMENA MURNAGHAN (Ireland) said it was clear from today’s discussions that there was a wealth of proposals on how to integrate gender into peacekeeping operations. The challenge was to do so effectively. She would like to see the forthcoming reports identify mechanisms on how to integrate gender into all areas of the United Nations system, including the appointment of a senior gender adviser in the DPKO and other departments. Provision should also be made for the financing of those mechanisms. Any mechanisms or focal points should be based in the departments themselves at a senior level so as to impact policy and decision-making. There should also be continuous monitoring on how different parts of the United Nations family were doing.
Gender advisers should be deployed at the outset of any peacekeeping operation, she said. The positive experiences in Kosovo and East Timor bore out that gender should be an integral part of any peacekeeping operation. She emphasized the importance of training, which should be given to staff at Headquarters, as well as to field personnel. Awareness started at the top, as noted by Mr. Guéhenno. In addition, women’s participation in peace operations would have an important impact on the atmosphere of missions. Her country had been deploying female military and civilian personnel to peacekeeping missions for over 20 years. Through its experience with the peace process in Northern Ireland, her country had seen the benefits of having women as peacemakers and as equal participants in the political process.
YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) said there was growing awareness of the negative impact that armed conflicts had on women and children in particular, and of the importance of women’s participation in post-conflict peace processes. On the other hand, what was needed now was more detailed information and analysis of concrete examples, as well as recommendations of practical measures. He, therefore, looked forward to the results of the study conducted by Ms. King’s Office, the assessment by the two independent experts appointed by UNIFEM, and the report of the Secretary-General to be submitted later this year.
He also described the basic views and concrete actions taken by his Government regarding gender mainstreaming. With the mandates of peacekeeping operations becoming more multidimensional, it was increasingly important that women’s view were integrated into their respective activities. Earlier in the year, his Government had, for the first time, dispatched seven women peacekeepers to the mission in East Timor, where they were now engaged in coordination activities in areas such as communications and translation. In addition, an increasing number of female Japanese United Nations staff members were working in the civil components of peacekeeping missions.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that in order to advance work in the broad area of women and armed conflict, it was essential to realize that women were not merely victims, but players and participants in armed conflict. Their roles ranged from providers and heads of households to peacemakers. They could also be combatants and agents of violence. It was, therefore, obvious that a gender perspective must be included at all stages of peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building. Of particular importance was women’s role in the post-conflict period. In that connection, he looked forward to the establishment of a Peace-building Unit within the DPKO.
Turning to the role of women within the United Nations, he said they must be given leadership positions, in particular, as special representatives and envoys of the Secretary-General. That was the best way not only to illustrate the commitment of the Organization itself, but also to bring about a catalytic effect: to create awareness among the people concerned in a manner leading to the stronger involvement of women at all levels. In that respect, the promise made in resolution 1325 had not yet been fulfilled.
It was also necessary to address women’s special needs and vulnerability, he said. Clearly, women were more vulnerable to the effects of armed conflict than men. Systematic and deliberate targeting of civilian populations was also becoming a recurrent pattern. Protection of women in times of armed conflict must begin during times of peace.
Full observance of international law, in particular in respect to refugees and humanitarian issues, was of the essence, he said. Strides had been made over the past few years, in particular in the area of sexual violence, through the work of the ad hoc tribunal established by the Council and in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which had entered into force this month. Its full implementation would go a long way to provide the necessary protection to women.
LAMUEL A. STANISLAUS (Grenada) said that much of the peace and harmony of the home and family had depended upon the “woman of the house” in her natural role as peacemaker. Therein lay a glorious opportunity to involve women in peacemaking, peace-building and peacekeeping at the highest level, nationally and internationally. While some progress had been made towards implementing the Beijing Declaration and Programme of Action, there was still a long way to go.
He said that despite calls for women’s rights as human rights, for the equal rights of men and women, and for equal pay for equal work, gender imbalance was pervasive, particularly in the workplace, where women earned on average at least 30 per cent less than men. In the home, women’s work was also undervalued and underpaid. Gender equality was predicated upon education, which empowered women throughout their lives to enter the mainstream on a par with men. Given the opportunity for education, women and girls did, as well as men and boys. Some even thought they did better. Women served as the link between the home where lessons were first taught and learned, and the wider world where those were applied in the pursuit of peace and security.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom), speaking in his national capacity, said “conflict has changed and so we must change”. His country had recognized the enormous value of resolution 1325 and related gender initiatives in raising the profile of gender as an issue of real relevance to conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peace-building. The concern today was about implementation, on which the Security Council had not needed more norm setting. There were two fundamental reasons for holding today’s debate, with the objective of building on 1325 and not just reiterating it: first, to raise the probability that impunity would be denied in order to deter those who committed or planned to commit crimes against women in an area of conflict.
The second objective, he said, had been to recognize the huge contribution that women could make to conflict-prevention and negotiation, and to post-conflict peace-building. He paid tribute to the United Nations as a whole for the progress made to date in mainstreaming a gender perspective. The presence of women in peacekeeping operations had indeed improved their effectiveness, including through improved access to local populations. But that had been merely the start of a much wider effort. It was now readily accepted that gender mainstreaming was a crucial strategy in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Integrating a gender perspective into conflict prevention work would make its impact more effective.
Member States throughout the United Nations should express their political commitment to and offer guidance on gender mainstreaming, he urged. During the ongoing Economic and Social Council session, a sub-item on the agenda had been dedicated to gender mainstreaming. He congratulated the Economic and Social Council for that attention and the adoption of a related resolution. The Security Council should also seek to identify best practices and encourage their promulgation. He commended efforts by NGOs in that regard, through their often independent and courageous activities in conflict zones. Everyone knew the surface had hardly been scratched. Hopefully, resolution 1325 and today’s debate would further motivate the relevant agencies and governments.
Responding to comments and questions, Mr. GUÉHENNO said that progress had been made in the five missions he had mentioned earlier in the day, primarily because they had senior gender advisers to take proactive action and move things forward. Without such advisers, what could be done in peacekeeping missions was limited. In those missions which did not have such support, regional training had been used to ensure that personnel had the necessary sensitivity, that the code of conduct was interpreted in the strictest fashion, and that criminal prosecution followed criminal conduct. It was crucial to have someone in the missions, at the senior level, who could think through the implications of incorporating the gender dimension.
On assistance to women peacemakers, Ms. KING pointed to the example of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which had a gender adviser who was putting together a plan for integrating gender sensitivities. There were also workshops on conflict prevention and capacity-building, not only from her office but also from the other agencies in the United Nations system.
On the issue of female special representatives of the Secretary-General, she said that, while there had been some progress, there was only one female special representative out of 46 and only three deputies out of 12. Clearly, there was a long way to go. She was looking particularly at the missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Georgia, where there was a critical mass of women. In Georgia, both the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General were women.
She highlighted two areas which she wanted the Council to think about. It was important to think about how to get the good intentions expressed today applied on the ground, she said. In Liberia, for example, women had seen the signs of an arms build-up and had reported it to the Minister of Women’s Affairs. She then took it to the Cabinet, which basically shut her up. In fact, there had been an arms build-up, which had led to conflict. She also encouraged the intention by several delegations to deal with gender issues during their presidencies of the Council.
Ms. HEYZER welcomed the opportunity to strengthen collaboration, especially at the field level. Her experience had been that where the DPKO had gender advisers, such as in East Timor, they were able to draw on the strength of local women. The forthcoming report of the independent experts would touch on newly identified areas of action. Resolution 1325 was a living document, which women would be paying attention to. She looked forward to the many initiatives mentioned by countries such as Chile and Colombia.
The strength of UNIFEM was in building women’s capacity, she said. She hoped the studies of UNIFEM and Ms. King’s Office would feed into the Secretary-General’s report. The UNIFEM had invested $14 million in the area of women, peace
and security in four areas: early warning and prevention; protection and assistance; peace-building; and gender justice, especially in post-conflict peace-building. She looked forward to long-term partnership with the Council to ensure peace and security in women’s lives.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) summed up the salient points of today’s debate as the need to ensure the following: integration of the gender perspective throughout the United Nations, both in the field and at Headquarters; that all peacekeeping mandates, agreements and informal understandings include a relevant gender perspective; the importance of including women at all stages and at all levels of peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction; gender training; the appointment of a senior gender adviser in the DPKO; and the full inclusion of women in DDR programmes.
There was also a need to ensure that all peacekeeping operations include professional gender advisers to consult with community leaders, NGOs and wider sections of the communities; to draft codes of conduct governing the behaviour of peacekeeping personnel; to appoint more female special representatives of the Secretary-General; to establish in the Secretariat a centralized database of gender specialists; to take gender issues fully into consideration with Security Council missions; and to ensure that regional organizations could play their own role. He would issue a note to sum up the debate.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said he wished to respond to the comments made by the United States representative. The entire world, and particularly people who had suffered occupation, knew the suffering of women under such circumstances. He had always hoped that armed women would not act to repress Arab women under occupation. There could be no comparison between an occupying Power and a people languishing under occupation and fighting to rid itself of occupation. Everyone knew that Syria, for historical and geographical reasons, had had to host a large number of Palestinian refugees, beginning in 1948. They had the right to express their views and, among other rights, return to the land where they used to live.
He said it had been repeatedly stressed by Syria that the groups in his country were not armed groups. They lived in refugee camps full of people uprooted by Israel, which rejected their right to return. The Counter-Terrorism Committee had been responded to by Syria, one of the first countries to have responded to resolution 1397 (2002). It was the duty of Member States and permanent members of the Security Council to protect international peace and security and ensure implementation of Council resolutions. There were 28 resolutions concerning one aggressor party which refused to heed any of those texts.
Furthermore, he said, in no way could the aggressor be compared to the victim. All United Nations and Security Council members had the duty not to provide weapons of mass destruction to Israel, particularly the sophisticated weapons used by Israel to kill innocents. For peace and security to prevail in the Middle East and for a better life for women there, he had not felt he had strayed from the day’s agenda.
JOSIAH B. ROSENBLATT (United States) said he regretted that the meeting should end on a note of discord. He stood by the observation made earlier by his delegation concerning the lack of balance in the reference to women in one particular conflict. A case of non-implementation of resolution 1373 (2001), on counter-terrorism, concerned one Government represented here.