DAY-LONG SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE ON ISSUE OF WOMEN, PEACE, SECURITY; PROBLEMS OF OPPRESSION, EXPLOITATION STRESSED

28 October 2004
SC/8230

DAY-LONG SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATE ON ISSUE OF WOMEN, PEACE, SECURITY; PROBLEMS OF OPPRESSION, EXPLOITATION STRESSED

28/10/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8230

Security Council

5066th Meeting (AM & PM)

Day-long Security Council debate on issue of Women, Peace, Security;

Problems of oppression, exploitation stressed

 

Presidential Statement Urges End to Violent Acts in Conflict

Situations; Majority of 50 Speakers Express Concern at Scale of Abuse

Opening the floor today to several key United Nations officials on the issue of women, peace and security, the Security Council was told that women did not seek a special kind of justice, yet they remained on the receiving end of a special kind of oppression and abuse.  Immediately following the extensive debate, the Council, in a presidential statement, strongly condemned the continued violent acts against women in situations of armed conflict.

Through the statement, read out by the Council’s President for the month, Emyr Jones Parry (United Kingdom), the Council also condemned all violations of the human rights of women and girls in conflict, and the use of sexual exploitation, violence and abuse.  It urged the complete and immediate cessation of such acts, and stressed the need to end impunity, as part of a comprehensive approach to seeking peace, justice, truth and national reconciliation.

At the same time, the Council reaffirmed women’s important role in preventing conflict and supported the Secretary-General’s intention to develop a comprehensive system-wide strategy and action plan for increasing attention to gender perspectives in conflict prevention.  It also recognized women’s vital contribution in promoting peace and their role in reconstruction processes, and it asked the Secretary-General to submit to the Council in October 2005 an action plan, with time lines, for implementing Council resolution 1325 (2000).

The debate, involving 50 speakers and held in two parts, sought to take stock, four years later, of implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), which was hailed today as a landmark text capable of producing a tangible and positive shift in international understanding of the impact of armed conflict on women and girls.  The growing recognition that peace and security could not be built through the exclusion of more than half of a country’s population was acknowledged, as speakers took the floor to proffer ways to accelerate elimination of gender-based violence in armed conflict and integrate women in all stages of peace-building.

Opening the discussion, the Security Council President for October, Emyr Jones Parry (United Kingdom), recalled the Secretary-General’s statement to the African Union’s meeting in July, in which he said, “In parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Darfur region of Sudan, gender-based violence had reached almost epidemic proportions.  Every effort must be made to halt that odious practice and bring the perpetrators to justice.”  Who could quarrel with those words? the Council President asked.  He hoped today’s meeting would augment the collective resolve to confront that issue.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, said that women’s oppression and abuse had occurred particularly in times of conflict when the rule of force obliterated the rule of law.  The violations women experienced would never be dealt with appropriately until justice issues received sufficient attention.  For too long, stereotypes and prejudices had unfairly stigmatized women victims.  Women were invariably excluded from formal decision-making processes and peace negotiations, yet their vision and contribution must be sustained since, without it, efforts to reconstruct war-torn societies would be fundamentally flawed.

Similarly, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, insisted that women and girls had an essential role to play in rebuilding war-shattered societies, not through token representation but as full-fledged and rightful participants in the process.  Women’s knowledge had been under-utilized in preventing violent conflict, and gender perspectives were neglected in early warning exercises and the development of response options.  Moreover, peace processes and negotiations remained overwhelmingly male-dominated.  The status of implementation of resolution 1325 was a faithful reflection of the fruits of collective efforts at all levels, but that was also an unequivocal call to action in the interests of the million of women and girls in war-shattered societies who were victimized by conflict, but who also held the key to building a sustainable peace in their countries.

The Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Thoraya Obaid, urged the international community to take steps to ensure that incidents of sexual violence were recorded and that evidence was gathered and preserved and that perpetrators of gender-based violence were brought to justice.  Additionally, the police, security, peacekeeping and humanitarian personnel should be trained to enable them to recognize and respond to gender-based violence.

Statements were also made by the representatives of the following Council members:  United States; Chile; Benin; Philippines; Spain; Algeria; France; Angola; Pakistan; Germany; Brazil; Romania; China; and the Russian Federation.

Additional statements in the debate were made by the representatives of:  Canada; Netherlands (for the European Union); Australia; Mexico; Syria; India; South Africa; Bangladesh; Republic of Korea; El Salvador; Liechtenstein; Iceland; Mali; Japan; United Republic of Tanzania; Myanmar; Namibia; Sweden; New Zealand; Fiji; Argentina; Guatemala; Norway; Indonesia; Honduras; Kenya; and Nigeria.

Additional statements were made by:  Noleen Heyzer, Executive Director, United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM); and Carmen Moreno, Director, United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW).  Other speakers were:  Agathe Rwankuba, Reseau des Femmes pour la Defense des Droits et la Paix, and the Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Winston Cox.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan was present for part of the discussion.

The meeting began at 10:13 a.m. and was suspended at 1:34 p.m.  It resumed at 3:20 p.m. and adjourned at 5:50 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of document S/PRST/2004/40 reads, as follows:

"The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the continuing and full implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), and welcomes the increasing focus on the situation of women and girls in armed conflict since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000) in October 2000.  The Council recalls the Statement by its President of 31 October 2002 (S/PRST/2002/32) and the meeting held on 29 October 2003 as valuable demonstrations of that commitment.

"The Security Council also recalls the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (A/52/231) and the outcome document of the twenty-third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly entitled "Women 2000:  Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century (A/S-23/10/Rev.1), in particular the commitments concerning women and armed conflict.

“The Security Council welcomes the Report of the Secretary-General on women, peace and security (S/2004/814) and expresses its intention to study its recommendations. The Council welcomes the efforts of the United Nations system, Member States, civil society and other relevant actors, to promote the equal participation of women in efforts to build sustainable peace and security.

"The Security Council strongly condemns the continued acts of gender-based violence in situations of armed conflict.  The Council also condemns all violations of the human rights of women and girls in situations of armed conflict and the use of sexual exploitation, violence and abuse.  The Council urges the complete cessation by all parties of such acts with immediate effect.  The Council stresses the need to end impunity for such acts as part of a comprehensive approach to seeking peace, justice, truth and national reconciliation.  The Council welcomes the efforts of the United Nations system to establish and implement strategies and programmes to prevent and report on gender-based violence, and urges the Secretary-General to further his efforts in this regard.

“The Council requests the Secretary-General to ensure that human rights monitors and members of commissions of inquiry have the necessary expertise and training in gender-based crimes and in the conduct of investigations, including in a culturally sensitive manner favourable to the needs, dignity and rights of the victims.  The Council urges all international and national courts specifically established to prosecute war-related crimes to provide gender expertise, gender training for all staff and gender-sensitive programmes for victims and witness protection.  The Council emphasizes the urgent need for programmes that provide support to survivors of gender-based violence.  The Council further requests that appropriate attention is given to the issue of gender-based violence in all future reports to the Council.

"The Security Council reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention of conflict and supports the Secretary-General's intention to develop a comprehensive system-wide strategy and action plan for increasing attention to gender perspectives in conflict prevention.  The Council urges all relevant actors to work collaboratively, including through strengthened interaction with women's organizations, to ensure the full participation of women and the incorporation of a gender perspective in all conflict prevention work.

"The Security Council also welcomes the Secretary-General's intention to develop a comprehensive strategy and action plan for mainstreaming a gender perspective into all peacekeeping activities and operations and to incorporate gender perspectives in each thematic and country report to the Council.  In support of this process, the Council reaffirms its commitment to integrate fully gender perspectives into the mandates of all peacekeeping missions.  The Council recognizes the contribution of the gender advisor within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to advancing the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), and requests the Secretary-General to consider an equivalent arrangement within the Department for Political Affairs to further support such implementation.

"The Security Council considers that an increase in the representation of women in all aspects of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building operations and humanitarian response is urgently needed.  To that end, the Council urges the Secretary-General to strengthen his efforts to identify suitable female candidates, including, as appropriate, from troop-contributing countries, in conformity with Article 101 of the Charter of the United Nations and taking into account the principle of equitable geographical distribution.  Such efforts should include the implementation of targeted recruitment strategies and also seek to identify candidates for senior level positions, including in the military and civilian police services.

"The Security Council recognizes the vital contribution of women in promoting peace and their role in reconstruction processes.  The Council welcomes the Secretary-General's intention to develop strategies to encourage women's full participation in all stages of the peace process.  The Council also requests the Secretary-General to encourage gender mainstreaming in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes by developing guidelines to increase attention to the needs of women and girls in such programmes.  The Council further requests the Secretary-General to mainstream a gender perspective in all aspects of post-conflict reconstruction programmes, including through the strengthening of gender theme groups in countries emerging from conflict, and to ensure that all policies and programmes in support of post-conflict constitutional, judicial and legislative reform, including truth and reconciliation and electoral processes, promote the full participation of women, gender equality and women's human rights.

"The Security Council recognizes the important contribution of civil society to the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) and encourages Member States to continue to collaborate with civil society, in particular with local women's networks and organizations, to strengthen implementation.  To that end, the Council welcomes the efforts of Member States in implementing resolution 1325 (2000) at the national level, including the development of national action plans, and encourages Member States to continue to pursue such implementation.

"The Security Council recognizes that significant progress has been made in the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) in certain areas of the United Nations' peace and security work.  The Council expresses its readiness to further promote the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), and in particular through active cooperation with the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly.  In order to further consolidate this progress, the Council requests the Secretary-General to submit to the Security Council in October 2005 an action plan, with time lines, for implementing resolution 1325 (2000) across the United Nations system, with a view to strengthening commitment and accountability at the highest levels, as well as to allow for improved accountability, monitoring and reporting on progress on implementation within the United Nations system.”

Background

Before the Security Council this morning for its open debate on women, peace and security is a follow-up report of the Secretary-General (document S/2004/814) on the full implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), which called for women’s equal participation with men and their full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.  The text also emphasized the need to protect women and girls from human rights abuses in conflict, including sexual and other gender-based violence, and it identified the need to mainstream gender perspectives in relation to conflict prevention, peace negotiations, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance, post-conflict reconstruction and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

The Secretary-General says in the current report that, in the four years since adoption of that text, there has been a positive shift in international understanding of the impact of armed conflict on women and girls and the importance of women’s participation as equal partners in all areas related to peace and security.  Member States, United Nations entities and civil society actors have made significant strides in implementing the resolution, including by incorporating gender perspectives in policies, programmatic tools and capacity-building activities.  The real test of the adequacy of these efforts, however, is their impact on the ground.

In no area of peace and security work are gender perspectives systematically incorporated in planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting, the report finds.  The peacekeeping and humanitarian areas have seen the most dramatic improvement in terms of new policies, gender expertise and training initiatives.  An outstanding challenge is increasing the number of women in high-level decision-making positions in peacekeeping operations.  In the areas of conflict prevention, peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction, women do not participate fully, and more needs to be done to ensure that the promotion of gender equality is an explicit goal in the pursuit of sustainable peace.

The report states further that the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls in armed conflict is a pressing challenge.  The reality on the ground is that humanitarian and human rights law are blatantly disregarded by parties to conflicts and that women and girls continue to be subject to sexual and gender-based violence and other human rights violations.  Much more sustained commitment and effort, including partnerships with men and boys, are required to stop the violence, end impunity and bring perpetrators to justice.

Much of the work on increasing attention to gender perspectives, protecting the human rights of women and promoting women’s participation has been done on an ad hoc basis through voluntary contributions.  Inadequate specific resource allocations have contributed to slow progress in the implementation of the resolution in practice.  It must be ensured that regular budgetary resources are specifically allocated for both gender mainstreaming and initiatives targeted at women and girls.

Resolution 1325 (2000) holds out a promise to women across the globe that their rights will be protected and that barriers to their equal participation and full involvement in the maintenance and promotion of sustainable peace will be removed.  That promise must be upheld.  To achieve the goals set out in the resolution, political will, concerted action and accountability on the part of the entire international community are required.  The Secretary-General urges the Security Council, Member States, United Nations entities and civil society organizations to reaffirm their commitment and strengthen efforts to fully implement resolution 1325 (2000), and call for regular monitoring of its implementation through the Council.

Statements

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) recalled that resolution 1325 (2000) had asked the United Nations system and its Member States to ensure that gender-related considerations were folded into all aspects of their work, from conflict prevention to post-conflict reconstruction.  In addition, the text had also sought the increased participation of women, and it had addressed the very urgent need of providing protection to women in conflict situations, as women and children suffered disproportionately in armed conflict and constituted the majority of all victims.  There was growing international recognition in recent years of gender-based violence in conflict situations.  Incidences of such violence continued at a “frightening rate”.

He said he could do no better than to recall the Secretary-General’s statement to the African Union’s meeting in July, when he said, “in parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Darfur region of Sudan, gender-based violence had reached almost epidemic proportions.  Every effort must be made to halt that odious practice and bring the perpetrators to justice”.  Who could quarrel with those words?  He hoped today’s meeting would augment the collective resolve to confront that issue.

JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that since the Council’s adoption of the landmark resolution 1325 four years ago, there had been a tangible and positive shift in international understanding of the impact of armed conflict on women and girls.  There had also been growing recognition that peace and security could not be built through the exclusion of more than half of a country’s or the world’s population.  Women and girls had an essential role to play in rebuilding war-shattered societies, not through token representation but as full-fledged and rightful participants in the process.

Beginning with the “good news”, he said the Secretary-General’s report highlighted that most progress had been made in implementing resolution 1325 in the area of peacekeeping.  Full-time gender advisers, for example, were now deployed and were playing a prominent role in 10 of the 17 peacekeeping operations.  In 2000, there had been only two gender advisers in total.  Gender policies and training for peacekeeping personnel were now standard features of daily discussions, whereas in 2000 they had been considered innovations.  His Department had adopted a policy on human trafficking and had produced a package of anti-trafficking guidance for peacekeeping operations.

Humanitarian and development agencies had much to be proud of, as well, he said.  The Inter-Agency Standing Committee Task Force on Gender and Humanitarian Assistance had developed strategies to facilitate gender mainstreaming in all humanitarian activities.  The report pointed to ongoing technical assistance activities provided to several countries under the coordination of the Division for the Advancement of Women.  The report also described the development of gender-sensitive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in a number of post-conflict countries.  There had been growing coordination and cooperation among all international human rights actors on the implementation of the resolution.

However, he added, the report equally called attention to how much was left to be done.  In the humanitarian arena, the Secretary-General’s report emphasized that there was still ample scope for even more effective cooperation among United Nations entities, non-governmental organization (NGOs), and refugee and displaced women’s groups, and for more funding for women-specific programmes.  The report called for greater understanding of how truth and reconciliation processes had met women’s needs, calling for a review of the extent to which they had participated in them to date.  Women’s knowledge and experiences were underutilized in the prevention of violent conflict, while gender perspectives had been neglected in early-warning exercises and the development of response options.

Peace processes and negotiations remained overwhelmingly male-dominated arenas where women’s contributions largely stayed outside of the formal processes, he said.  The report acknowledged the wide scope that existed for building gender-sensitive approaches to reporting and addressed the issue of gender recruitment.  The number of female uniformed personnel in peacekeeping operations was still far too low.  At the highest level of decision-making in peace support operations, there were only two female Special Representatives of the Secretary-General out of a total of 27.

Much could still be done to strengthen the collective ability to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, he continued.  To attain sustainable results, gender-based violence, whether manifested in the form of mass rapes, sexual exploitation of women and girls, domestic violence or trafficking must not be treated in isolation.  Those crimes were part of a broader and endemic assault on the rights of women and girls in conflict.  A commitment to preventing and responding to gender-based violence must serve as a critical priority in any framework for post-conflict peace-building.  That approach was lacking in collective efforts.

Gender-based violence could not be effectively addressed if the burden of responsibility for doing so rested with women alone, he added.  The problem was one that plagued families, communities, nations and the global community as a whole and as such required the engagement of men and women as partners.

He said the report emphasized one form of gender-based violence, namely, sexual abuse and exploitation by humanitarian and peacekeeping personnel.  In 2004, some 70 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse had been made against United Nations peacekeeping personnel in Bunia alone.  To stop those abhorrent acts, the United Nations system needed to work hand in hand with Member States.  The issue was being taken seriously in his Department, but it must and would be given even greater priority in the coming year.  Even one incident was unacceptable.

The status of implementation of resolution 1325 presented in the report was a faithful reflection of the fruits of collective efforts, at the national, NGO and intergovernmental level, he said.  However, it was also an unequivocal call to action on several crucial fronts.  It was a call that was to be heeded in the interests of the million of women and girls in war-shattered societies who were victimized by conflict, but also who held the key to building a sustainable peace in their countries.

LOUISE ARBOUR, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that a few weeks ago she had drawn Council members’ attention to the plight of women in Darfur and the many atrocities they had suffered with little immediate hope of bringing the perpetrators to justice.  The very purpose of resolution 1325 (2000) was to address the needs of women and girls in crises such as Darfur.  While progress had been made in implementing that text, Darfur was not the only conflict today where women continued to be subjected to grave human rights violations, excluded from reconstruction efforts, and refused access to justice.

Women did not seek a special kind of justice, she said.  Historically, however, they had been and continued to be on the receiving end of a “special kind of oppression and abuse”.  That was particularly so in times of conflict when the rule of force obliterated the rule of law.  Conflict exacerbated gender-based violence and the likelihood of impunity.  Over the last 20 years, there had been increased international recognition of the seriousness of gender-based violence and a growing international commitment to ensure accountability and redress.  Following the systematic sexual violence associated with the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, precise legal standards had been developed through the jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to confirm that such practices might amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide.  Those standards were now reflected in the Rome Statute.

The violations women experienced would never be dealt with appropriately until justice issues received sufficient attention, she said.  For too long, consultation with women had been inadequate.  Stereotypes and prejudices had unfairly stigmatized women victims.  The international community and national governments must address more effectively impunity and the reconstruction of justice systems.  The pressure for political agreement to resolve a conflict too often led to reluctance to bring perpetrators to justice.  Reconstruction of effective justice systems rarely received the financial support that went into the delivery of humanitarian assistance or even rebuilding physical and economic infrastructure.  Support for the establishment of any justice system should involve women and include gender-sensitive procedures.

She said that women were invariably excluded from formal decision-making processes and peace negotiations.  Yet, their vision and contribution must be sustained since, without their full participation, efforts to reconstruct war-torn societies would be fundamentally flawed.  Human trafficking made women in situations of conflict –- displaced and refugee women, and asylum seekers –- particularly vulnerable.  Life-threatening situations in the wake of conflict, including in refugee camps where protection was not always guaranteed, drove women and girls to seek alternatives for survival, where they risked falling into the hands of traffickers who promised safe environments and job opportunities.  It was vital, therefore, to develop and implement anti-trafficking strategies that placed the rights of the victim at their centre.

Above all, she stressed, there could be no tolerance of sexual exploitation by those entrusted with women’s safety, whether peacekeepers, humanitarian personnel or other international staff.  The Secretary-General had clearly set out the responsibility of senior managers, and of every staff member of the United Nations, to ensure that the presence of international organizations did not allow, encourage, or lead to involvement in such human rights violations.  Sexual predatory practices by international “interveners” could not be condemned as the isolated, deplorable actions of “a few bad apples”.  The sexual exploitation of vulnerable women and children was a crime compounded by the gross abuse of power involved in its perpetration and for which everyone must collectively take responsibility.  The initiatives of the Secretary-General in that regard would go a long way towards bringing clarity to the duties and obligations of all those involved in field operations on behalf of the Organization.  His efforts would no doubt ensure greater accountability.  The Council should engage actively on that issue with troop-contributing countries and insist that impunity would not be tolerated.

She called on the Council to emphasize the obligations under resolution 1325 (2000), namely:  to protect women and girls during conflict; to ensure the equal participation of women in peace negotiations, as well as conflict prevention; to ensure access to justice for women; and to integrate a gender perspective into all peacekeeping and humanitarian activities.  The Council should combat impunity for gender-based violence by advocating training of security forces and law enforcement agencies in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law and, particularly, women’s rights.  It should also ensure that all future mechanisms for transitional justice were built on existing norms and standards and:  included judges and advisers with legal expertise on women’s rights; ensured that prosecutors respected the interests and personal circumstances of women and girl victims, as well as witnesses; and took into account the special nature of gender-based crimes.

Finally, she urged the Security Council to use all its influence to generate the political will, as well as the financial support, to protect women’s rights and ensure their access to justice, including through the rebuilding of a justice sector that was responsive to their needs.  The women and young girls in the Darfur camps were putting themselves at considerable risk to collect firewood, which not only provided them with cooking fuel, but also allowed trading opportunities upon which they could build a modest sense of autonomy and empowerment.  Their efforts would contribute to the reconstruction of their devastated country in no smaller measure than the attempts being made by the men engaged in political negotiations in Naivasha and Abuja.

THORAYA OBAID, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said that while the international community had made progress during the last four years in devising standards, protocols and guidelines, similar progress had not been made on the ground.  The fact that the issue was being discussed in the Security Council today reflected the recognition that greater progress needed to be made.  It was time to establish a system of accountability within Member States and within the United Nations on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325.

There were several actions that needed to be taken immediately to respond to the victims of gender-based violence, she continued.  Increased will was needed to ensure that women and girls received protection from sexual violence and abuse in their homes and communities, in refugee and internally displaced person (IDP) camps and in disarmament and demobilization cantonment areas.  Together, the international community must also take steps to ensure that incidents of sexual violence were recorded and that evidence was gathered and preserved and that perpetrators of gender-based violence were brought to justice.  Additionally, the police, security, peacekeeping and humanitarian personnel and officials needed to be trained to recognize and respond to gender-based violence.

Other actions included providing effective training programmes for health personnel on how to care for victims of sexual violence and ensuring that local organizations and women groups were actively involved each step of the way; ensuring that survivors of sexual violence received quality legal, psycho-social and reproductive services to address the horrifying violence they had endured; and taking action to implement programmes aimed at the public and community leaders on the importance of not stigmatizing victims of sexual violence and taking action to empower women and girls and enabling them to seek help and adequate support.

Those actions were in line with the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report to the Council and in line with the Programme of Action adopted in Cairo 10 years ago at the International Conference on Population and Development, she said.  At that Conference, 179 world leaders urged countries to identify and condemn the systematic practice of rape and other forms of inhuman and degrading treatment of women as a deliberate instrument of war and ethnic cleansing, and to take steps to ensure that full assistance was provided to victims of such abuse for their physical and mental rehabilitation.  Today, world leaders should transform those words into action.

Transmission of HIV/AIDS was one of the most devastating consequences of sexual violence, she continued.  In Rwanda, two thirds of women who were raped during the 1994 genocide were infected with HIV and were dying slow painful deaths.  HIV and AIDS threatened stability.  Damaged social systems could become overwhelmed, undermining public confidence in the future, and resulting in hot spots of vulnerability and economic and social decline. There had been significant progress in the past few years in working closely with peacekeeping missions to prevent gender-based violence and HIV, but much more needed to be done.

Ms. Obaid said that the massive and systematic violation of human rights would continue as long as perpetrators remained free and had no fear of paying the consequences for the crimes they had committed.  The measures that had been identified required immediate and sustained funding in order to constitute routine and systematic response.  Most proposals to address gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict situations had continued to go unfunded and women were paying the price.

ANNE WOODS PATTERSON (United States) said her country agreed that the United Nations must strengthen its response to gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict situations.  Trafficking in persons was often worsened by the upheaval of post-conflict situations, as Ms. Arbour had said.  Regrettably, that practice had also been associated with the presence of peacekeeping operations.  Trafficking continued to grow, sometimes in those same places the Security Council sought to protect.  Some 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children had been trafficked across borders and sold into all forms of servitude.  Victims ranged in age from the 12-year-old girl from the Congo to the Mexican worker toiling in a tomato field in Florida.  Some 80 per cent of the victims were female.  The United States was deeply committed to ending the trafficking scourge, which posed a security threat, while grossly violating human rights and spreading disease.

Fortunately, she said, that issue was receiving increasing international, and by the United States, national, attention.  President Bush had called on the international community to create clear standards and punishment for the crime of trafficking.  Since last year, he had also given more than $300 million to more than 120 countries to eliminate that phenomenon.  New laws had been enacted in several countries.  While those gains had been admirable, they fell short of addressing the problem, which required a concerted effort by all Member States.  Council members should continue to support the efforts of the United Nations leadership to effect a change in United Nations missions.  That needed continued high-level attention.  In July, Mr. Guéhenno and Secretary-General Kofi Annan had officially approved an anti-trafficking policy for peacekeepers, and in 2003, the Organization had established guidelines of acceptable conduct for them.

She said, however, that policy was only as good as its enforcement.  She welcomed the commitment to zero tolerance of trafficking in every peace operation.  The United Nations must also commit to zero tolerance of prostitution.  She also sought to have the United Nations put in place trafficking-related training for all United Nations peacekeepers.  She commended the work of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ Best Practices Unit towards that goal.  What was required now was a dedicated United Nations leadership to achieve those goals.  Above all, United Nations peacekeeping missions should be at the forefront to ensure that gender-based violence was eliminated or redressed.

HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) noted that since the adoption of resolution 1325 positive changes had occurred in the international community.  Women had achieved greater equality and were more strongly participating in the area of peace and security.  The United Nations, civil society and NGOs had taken specific action to implement the resolution, including training and support for the initiatives of various women’s groups.  Much remained to be done, however.  Women’s full-fledged participation in all stages of conflict from prevention to reconstruction was essential.  One of the vacuums in the implementation of the resolution was the need to include women in peace agreements and in humanitarian processes.  One of the greatest difficulties in recent years was the increase in sexual violence.  Greater pressure must be exerted on parties to conflicts to prevent such events.

Chile was strongly committed to supporting initiatives for the resolution’s implementation, he said.  A number of meetings on the issue had resulted in an interesting report that should be considered in preparing Council resolutions.  In 2002, Chile had hosted a regional seminar on the role of women in peacekeeping operations.  Various proposals had been put forward, including the need to ensure systematic cooperation between the Council and civil society.  The time had come to bridge the gap between reality and desires.  Much remained to be done, particularly regarding women and girl children.  Despite the progress achieved, more work was needed.  Women’s full-fledged participation in peace activities would provide a great opportunity for achieving world peace.

JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin) said that, overall, he had been pleased to see the changed mindset on the issue of women, as well as concerted action at all levels to give women their proper place in society.  Benin welcomed the joint efforts of States, the United Nations and civil society, which had helped in that growing awareness of the particular situation of women in conflict.  The report, however, also noted continuing prejudice against women and girls, and violence against them, particularly in conflict and post-conflict situations.  At an Arria-style meeting on 21 October, the Council had heard about the harsh realties of gender-based violence, which was an affront to human dignity, particularly when rape and sexual violence were used as weapons of war.  In some camps, that real tragedy was played out “with the curtains drawn”.

He said that combating gender-based violence must be internalized by the international community in all its activities.  It must also combat impunity at the national level, which meant that laws must be introduced to prosecute such cases.  The United Nations must be able to document such human rights violations, and civil society organizations must also try to tackle them.  That would involve questions of protecting witnesses and compensating victims, which could be dealt with both at the national level and that of the International Criminal Court.

On conflict prevention, special attention should be paid to the recourses available to women and girls who were trying to combat gender-based violence, he said.  The United Nations should seek ways to better integrate resolution 1325 (2000) into its multifaceted activities to protect the human person.  All United Nations structures needed consistent strategies to combat gender-based violence, and leadership to coordinate such activities was crucial.  Also, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations needed appropriate resources to do its work in that regard.  Peace operations were a useful tool for implementing all the relevant recommendations.

LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said there was consensus on a number of issues, including the need for women to play an important role in building sustainable peace and security, as well as their full cooperation in conflict prevention and peace-building missions.  Resolution 1325 meant a lot of things to a lot of people, and had been hailed as a landmark resolution.  Whether women’s expectations had been met was the question.  The strategy for further implementation of the resolution must consider, among other things, the need to strengthen the United Nations response to gender-based violence and a comprehensive system-wide plan for gender mainstreaming in the Organization’s work.  He endorsed the recommendations of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Executive Director of the UNFPA regarding gender violence.

He also stressed the need to ensure that gender sensitivity at Headquarters was translated to the field.  In that regard, a monitoring system was needed to assess how women’s concerns were being addressed in the field.  In particular, he wished to know if an inventory of existing United Nations resources for implementing the resolutions was available.  There was a need to ensure that sufficient information and resources flowed to countries to allow national action plans to migrate to the field.  While governments had the primary responsibility of keeping the peace in their territories, the United Nations must assist countries in implementing resolution 1325.  Although governments could use the resolution as a tool for peace, poverty and other factors might prevent the resolution’s implementation.  The United Nations could act as a fulcrum for increasing the focus on gender concerns.  International cooperation must be enhanced to increase the resolution’s implementation.

JUAN ANTONIO YAÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) said that in the four years since adoption of resolution 1325 there had been positive changes, in that there was now a better understanding of the seriousness and disproportionate effects of armed conflict on women and girls.  There was growing recognition of the importance of women’s participation, on an equal footing, in preventing and managing conflicts, as well as in brokering the peace and rehabilitating the country emerging from conflict.  Nevertheless, much remained to be done towards ensuring the full and effective implementation of that important resolution.  Addressing gender-based violence in armed conflict had received greater momentum in recent years, including criminalizing such conduct in the courts established by the Council in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and in the Rome Statute.  Yet, evidence persisted that women and girls remained the biggest targets of such gender-based violence.

For that reason, he said, adoption of additional measures should be immediately envisaged, especially aimed at improving gender training for all individuals participating in peace operations, including military, police and civilian personnel.  He was pleased at the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance practice, which he hoped would be confirmed by the Secretariat and States that provided troops to peace operations.  Efforts should be stepped up to include the gender perspective in peace negotiations and in post-conflict peace-building.  There must be persons especially trained in dealing with gender-based violence and crimes to which women and girls were subject in post-conflict periods.  Also, emergency care should be improved, as should support for the integral participation of women who might have been the subject of gender-based violence.  He also called for an information campaign to inform the victims of their rights.  Those individuals must also be given access to the appropriate institutions.

He also called for greater coordination within the United Nations system, as well as appropriate machinery to assess and follow up such situations in the field and monitor the quality of victims’ assistance.  He was not looking so much to forge new means of assistance, but to improve coordination and enhance the effectiveness of what already existed.  United Nations’ teams in the field, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations must help to publicize the true dimension of that tragedy.  Resolution 1325 had been, for women worldwide, the promise that their rights would be protected and that their participation in sustainable peace would be supported.  Four years had elapsed, and it was still not possible to say that full implementation had occurred.  The international community must pledge that, within a reasonable time frame, that promise would become a reality.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said rape and sexual violence was used as means of demoralizing women during times of conflict.  Taking advantage of the chaos of war, women were often reduced to sexual slavery or fell victim to trafficking.  Women suffered from discrimination during times of peace, but in times of conflict they were even more vulnerable.  Women had the unique capacity to move beyond religious and cultural divisions for the sake of national reconciliation.  The situation of women and girls became the focus of the Organization’s activities under resolution 1325, which offered a framework for structuring its work in that respect.  Implementing a gender perspective was an important aspect of United Nations peace missions, and the contribution of gender advisers was welcome.

Results in implementing the resolution were far below what had been hoped for, he said.  Strengthening the resolution, including by establishing a monitoring system under the Council’s authority, related to the Council’s desire to act as a catalyst for the activities of the entire international community.  It ran the danger, however, of going beyond 1325.  The question was whether the Council was the best place to carry out multidimensional activities involving a range of governmental and non-governmental actors.  Aiming high required political will and significant resources.  The temptation for the Council was to become the supervisor of all United Nations strategy in that area, which could jeopardize its credibility.

Implementing 1325 required collective action by the international community, he said.  Such unity, however, had been absent in regard to the socio-economic dimension of conflict prevention.  Promoting women was inconceivable without the necessary resources to combat poverty and illness.  It was necessary to consider the implications of the Council exceeding its powers, thereby weakening the other parts of the system.  It was also necessary to ensure that the Council’s efforts were in accordance with its mandate and complementary to the work of other actors.  He believed the General Assembly should be the forum for such a policy.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) stressed the importance of examining and ensuring the value of the reports submitted to the Council by the Secretary-General.  Technical constraints, however, had limited their length, yet the aim should be to include more details.  He would support a meeting of Council members, probably at the expert level, to deal with equality on a periodic basis.  He was working to ensure the systematic inclusion of gender-specific contents in the mandates of peace operations.  Their inclusion in the operations in Côte d’Ivoire and Burundi, for which his delegation had taken the initiative, had resulted in frequent court action brought by women.  His delegation would also be submitting a resolution on children and armed conflict, which sought to address the question of girl soldiers, an aspect that did not appear frequently on the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation agendas or programmes.  He would spare no effort in that regard.

Noting that the Council would be visiting the Great Lakes region once again, in a few days, he said that, like last year, there would be contacts with women’s organizations.  The Council mission would also study how the United Nations operations were discharging their mandates in that regard.  As previous speakers this morning had noted, violence against women during conflict situations was particularly repugnant.  In recent months, the Council’s attention had been drawn to several such situations, including in Kivu, Burundi and in Darfur.  He shared concern over the question of how such tragedies could be averted.  Insufficient attention had been given to the warning signs.  The Secretary-General had been quite right in highlighting the failure to address such violence in societies that had lowered their vigilance in times of peace; they would likely expose themselves to the worst possible violence in periods of crisis.

Thus, he said that efforts should be accelerated to measure the nature and scope of such violence in peacetime.  That was why his delegation, this year, would contribute to studying all violence perpetrated against women, in the context of helping to prepare the report of the Secretary-General on that issue in 2005, as requested by the General Assembly.  Once that information was communicated, more effective action should be taken, including the rapid deployment of human rights monitors.  The United Nations must set the example and must provide assistance to the international legal systems.  The tribunals had done pioneering work on gender-based crimes, even if the inquiries had not always focused efficiently on that aspect.  He had also been pleased at the appointment of more women judges to the Rwanda Tribunal and the Special Court in Sierra Leone.  The recent decision of the International Criminal Court to open inquiries on crimes within its competence committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda had been an important development in combating impunity in those countries.

JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said the main thrust of the resolution’s implementation concerned women’s participation in collective peace efforts.  The resolution’s adoption had to be translated into reality, including by recognizing the role of women in peace-building efforts.  Women could act as an early warning of conflict.  Women and girls were the most conspicuous victims of violence in situations of armed conflict.  It was essential that increased pressure be applied to bring to justice the perpetrators of such crimes and end impunity.  He also stressed the need to mainstream gender issues in conflict prevention.  The development of a comprehensive action plan for mainstreaming gender perspectives in peacekeeping operations, in particular new operations, was essential.

The international community still had a long way to go in implementing the resolution, he said.  All stakeholders must address challenges in its implementation.  The United Nations and civil society must join efforts in adopting a cooperative approach.  Civil society already played an important role, and its potential should be further enhanced.  If properly supported, they could play an ever-increasing role in assuring women’s access to justice.  Monitoring was crucial for making the resolution’s implementation a reality.  For its part, and taking stock of proposals made last year, the Council could consider establishing a mechanism for monitoring progress.  Expressing his country’s commitment to implementing resolution 1325, he noted that despite the recognition given to Angolan women for their efforts in peace promotion, they seldom participated in conflict resolution.  That, notwithstanding, Angolan women were making great strides to overcome their present situation, which, he was convinced, could soon be overturned.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that the Council had acted decisively in 2000 to close the window of vulnerability of women.  Resolution 1325 had made a landmark contribution to the normative framework being developed for the protection of women and girls in armed conflict.  The resolution elevated women from hapless victims of conflict situations to equal stakeholders in preventing and resolving conflicts, and in post-conflict reconstruction.

The Secretary-General’s recommendations deserved careful study, since they provided a good basis for further action.  Meanwhile, horrific levels of violence against women had been witnessed in conflicts in the Balkans, in Africa and elsewhere.  Murder, systematic and widespread rape, and other forms of gender violence continued to be reported from various ongoing conflict situations.  That morally unacceptable scourge persisted because a culture of impunity pervaded the situations of armed conflict.

He said most acts of violence against women were never investigated because of indifference, inaction or complicity of the relevant authorities.  The perpetrators were rarely, if ever, prosecuted.  The victims often had little or no access to the justice system.  That must all change if the world seriously wanted to stop gender-based violence.  The first priority must be to end impunity.  The targeting of women -– especially the use of rape as an instrument of war –- should be considered a war crime, susceptible to national and international punishment.  He had been encouraged to see the emerging legal framework of protection for the rights of women, particularly the criminalization of man types of gender violence in international Conventions and the Statutes of international criminal tribunals.

The second priority should be to demand from all parties to conflicts full respect for and compliance with international humanitarian law and other relevant instruments on women’s protection, he said.  A further priority should be to incorporate gender perspectives across the broad spectrum of reconstruction in post-conflict situations.  That would require reforming and rebuilding of the judicial, legislative and electoral sectors, as well as economic, social and political empowerment of women –- within a culturally sensitive framework.  Post-conflict Rwanda was a good example of targeted activities in that regard, where women held nearly 49 per cent of the seats in Parliament.

He said that despite best intentions and continuous efforts, implementation of resolution 1325 remained a challenge.  He cited three requirements that were indispensable:  universal awareness about resolution 1325 and the obligations it imposed; the sustained and long-term political commitment of the Security Council, Member States and national and international stakeholders; and the commitment of substantial human and financial resources.  He said the United Nations should develop a comprehensive strategy for conflict prevention and resolution, with special emphasis on the protection of women and girls, and their rights and interests in conflict situations.

WOLFGANG TRAUTWEIN (Germany) said violence against women was an issue of the utmost priority, because of its human, political and socio-economic dimensions.  Gender-based violence could only be overcome by empowering women in all aspects of public and private life.  Unfortunately, the list of countries in conflict with a history of gender-based atrocities was long and included countries from all continents.  The continuing extreme violence against women and girls in the Darfur region was a case in point.  To improve the situation, a gender dimension must be integrated into the peace talks.

Welcoming the Secretary-General’s proposals, he said a gender unit was the main guarantor for the effective integration of a gender perspective in a United Nations mission.  A gender unit alone, however, was not sufficient, even it if was supplied with adequate resources.  Given the scope of gender-based discrimination, all substantive units of a peacekeeping operation should include specialists with gender expertise.  Germany strongly believed in the need for accountability for wartime violence against women and in the necessity to end impunity.  Time-bound goals concerning the resolution’s implementation would be helpful, in that regard.

Germany was deeply committed to the vision of the landmark resolution and undertook various efforts to realize that vision, he said.  Germany was one of the few countries to have provided a detailed report on its national initiatives concerning the resolution’s implementation.  Stressing the need to include women at all levels of peace negotiations and conflict resolution, he said the promotion of women’s full participation in post-conflict and reconstruction processes was a political priority.  Member States could do more in supporting the system-wide implementation of the resolution.  The working group on peacekeeping operations should integrate a gender perspective into its work as a matter of priority.

MARTIN GARCIA MORITAN (Brazil) said that women’s struggle to secure their rights was of paramount importance to Brazil, which had acknowledged women’s special needs in certain circumstances and the duty of States to provide the necessary guarantees.  His country had also recognized the leadership role women must play in conflict prevention and resolution.  Resolution 1325 had provided the crucial impetus to step up work begun more than 30 years ago.  Since 2000, much had been done to make the concepts envisaged in 1325 a reality, but the remaining obstacles were numerous.  The issue discussed today could not merely be restricted to women as vulnerable individuals, but as actors in securing peace and in rebuilding.  The proliferation of civil conflicts in the past 15 years had affected women’s situation, as they had been confronted by both regular and irregular military forces, gender-based crimes, trafficking, and other human rights violations –- all used now as tools of war.  Those forms of violence had further inflamed wars and made them more difficult to resolve.

He said he welcomed the ongoing condemnation of such crimes by the main bodies of the United Nations; bringing those crimes to the light of day was essential to eliminating them.  The work of women’s groups had also contributed mightily to securing lasting peace in regions in turmoil.  He hoped the International Criminal Court would play an important role in prosecuting those accused of gender-based violence.  Building a rule of law required ensuring protection for women and girls in conflict situations and beyond.  The Women’s Convention had spelled out States’ obligations to guarantee gender equality, but that was not enough.  Women’s participation was crucial to rebuilding a nation.  Few women’s organizations were participating in peace operations or in the disarmament exercises.  An increasing number of women were registered to vote and to be candidates for key positions.  There was a clear advantage to ensuring that women and women’s groups participated in early warning systems, but such initiatives had not been used much yet.  Women could also organize refugee communities and help to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The international community should not forget the contributions that could be made by the United Nations towards protecting and empowering women, he said.  For their part, Member States must overcome the age-old mindset and include gender mainstreaming in conflict prevention and all post-conflict solutions.  Funds must also be made available to implement the relevant projects.  In that regard, he urged the donor community not to wait until a region was fully stabilized to implement such projects.  Meanwhile, he welcomed the inclusion of the gender perspective in all Council-mandated operations.

MIHNEA IOAN MOTOC (Romania) expressed concern over the extent to which trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation had developed in areas of the Balkans affected by civil war following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.  Every year, 200,000 women were trafficked throughout the Balkans, the majority of whom were forced into prostitution in areas where peacekeeping forces had been deployed.  That caused women in the region to suffer enormously and represented a threat to peace and security.  Governments contributing peacekeeping forces and civil society representatives were jointly responsible for ending the scourge.  Romania lauded the Secretary-General’s measures in that regard, including the development of training materials, a mechanism to field victims’ complaints and disciplinary directives for military and civilian police.

He said that the Balkans required more safeguards, and welcomed the decision adopted at the Istanbul North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit to adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual abuse of trafficking victims by NATO soldiers.  Coordination and partnership were critical in ensuring effective use of all resources to meet the requirements set out in resolution 1325 (2000).  In that regard, peacekeeping forces in Bosnia, Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia must work more closely with local authorities and police to combat trafficking.  Romania called for the training of troops on the issue of trafficking and mobilizing local and international organizations to protect and house victims.  Moreover, a comprehensive and confidential internal system was needed to monitor progress and report violations of the zero-tolerance policy.

ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that in many of the conflicts in the world today women had become the most direct and hardest hit of victims.  Providing protection for women in conflict and encouraging their enhanced role in conflict prevention had received broad consensus, and some progress had been achieved.  Much more needed to be done, however, to reach a common vision.  In that regard, he stressed the need to intensify efforts in the areas of conflict prevention and resolution.  Legal means also needed to be strengthened to punish sex offenders.  There was also a need to increase input for humanitarian assistance.  The international community should provide timely assistance to the victims of conflict and donor countries could contribute more resources.  It was also necessary to assist women in becoming fully involved in peace talks and ensure that peace agreements included women’s interests.  The role of women’s organizations also needed to BE supported.  He also stressed the need to increase women’s representation in peace-building.  In that regard, he said the Secretary-General might consider appointing more women as special representatives or at other high-level positions.

Protecting women’s rights and giving them a greater role in peace efforts required coordinated efforts by the international community, he said.  In that regard, Member States, international organizations and civil society should cooperate with each other to achieve maximum synergy.  The Council should step up efforts to diffuse and resolve conflicts and keep women out of harms way by removing the root causes.  The international community should provide timely help for countries in conflict.  An environment of peace and security could best protect women’s rights and allow them to play a more constructive role.

SERGEY KAREV (Russian Federation) said the issues before the Council today were being given increasingly wider attention throughout the United Nations system and that progress had been made to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in that area.  Despite that very intensive focus, however, considerable efforts were still needed to overcome the less-than-satisfactory picture.  The Secretary-General’s report had described in detail the steps taken to implement resolution 1325 (2000), and it contained many useful recommendations.  Unfortunately, many of them remained on paper, while others had been implemented only partially.  The Russian Federation welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to prepare a comprehensive strategy to focus on the Organization’s work in that respect, but cautioned against general stereotypical recommendations.  Also, preparing such an inclusive approach should not impede the search for solutions to specific problems in specific situations.

Agreeing with most speakers that women could play an important role in conflict prevention and settlement, he said he approved of the Secretary-General’s intention to develop related strategies.  In post-conflict recovery, broader use should be made of the Women’s Convention as a basic benchmark.  Much remained to be done in ensuring that systematic account was taken of the gender perspective in the planning and accountability phases.  Including the gender perspective in work on the ground should not simply be declaratory, but should yield real results in improving the situation of women and girls in post-conflict societies.  There was a need to combat gender-based violence, particularly in conflict, and to include women in peacekeeping and post-conflict settlement.  The issue should remain on the agenda of all United Nations’ bodies.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), speaking in his national capacity, stressed the need for resolution 1325 to be implemented at both the international and national levels.  The United Kingdom was examining how best to use the opportunity provided by its presidency of the Group of Eight and the European Union next year to ensure the wider implementation of the resolution, and it was also developing a government-wide action plan for its implementation.  His country’s Minister of Defence had launched action across the armed services to ensure that the resolution’s provisions were systematically implemented.  The Department of International Development was doing the same and had developed case studies in several countries.

National efforts, however, had to be complemented by actions overseas, he said.  In Afghanistan, the United Kingdom had encouraged the role of women in the recent election.  It was particularly encouraging that, in that election, women had represented over 40 per cent of the voter turnout.  His country had also held workshops in Baghdad and Basra on the role of women in democracy, and it had worked in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Timor-Leste.

He said it was equally important to recognize that supporting civil society was crucial for implementing the resolution.  That was why the United Kingdom was cooperating with NGOs in many areas and theatres of conflict.  He commended those civil society representatives in the room for their dedication and for their work in holding the Security Council to account.  It was important that the voices of civil society were heard in the Council, as it was the NGO community that bore witness at the heart of conflict.

The resolution called on all parties to armed conflict to take special measures to protect women, he said.  It was the role of all States to prosecute those responsible for war crimes.  The Council must assume responsibility for enforcing the provisions of the resolution, and all had to work harder to implement it.  Conflict often forced women into prostitution or sexual slavery as the only means to survive, and the Council had to create a post-conflict environment that created hope.  Women must never be allowed to be the victims of sexual abuse regardless of who was responsible for it.  United Nations personnel were the Organization’s representatives on the ground and embodied its determination to bring peace and justice.  If they abused their position of trust, they were abusing also the will of the international community.  He hoped that the adoption of the presidential statement would be the first step in addressing the challenges identified in the Secretary-General’s report.

MOBINA JAFFER (Canada) noted that gender-based violence, including sexual abuse and exploitation, had become alarmingly pervasive during conflict.  Hundreds of thousands of women and girls had been raped in situations of armed conflict, sexual exploitation was used as a tool of war in many countries, and domestic violence in conflict and post-conflict zones had dramatically increased.  The Security Council must work together with countries and governments to address such crimes.

Over the past 10 years, the international community had been developing international standards to combat violence against women, and building up existing humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, she said.  Those efforts had led to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which defined rape and other forms of violence against women as war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had subsequently ruled that creating an “atmosphere of sexual violence” through, for example, humiliating sexual threats, rape of young girls, and lending women out for rape and abuse was a crime.  As critical as norms and standards were, they must be matched by concerted efforts to ensure their implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Urging the Council to systematically condemn widespread instances of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict, she said it must ensure that a gender perspective was incorporated in peace-support mandates.  It must also ensure that its field missions included an assessment of sexual and gender-based violence in its terms of reference, and that it met with local women’s groups and networks to get their perspective.

DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), on behalf of the European Union, said that, despite significant achievements, major gaps and challenges remained in all areas of implementation.  Women’s participation in conflict prevention and peace process did not seem to be “taking off”.  Integration of the gender perspective in peace agreements must be improved.  Also, women’s representation in decision-making positions remained the exception rather than the rule.  Undoubtedly, awareness about the importance of adopting a gender perspective in peacekeeping had increased significantly following adoption of 1325.  Understanding of the subject had grown, and training at all levels, from troop contributors to Security Council members, had contributed to that cause.  Most recently, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had issued its Gender Resources Package, which was an impressive piece of work.  Most peacekeeping missions had appointed gender advisers, and 10 of 17 missions now had a full-time position.  That was valuable progress, but unless accountability was also demanded, such efforts would not bear maximum fruit.

He said that the Union hoped that a system-wide approach, which encompassed all United Nations bodies and included clear time-frames, would lead to accountability.  Resolution 1325 could not be dealt with in isolation, once a year.  Each report presented to the Council and each resolution adopted by it should contain a gender perspective.  In fact, it was essential that a gender perspective be incorporated from the earliest stages onwards, both at Headquarters and in the field, including in the planning of new operations.  Commitments must be met by adequate resources, for which performance indicators were valuable.  He called on the Council to consider how best to keep track of its own record in integrating resolution 1325 into its daily work, including through the possible designation of a focal point for monitoring implementation.  Regarding impunity, that should be a dead-end street.

The Union welcomed the fact that provisions sanctioning systematic and large-scale sexual and gender-based violence had been incorporated into the Rome Statute as war crimes and crimes against humanity, he said. It also wholeheartedly agreed with the Secretary-General that international and national courts should have adequate resources, access to gender expertise, gender training for all staff and gender-sensitive programmes for victim and witness protection.  Finally, the United Nations system, as well as troop-contributing countries, should be part of the solution, and not the problem.  Under no circumstances could gender-based violence be condoned in peacekeeping or other United Nations-led operations.  The development and follow-up of codes of conduct were also important.  The Union insisted on a zero tolerance response, by which it meant the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators.

JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said community organizations in Australia had held public seminars to make provisions of resolution 1325 well known.  For example, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom ran a government-funded web site that provided comprehensive information.  Australia’s aid programme provided training for the Australian Defence Force and military personnel from the Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, Australia was developing practical aid policy guidelines to encourage the role of women in peace-building and was incorporating resolution 1325’s concepts into development cooperation programmes.

In the Philippines, Australia was funding the implementation of a national survey on women’s participation in peace, governance and development, he continued.  It was also funding a conference of women from Mindanao, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan and the Solomon Islands to create awareness of the role of women in post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction.  The international community had also made progress regarding resolution 1325, he said, noting that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was the first treaty to recognize certain acts of sexual and gender violence as among the most serious crimes under international law.

PATRICIA OLAMENDI, Under-Secretary for Multilateral Affairs of Mexico, said the Council on crucial issues had adopted revolutionary resolutions.  Many countries had overcome war and hunger with the help of the Council’s focused efforts.  Today, the Council was celebrating the fourth anniversary of a historic decision to tackle the violence suffered by women as a result of armed conflict.  Unfortunately, despite the Council’s determination, there were still many obstacles to the resolution’s implementation and progress made in taking action set forth in the resolution remained limited.

The necessary tools to implement the resolution were at hand, she said.  Achieving the resolution’s objectives could not be achieved by working in an isolated and fragmented fashion.  A coordinated strategy was urgently needed.  The gender perspective must permeate each body of the organization.  That strategy must include internal reform, including the hiring of more women for key United Nations posts.  Another aspect of the resolution’s implementation was the establishment of follow-up machinery to assess progress achieved both internationally and nationally.  Adopting the right decisions was not enough.  They had to be implemented.  Women were increasingly the targets of war.  Accountability would not exist without the formulation and strict implementation of laws.  She welcomed the recognition in international law of gender-based violence as a crime against humanity.  The full implementation of the resolution did not reside in formulating laws, but in changing attitudes and mindsets.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) commended the important accomplishments achieved through implementation of 1325.  But, the shameful and terrible situation in which millions of victims of sexual violence found themselves was a long-term challenge requiring immediate attention and action at all levels.  Regrettably, no concrete advances had occurred with respect to the protection of women and girls in times of conflict, in terms of any form of violence, from trafficking and rape to murder.  International pressure should be imposed on those parties to armed conflicts that did not respect the relevant provisions of international law or international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s recommendations were an encouraging beginning.

He said that 1325 had not only included the situation of women in armed conflict, but also had clearly included dealing with women living under occupation.  The international community had undoubtedly followed the tragedy of Syrian and Palestinian women living under Israeli occupation.  Women in Syria participated in all aspects of decision-making and had occupied higher posts and participated in the electoral process, both as candidates and voters.  That stopped violations against them.  Because of the importance of the issue of women and armed conflict, a symposium had been held a few months ago in Beruit, Lebanon, on Arab women in conflict, which proffered recommendations for international consideration.  Resolution 1325 provided a solid political framework for dealing with gender-based violence in armed conflict and post-conflict, but political will and concrete measures should transform it from text to reality. 

NIRUPAM SEN (India) noted that some success had been achieved in areas such as gender mainstreaming in peacekeeping operations and training of peacekeepers on gender perspectives.  As one of the larger troop contributors to the United Nations, India had been conscious of the need to incorporate the essential elements of such a policy in pre-deployment training.  India had decided to deploy two women military observers to the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).  Some of the solutions offered by the Secretary-General, in particular the greater participation of women in conflict prevention, peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction, were germane to the issue.  Some solutions would need to emerge from the conflict-ridden societies themselves.  Others were more long term and structural, including expanded opportunities for education and productive employment.

While increasing the number of women in high-level decision-making positions was essential, attempts to artificially enhance the number of women in peace negotiations could not necessarily guarantee enduring results, he said.  Equal participation had to be a local initiative and any external attempt at influencing the situation otherwise had to be incremental for it to have a lasting effect.  It might be useful for the Secretary-General to consider making adequate provision of resources for the training of women from developing countries.  The need for specific allocation of resources for such training should be kept in mind.

He also agreed that the international community should send stronger signals to the parties to conflict that gender-based violence would be investigated and perpetrators prosecuted.  There should be zero tolerance for gender-based violence.  However, external attempts at imposing justice could only lead to further strife.  Condemning sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, he said the most stringent regulations were needed in dealing with such cases, even going beyond the Secretary-General’s bulletin.

XOLISA MABHONGO (South Africa) said that with the recognition that in today’s conflicts it was civilians, women and children that bore the brunt of gross abuses of human rights, the time had come for the international community to recognize women not solely as victims in conflicts, but to take note of their important role as key players in peace processes.  Given the central role they played in the social, political and economic development of societies, it was logical and morally right that the full realization of equal political and economic rights for women were treated as an essential component of the collective approach to preventing and resolving conflicts.  In most cases, however, women usually did not have access top resources, political rights, authority and control over their environment.

In that regard, South Africa believed resolution 1325 remained a landmark document in the provision of special measures to protect women and girls from violence and in calling for their full inclusion in international peace and security processes.  Additionally, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women provided the necessary guidelines to respond to the needs of women in a comprehensive manner.  In the African context, it had been realized that the exclusion of women from political and economic decision-making was a significant obstacle to the realization of sustainable peace, and the African Union had taken steps and adopted measures to address that problem.  South Africa was also making its contribution to support those efforts, he noted, citing his country’s hosting recently of a group of women from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi to share experiences with their South African counterparts, who, despite being the most vulnerable, managed to make their voices heard during its political transition.  The success of the South African political transition was in no small measure a result of the pivotal role played by women.

Even though the international community had now put in place a number of steps to address the question of gender mainstreaming, more work needed to be done to ensure that all obstacles to women’s equality were eliminated.  He believed that the full implementation of resolution 1325 needed the resolve of Member States, and it was also crucial that partnerships were formed with civil society to promote women’s rights and participation in peace processes.  Gender experts and expertise needed to be included at all levels and aspects of peace operations.  Stating that women were victims of unbelievable atrocities and injustices in conflict situations, he pointed out that more efforts were needed in the monitoring and reporting of atrocities, and such efforts had to be complemented by practical measures to end impunity and to bring those responsible for abhorrent crimes against women and girls to justice.

He was of the view that the establishment of the International Criminal Court had strengthened the international legal framework in addressing those crimes against women and held promise for meaningful accountability for gender-based crimes against women during armed conflict.  However, he also believed that for those measures to succeed, adequate resources, gender expertise and training for all staff, as well as gender-sensitive programmes for victims and witness protection, was required.

IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that entire communities suffered the consequences of armed conflict, but the worst sufferers were often women and girls.  Bangladesh’s cultural matrix gave high priority to women’s issues, in a tradition that had pervaded most of the country’s contemporary history.  Two endeavours that had borne fruit were micro-credit programmes and non-formal education.  His country had learned that gender mainstreaming helped to marginalize extremist thought and action, and encouraged societal behaviour patterns that were more value-laden and less violent.  That was perhaps why no cases had connected international terrorism to Bangladeshi soil.

He said that resolution 1325 was a vital text, which set crucial norms.  Its adoption was a landmark event.  In partnership with the delegation of the United Kingdom, Bangladesh had sponsored another resolution in the Commission on the Status of Women on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all the policies and programmes of the United Nations system.  Despite their different development levels, those two delegations had collaborated on that text to make a point:  gender mainstreaming was of universal value and was as much a concern of the developing world as of the developed.  Investment in women in Bangladesh had contributed enormously to creating standards of pluralism, democracy and human rights.  Those ideals were essential components of sustainable peace.  Bangladesh made consistently large contributions to peace operations and those peacekeepers carried with them those ideals to conflict-ridden places and distant parts.  Still, the promotion and protection of the human rights of women and girls worldwide in armed conflict remained a pressing challenge, requiring a sustained commitment.

When the debate resumed this afternoon, AGATHE RWANKUBA, of the organisation Reseau des Femmes pour la Defense des Droits et la Paix, offered specific recommendations to help the Council in its efforts to eradicate sexual violence against women.  In the eastern portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, some 37,000 women and girls had been raped since the start of the war in 1996.  In that light, she thanked the Council and the United Kingdom delegation for convening today’s discussion.  She urged the expansion of the human rights section of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), so that it could have a true partnership with women’s groups, such as her own.  She welcomed the Council’s expansion of MONUC under resolution 1565 (2004).  Despite that fact that MONUC, since December 2002, had been working with several key women’s organizations to help victims of violence to regain their rights, she said that MONUC had no access to those women in the most backward, rural regions, owing to insufficient resources.  Her own organization had never even met the staff of the Mission’s gender section.

She said she endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Organization should pressure the parties to armed conflict to put an end to all human rights-based violations.  Despite the end of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, some local militias and foreign groups were continuing to sow terror.  The fact that the Council had decided to strengthen the number of Blue Helmets in her country had given her and the women with whom she worked enormous hope.  She hoped that that increase would help strengthen security, restore peace to the region, and prevent further crimes.  Yet, given the scope of the territory of her country, the number of Blue Helmets remained inadequate.  Another alarming problem in her country was the fact that some groups continued to hold girl soldiers as sex slaves.

She urged the Security Council to provide MONUC’s human rights section with the necessary resources to see to it that proper data was collected on those girl soldiers and that their repatriation was mobilized.

NOELEEN HEYZER, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), said that in times of conflict, violence against women became a means for the wholesale destruction of communities and peoples.  The international community was now fully aware that rape and other forms of violence against women were systematically deployed as a weapon of war.  Impunity for gender crimes continued to prevail in post-conflict societies and would likely never be completely eliminated, given the shortcomings of international and national justice in dealing with sexual crimes.  Justice and accountability were critical to the healing process.

Gender-based violence in times of conflict was part of the continuum of violence that ran through women’s lives, from times of peace to times of war.  It only deepened with war.  The good news was that much was now known about effective measures to eliminate violence against women.  Great strides had been made in setting normative standards and legal frameworks.  The challenge now was to ensure the implementation of good laws that many countries had already developed.

The root causes of violence must be addressed by enforcing women’s rights, she said.  Gender justice required the integration of gender perspectives within every dimension of justice and women’s participation in shaping justice frameworks and rule of law institutions in ways that promoted their human rights.  The opportunity that post-conflict reconstruction presented for establishing the rule of law for women must never be overlooked.  The real cure for violence against women lied in constitutions with strong and clear guarantees of gender equality.  “We are at a historical crossroad where the rule of law and the opportunity now exists to make women and the gender equality perspective central to peace and reconstruction processes”, she said.

While much had been achieved since the adoption of resolution 1325, much remained to be done, she continued.  She said women’s participation and the incorporation of gender dimensions must be increased in all stages of the conceptualization, planning and implementation of United Nations peace operations.  United Nations peacekeeping and humanitarian personnel had a special obligation not to violate the trust that women and girls placed in them.  Resolution 1325 was a good example of how women had been able to bring issues of protection, their role in peace-building and reconstruction to the Council’s attention.  Women from war-torn societies were waiting for the Organization to fully address the recommendations of resolution 1325.

KIM SAM-HOON (Republic of Korea) said women and girls suffered at a level wholly disproportionate to their involvement in a conflict. Gender-based violence, including rape, sexual slavery and other forms of abuse, had been a particularly shameful aspect of warfare in many conflicts around the world.  The consequences had been tragic for millions of women and girls and their families, communities and societies.  Unfortunately, the international community had not yet been able to prevent acts of violence against women during armed conflict.

He stressed that Member States must send stronger signals to parties in armed conflicts that violation of women’s rights and gender-based violence would be met with severe punishment.  They must vigorously pursue and prosecute those who committed such criminal acts, and strengthen tribunals and other mechanisms set up to prosecute them.  The best way to prevent gender-based violence during wartime was to send a clear signal to would-be perpetrators that their crimes would be punished.  Countries emerging from conflict must develop a domestic legal system that provided effective ways of bringing the perpetrators of gender-based crimes to justice.

CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO (El Salvador) said her Government was concerned that civilians, particularly women, children and the elderly, continued to suffer the devastating consequences of armed conflict, with its lasting effect on peace and reconciliation.  She would pass on some lessons learned in El Salvador.  Women were a keystone in maintaining family cohesion and seeing clearly the priorities to be given to children.  Women also “created space” for dialogue, and could detect more clearly the possible areas of intolerance in society.  For those reasons and more, women should be able to participate fully and on an equal footing in all institutions aimed at promoting peace and security.  A precondition to nation-building was to promote and bolster women’s participation in decision-making processes aimed at conflict prevention and settlement.  They, therefore, needed to have access to channels of information to enable them to detect possible areas of potential violence and defuse areas of tension. 

She said that, if peace were to be genuine, women must continue to benefit from the peace dividend.  She had welcomed the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), in particular the decision to provide all peacekeeping personnel with specialized training in the area of considering the special needs of women, children and the elderly in conflict situations.  She urged the Council to draw on the accumulated experience and specialized expertise of the relevant institutions of the United Nations, particularly the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), as well as on the successful experiences of a number of Member States.  The Secretary-General should continue his efforts to broaden the role of women in United Nations operations, both on the ground and at Headquarters.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said there was ample evidence that effective peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building would greatly benefit from the active participation of women.  Shifting the perception of women as victims to women as participants was, therefore, at the core of change in the field of women, peace and security.  In that regard, the Organization should lead by example by having women in the posts of special envoys and special representatives, as well as in other senior operational position.  It was important to mainstream the concerns contained in resolution 1325 into the daily work of the Council.  He supported the European Union’s proposal to designate a focal point for monitoring implementation in that regard.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court criminalized gender-based and sexual violence as war crimes and crimes against humanity, he said.  In spite of that and other developments, there was still a risk that gender-based and sexual violence was neglected in proceedings before courts.  It was, therefore, important to repeat, time and again, the message that sexual violence would not go unpunished.  In order to prevent gender-based violence in armed conflict, the vigorous promotion and protection of human rights must hold centre stage.  To effectively prevent or fight the excesses of gender-based violence in armed conflict, gender-based discrimination and violence must also be addressed at a much earlier stage.  Gender-based violence in United Nations operations must never be condoned.  He welcomed, therefore, all efforts aimed at preventing such acts.

HJALMAR W. HANNESSON (Iceland) said resolution 1325 had proven to be an important milestone for the direct involvement of women in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building.  Women had an important role to play in the establishment and maintenance of peace and security in conflict regions.  While the international community had taken important steps to implement the resolution, major gaps and challenges still remained in all areas, including in respect to women’s participation in conflict prevention and peace processes.  Armed conflict had a severe impact and widespread repercussions on people and their society in general.  Women and girls became especially vulnerable as the infrastructure disintegrated during the conflict period.

He said it was regrettable that the international community had not been able to prevent acts of violence against women from occurring during armed conflict.  Early-warning mechanisms had a crucial role to play in responding to gender-based violence and to prevent its recurrence.  Such monitoring efforts must then be complemented by practical measures to end impunity.  His Government found it deeply disturbing that alleged sexual exploitation and sexual abuse committed by United Nations personnel had been reported.  The United Nations must do its utmost to root out any signs of such violence.

CHEICK SIDI DIARRA (Mali) said that the measures adopted for the past four years in the Council to govern the relationship between women, peace and security had been part of a more comprehensive strategy, whose goal was to allow women to take their rightful place in society.  Recent experience had shown that, in conflict situations, women and young girls were most often the targets of gender-based violence.  Enrolling women in the armed forces was a widespread practice and, despite the Women’s Convention, so was discrimination against them.  Since adoption of resolution 1325, the text had been translated into 60 languages, which had shown the importance of the subject and the interest it had generated.  Its implementation had gotten under way in Member States, the United Nations system, regional organizations and civil society. That implementation, first and foremost, involved conflict prevention and early warning.

He said it was necessary to strengthen both the capacity and role of women in decision-making processes.  Towards that goal, reliable indicators were gradually being detected.  Initiatives for settling crises should involve women in all spheres –- humanitarian, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction.  A timetable should be put in place to see to it that gender parity became an integral part of all peace operations.  He had been pleased that that was gradually occurring within United Nations operations.  The Rome Statute had further strengthened the international legal arsenal for punishing rape and other gender crimes as war crimes and crimes against humanity.  A movement was emerging within the African Union to advance and protect women’s rights, and a campaign was being launched across the continent to combat violence against women.

TOSHIRO OZAWA (Japan) said the manner in which women were often obliged to live during armed conflict was a moral outrage.  While they were usually neither the initiators of conflict nor the wagers of war, women were often specifically targeted.  That situation should in no way be tolerated.  The international community could do much more to address the problem in post-conflict situations rather than during the conflict.  The post-conflict situation opened up real opportunities to remove threats to women’s dignity.  Empowering women was one of the most effective means for peace-building in post-conflict situations.  Women themselves had an important role to play in conflict prevention, as they were known to play critical roles in building communities to prevent new or recurrent violence.

The recognition that women played important roles in peace-building must be followed up with action on the ground, he said.  Women needed assistance in order for them to play larger roles in their communities.  In that regard, he referred to the concept of human security which was, in essence, the protection and empowerment of ordinary individuals.  The promotion of human security was now one of the major pillars of Japan’s foreign policy.  In the four years since the adoption of resolution 1325, there had been a positive shift in international understanding of the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, as well as of the importance of their participation in all areas related to peace and security.  The importance of partnership between men and women in the peace-building and reconstruction process now enjoyed wider recognition.  The real test of the adequacy of efforts, however, was measured by their impact on the ground.

JOYCE KAFANABO (United Republic of Tanzania) urged the United Nations system to cooperate closely with regional organizations and to increase their capacity-building so as to close the wide gaps remaining in the implementation of resolution 1325.  She said challenges remained in all areas, particularly in relation to women’s participation in conflict prevention and peace processes; integration of gender perspectives into peace agreements; attention to contributions and needs of women in humanitarian and reconstruction processes; representation of women in decision-making positions and failure to provide protection to women in conflict, as well as peacekeeping situations.

To recognize the role of women in peace, she said the Great Lakes process had afforded women the opportunity to discuss their contributions, first at the national level through conferences with a broad number of stakeholders.  A regional meeting just concluded at Kigali had produced a declaration that would be read to heads of States when they met in the United Republic of Tanzania in November.  The UNIFEM had facilitated the meetings.  Finally, any discussion of women regarding peace and security must take into consideration the well known impact of HIV/AIDS on women in conflict situations and in peacekeeping.

U KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) commended the efforts of the Secretary-General and United Nations entities to broadly disseminate resolution 1325.  It was necessary to understand the root cause of conflicts and the dynamics that perpetuated them so that they could be seriously addressed in efforts to prevent or end conflict.  Resolution 1325 called on all actors to ensure the full participation of women in peace processes and to adopt gender perspectives when negotiating peace agreements.  His country knew too well that it took many factors to bring about peace and security.

The most effective means for protecting civilians was ending conflict through peaceful solutions, he said.  Myanmar had embarked on a historical path by convening the National Convention, which brought together delegates from all strata of society and representatives of the 17 major armed ethnic groups.  Many women delegates were taking part in the historic process that would bring about lasting peace, stability, development and democracy for all peoples of Myanmar.  The goals set in resolution 1325 required political will and concerted action on the part of the international community.

MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said women and children were the prime targets during conflict situations and made up a vast majority of refugees and displaced persons.  Despite the disproportionate impact of conflict on women, however, they continued to hold their families and communities together and often undertook initiatives across warring factions under extremely difficult conditions.  In some cases, they managed to bring their experiences into formal peace processes.  However, those efforts were insufficiently recognized and supported, both politically and financially.  As a result, women’s rights were rarely integrated in peace agreements and in the structures supporting post-conflict reconstruction.

It should be recognized that when women’s strengths were not built upon, the peace process suffered, he said.  Without women’s equal participation and full involvement in peace processes, justice and development could not be attained, nor would women be protected from the violence and suffering unleashed during conflict.  He was encouraged that women were gradually finding a place at the negotiating table, in the implementation of peace agreements, and in post-conflict rehabilitation, reconstruction and disarmament.

He said Namibia had a special attachment to the successful implementation of resolution 1325 and was committed to it.  As a troop-contributing country, Namibia had incorporated a gender perspective and HIV and AIDS awareness in its training manuals for all its uniformed personnel and was committed to ensure that women were part of the Namibian contingents participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations.  His delegation welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to develop a comprehensive system-wide strategy and action plan for increasing attention to a gender perspective in conflict prevention.

ANDERS LIDÉN (Sweden) said his country aligned itself with the statement made by the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, saying the debate was timely and necessary.  States must ensure that women, on equal terms with men, had the opportunity to participate in all decision-making processes.  Their capacity, experiences and influence were essential for equitable and sustainable solutions to armed conflict, for prevention of new conflicts, for the respect of human rights and for long-term development.  He welcomed the recommendations put forward by the Secretary-General and called for their urgent implementation and adequate financing.

He said the Secretary-General could consider instructing United Nations mediators or facilitators to promote the inclusion of women in peace processes and transitional decision-making.  A specific target of at least 30 per cent women could be set where appropriate.  Efforts must also be redoubled for the protection and security of women and girls from gender-based violence and to end impunity.  Every effort should be made to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including sexual violence.

He said abused women must have the opportunity to interact with female members of peacekeeping missions, but the ratio of women in such missions was still very low.  One possible idea was to include civilian observers in military observer teams.  Civilian observers could facilitate a better gender balance and would also diversify the competence of the team.  Accountability was lacking, and resolution 1325 must be implemented in a systematic way.  He suggested the development of a comprehensive United Nations action plan, with specific timelines, resource implications and clear targets and responsibilities.  Member States must take responsibility.

SELWYN HEATON (New Zealand) said increasing women’s representation in United Nations operations and decision-making was vital in addressing violence against women and girls in armed conflict.  The Council must focus on gender dimensions of conflict in every case before it, and inject a clear gender perspective into all facets of peacekeeping operations.  In accomplishing that, the Council and MemberStates must provide adequate resources, and ensure that peacekeeping recruitment included women at all levels.

The Council must recognize women’s roles as peacemakers and active participants in resolving conflict and building peace at all levels, he said.  Stressing that impunity for gender-based violence could not be accepted, he said the international legal framework that addressed gender-based violence in armed conflict must be respected.  The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which specifically defined rape and other forms of violence against women as war crimes and crimes against humanity, was important in that regard.

FILIMONE KAU (Fiji) said that the necessary groundwork for launching national policies and strategies in line with resolution 1325 had been greatly boosted by the support of UNIFEM and other actors, including civil society groups.  Those had been effective stabilizers and mediators in conflict prevention, and they had also been very active players in recent post-conflict peace-building and reconciliation processes.

He said his country had been a staunch supporter and consistent contributor to international peacekeeping and, as such, had introduced specific measures to ensure the expansion of women’s role in peacekeeping.  Despite the difficulty in overcoming cultural and traditional barriers, recent deployments had involved the successful integration of women into the various specialized duties, including as guards.  The military and police departments, together with other relevant bodies, were working together on coherent strategies to mainstream gender in peace operations.  The Fiji peacekeeping deployment to Iraq would include six women who had been given specific training in searching and counselling.  That also illustrated Fiji’s view that women could be as good as men in all areas, if given the opportunity.  He agreed with the Secretary-General’s call for more efforts towards the capacity-building and training of women, which must also target boys and men at all levels of government and the community.  Cooperation between developed and developing countries was vital to securing resources and expertise.

CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina) urged parties in armed conflicts to adopt special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence arising from conflict situations.  Argentina expressed its support for the implementation of a system to prevent sexual violence and the exploitation and trafficking in women and girls, including appropriate reporting mechanisms that would protect the identity of informants.  He also emphasized the need for a gender component in all field operations.  Conflict not only affected women but also future generations, resulting in a worst-case scenario for the moral, political and socio-economic survival of communities.

He said Argentina would continue to support the Council’s initiatives to address the needs of women affected by armed conflicts.  Women had an important role to play in conflict prevention and in the consolidation of peace.  He urged the Secretary-General to appoint women as special representatives, special envoys and spokespersons.  His country supported women’s participation in peace agreements and reconstruction process.  Four years after the adoption of resolution 1325, important efforts had been made to incorporate a new gender perspective in programmes and polices.  In spite of progress made, much remained to be done.  Only clear commitment and sustained political will would guarantee the resolution’s implementation.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations, in particular the intention to develop a strategy and global action plan to implement resolution 1325 by establishing a systematic evaluation mechanism.  Protecting women meant protecting the future.

JORGE SKINNER-KLEE (Guatemala) said it was up to Guatemalans to continue to build a more just society, one that would overcome the exclusion, marginalization and discrimination that had affected not only the nation’s indigenous peoples but also, in particular, women.  Given its painful experience and having emerged from armed conflict, his nation was convinced of the need to enhance the presence of women in decision-making processes and of the value of their contribution to peace and security.  A woman who was educated and free from subjugation was the best guarantee for the achievement of sustainable development and peaceful and harmonious social coexistence.

He urged the Security Council to establish and promote strategies and programmes for preventing gender-based violence.  He also supported arrangements for the protection of victims and witnesses that were capable of promoting the filing of charges in connection with offences of those types.  In that regard, the public prosecutor’s office in Guatemala had a department charged with attending to victims whose role was to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.  He called for greater coordination between MemberStates, United Nations entities, and agents of civil society to incorporate the gender perspective.  Lastly, he said the prevention of conflicts, the planning of peacekeeping operations and post-conflict reconstruction could not be successful in the absence of full participation of women.

WEGGER STRØMMEN (Norway) said the Council’s monitoring of the resolution’s implementation was an effective and important way of keeping the international community’s attention focused on gender perspectives and on women’s role in the area of peace and security.  As of June 2004, women constituted 1 per cent of military personnel and 5 per cent of civilian personnel assigned by Member States to serve in United Nations peacekeeping operations.  Such low figures indicated that Member States had to do more to recruit women to national services in order for them to gain relevant work experience for international service.  Norway welcomed the efforts by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to encourage female candidates to apply for such operations.  He strongly supported the decision to establish a gender focal point.

He said he responsibility for mainstreaming the gender perspective rested with the leadership, from the Council to commanders in the field.  Member States, together with the United Nations, should put even more effort into giving women a role in formal decision-making.  It was vital to work in partnerships and enhance coordination, in order to facilitate the resolution’s implementation at all levels.  Women’s groups and networks at the local level were crucial.  As the real test of implementation would take place on the ground, he was pleased to see that many parts of the United Nations system were participating in the resolution’s implementation.  Their ability to find practical solutions and to cooperate was critical for achieving results.

ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY (Indonesia) said operating on the principle that women should enjoy equality in all spheres of society, her country supported gender mainstreaming into the peacekeeping and peace-building work of the United Nations system.  The Interagency Network on Women and Gender Equality, established under the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Women, Peace and Security, should reinforce efforts to ensure collaboration and coordination throughout the United Nations system.  Even though there was a widespread recognition of the valuable role women could play in peace processes, their participation therein was unfortunately slow in coming.  While condemning the use of sexual violence as a weapon of warfare, she said that categorizing such acts as crimes against humanity deserved further and careful consideration.

It was imperative that peacekeepers and civilian police not contribute to the further suffering of women in situations of conflict, she said.  It was, therefore, necessary that all peacekeepers be exposed to gender-sensitivity training programmes.  They should also benefit from AIDS-awareness programmes.  To win the peace and keep it, women must be made parties to peace negotiations, and they should also be able to exercise their political rights in post-conflict societies.  There must be a systematic incorporation of gender perspectives in the planning, implementation and monitoring of all reconstruction programmes and budgets.

She said there was a need for further deliberation prior to implementation of the recommendations.  Proposed changes must be carried out throughout the United Nations system.  Otherwise, there was the risk that the resolution’s author, the Council, would be used exclusively to decide on the issues, depriving many developing countries of the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.

DENISE VARGAS (Honduras) said women who survived war also faced difficult futures, including the burden of supporting a family in an often-savage world.  One could not speak of peace without action to tackle the terrible injustices arising from war.  While international awareness existed, women did not yet play an influential role in peace negotiations and in the development of policies and programmes.  Nor did they play an active role in the decisions of their own families.  Change first needed to be made in the home.  In order for women to play a key and equal part in peace processes, relationships between men and women needed to be improved on every level.

Women were familiar with the brutality of war, she said, noting that they could bring a valuable dedication and capacity to the negotiating table in the quest for global security.  Without giving them an opportunity to participate, peace would be long in coming.  Women needed to be judges, politicians and business leaders, and they must be present at every stage of decision-making to promote democracy, peace and justice.  Women’s participation in peace processes would positively impact global development.

JUDITH MBULA BAHEMUKA (Kenya) welcomed the framework of model provisions on promoting gender equality and the set of standards for mediators, facilitators and funding entities in peace negotiations that the Division for the Advancement of Women had developed.  The said guidelines were an invaluable tool to facilitating the peace negotiations in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions, where her country played a central role.  Further, she said the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had made important strides in promoting gender balance among personnel.  The current approach of multidimensional operations such as in Sierra Leone had proved effective in focusing on gender issues.  The inclusion of full time gender advisers was also useful.  Gender balance was far from attained, but steps were in the right direction.  To get there, peacekeeping organizers should redouble their efforts in developing and disseminating guidelines, especially to troop contributors.

Continuing, she noted the increased attention to the role of women in post-conflict rebuilding, particularly in the judicial, legislative and electoral sectors, and in restoring the rule of law along with transitional justice.  However, to be effective in that area, women needed considerable support and capacity-building in the new democratic and legal structures traditionally dominated by men.  Finally, the perpetrators of violence against women in conflict situations must be brought to justice; the two Tribunals in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia were commendable for ending impunity to gender-based crimes.

AMINU BASHIR WALI (Nigeria) noted that in conflict situations, women and children constituted the vast majority of civilian casualties.  Many women and children suffered forcible displacement, injuries and death.  They also suffered greater difficulties in making a living during and after conflict.  Reiterating his delegation’s full support for the resolution, he commended the mainstreaming of gender perspective into peacekeeping operations.  In the last decade, the international legal framework had recognized the need to address some of the particular crimes and indignity suffered by women and girls in armed conflict, including rape, enforced prostitution and enslavement.  The international community could not afford to ignore the exposure of women and children to the dangers of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.  The plight of women was particularly exacerbated in situations where conflicts had destroyed the health-care infrastructure necessary for prevention and cure.

Lasting peace could not be established without the participation of women and children in both formal and informal peace processes, he said.  The international community should, therefore, ensure that all peace accords addressed the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, their contribution to peace processes and their needs and priorities in the aftermath of conflict.

Noting that the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues was not adequately staffed and funded, he said the fact that the Office was funded through voluntary contributions had limited its financial capacity and, therefore, its ability to perform.  In that regard, he called for better funding from the regular budget to enable the Office to fully implement humanitarian and human rights laws that protected the rights of women and girls during and after conflicts.  He also urged that a gender-training module be implemented.  Welcoming the effort of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in developing a gender and peacekeeping training package, he called on the Department to set up a mechanism for the sharing of best practices with troop-contributing countries on strategies for the recruitment of women.  He called also for an increase in the number of female experts in peacekeeping operations.

WINSTON COX, Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, explained that the Commonwealth was an intergovernmental organization of 53 States representing a third of the world’s population.  Member States worked together to promote peace, democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and to fight poverty through economic and social development.  Using the Secretary-General’s good offices, the Commonwealth had contributed to the stability of, and facilitated political processes in, countries such as Cameroon, Fiji, Gambia, Guyana, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Swaziland, and the United Republic of Tanzania.  Building on initiatives with the Commonwealth, and taking into consideration recent global developments, the Commonwealth Ministers for Women and Gender Affairs adopted a 10-year action plan (2005-2015) last May, which focused on the impact of conflict and the importance of peace-building globally.

He said that, despite current challenges emerging from armed conflicts in which women and children everywhere remained deliberate targets, women in the Commonwealth and beyond had played a crucial role in maintaining and rebuilding the social fabric during and in the aftermath of conflicts.  In order to ensure that women played their rightful role in conflict resolution, the Commonwealth Secretariat had developed an integrated approach involving men, women, and young persons in promoting a culture of peace, resolving conflicts and increasing women’s representation and participation at all levels of peace-building processes.  The Commonwealth’s challenge was to strengthen its support for, and deepen its partnerships with, member nations and other stakeholders to help prevent and revolve conflicts before those translated into loss of lives and livelihoods.  Only through education in support of peace could conflicts be prevented and their harmful effects on women be avoided.

CARMEN MORENO, Director of the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), said that as the international community was defining security in the twenty-first century, women’s contributions and gender considerations were now, thanks to resolution 1325, an integral part of the process.  The INSTRAW had this year launched a profound restructuring.  The Executive Board had approved a strategic framework and programme of work for 2005.  As gender-based violence was the largest threat to women’s security in conflict and post-conflict situations, the need to fully implement international humanitarian and human rights law to ensure the protection of women and girls was crucial.

Zero tolerance for rape, beatings, assault, harassment, and sexual violence in times of armed conflict was crucial, he said.  Regional and national action plans, legal provision and law enforcement capacities must be strengthened.  Realizing the need for collective responsibility, and raising the level of political will, cooperation and coordination were essential.  Further contributing to the implementation of resolution 1325, INSTRAW was launching research and capacity-building activities in areas such as gender and security sector reform.  It was also contributing to the design of capacity-building to facilitate women’s participation in peace-building activities in Haiti.  The INSTRAW would continue to contribute within its mandate to the implementation of resolution 1325.

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For information media. Not an official record.