‘Wherever There Is Conflict, Women Must Be Part of the Solution,’ Security Council Told in Day-Long Debate Urging Their Inclusion in Restoring Fractured Societies
‘Wherever There Is Conflict, Women Must Be Part of the Solution,’ Security Council Told in Day-Long Debate Urging Their Inclusion in Restoring Fractured Societies
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6877th Meeting (AM)
‘Wherever There Is Conflict, Women Must Be Part of the Solution,’ Security Council
Told in Day-Long Debate Urging Their Inclusion in Restoring Fractured Societies
Deputy Secretary-General, Heads of UN-Women, Peacekeeping Operations Speak
With women caught in the crossfire in Mali, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other conflict-affected countries, the world must ramp up support and efforts to ensure their vital voices were heard, heeded and included in peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and beyond, top United Nations officials told the Security Council today during a day-long debate on women and peace and security.
“Wherever there is conflict, women must be part of the solution,” said Under-Secretary-General Michelle Bachelet, the Head of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of women (UN-Women). Drawing attention to the Secretary-General’s latest report on the subject, which culminated in a presidential statement by the Council on 31 October (see Press Release SC/10803), she said strong determination must make a priority of preventing gender-based violence in conflict, of investigating and prosecuting abuses and of insisting on including women in peace negotiations.
“This determination is not a matter of simply going through the motions,” she said. “It is about going the extra mile. UN-Women and our partners in the United Nations system and civil society are here to go that extra mile.”
Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, who delivered the remarks of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his own comments, shared the words of women met on a recent trip to northern Mali, where extremist groups were implementing strict sharia. The women had provided disturbing accounts of the abuses, including rape, which they faced.
Yet, despite being the primary victims of a combined security, political and humanitarian crisis, women remained excluded from the various bodies seeking a solution, he said, stressing the need for early and sustained engagement with women, as a priority and not an afterthought.
“Decisions made around this table can tangibly affect the lives of women and girls,” he said. “It is time for us to finally to recognize the role and power of women to help us build a peaceful world.”
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous said that women remained largely absent from or played symbolic roles in formal peace processes. That reality was evident after the recent massive non-violent protest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, following the fall of Goma. While women protestors had been received by the senior management of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in that country (MONUSCO), they had not been given any political leverage in the regional peace negotiations.
“The critical key to removing the obstacles that impede women’s full participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding is the active, systematic consultation with local actors and leaders, including women’s civil society organizations,” he said. “This is the only way to develop effective, context-specific and gender-aware solutions.”
A member of one such civil society organization, Bineta Diop, President of Femmes Africa Solidarité, speaking on behalf of the Non-Governmental Organization Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, called urgently for peace, security and humanitarian assistance. Conveying messages from associations in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said rebel groups there had left a trail of killing, rape and widespread violence against women and girls.
“Together, we have innovative ideas, solutions and means. What are we waiting for?” she asked. Despite much rhetoric and many commitments, the inclusion of women and gender expertise in designing and fulfilling peace accords was unacceptably low. That was why she was calling on the international community to engage women’s groups as key partners in national and regional action plans to implement Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women and peace and security, and on Council members to act as role models.
When the floor was opened, the more than 60 speakers agreed with the main finding of the Secretary-General’s report: while some efforts had been made, more must be done. Echoing a commonly held view, Morocco’s representative said the political will to translate resolutions into concrete actions was needed. Real peace required political, economic and social structures that were inclusive, and women’s groups were the engine to establish those institutions, he said.
Indeed, peace was inextricably linked with equality between women and men, said Botswana’s representative. As such, gender equality should be recognized as a core issue in the maintenance of peace and security. Women’s civil society organizations had an important contribution to make as demonstrated by their successful involvement in conflict resolution and peacebuilding in Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste.
Several speakers highlighted national achievements. Afghanistan’s representative said that, with resolution 1325 (2000) in mind, women currently were playing an important role in reconciliation efforts, participating in the High Peace Council and now made up one quarter of parliamentarians. He also pointed to an impressive increase in girls’ enrolment in schools from 5,000 in 2001 to 2.7 million in 2011.
Some delegates offered suggestions to the many expressions of concern about continued reports of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations. Guatemala’s representative said, because violence against women, in both times of conflict and peace, was frequently rooted in their dependence on those that harmed them, States and civil societies should offer women greater economic independence and opportunities.
Recommendations were made on a range of issues. The Head of the European Union’s Delegation noted that periods of transition offered a unique window to break the cycle of women’s marginalization and to make significant gains in women’s inclusion. In that regard, he called for addressing factors that discouraged women’s candidacy and for supporting their equal electoral participation, as well as the engagement of women leaders and organizations during the peace process.
Warning of duplicating efforts, however, the representative of the Russian Federation cautioned that the critical role of protecting women belonged at the national level, with the international community providing support for such endeavours. In addition, it was important to adhere to existing structures within the United Nations, he said, adding that the Council must consider women’s issues only if they were solely linked to maintaining peace and security and regarding situations included on its agenda.
Generally, calls to action prevailed throughout the day and, summing up that recurring sentiment, Portugal’s representative said, “We must go the extra mile. Let’s do it.”
Also delivering statements were the representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, South Africa, France, Germany, Togo, Pakistan, Colombia, China, Azerbaijan, India, Egypt, Liechtenstein, Italy, Estonia, Israel, Thailand, Armenia, Mexico, Switzerland, Argentina, Canada, Austria, Luxembourg, Brazil, Spain, Chile, Republic of Korea, Bangladesh, Croatia, Slovenia, Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic countries), New Zealand, Lithuania, Latvia, Japan, Syria, Netherlands, Ireland, Fiji, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago and Australia.
The representative of the Secretary-General for Women, Peace and Security of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) also spoke.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 4:46 p.m.
JAN ELIASSON, Deputy Secretary-General, delivering the remarks of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with his own comments, said a recent trip to Mali made him promise to convey to the Council the concerns of the women he met. They had provided disturbing accounts of the abuses women faced in the northern part of the country. Sexual violence against women was widespread and he had met women who had been raped. Despite being the primary victims of a combined security, political and humanitarian crisis, women remained excluded from the various bodies seeking a solution. Extremist groups had begun to implement strict sharia in northern Mali, and women’s rights were being dramatically curtailed.
But, women in Mali and across West Africa were strong and resilient, he said. They had already demonstrated their ability, if given a chance, to bring about peace, reconciliation and development. “We must empower and assist them further,” he said. As the case of Mali underlined, armed conflict affected women and men differently, and that meant that women had to be part of the solution. Early and sustained engagement with women was vital and needed to be a priority and not an afterthought.
The United Nations system was committed to strengthening the rule of law, during and after a conflict, when it was most needed and least accessible. The declaration adopted in the General Assembly on 24 September had given new impetus to rule of law initiatives, he said.
“Decisions made around this table can tangibly affect the lives of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations,” he said. However, the global community must ensure that those issues are not addressed just one a year. He welcomed the renewal of the invitation to the Executive Director of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) to provide periodic briefings outside the annual cycle. “Finally, engaging women and promoting gender equality as part of our work for peace and security is a daily responsibility and an unfinished mission for all of us,” he said. “It is time for us to finally recognize the role and power of women to help us build a peaceful world.”
MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN-Women Executive Director, said the very origin of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) lay in the courage, leadership and accomplishments of women’s civil society organizations that promoted peace under what were often unimaginably difficult circumstances. For instance, women’s groups in Mali, she said, were contributing to non-violent solutions to the crisis in that country to call on armed group leaders to participate in peace dialogues.
“Wherever there is conflict, whether in Mali, Syria, the Middle East or eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, women must be part of the solution,” she said, referring to the Secretary-General’s latest report (see Press Release SC/10803). Highlighting gains and shortfalls, she said while more actors were engaged in early warning to detect threats to women and girls, effective prevention of violence against women and girls remained a challenge, as was the case with the conflicts in Syria and Mali.
Even though the report contained good examples of women’s participation in formal peace processes, she noted that of the 14 processes ongoing in 2011, women were only involved in four. In addition, persistent protection gaps also existed, she said. Moreover, while the percentage of funds spent on addressing gender specific needs climbed to 7.1 per cent in 2010, it was far from the targeted 15 per cent minimum set by the Secretary-General’s plan on gender-responsive peacebuilding.
Commending the Secretary-General’s recommendations in the areas including participation and improving tracking and accountability systems for implementing women and peace and security commitments, she said determined leadership and dedicated systems were needed to realize changes on the ground. There was no shortage of women’s leadership. However, there was shortage of opportunities for women to engage in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
“Creating these opportunities was not impossible, but it takes a special effort,” she said, emphasizing that it required determination to make a priority of preventing gender-based violence in conflict, to investigate and prosecute abuses of women’s rights and insist on including women in a donor conference or peace negotiation. “This determination is not a matter of simply ‘going through the motions’. It is about ‘going the extra mile’. UN-Women and our partners in the United Nations system and civil society are here to go that extra mile.”
HERVÉ LADSOUS, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said “women can and must play a leading role in political participation, conflict resolution and the transition from conflict to peace.”
While operations had seen some important progress in terms of women’s participation, more could be achieved, he said. Women continued to be largely absent from, or played symbolic roles in, formal peace processes, and social and cultural norms could pose serious challenges to the full and meaningful participation of women in peace processes.
Citing a number of examples of how the Department of Peacekeeping Operations missions had worked towards advancing women’s rights and participation, he emphasized that more initiatives were needed.
One recent example demonstrating that more needed to done had occurred after a massive non-violent protest after the fall of Goma in Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said. While women protestors had been received by the senior management of United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), women had not been given any political leverage in the regional negotiations aimed at bringing peace to the eastern part of the country.
“The critical key to removing the obstacles that impede women’s full participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding is the active, systematic consultation with local actors and leaders, including women’s civil society organizations,” he said. “This is the only way to develop effective, context-specific and gender-aware solutions.”
After a meeting last month at the University of San Diego with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Services and women peacekeepers worldwide, he said women recommended that the United Nations institutionalize and systemize the consultation of women at every step of the United Nations peacekeeping process.
“Together with our partner, UN-Women, we call on Member States to enhance women’s participation and protection by supporting and strengthening their commitment to conflict prevention and peacebuilding,” he said.
BINETA DIOP, President of Femmes Africa Solidarité, speaking on behalf of the non-governmental organization Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, said that 12 years after the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), the vital work of civil society, particularly women’s groups in ensuring international peace and security, must be recognized and supported, specifically with political access, resources and respect. Recounting her recent mission to assess the situation of women in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she witnessed the fighting that led to the seizure of Goma by rebels along with renewed displacement, she described the degradation and suffering of women in refugee camps and hospitals where their bodies were being repaired after sexual assaults. She promised the women she met that she would convey their message calling urgently for peace, security and humanitarian assistance.
She said that despite the constraints, women already played a central role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in the building of peace at the community, national and international levels, citing the example of the Women’s Situation Room established during the 2012 elections in Senegal, through which women mobilized communities for peace, mediated between opposing groups and monitored and reported on incidents of irregularities in the polls, contributing significantly to peaceful elections. However, despite much rhetoric and many commitments, the inclusion of women and gender expertise in the implementation of peace accords was unacceptably low. Affirming that women were not absent in those areas because they lacked negotiation skills or other capabilities, she pointed to the activities of women’s organizations in Colombia, Mali and Syria in respective peace efforts.
Women, she said, were integral to making peace more robust and sustainable, and it was the responsibility of all relevant actors to ensure that their representation, human rights and gender expertise were embedded in all efforts to prevent and resolve conflict, be they informal or formal conflict resolution processes, or rebuilding after conflict, including disarmament programmes and reforms in the sectors of security, judiciary and governance. In addition, the underlying causes of human rights violations against women and girls in armed conflict must be challenged, including discrimination, gender-based violence, militarization, conflict itself and the proliferation of weapons, with women’s active participation in all efforts. Women’s rights defenders must be protected, she added, citing the recent attack on the home of an outspoken supporter of victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Council should concretely support accountability for violations of women’s human rights and protect measures for women who were displaced, refugees or disabled.
In conclusion, she called on the international community to engage women’s groups as key partners in peace, mediation, negotiation and governmental processes, to implement national and regional action plans for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) — with Council members acting as role models in that regard — and to allocate political and financial resources for women’s civil society organizations. Citing women working for peace around the world, she said: “Together, we have innovative ideas, solutions and means; what are we waiting for?”
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said that all must stand united against those who exclude, marginalize or threaten half their populations, and to respond to the Secretary-General’s call to promote women’s leadership in post-conflict settings. The participation of women at all levels must be made safe and promoted through concrete measures, he added, stressing that an urgent priority for his country was ending sexual violence. It was shocking that after many initiatives impunity was still rife. He pledged a sustained campaign in support of the efforts of the United Nations and civil society organizations to end impunity, describing national initiatives with significant resources devoted to them. Affirming the importance of women’s civil society organizations, he said that in its national capacity and as the Security Council lead on women, peace and security, his country was prepared to go the extra mile to ensure women’s safety and participation.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said that collective efforts must be stepped up for the advancement of women and their greater participation in peace processes, attributing much of the failures of such processes to the absence of adequate women’s participation. She supported United Nations initiatives to increase support for women’s civil society groups, noting that the Organization’s assistance had often led to greater inclusion in women in the political sphere, but the results were far from adequate. Her country remained, in addition, deeply concerned over sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations. Applauding measures taken in peacekeeping missions to counter such violence, she said that the effort must become much more systematic. Describing national initiatives to protect and empower women, she called on the international community to intensify such efforts.
CEDRICK CROWLEY ( South Africa) said there was much work to be done to strengthen women’s role in preventive diplomacy, formal peace processes and mediation and South Africa was fully committed to removing barriers. He called for more regular review of the United Nations’ implementation of the Secretary-General’s proposals on including women in conflict prevention and mediation, nominating women to lead negotiations and increasing the number of women in police and troops to United Nations missions. Equally, he urged the Secretary-General to pay attention to the appointment of women as chief mediators and heads of political, peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions. While pleased at the contribution of gender advisers in post-conflict settings to the training of peacekeepers, he voiced concern at the slow deployment of Women Protection Advisers to peacekeeping missions, which presented a “serious” protection gap. South Africa was raising awareness of resolution 1325 (2000) through the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union, among other organizations. Women must be educated on their rights and enabled to assume leadership positions.
JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL ( Portugal) said the Council had recognized that women’s participation should be mandatory in peacebuilding and post-conflict efforts. In that light, women’s organizations must get the necessary support from the world, he said. The Council could only gain by organizing more such discussions. He also underlined the importance of meetings with civil society when Council members went on mission and the usefulness of Ms. Bachelet’s briefings. Lack of access to education and sexual violence were areas that must be addressed, he said. “We must go the extra mile,” he said. “Let’s do it.”
SERGEY KAREV ( Russian Federation) said since adopting resolution 1325 (2000), much had changed in the area of women’s rights. However, equal attention should be paid to all categories of violence regarding excessive use of force. In that regard, he hoped the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) representative would update the Council on ongoing investigations. The critical role of protecting women belonged to national bodies, with support from the international community, he said. It was important to adhere to existing structures within the United Nations organization, and the Council must consider women’s issues if they were solely linked to maintaining peace and security and regarding situations included on its agenda. The Secretary-General’s report contained no serious analysis, making it impossible to draw conclusions from the data, he said, noting that work on the indicators must be more transparent.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said UN-Women had improved the coherence of initiatives to promote and protect women. More was needed, he said, urging an increased number of women in advisory roles. Women remained too often the target of violence, and they were not often enough included in peacebuilding. Consultations with women’s organizations should be taken further, he said. Combating impunity was also critical and the International Criminal Court should be able to play its role in that regard. He also supported the zero-tolerance policy on United Nations staff in crimes against women.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said the Council’s adoption of resolution 1899 (2009) had complemented resolution 1325 (2000) and had strengthened the legal authority of women’s right to prevent and resolve conflict and to rebuild after a conflict ended. Establishing a strategy with a gender aspect in peacebuilding processes was critical, he said, adding that women were the more vulnerable, exposed and targeted segments of the population. Women had a valuable perspective on peacebuilding, as experience had shown in West Africa and Haiti. When women were involved in the peace process, they made a difference, he said. Real peace required political, economic and social structures that were inclusive, he said, and women’s groups were the engine for establishing those institutions. Political will was now needed to translate resolutions into concrete actions, he said.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala), said it had been more than 15 years since Guatemala had overcome internal armed conflict, yet divisions between peacemaking, peacebuilding, and economic and social transformation remained unclear. Past concerns about the situation of Guatemalan women and girls during conflict were, therefore, intertwined with current concerns about the advancement of women. Preventing conflict, for example, was the best way to protect civilians’ security, particularly women and girls, while the establishment of preventive policies, instruments and actions could empower women economically. Because violence inflicted upon women was frequently borne out of their dependence on those that harmed them, actions taken by States and civil societies to offer women greater economic independence and opportunities would help to prevent violence against women. Further, he spoke favourably about perfecting the indicators that measured the progress and achievements of resolution 1325 (2000). He lauded the creation of UN-Women, and said women must be acknowledged as peacebuilders and contributors to stability. In fact, the disproportionate impact suffered by women during conflicts heightened the importance of their participation. Likewise, he expressed support for the participation of women in the work of the wider United Nations system, as well as within the Guatemalan government and society.
PETER WITTIG (Germany), aligning himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, welcomed United Nations initiatives to protect and empower women. Progress was needed in all spheres of society to utilize the potential of women for peace, development and leadership. The inclusion of women’s organizations in peace processes was for women’s advancement alone, but crucial to forging sustainable peace. Women’s organizations needed adequate support, including financial support, in order to play their full role. For that reason, his country had supported initiatives around the world. The United Nations should continuously improve its efforts for women’s empowerment and protection, extending consideration of them, for example, in plans to draw down and complete missions.
KOKOU NAYO M’BEOU (Togo) said that despite great efforts to implement resolution 1325 (2000) in the past 12 years, women continued to suffer from violence and other abuse of their rights in conflict situations, with an increase of tragic and reprehensible violence against them occurring in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, northern Mali and other situations. Such violence must cease and their perpetrators punished. Peacekeepers must be sensitized to protect women’s rights. Many other elements needed to be considered in order to end such suffering and increase women’s participation in all spheres, including inclusion of more women in negotiations and support for women’s organizations for that purpose, which, in turn, would increase the sustainability of resulting agreements. In his country, a strategy to enhance women’s participation in the policy and development spheres had resulted in the inclusion of women’s organizations as signatories to the 2006 political accord that had allowed his country to emerge from a socio-political crisis that had lasted since 1990. They also played an active role in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. Many women, in addition, had been elected to Parliament and held other responsible positions. He pledged his Government’s continued work to fully implement resolution 1325 (2000).
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said that his country attached highest importance to the participation of women in all walks of life, and in the recent past had passed a number of laws to eliminate discrimination against women and to promote and protect their rights. As one of the biggest troop contributors, his country had incorporated United Nations gender sensitization modules in its training procedures, and women peacekeepers performed a wide variety of functions. Despite such efforts and advances in the international normative framework to protect women’s rights, women and girls continued to be the primary victims in conflict situations, however. To make progress in both protection of women and promotion of their participation in post-conflict processes, he said a comprehensive conflict prevention strategy was needed, along with increased Council efforts to curb impunity and to include gender perspectives in all peacekeeping resolutions. The United Nations system should address the health and psychological needs of women in conflict and ensure the fullest participation of women — including civil society actors — in peace-building activities. Gender justice must be integral to capacity-building efforts, with technical assistance provided. In all such efforts to implement resolution 1325 (2000), the talent and experience of women civil society leaders must be utilized.
NÉSTOR OSORIO ( Colombia), paying tribute to UN-Women for its work, said that his country had benefited from United Nations technical assistance in implementing resolution 1325 (2000). It was intent on full implementation, with the goal that women could enjoy their full rights. Focus on conflict prevention, as well as the calibrated approach for implementing the resolution, accountability for perpetrators and many other measures, was critical. In his country, there had been successes, such as the formation of local councils of women and organizations to empower indigenous women had brought women to the fore in public life. In addition, a national launch had recently taken place for a strategy to fight violence against women, in coordination with UN-Women. Women were active in all spheres and would have a significant role in the national peace process, he pledged. Assessments of progress were important, but individual indicators should not be taken out of context, and updated statistics on women participating in governance and alternative employment should be included, among other improvements. Dialogue with countries and assistance to them in implementing resolution 1325 (2000) was the road to progress.
WANG MIN ( China) affirmed the importance of the protection and empowerment of women in conflict situations, as well as the need to bring them on board in the promotion of international peace and security. There had been progress in implementing resolution 1325 (2000), but more was needed. The Council should contribute in its role of maintaining international peace and security, but should recognize a clear division of labour with other United Nations bodies as related to women’s empowerment and protection issues outside of conflict and post-conflict situations. It was important to take into consideration women’s rights in all parts of peace processes and more women should be appointed in United Nations representative roles. In addition, support for women’s development should be increased in developing countries, with support for women’s organizations important in that regard.
AGSHIN MEHDIYEV ( Azerbaijan), calling resolution 1325 (2000) an important milestone and welcoming the solid framework that had been developed since its adoption, pointed out accomplishments in the adoption of national action plans and other areas. However, women’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping still remained too low and he welcomed efforts to increase women’s participation in mediation and in peacekeeping and called for regular training for gender advisors. He echoed the call for international assistance to national efforts in post-conflict situations. In addition, more resolute measures were needed to end impunity for violations of human rights. He expressed particular concern over women who were forcibly displaced and taken hostage during conflict, noting his country’s efforts to call attention to those violations, and called for intensified efforts to empower and protect women.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) said that resolution 1325 (2000) highlighted the impact of armed conflict on women and the need for effective institutional arrangements to guarantee their protection and full participation in peace processes. India had consistently held that greater participation of women in areas of conflict resolution, peace negotiations, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction was the sine qua non for lasting peace and security. India attached high importance to ensuring concrete action in fully realizing the provisions of resolution 1325 (2000), and firmly believed that the national Governments had the primary responsibility for taking requisite action in developing national strategies and implementing them in pursuance of resolution 1325 (2000). Capacity-building was essential, and India supported United Nations efforts to deploy a greater number of women protection advisers and gender advisers in its missions.
United Nations field missions and country teams needed to have greater coherence and coordination to ensure optimal utilization of gender expertise, he said. Equally pertinent was the role played by civil society in internalizing the provisions of resolution 1325 (2000), while addressing issues in various conflict zones. The feedback of local communities on specific needs and requirements of women could be used in developing intervention strategies. There should be zero tolerance for gender-based violence, which must be promptly investigated and their perpetrators prosecuted. India also agreed with those who called for increased deployment of female military and police personnel in United Nations peacekeeping operations. India was the first country to deploy a full female peacekeeping unit of 100 personnel in Liberia in 2007, and had offered to contribute more such units.
OSAMA ABDEL KHALEK (Egypt) said women were a key partner in decision-making, conflict resolution and the promotion of a culture of peace, reiterating Egypt’s commitment to implementing resolution 1325 (2000) and expressing his belief in women’s central role in raising awareness on the need to achieve peace. He stressed the importance of women’s full participation in peaceful dispute settlement, conflict prevention and resolution at all levels, as well as the need for more efforts to address their exclusion from leading mediation efforts. Egypt highly appreciated the role of UN-Women in enhancing women’s contribution to peace and security and increasing their political participation in a number of Arab States through its work with the Department of Political Affairs to deepen women’s expertise in mediation. He hoped that the reports by the Special Representative on sexual violence and armed conflict would observe the distinction between violence in conflict, and violence in non-conflict situations in a neutral and objective manner. Arab women under Israeli occupation had a heavy burden, including severe human rights violations, the blockade, restricted movement and displacement. In that context, he stressed the United Nations’ duty to pay more attention to their suffering, in compliance with international law.
STEFAN BARRIGA ( Liechtenstein) said lagging participation of women in mediation efforts and preventive diplomacy was “worrying”. In addition, out of nine peace agreements concluded in 2012, only two contained provisions for women’s and girls’ rights. Failing to ensure engagement of women in post-conflict governance often led to neglect of their access to economic opportunities, justice and reparations, he said, calling on the Council to address the lack of women working as lead peace mediators by encouraging the Secretary-General to appoint more women to such positions which would ensure that gender expertise was better brought to bear peace processes. He advocated for consistent mainstreaming of the Council’s thematic agenda into its country-specific work and said there was currently inconsistency in the way the Council currently addressed the issue of Women, Peace and Security in decisions on country situations. Greater efforts were needed to ensure that country experts received all the information necessary to address the issue in their relevant mission mandates. Liechtenstein supported various initiatives and had published a handbook on women, peace and security and launched a workshop on the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Afghanistan.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, of the delegation of the European Union, said that conflict prevention, conflict resolution and building sustainable peace required that stakeholders at all levels cooperate, with women’s organizations playing a key role. The number of national and regional action plans adopted for implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) continued to increase, providing an opportunity for comparison and guidance. As well, the increased reporting and briefings to the Council on the situation of women and girls in armed conflict and the updated information collected against the indicators on women, peace and security were welcome. Although eight out of 16 peacekeeping missions included the protection of civilians in their mandate and early warning and response tools had been established, the gains made in access to information had yet to produce consistent early action.
He said periods of transition offered a unique window to break the cycle of women’s marginalization and make significant gains in women’s participation. In that regard, he called for the following: addressing factors discouraging women’s candidacy and equal electoral participation; provisions on including women, peace and security in peace negotiations as early as possible; and supporting the engagement of women leaders and organizations during the peace process. The Union had taken such actions through its Concept on Strengthening European Union Mediation and Dialogue Capacities, which aimed to promote women’s representation, and 15 civilian missions and military operations, which included human rights and gender advisers. As well, it had offered a course for women as part of capacity-building in Libya to support women in leadership positions. The Union continued to be active on women, peace and security in more than 70 countries.
CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI (Italy), aligning with the European Union, stated that throughout the world, women’s rights advocates were fighting, sometimes at risk to their lives, to ensure that women and girls were not excluded from political decision-making and to make their voices heard when peace agreements were brokered. The Secretary-General had appealed to involve women’s organizations from the early stages of conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts. Women leaders also had an important role to play in transitions, including in the drawdown of United Nations and international missions, when previous gains in gender equality could be at risk. The Secretary-General’s report had described the use of sexual violence as a conflict tactic across a wide range of theatres. Italy welcomed the appointment of the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict and the reaffirmation of the Security Council’s commitment to resolution 1325 (2000). “Women were formidable negotiators, mediators and peacebuilders,” he added. His country had adopted a three-year action plan to implement that resolution. Italy also supported development cooperation programmes to advance the women, peace and security agenda, particularly in Afghanistan, Liberia and Sierra Leone. If the international community was serious about peace, he concluded, it must also be serious about women’s and girls’ rights.
MARGUS KOLGA ( Estonia) welcomed efforts made in the last two years. However, he noted that only four of the 14 processes in 2011 and only two of the nine signed peace agreements included women. Provisions related to gender equality must be considered along the way throughout the peace process, and must be included in accords, he said. Turning to concerns over the increased number of reports of sexual violence, he emphasized the importance of educating men and boys in being active in preventing those human rights violations. The International Criminal Court was a significant actor in ending impunity against perpetrators of crimes against women and girls, he said. Translating norms into practice must be measured against real change in the lives of women, girls, boys and men, he said, encouraging the Council to pay further attention to those matters.
HAIM WAXMAN ( Israel) said that the Jewish people and their State had always understood that the progress of women was critical for the progress of all, with the World Zionist Organization having granted them equal voting rights in 1898. Gender equality was enshrined in the country’s Declaration of Independence, and in subsequent legislation for that purpose. Israelis had also elected the world’s third female prime minister. Women today held senior leadership positions in all spheres in Israel, including advocating for conflict resolution and peace. Strongly supporting full implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), the country recently had enacted legislation requiring that Israeli women be included on all Government investigative committees and peace negotiating teams, and workshops had been held to promote dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian women, as well as training programmes for women professionals from around the world.
Welcoming initiatives to end impunity for gender-based violence and strongly supporting UN-Women, he added that more must be done to ensure women’s participation in mission transitions, and the United Nations must take the lead in promoting women’s leadership roles and in strictly enforcing zero tolerance for sexual abuse in its peacekeeping activities. Echoing the call for protection for defenders of women’s rights, he said the denial of the most basic rights in the Middle East could not be ignored, as it created major barriers to understanding and conflict resolution. He pledged his country’s commitment to empowering women in all corners of the globe, a commitment that extended back before time of the prophet Miriam and which would continue.
NORACHIT SINHASENI ( Thailand) said his country actively promoted women’s role in society. To implement Council resolution 1325 (2000), it had set up a Subcommittee on Women and the Promotion of Peace and Security to set guidelines and formulate measures to promote the rights of women, protect them from violence and ensure they enjoyed the peace and security they deserved. It carried out a wide range of activities, from raising awareness on women’s rights to exchanging views on legal issues to ensure women had equal access to justice and sound legal advice. The workshop on women, peace and security, co-organized by UN-Women in Bangkok last month, had been valuable for exchanging views and best practices. He backed the Secretary-General’s call for a move from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention. To that end, Thailand had set up the Thai Women’s Empowerment Fund, which issued low-interest loans to help women develop skills, as well as strengthened women’s civil society.
He said that Thai women, as caring peacekeepers and peacebuilders, could be effective agents of peace. He lauded the Secretary-General’s report for mentioning the role of female peacekeepers in several instances. It was important to enhance women’s participation and role in peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Thai female police observers and officers had served in various United Nations missions. They served as medical and coordinating officers and were well trained in international humanitarian and international law on the rights and protection of women, as well as in HIV/AIDS awareness in line with resolution 1325 (2000). In 2009, Thailand had begun admitting women to the Royal Police Cadet Academy. Upon graduation, they would be tasked with cases involving violence against women and children. Senior female police officers had helped women during the nation-building process in Haiti and Timor-Leste. He hoped the Thai female cadets could join United Nations missions around the world.
GAREN NAZARIAN ( Armenia) said, despite measures taken to combat violence against women, the abuse continued and there appeared to be a lack of coordination among actors in that area. Policymakers needed to ensure the adequate provision of services and attention to violence against women, among other things. Efforts had been made to include women in peace and political processes, but more needed to be done. This debate was an opportunity to address women’s involvement in peacebuilding. Given recent efforts, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue was another opportunity to include women in the process.
LUIS-ALFONSO DE ALBA ( Mexico) said it was important when examining the progress made on implementing resolution 1325 (2000) to identify further actions needed to further promote women’s participation. That was central to this debate. Unfortunately, peace processes and agreements rarely included concrete provisions for women’s access to justice and representation, which impeded peacebuilding. Space must be opened for women’s groups, and it was essential to include the gender dimension in building societies during electoral processes. Regarding the transition of the United Nations presence, including drawdowns, the protection and security of women should be kept in mind. Including women was essential to build societies, as that had a better chance to lead to durable peace.
PAUL SEGER (Switzerland), welcoming the use of global indicators to measure progress in women’s empowerment and protection, said that the challenge today was to recognize and create opportunities for women’s participation at all levels in peace processes, in cognizance of the fact that many individual women and women’s organizations had undergone mediation training in all parts of the world. Describing the strong focus on transitional justice programmes supported by his country, he said that the right to justice was accompanied by the right to reparations and a guarantee of non-repetition. He said it was critical to take on gender stereotyping in security sector reform, as that sector often mirrored the attitudes of the society at large. He finally called attention to the recommendations of an NGO Working Group report that surveyed Council activities related to resolution 1325 (2000), as well as those of a Handbook on Women, Peace and Security by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, both of which his country had launched together with Liechtenstein.
MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina) said each anniversary of the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000) allowed for reflection on the central role of women’s organizations in drafting the Council’s normative frameworks launched in 2000. Argentina had promoted the resolution with a new declaration that “enough is enough” in its work for the prevention and eradication of all forms of violence against women. The double situation of injustice for women involved silencing voices and hiding the faces of the women and girls who were the protagonists in economic and social change.
She said that 12 years after the resolution’s adoption, women’s organizations had decidedly contributed to conflict prevention. Women’s participation in efforts before, during and after conflict was not only necessary but also socially just. Argentina’s national action plan for implementing resolution 1325 (2000) would be adopted by a presidential decree after a final review. It was the result of an interministerial working group, with active participation from women and human rights organizations. The plan promoted joint work between national institutions and civil society, with a particular focus on women in armed conflict and in post-conflict situations, as well as in “socio-natural” disasters. In 1999-2000, as a non-permanent Council member, Argentina had participated in the consultations with women’s and civil society organizations, which eventually led to the resolution’s adoption.
GUILLERMO E. RISHCHYNSKI ( Canada) reiterated the statement of Canada’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, John Baird, at the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations in September that women were the key to the development of pluralistic societies and that their full and active participation throughout society was very important. Last year, Minister Baird had met with women in Libya to discuss the role women would play in that country’s transition. He also had met with the Afghan Women’s Network at the International Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn to hear their concerns. Canada had advocated for and facilitated the inclusion of women’s civil society groups at the International Conference on Afghanistan this year, and the country continued to work to raise awareness in that country of women, peace and security issues among provincial and national offices, parliamentarians and influential community leaders.
He voiced his country’s strong support for the Secretary General’s recognition of the need to take effective measures to address conflict-related sexual violence, such as rape as a weapon of war, and called for the protection of human rights defenders. Governments had the responsibility to address women, peace and security issues. Civil society could also play a constructive role. For example, in Sierra Leone, advocacy efforts of local women’s organizations had contributed to State action and a new law that criminalized sexual offenses. Women had an important role to play in the prevention and resolution of conflict and in peacebuilding. Canada, therefore, called for the continued meaningful participation of women throughout peace processes, mission drawdowns and transitions. The Secretary-General’s report outlined progress, but much more remained to be done.
ANDREAS RIECKEN ( Austria) said women were all too often excluded from peace and security negotiations. They clearly needed to be included from an early stage in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Austria was concerned about the high number of attacks on human rights defenders in the past year, and it fully supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to step up efforts to protect them. More attention must also be paid to address structural factors that affected women’s political candidacy and political participation.
He said that much had been accomplished, but more needed to be done. The number of women in field positions and as mediators must be increased, and he encouraged female participation in all thematic discussions. Austria had completed its national action plan, guided by the United Nations indicators on women’s peace and security, and had worked with civil society on the revision process. Among its other efforts, it had completed its third national action plan on trafficking of women and human beings, continued its support of UN-Women, and offered to assist other countries in elaborating their national actions plans.
MARI SKÅRE, Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security of the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), said the organization was actively encouraging all of its partners to adopt specific goals related to the promotion of women, peace and security issues. The aim was to raise awareness and to work towards greater female participation in areas of defence and security. At the operational level, NATO had demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting the important role women could play and it had engaged with women leaders and activists to understand their views and perspectives. For example, the alliance had gender advisers at its various headquarters, as well as in Afghanistan and Kosovo. She worked with those dedicated people and saw the significant efforts they were making to mainstream resolution 1325 (2000).
She said that experience had shown that gender expertise, as well as more female soldiers in theatre, improved the effective conduct of the operations. “For example, we have learned that female soldiers in Afghanistan are at times able to better connect with members of the population otherwise closed off from their male colleagues.” That, she said, had led to greater awareness of the specific situation and area, and to better dialogue and understanding between NATO forces and the local community. Training and education were strategic tools for security forces which, used correctly, could be major force multipliers as attitudes among those trained could spread to walks of life beyond the security sphere. Plans to hand over full responsibility from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to its Afghan counterparts were on course; throughout the transition process and beyond, NATO would continue to focus on gender-related training and support the recruitment and retention of women in security forces.
SYLVIE LUCAS ( Luxembourg) said there could be no prevention of conflicts without the participation of women, and no participation without effective protection of the rights and the physical and moral integrity of women. It was necessary, therefore, to make progress simultaneously on those issues. She shared the Secretary-General’s disappointment at the weak representation of women in peace talks, at the structural problems which limited women’s participation in political life, and at the resurgence of violence against women. The figures of women’s participation in politics spoke for themselves, she said, citing relevant statistics. Noting that the regions most affected by conflicts were often those in which women’s social and political situation was the least advantageous, she said emphasis must be on women’s training for political participation, as well as on improving material conditions to enable their participation in elections.
She pointed out that Luxembourg had supported an important programme set up by the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations since 2010, which had contributed to a significant increase of women’s political representation in Timor-Leste, following the parliamentary elections there in July. Her country also supported programmes in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, which benefitted women’s civil society organizations. She looked forward to the regional workshop to be held in Liberia before the end of the year, which would focus on promoting the role of women in peacebuilding in West Africa and strengthening women’s regional peace and security networks.
LEONARDO LUÍS GORGULHO NOGUEIRA FERNANDES ( Brazil) said the implications of armed conflict on women were now better understood, but much more effort was needed, however, to fully integrate them into national and multilateral peace efforts. More women delegates and mediators were needed, as well as greater prevalence of substantive provisions focused on women in peace agreements. The United Nations needed to enhance dialogue with women’s groups in conflict situations and to consult with those groups in order to convey their specific concerns and the needs of women to all stakeholders in peace efforts. Building of women’s capacities in peace and security was vital. In that, Brazil had signed a letter of intent with UN-Women to deepen cooperation in training peacekeepers on gender issues and promoting South-South cooperation on peacekeeper training.
Also, she suggested, by focusing on women’s economic empowerment and ensuring their full partnership in peace efforts, they would be better able to contribute to peace consolidation, which would reduce the chances of relapse into conflict. Brazil had launched the “Bolsa Familía” cash transfer project, which helped to increase women’s economic bargaining power in families and communities. On the fringes of the “Rio+20” Conference, Brazil had also organized the “Women Leaders’ Summit on the Future Women Want”, which highlighted the need for women’s full participation and underlined the importance of ensuring elimination of all discriminatory barriers preventing them from equal access to productive resources.
FERNANDO ARIAS ( Spain) said that women’s role in peacebuilding was indispensable. She stressed the need to keep in mind the situation of women with disabilities in conflicts, and noted that Spain had dedicated significant effort to promoting women’s role and the gender perspective in conflict situations. His country had drafted an Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security in 2007, and updated it several times since then. Spain had also undertaken important work for the effective implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), with the participation of several ministries and through regular contact with civil society organizations. His country had promoted numerous initiatives in the field of foreign policy, cooperation for development and defence, aimed at promoting women’s role in peacebuilding, as well as curbing violence against them in conflict settings, especially outrageous acts such as systematic rape as a war tactic. In an effort to invest greater efforts in training civilian and military personnel in gender issues, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and of Defence, in collaboration with their counterparts in the Netherlands, had conducted the third edition of the International Course on Gender Integrated Approach in Operations.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) said 12 years after the resolution’s adoption, the Council continued to pass along guidance for more protection of women in armed conflict, but their situation had not improved. Indeed, women faced specific risks, especially in contexts of violence, as had been seen in the case of Malala Yousafzai, and he urged more support for the protection of women and girls in their participation in peace processes and reconstruction. In 2008, Chile had established a working group with officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, defence and the national service of women, which aimed to draft a national action plan in step with resolution 1325 (2000) and, among others, promote the inclusion of a gender perspective in work on conflict prevention and post-conflict situations. Also important was to combine resources for collecting data and technical support for improving the indicators for evaluating national action plans.
SHIN DONG IK ( Republic of Korea) said that, despite remarkable achievements, challenges remained, including the low level of women’s participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. States should cooperate closely with relevant human rights mechanisms to ensure implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) at the national level. He also urged more attention to women’s participation in post-conflict settings, expressing regret that, of nine peace agreements signed in 2011, only two contained provisions on women, peace and security. “This means we are missing invaluable opportunities to enhance women’s political participation” in transition periods, he said. Temporary special measures, such as gender quotas, could increase women’s representation in decision-making bodies in post-conflict elections. Regrettably, women’s civil society organizations in conflict resolution and peacebuilding faced a number of challenges, including little opportunity to participate in formal conflict resolution work. Finally, he urged enhanced efforts to respond to conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, and expressing support for ensuring the gender responsiveness of transitional justice mechanisms.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh) said that in the United Nations context, “50-50” gender balance should be ensured, with special emphasis on women’s recruitment at higher levels. Women from the South should also be considered, with special preference in leadership positions. More female military and police personnel should be deployed in peacekeeping operations, and there should be zero tolerance for all gender-based violence. Participation of women in mediation and peacebuilding efforts also needed to be enhanced. Last year, out of 14 United Nations peace negotiations, only four had included women delegates. It was also important to ensure measures to improve security for women in elections.
He said that poverty, struggle for resources, socio-economic injustices and forced occupation lay at the heart of conflicts, creating breeding ground for violence against women and girls. That not only weakened safety and security, but also the impaired political, economic and social fabric. Debate and discussion should transcend over boundaries and reach women at the grass roots, who lacked even the language to express their agony. Bangladesh had embraced nation-building and women’s empowerment with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s “peace model”. Indeed, women occupied the top political leadership of Bangladesh, whose Constitution guaranteed equality. Clearly, Government policies and laws had achieved highly positive results.
NEVEN MIKEC ( Croatia) said the implementation of the national action plan for implementing resolution 1325 (2000) was among his country’s priorities. In the 1990s, women in his region were an important part of the civil society opposition to armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Among the best ways to focus on women’s role in peace and security was by strengthening legal and institutional frameworks — notably in the judiciary and education — and through gender training within State administration bodies, whose close cooperation with broad layers of society and with men in gender equality promotion was essential. Women’s organizations played an important observer role of State measures and it was, thus, crucial to support joint Government-civil society efforts aimed at raising awareness about women’s participation in decisions related to peace and security and maintaining attention to gender equality commitments, especially in the context of armed conflict and post-conflict situations. Regional cooperation was an indispensable part of that process.
MATEJ MARN ( Slovenia) welcomed this year’s focus on the role of women’s civil society organizations in contributing to armed conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Slovenia supported the need to ensure consistency in the implementation of international norms on the human rights of women and girls in efforts to prevent conflict and build peace. He commended the increased number of references to women, peace and security commitments across the Council’s actions, including in instructions in mission mandates promoting women’s rights, and he urged it to continue that practice. Also welcome was the increased number of women in the roster of mediation experts. However, obstacles to women’s participation in decision-making persisted, including because of sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence, as well as impunity for such acts. Slovenia had contributed to the implementation of women, peace and security resolutions in international and regional organizations, including in the Western Balkans, and it had boosted efforts to promote women’s human rights in general, and in country-specific situations, especially in the Human Rights Council.
SIGNE BURGSTALLER (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, welcomed the Council’s presidential statement on 31 October and fully supported recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report. He called for greater consistency in implementing the resolutions on women, peace and security, all of which had been unanimously adopted and were binding. “Not providing protection for women in conflict is a serious neglect,” she said, urging full political and financial support, as well as physical protection for civil society and women’s organizations working tirelessly to prevent and solve conflicts, and build peace.
She said that the Nordic countries’ implementation of national action plans had benefitted from close cooperation with civil society. She was encouraged by the Council’s steps in its country-specific work to address concerns brought forward by women’s advocates. The incorporation of a gender perspective in peace and security efforts was strategically opportune. Entire communities would benefit, as would national institutions and the overall security situation. Women must have equal opportunity to participate in all political processes linked to conflict resolution, including mediation, peace agreement implementation mechanisms and donor conferences. It was particularly important to support women’s participation in post-conflict constitutional and electoral processes. She praised UN-Women for leading the United Nations work on women, peace and security.
JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) said resolution 1325 (2000) had not been created in a vacuum, nor had it result from foresight of Member States. Women’s civil society organizations had been instrumental in its passage after many years of active campaigning. They continued to play a key role ensuring inclusion of gender perspectives in all United Nations debates on peace and security issues. In his region, those had been vital components of the peace processes in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. In September, the first Pacific Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security had been launched. It was critical that the full women, peace and security agenda was considered as part of planning peacekeeping missions. New Zealand also supported the outcome of this year’s Conference to Review the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and he highlighted the importance of better understanding women’s the role in that area.
RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ ( Lithuania) said mainstreaming a gender perspective into conflict prevention and resolution and in post-conflict rehabilitation remained “unfinished business”. Civil society had an important role to play, she said, noting that the request for inputs from women’s groups was among the first efforts following the adoption in 2011 of the Lithuania national action plan. The country would continue working with those groups, including in promoting gender awareness. One factor for women’s greater participation in conflict resolution and post-conflict recovery was their safety and security, and efforts must be stepped up to provide protection to women human rights defenders and tackle impunity. It was of utmost importance that sexual abuse by United Nations staff be fully examined, and she supported enforcement of the zero tolerance policy. There was also a need to look into the gender aspect of armed violence fuelled by the illicit arms trade.
INESE FREIMANE-DEKSNE (Latvia) said that to increase women’s representation in peace processes and post-conflict peace consolidation, formal arrangements such as security of women human rights defenders, election security and child-care arrangements, as well as capacity-building in leadership, conflict analysis and negotiation skills should be provided. Developing the capacity of women’s leaders and organizations during and after conflict was crucial for their effective participation in political and economic life, and Latvia participated in those efforts in several conflict and post-conflict countries. Women’s political leadership and economic empowerment were also critical to ensuring their participation in conflict prevention, resolution and long-term recovery. Women provided important inputs towards reducing challenges they faced in conflict zones and functioned as early warning mechanisms to prevent backsliding on women’s rights. Women’s civil society representatives should also be systematically invited to participate in international dialogues and be regularly consulted on conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts. Moreover, the United Nations itself should live up to its standards, ensuring women’s adequate representation in peacekeeping operations and improved training on gender-specific issues.
JUN YAMAZAKI ( Japan) said the security of women and girls was an indicator of peace and stability. In July, Japan had hosted the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, which consolidated the international community’s partnership with the Afghan Government — a Partnership for Self-Reliance in Afghanistan from Transition to the Transformation Decade 2015-2024. Thirty Afghans from civil society, half of whom were women, had been invited to attend. Relief and recovery initiatives for women in conflict and post-conflict situations were key when conflict prevention efforts failed. As to refugees and persons internally displaced by conflict, Japan supported efforts to prevent sexual violence in Ivorian refugee camps located in Liberia, by providing electricity and vocational training. In Uganda, Japan had implemented awareness-raising activities to prevent sexual violence in refugee communities, in which more than 10,000 people had participated.
MAZEN ADI ( Syria) said his country had submitted its second and third periodic reports to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. However, armed terrorist groups were seeking to drain Syria’s progress on gender equality. Wahhbist and Salafist elements sought to sow psychological panic by “turning back time to obscurity”, especially with regard to women’s role in society. Women now feared going to work and girls to school. The armed groups hampered the evacuation of women from hospitals and had committed sexual crimes against women and children. He deplored that some people were exploiting Syrians in neighbouring countries, by marrying Syrian women living in the camps. That was a “sexist Jihad”. Despite that, Syria sought to liberate occupied territories in the Golan Heights by working to establish a just peace. He urged that the Secretary-General’s reports mention the violence against Arab women in occupied Palestine and Syria, and he called for special attention to threats stemming from unilateral economic measures imposed against Syria, outside international legality.
HERMAN SCHAPER ( Netherlands) said his country had put gender equality at the heart of all its policies for decades. In December 2011, it had launched its second National Action Plan 1325, covering 2012-2015, which had been the culmination of close cooperation between the Government, civil society and research institutes. Designed to be both ambitious and feasible, the plan contained many joint activities, including support for the Democratic Republic of the Congo Women’s Fund to promote participation of Congolese women in the coming elections, and support for women in the east of the country who could play a mediation role in the conflict raging in the Kivus. In Afghanistan, a group of signatories worked together with a local telephone and Internet provider to help to connect rural poor women and men with more “modern” youth in main towns. That would inform them on national women’s issues and foster dialogue. In Libya, the plan supported a capacity-building programme for women, to enable their meaningful contribution to the drafting of the new constitution. Women could and should play a pivotal role in society and merited more effective international support.
ANNE ANDERSON ( Ireland) said that, if transition periods were used to strengthen women’s political and economic participation, the foundations would be laid for more just, stable and prosperous societies. The prospect that such opportunities were being squandered should deeply concern everyone. Amid social and political transformation, especially in the Arab world, there was one striking constant: women were still struggling to secure a place at the table. It seemed there was a deep-seated reluctance to let them assume their rightful role in charting the way forward. She had recently co-hosted a panel on the contribution of the Women’s Situation Room, which had been mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report as a model for civil society engagement. The challenge was to document and disseminate such initiatives in different countries so as to transform single experiences into mainstream policy. It was clear there was an expanding conceptual infrastructure dedicated to women, peace and security issues.
PETER THOMSON ( Fiji) said national implementation was key to meeting the resolution’s objectives, and his Government was working within its road map for democracy to create enabling environments for women. Fiji had a target to attain at least 30 per cent women’s representation in all Government boards and committees. The Pacific region had launched an action plan on women, peace and security to support national efforts aimed at ensuring that women were included in all stages of conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding. Fiji had made efforts to increase women peacekeepers around the world. Turning to climate change, he said women and children were the most affected by natural disasters, and access to arable land disproportionately affected women. As such, they must be part of national and international policy formulation.
AKAN RAKHMETULLIN ( Kazakhstan) said that promoting women’s rights was at the core of the country’s human rights policy; it was a member of the Executive Board of UN-Women. Women’s organizations should be included in strategies for the prevention, resolution and recovery from conflict. Gender mainstreaming was an absolute necessity of peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and not an “add-on”. He welcomed the increasing number of national action plans worldwide, as well as the broad inclusion of indicators to assess women’s participation in peacekeeping and peacebuilding. It was also noteworthy that half of the field missions managed by the Department of Political Affairs had gender advisers. Nevertheless, resolution 1325 (2000) must not remain a statement of aspirations only. Designing peacebuilding strategies required that the knowledge and insights of local grass-roots women be taken into account and that information be gathered on the incidence of sexual violence, insecurity, and the violation of human rights “as perceived by the women”. Among other things, he proposed a United Nations system-wide coherence on gender empowerment in conflict resolution and a stronger partnership among Member States, the private sector, academia and media.
CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE ( Botswana) reaffirmed the great importance and recognition of the role of women in prevention and resolution of conflicts, and renewed his country’s commitment to address gender equality issues at the national level. Botswana was encouraged that the number of countries that had articulated their priorities on women and peace and security through national actions plans continued to grow, but was concerned by underrepresentation of women in formal peace processes and the continuation of violence against women and girls. Botswana strongly condemned all such violations, and stressed the importance of implementing resolution 1325 (2000) and bringing to justice those responsible for crimes of this nature. Peace was inextricably linked to gender equality, and as such, that should be recognized as a core issue in the maintenance of peace and security. Learning from successful involvement of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding in Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste, Botswana also realized the important contribution of women’s civil society organizations in conflict prevention and resolution. In order to achieve the goals of resolution 1325 (2000), efforts of women’s civil society organizations should be supported.
USMAN SARKI (Nigeria), delivering a statement on behalf of a woman Minister from his Government who had been prepared to deliver it at the previously scheduled meeting, said that resolution 1325 (2000) was a milestone, and this debate was breaking important new ground by drawing attention to women’s organizations. Women’s suffering in conflict was exacerbated by their exclusion from peace processes, whose success was greatly assisted by women’s civil society. More needed to be done to create an enabling environment to ensure women’s full participation in conflict prevention and resolution, including building capacity for women’s organizations, at the national, regional and international level. His country was determined to fulfil its obligations under the resolution, and in international and regional mechanisms and to overcome the many obstacles to women’s participation, which included poverty and other developmental ills. Gender equity was prominent in Nigeria’s development agenda and a bill was even now before the legislature on ending violence against women. There were 13 women ministers in the cabinet and a woman was serving as Chief Justice. He welcomed the Security Council’s continued attention to women’s empowerment and protection.
YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia) stressed that women were not merely passive victims of conflict situations, but also important contributors to the many dimensions of peacebuilding processes. Despite significant gains, progress was still lacking in some key areas: there should be more women peacekeepers; the security, legal and justice infrastructure needed to ensure women’s safety and security in conflict and post-conflict settings should be strengthened; and women should participate more in peace negotiations, preventive efforts and key decision-making processes. Indonesia had taken steps towards the achievement of those objectives, including by actively involving women personnel as military and police observers of Indonesia’s contingents in various peacekeeping missions. Indonesia was also drafting a presidential decree as a legal basis for a national action plan on the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), and he urged all countries to follow suit. In closing, he underscored that women possessed the confidence and the potential to be agents of change, “skillfully reshaping and rebuilding communities affected by conflict”.
MOHAMED IBRAHIM ELBAHI ( Sudan) noted his Government’s creation of a comprehensive programme for women’s empowerment in 2007, which covered seven sectors and included an action plan. Institutional structures had been established to chart the plans and strategies and foster their implementation. A revolving fund and microprojects for the informal sector focused on rural women and aimed to alleviate poverty and improve health conditions. Equal pay for equal work was the law, as was equality in many areas. As a result, women made up a high percentage of leaders in governance, justice and the private sector, with many serving in the military as well. Programmes were also in place to enable women to participate in peace processes, including demobilization projects. There was a national strategy to end female genital circumcision, and laws countering violence against women were expanded to protect women in the Darfur conflict. As treating root causes of conflicts helped empower and protect women, he urged more support for development in the international agenda. He cautioned, however, that reports on women’s progress must rely only on substantiated information, and not on the media. He hoped the Council’s deliberations would lead to a comprehensive policy to empower and protect women in conflict situations.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) said his Government was designing a comprehensive plan to implement resolution 1325 (2000), and appreciated Finland’s generous support in the drafting process. The Afghan Government recognized the vital role women played in conflict resolution and remained committed to including women’s rights in all such processes. Women were playing an important role in Afghan-led reconciliation, including through participation in the High Peace Council. There had been a marked improvement in the position of Afghan women overall through their pronounced presence in political and social life. Currently, there were 69 female Members of Parliament, making up more than a quarter of the body.
He highlighted encouraging signs for the future of women’s social participation, including an increase in girls’ enrolment in schools from 5,000 in 2001 to 2.7 million in 2011. Violence against women and girls in the country was unacceptable, and he urged the Government and international community to bring much-needed lasting peace in which the human rights of all Afghans were respected. To that end, there had been encouraging growth in the number and capabilities of security forces, which included women’s participation in the Afghan National Army. Women were also joining the National Police despite threats, including against their lives, even by their own families.
NOUR ZARROUK BOUMIZA ( Tunisia) said that as the primary victims in conflict, women must be involved in preventing and resolving it. Much had been done to improve United Nations efforts in that area and a more systematic integration of women’s protection into peacekeeping had been accomplished. Her country had begun to establish an action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), including training for peacekeepers, aimed at preventing and protecting women against gender violence. National ownership of the resolution was the best way to achieve its implementation. As civil society was an important partner in post-conflict recovery, and women’s organizations were particularly valuable in prevention, mediation and resolution of conflicts, they should be provided with the necessary technical support. Raising men’s awareness of the importance of gender equality was also critical. Her country remained at the disposal of the United Nations to assist any undertaking that led to implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) and to creating conditions that promoted respect for women’s human rights.
YAŞAR HALIT ÇEVIK ( Turkey) noted progress on a broad range of issues involving women and armed conflict, but said that many challenges remained. As co-Chair of the Committee on Mediation, he made sure that issues related to resolution 1325 (2000) were considered, commenting that the prevention of violence against women should be central to mediation and negotiation, and empowerment of women at the centre of all peacemaking activities. He welcomed the growing coherence of United Nations activities in this area, particularly in the context of UN-Women. He reaffirmed Turkey’s strong support for full implementation of the resolution.
MELISSA BOISSIERE ( Trinidad and Tobago) said her country was strongly supportive of women’s equality and efforts to ensure that women were equally represented in the peace and security sphere, as a signatory to many international instruments for women’s advancement. Believing strongly in the need to prosecute violators of women’s rights, and as a founding member of the International Criminal Court, the country had given domestic legal effect to the Rome Statute. It had also advocated strongly for a binding arms trade treaty, which was critical for decreasing conflict and violence against women, particularly in her region. Trinidad and Tobago had also been active in creating greater awareness of women’s important role in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, through hosting and participating in events during this session of the General Assembly. She welcomed the work done by the United Nations system in gender mainstreaming and awareness-raising on the important potential of women in the promotion of peace, and she looked forward to further such efforts. She remained committed to working with other Member States, as well as regional and international partners to provide an environment that promoted women’s involvement as equal partners in matters related to peace and security, including at all levels of decision-making.
MICHAEL BLISS ( Australia) said ending impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence must be a priority for the Council and other parts of the United Nations system. He welcomed the Council’s consensus that the early involvement of women in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding promoted lasting peace, and he commended the increasing inclusion of gender references in United Nations mission mandates. He said such issues must not be overlooked in drawdowns or transitions to peacebuilding. In March, Australia had launched its National Plan on Women, Peace and Security, and he urged other States to do so. “Actions to pursue the women, peace and security agenda do not occur in a vacuum,” he said. “Work to promote the participation of women and girls in peace and security processes needs to take place within the broader context of work to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
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