Women Too Often Omitted from Peace Processes, Despite Key Role in Preventing Conflict, Forging Peace, Secretary-General Tells Security Council

SC/12561
25 October 2016
7793rd Meeting (AM)

Women Too Often Omitted from Peace Processes, Despite Key Role in Preventing Conflict, Forging Peace, Secretary-General Tells Security Council

NGO Working Group Urges Improved United Nations-Civil Society Engagement

Despite the vital role of women in preventing conflict and helping to forge peace, they were far too often prevented from participating fully in peacemaking processes to the detriment of society as a whole, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council today, as it began a day-long debate open on the subject.

He urged Council members to listen to civil society, particularly women’s groups, in all deliberations on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and to make peace negotiations more diverse.  “In failing to include women and girls in peacemaking and peacebuilding processes, we are not only failing women and girls,” he said.  “We are failing the world.”

Reporting on progress made in implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) — the first resolution adopted by the 15-member Security Council to address the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women — he cited the creation of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women).  Still, “I am ashamed of the many atrocities that continue to be committed against women and girls, including by some of our own peacekeepers,” he said.  “I am angered by the continued political exclusion of women.”

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Women, emphasized the need to turn resolution 2242 (2015) into action, pointing out that, among other things, the text addressed the role of women in countering violent extremism and terrorism.  Highlighting recent progress achieved, she said the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund had exceeded the goal of devoting 15 per cent of its funding targeted directly at gender equality and women’s empowerment.  In addition, the International Criminal Court had secured its first conviction of a former Head of State for having personally committed rape as an international crime.

Nevertheless, several areas of concern and stagnation remained, she continued.  During the first year of the Council’s Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security, members had discussed the situations in Mali, Iraq, Central African Republic and Afghanistan, she recalled, noting women were not well represented that in many of those contexts.  Women comprised only 13 per cent of the staff of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), she pointed out, stressing that such stark deficits in the Organization’s own gender balance could not continue.

Rita Lopidia, Executive Director of South Sudan’s EVE Organization for Women Development, spoke on behalf of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, saying that most women in her country were economically disadvantaged, lacked protection, had scant recourse to justice, lived in fear and were at risk of daily rape.  Having advocated for the inclusion of women’s issues in the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement and for women to participate in all parts of that process, she said the inclusion of women’s issues and the signing of the accord in August 2015 had given South Sudanese women hope, but its implementation was not guaranteed.

She went on to underline that women’s voices — not only in South Sudan, but also from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Mali, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and other conflict areas — must be elevated.  The United Nations, particularly the Council and Member States, must significantly improve their engagement at Headquarters and in the field with women representatives of civil society during times of crisis.  Despite a commitment made last year, the Council had yet to invite civil society representatives to country-specific consultations, she noted.

During the ensuing debate, in which representative of some 75 Member States and other entities participated, speakers welcomed the progress made in implementation of resolutions 1325 (2000) and 2242 (2015), while emphasizing the need to include more women in peace and mediation negotiations and in post-conflict peacebuilding.  More women should be recruited into the military and police contingents of peacekeeping missions, from where they could have more positive interactions with local populations, especially women.  They urged the Council to include gender-specific language in all its resolutions on peacekeeping and asked for adequate funding to implement the women, peace and security agenda.

Liechtenstein’s representative, also speaking on behalf of Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland, cited data showing that women’s participation in peace processes increased by 20 per cent the likelihood of a peace agreement lasting at least two years, and by 35 per cent the probability of it lasting 15 years.  It was therefore vital to eliminate barriers to women’s participation in peace-related activities and to ensure their full inclusion during the formulation and implementation of early-warning systems, as well as peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts at all levels.

Colombia’s representative said that in her country, which was currently ending the longest-running conflict in the Western Hemisphere, it was understood that women were integral to the quest for peace.  The current peace process was the first to explicitly include a gender approach, she said, noting in particular the establishment of a gender sub-commission.  Women comprised about half of those consulted in the peace process and the Government had offered reparations for the suffering of women victims, she added.

A speaker representing the African Union said that, so far, the regional bloc’s Commission was undertaking a number of activities to empower women, including the establishment of a network of African women mediators; efforts to change narratives on women in recognition of their role in peacebuilding; efforts to mobilize and support Member States and regional economic communities to develop action plans on women, peace and security; and the training of military personnel on women’s rights, in line with the African Union’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual and gender-based violence.

Deploring violence committed against women and girls in conflict situations — including rape and human trafficking — other speakers called for an end to impunity for perpetrators, with Venezuela’s representative emphasizing that it was unacceptable for women and girls to be considered war booty.  Uruguay’s representative drew attention to the fact that terrorist groups used women and girls for recruitment purposes, also pointing out that girls were disproportionally affected by the lack of education in areas where conflict was prevalent.  As for sexual abuse by United Nations peacekeepers, New Zealand’s representative declared:  “It is time for an honest conversation between the Secretariat, contributing countries and Member States about why this continues to be a problem, how to stop it, and when it occurs, how to respond.”

Vitaly Churkin (Russian Federation), Council President for October, spoke in his national capacity, emphasizing that each conflict situation should be considered on its own merits and that implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) must not be seen as an end in itself.  While concurring with the Secretary-General’s report on the need to improve implementation of the women, peace and security agenda within the United Nations, he said duplication of efforts should be avoided and national responsibilities prioritized.  The Council’s focus should be on the situation of women in the largest-scale armed conflicts and those affected by terrorist acts, he said.

Representatives of Spain, Egypt, Ukraine, China, Japan, Malaysia, United States, Senegal, France, Angola, United Kingdom, Sweden, Kenya, Nigeria, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Switzerland, Mexico, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Argentina, Thailand (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia (on behalf of the Human Security Network), Poland, Belgium, Costa Rica, Ireland, Romania, Canada (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security), Estonia, South Africa, Iran, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Australia, Bangladesh, Croatia, Italy, Guatemala, Brazil, Germany, Morocco, Viet Nam, Georgia, Philippines, Gambia, Timor-Leste, Sudan, Botswana, Turkey, Panama, Chile, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Portugal, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Lithuania and Cambodia also spoke, as did representatives of the European Union and the Holy See.

Statements were also made by the representatives of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The meeting started at 10:05 a.m. and adjourned at 6:31 p.m.

Opening Remarks

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said women had a vital role to play in preventing conflict and in building and maintaining peace, but far too often, women were prevented from fully participating in peacemaking and peacebuilding.  The United Nations had made some progress in promoting the women, peace and security agenda.  The creation of UN-Women had amplified women’s voices and created momentum for women’s leadership on peace and security.  He said that his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict was focusing international attention on one of the greatest moral challenges of the time.  The 2015 high-level reviews of United Nations peace operations and its peacebuilding architecture, and the global study on women, peace and security had spurred new commitments and determination.  More women than ever before were making decisions for peace and security.

Still, “I am ashamed of the many atrocities that continue to be committed against women and girls, including by some of our own peacekeepers.  I am angered by the continued political exclusion of women,” Mr. Ban said.  Peace processes, humanitarian programmes and peacebuilding plans ignored women and failed to meet their needs and protect their rights.  That was happening against a backdrop of women and girls suffering inequalities aggravated by conflict, in which they were targeted for particularly brutal crimes by violent extremist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Boko Haram.

He urged the Organization to seek information on women and girls in all reports and briefings on countries affected by conflict, and to hold all United Nations peace operations accountable for putting women and girls at the centre of their work.  He urged Council members to listen to civil society, particularly to women’s groups, in all deliberations on conflict prevention and peacebuilding.  Funds must be made available for those activities.  He also urged the Council to make peace negotiations more diverse.  After more than 15 years of advocacy, that had not happened.  “In failing to include women and girls in peacemaking and peacebuilding processes, we are not only failing women and girls.  We are failing the world,” he said.

PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women), underlined the need to turn resolution 2242 (2015) into action, stressing that such commitments “must not simply be plans on paper”.  The Council was well positioned to ensure greater accountability and to match words with action.  For its part, UN‑Women was already responding to many of the findings and recommendations of last year’s global study on women, peace and security, including by contributing to the implementation of the peace operations review.  Welcoming the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission’s adoption of a gender strategy, she said the agency was also working hard to ensure that the United Nations approach to preventing and countering violent extremism engaged women’s leadership and respected and promoted women’s rights.

Highlighting recent progress achieved, she said that, for the first time, the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund had exceeded the goal of having 15 per cent of funds directly target gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Among other things, the percentage of peace agreements containing provisions on gender equality had increased from 22 per cent to 70 per cent in the last five years.  There had also been several gender justice milestones in national and international courts, she said, noting that the International Criminal Court had secured its first conviction of a former Head of State for personally committing rape as an international crime.

Nevertheless, she continued, there remained several areas of concern and stagnation.  Atrocities were committed against women and girls in war-ravaged countries, as demonstrated by the abduction of the Chibok girls in Nigeria.  There had also been extensive reports of abuses committed against Iraqi and Syrian women and girls trapped between ISIL/Da’esh and the military operations against them, including in the current situation in Mosul.  South Sudanese women and girls were raped by armed actors with total impunity, while around the world there were countless examples of extreme political marginalization of women in public life and decision-making.

In the first year of the Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security, she recalled, Council members had discussed the situations in Mali, Iraq, Central African Republic and Afghanistan.  In many of those contexts, the United Nations showed a similar lack of representation of women, she said, noting that only 13 per cent of the staff of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) were women.  Those stark deficits in the Organization’s own gender balance could not continue.  Welcoming the Secretary-General-designate’s commitments to take concrete measures to achieve gender parity, she also recognized Mr. Ban’s own contributions to women, peace and security.

RITA LOPIDIA, Executive Director of EVE Organization for Women Development, South Sudan, speaking on behalf of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, said that for the majority of women in South Sudan, peace and security remained far-fetched.  Women lacked protection, lived in fear, were at risk of being raped daily, had almost no recourse to justice, were economically disadvantaged and lived with limited freedoms.  Having advocated for women’s issues to be included in the Addis Ababa peace agreement and for women to participate in all parts of the process, she said the inclusion of women’s issues and the signing of the agreement in August 2015 had given South Sudanese women hope. Its implementation, however, was not guaranteed.

She said she had convened a peace dialogue in Nairobi, Kenya, with representatives of the Transitional Government of National Unity of South Sudan, local and global women’s groups and others.  It was important that such initiatives be supported.  The Council must apply all necessary pressure to ensure that the entire agreement was upheld by every side and that South Sudanese women from national and grass-roots organizations were included in its implementation and monitoring.  Women peacebuilders and civil society colleagues in Colombia urged the international community to ensure that the comprehensive agreement reached in Havana was salvaged.

Across all conflict and crisis situations, the Council must prioritize women and girls’ protection, she said.  A crucial aspect of that issue was increasing the number of women peacekeepers.  If the Government and opposition leaders of South Sudan did not meet the requirements set out in Council resolution 2304 (2016), the Council must impose more targeted sanctions on individuals and a total arms embargo.  Transitional justice, accountability and reconciliation were important parts of healing.  The Council, African Union and Member States needed to support the rule of law, including the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and the appointment of women in senior roles throughout the Court.

She said women’s voices, not only in South Sudan, but also from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Mali, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and other conflict areas must be elevated.  The United Nations, particularly the Council and Member States, must significantly improve their engagement at Headquarters and in the field with women representatives of civil society during times of crisis.  Despite a commitment made last year, the Council had yet to invite civil society representatives to country-specific consultations.  Unmet commitments were just words and did nothing to bring about peace.

Statements

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said there was a powerful commitment by the international community to the women, peace and security agenda.  One year ago, 113 States had spoken at the debate on the issue and it had become clear that all had responsibilities in the area.  Power and responsibility were two sides of the same coin.  One of the main priorities of his country had been the implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000).  Spain had, together with other countries, a network of national focal points on the matter.  His country had committed to a series of steps, including a national action plan and increasing the number of women in peace missions.  However, more efforts were needed in financing of the women, peace and security agenda.  Spain had dedicated 1.7 million euros to specific projects in Palestine, Syria and Jordan.

IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt) said that since the adoption of Council resolution 2242 (2015), many of its goals had been achieved, but they were just temporary gains.  Women and girls remained the primary victims in conflict areas.  He stressed that it was important to strike a balance between the two main pillars of the women, peace and security agenda, namely that of protection and that of participation.  The international community must provide the necessary protection in parallel with enabling women to participate in decision-making in post-conflict situations.  The women, peace and security agenda still ignored the situation of women, such as Palestinian women, who were lingering under occupation.  There was a need to increase financial resources for the agenda as well as to coordinate all United Nations efforts and those of civil society and regional organizations to implement the conclusions of the global review.  Political and moral commitment must be renewed to empower women in conflict and post-conflict areas.

CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand) said that the international community had yet to reach the point where the meaningful participation of women was seen as a natural and necessary element for all peace processes.  The Security Council had to match rhetoric with action.  It was also vital to ensure that United Nations missions had the right specialized personnel and skills-set.  The United Nations must ensure that gender perspectives were integrated across all activities and that appointments, including at senior levels, “reflect the world around us”.  That meant deploying more women in missions and that those deployed — male and female — had the knowledge and training to respond to challenges relating to a lack of gender equality or women’s empowerment.  New Zealand was actively increasingly the recruitment of senior women within its police and defence force.  She stressed the need to combat conflict-related sexual violence and condemned the use of sexual violence as a method of warfare.  New Zealand would continue to support the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers.  “It is time for an honest conversation between the Secretariat, contributing countries and Member States about why this continues to be a problem, how to stop it, and, when it occurs, how to respond,” she said.

IRYNA GERASHCHENKO (Ukraine) praised recent work on implementing resolution 1325 (2000), including the latest report and the creation of the national coordinator’s network.  She said that the Russian Federation was responsible for the enormous harm to women and children because of its aggression against her country in the past two years, including death, displacement and the making of orphans and widows.  Women were being detained in Crimea and other occupied areas; some of them had died.  The Russian Army was involved in all such violence.  Sexual crimes and trafficking had occurred as well.  Videos of interrogation of children in the occupied areas, who were still being detained, showed the terror they were going through.  Humanitarian, human rights and other international organizations were not allowed in those areas, so comprehensive evidence could not be presented.

Ukrainian women had attained positions in which they were actively working to restore peace, she said.  In addition, a plan of action for fully implementing resolution 1325 (2000) had been adopted by the legislature, which promoted women’s principal roles in peace processes.  Many women also joined the Ukrainian Army as volunteers, with over 2,000 of them becoming officers.  The civilian population was also being assisted by women.  Other gender elements had transformed military structures and the placement of gender advisers was in the works, as was ratification of international instruments countering violence against women.  Ukraine intended to continue working to ensure that women were protected against all forms of violence and to promote their empowerment in all work for peace.

WU HAITAO (China), recognizing progress in implementing resolution 1325 (2000), said that, however, women continued to bear the brunt of harm caused by conflict and terrorism.  It was therefore crucial to intensify efforts to end conflict through dialogue and consultation.  It was also necessary to ensure the full participation in all stages of peace processes.  In addition, post-conflict capacity-building for the purpose of protecting women’s rights and promoting their advancement must be supported.  Cooperation between all United Nations organs was crucial in that effort, with the Security Council playing its proper role and regional organizations also involved.  Counter-terrorism efforts must be intensified, along with other efforts to reduce violence.  He recounted recent international meetings hosted by China to review the implementation of the Beijing platform on human rights, and he pledged continued work in cooperation with the international community to empower women and end violence against them.

KORO BESSHO (Japan) said that women’s participation had real and tangible effects in the promotion of international peace and security.  Securing women’s participation in peace processes was vital for those processes to be successful and sustainable.  It was important to note that in both the Philippines and Colombia peace processes, one third of participants at the negotiating table were women.  Those examples illustrated how many women activists were seeking and succeeding in bringing peace to their country.  He welcomed the steady implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions and commended the establishment of National Focal Points in some 50 countries to exchange best practices.  “These developments show that norms and commitments are already on the table,” he said.  For its part, Japan had begun monitoring the implementation of its national action plan, was hosting conferences on the matter, and supporting UN-Women projects aimed at protecting and empowering displaced and migrant women in the Middle East and Africa.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) welcomed progress made in implementing the women, peace and security agenda, including the increased number of peace agreements with provisions related to gender and the presence of women in mediation processes.  It was a priority to deal with the underlying causes of the suffering of women, such as the feminization of poverty.  Women’s participation at all levels related to conflict resolution was vital to achieve peace.  Enhancing efforts to implement the resolution required coordination of States concerned, the offices of the United Nations and regional mechanisms.  The cultural and religious aspects of every situation should be taken into account.  The high level of sexual abuse used as a weapon of war by terrorist groups was another challenge.  It was unacceptable that women and girls were considered as loot of war.  Impunity could not be accepted.  He condemned all sexual abuse committed by armed forces and police serving in United Nations missions.

SITI HAJJAR ADNIN (Malaysia), aligning herself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the high-level review and the global study last year on implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) had renewed international momentum.  The adoption of resolution 2242 (2015) had provided additional impetus for the Council to explore the issue more deeply through its informal experts group.  Her country fully supported the participation of women at all levels of peace and mediation processes.  The presence of women peacekeepers could facilitate interaction with local women.  Increasing the number of women in decision-making positions would benefit the community, State or Organization as a whole.  She therefore supported efforts to achieve gender parity at the United Nations, especially at higher levels.

SAMANTHA POWER (United States), praising the role of civil society groups in advancing women’s rights, said that that the narratives showing women’s progress in peacemaking must become more diverse.  As it stood now, such anecdotes were still rare.  Her country continued to fund numerous initiatives for women’s empowerment in peace processes; it was important to go beyond women’s mere participation to effective participation in such processes.  She cited examples in which such effective participation had produced results, but stressed that, unfortunately, such instances remained rare, with women more often “just checking a box”.  In areas where women were victims of violence, in addition, intensified work on protection and ending impunity for crimes was needed.  She described the plight of women in Unity State, South Sudan, as well as citing the crimes of Boko Haram and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh).  Ending such violence must be a central concern of peace processes and peacekeeping missions, not just a by-product of ending conflict, she urged, adding that the zero-tolerance policy for abuse by peacekeepers must mean zero tolerance. 

FODÉ SECK (Senegal), aligning with the statement to be made by Canada’s representative on behalf of the Group of Friendly Countries on Women, Peace and Security, concurred with the urgent need to fully implement resolution 1325 (2000).  His country was the first in Africa to have made many efforts towards women’s equal participation under the resolution, as well as countering violence against women.  Civil society in the country had been integral in implementation, and Senegal had shared its experience with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other regional organizations at various forums.  Describing activity by the African Union on the resolution, he welcomed further work at the regional level in Africa.  However, women and girls continued to suffer disproportionately in conflict zones around the world.  Early warning and rapid national intervention must therefore be strengthened, and much more work was needed on women’s participation, conflict prevention, improvement of women’s access to justice and other relevant areas.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said the promotion of women in the United Nations was not just public relations but also a fundamental element in the effective work of the Organization.  Emphasizing the need of Member States to ensure participation of women in peace negotiations and in conflict prevention, he said the United Nations had the responsibility to appoint more women to high posts.  Several mandates had integrated elements of Council resolution 1325 (2000), but that approach had to be made systemic to all peace operations.  France had adopted a second national action plan which would be reviewed midterm by civil society.  His Government was working towards greater visibility of the action plan and to have more women in senior posts in the area of peace and security.  His Government was organizing a high-level conference on peacekeeping operations in French-speaking countries, which would start on Wednesday in Paris.

LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay) associated himself with the statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security delivered by Canada, saying growing acts of terrorism and the violations of international law by parties in armed conflict had intensified the impact on women, including through sexual violence as a war tactic.  The attacks on hospitals were also preventing women from having access to sexual and reproductive health services.  The Organization should step up efforts to respond to sexual violence in refugee camps.  The link between sexual violence and the financing of terrorist organizations should also be addressed, particularly as women were used as incentive for recruitment.  He was concerned by the impact of armed conflict on education, which had a disproportionate effect on girls.  Women must be part of the solution and their inclusion in peacebuilding and peacekeeping was fair and necessary.

JULIO HELDER MOURA LUCAS (Angola) called for Member States and international and regional organizations to take more concrete action to implement resolution 1325 (2000).  There had indeed been progress in creating structures to move the issue forward, as shown by the Secretary-General’s report, however violations against women persisted in conflict situations.  He urged all parties to comply with international law and Security Council decisions.  In Angola following the long civil conflict, support to women victims of violence had been provided along with measures to increase women’s participation in the social, economic and political life of the country.  A new plan of action was in process that would affect all areas of women’s empowerment and protection and it raised awareness on the issue at all levels of Government.  He called for more focus on women’s issues in peace processes, as well as more effective participation of women in such processes.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom), pledging that his country would support greater civil society participation at international forums on the issue in the future, said that despite international action and yearly commitments, women continued to suffer in conflicts and still did not participate as effectively in peace processes as they should.  His country had been supporting projects for greater participation in conflict zones such as Yemen.  In Colombia, such efforts had born significant fruit.  He called for intensified work to implement resolution 1325 (2000) throughout the United Nations, including in related peacebuilding and development areas.

VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation), Council President for October, speaking in his national capacity, said that the full equality declared for women in his country a century ago continued to have significant impact.  At the United Nations, much had been done to implement resolution 1325 (2000) and that must continue.   He emphasized, however, that each conflict situation should be considered in its own light and implementing the resolution must not be seen as an end in itself.  His country had a national action strategy that prioritized a range of areas, including broadening women’s participation in economic and political life and eliminating stereotypes.  He concurred with the Secretary-General’s report on improving implementation in the United Nations, but urged that duplication of efforts be avoided and national responsibilities be prioritized.  The Council’s focus should be on the situation of women in the largest-scale armed conflicts as well as through terrorist acts.  Responding to the representative of Ukraine, he said that the conflict there would not have happened if not for the suppression of protest following a foreign-influenced coup d'état.  Recounting reports of abuse of women by Ukrainian authorities, he said that the violence would have ended if Kyiv had complied with efforts to bring about peace.

ANNIKA SÖDER, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said implementation of Council resolution 2242 (2015) and the recommendations of the global study should include adoption of a gender equality perspective, focusing on strengthening the situation of women and girls in conflict situations.  Continuous dialogue with women’s organizations and relevant stakeholders in the field was paramount.  Data collection, including sex-disaggregated statistics, must be improved.  The full and effective participation of women and girls in peace processes required the Council to adopt strong mandates on participation.  There should also be enough resources available in realizing the women, peace and security agenda’s goals.  Defunding should be considered for those peace and security missions, operations, projects and programmes that did not meaningfully address gender equality or provide for the participation of women and girls.  There was an acute need for gender mainstreaming the Organization’s regular and peacekeeping budgets.

THOMAS AMOLO, Political and Diplomatic Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya, said his country had adopted a national action plan that would mainstream Council resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) into its national development.  Kenya aimed to improve the quality of women’s participation in security at the national level by increasing their numbers.  The Kenyan Constitution now addressed structural discrimination and protected and guaranteed fundamental freedoms and the civic and socioeconomic rights of men and women equally.  He underscored the important role education, capacity-building and communication played in combating violence against women and girls.  To that end, Member States and the United Nations had to prioritize education and create awareness of the critical role of women in peacebuilding, peace and security.  It was important to not lose sight of the fact that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognized the links between pace and development.  Member States had to address issues related to existing gaps. It was also necessary to provide predictable and sustained financing for peacebuilding. 

KHADIJA BUKAR IBRAHIM, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, highlighted a number of challenges and gaps that remained to be addressed concerning the women, peace and security agenda, including the participation of women in decision-making and leadership roles, more involvement of women in the prevention of conflicts and peace efforts, insufficient funds, lack of disaggregated data, forced displacement exacerbated by persistent armed conflict and continuing unprecedented levels of sexual violence and assault.  Meeting those challenges required a multi-stakeholder approach at the global, regional, subregional and national levels, she stressed, adding that the African Union’s Agenda 2063 placed particular emphasis on the importance of women in conflict prevention and resolution, mediation and peacebuilding, as well as the rebuilding of post-conflict societies.  At the national level, Nigeria had launched an action plan to fully implement the relevant provisions of resolution 1325 (2000) and had committed to the provisions of resolution 1820 (2008) on ending acts of sexual violence against women in conflict situations.  While 21 of the captured Chibok girls had recently been released, Nigeria would continue to work until all the remaining girls were freed.

LAILA BOKHARI, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, speaking also for Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, said women were still excluded from many processes that would decide their future and the international community was still not tapping into the resources of 50 per cent of its population.  She welcomed the new Informal Experts Group on Women and Peace and Security and the national focal points network which had been formed to ensure greater accountability.  The Colombian peace process had raised the bar, she said, emphasizing that from here on, women would expect to take part in negotiations, and civil society would demand to be heard.  In Syria, even though negotiations were not moving in the right direction, women and civil society were being consulted regularly through innovative formal mechanisms. 

On pushing the women, peace and security agenda, she said that a Nordic network of women mediators had been launched in Oslo, joining the global network of women mediators.  In Sweden, the armed forces had issued a first of its kind handbook for gender mainstreaming in operations.  Furthermore, the Nordic countries expressed their strong support for the proposal by Spain and the United Kingdom to strengthen the gender advisory/women, peace and security unit in the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Field Support (DFS).

MARA MARINAKI, Principal Adviser for Gender Issues, European Union, said it was important to prioritize efforts to promote women’s participation and leadership and remain committed to leading by example.  Outlining several achievements over the past year in the area of women, peace and security, she noted the “crucial milestone” in achieving 50-50 representation among heads of European Union civilian field missions.  From Syria to Kosovo, from Nigeria to Georgia, from South Sudan to the United Republic of Tanzania — the European Union had comprehensively supported women’s participation in peace negotiations, mediation and preventive dialogues.  Women’s participation had also been strongly promoted in all phases of all European Union-funded humanitarian actions.  It had also prioritized action against sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and funded transitional justice processes in Kosovo, Colombia and the Philippines to help ensure that past abuses were appropriately dealt with.

The European Union was also supporting projects in Ukraine and Burundi to address the issue of violence against women affected by conflict, she said.  While maintaining a strong focus on combating sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian settings, the European Union had supported humanitarian action in Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bangladesh and other countries.  In 2016 alone, it had supported 62 projects with activities to address sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises.  The European Union had also remained engaged in tackling the root causes of violence and extremism and was focused on strengthening its cooperative frameworks, including with UN-Women, which played a crucial role in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.  With a focus on reinforcing its accountability framework, the European Union had adapted and broadened the way it qualifies and measures progress and was taking continuing measures to ensure the highest standards of professionalism in its field missions.

MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia), recalling that the link between women’s participation and conflict prevention and resolution had been well established, stressed that such participation must be promoted as a priority.  In Colombia, which was currently ending the longest-running conflict in the Western Hemisphere, it was understood that women were integral to achieving peace.  The country’s peace process marked the first time such a process had explicitly included a gender approach, she said, noting in particular the establishment of a gender sub-commission.  While the dialogue between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army (FARC-EP) had been difficult at times, it had been respectful and ultimately fruitful, leading to the final peace agreement with specific references to gender.  Women had made up about half of those consulted in the peace process and the Government had offered reparations to women victims for their suffering.  Despite the difficulties posed by the recent plebiscite, the Government had called for a national dialogue to reach an agreement on peace and to implement it as soon as possible.  More than 100 women’s organizations had reiterated their support for such an outcome.

OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) said the peacemaking balance sheet of the international community had not been positive in 2016, with more forcibly displaced persons than ever since 1945, including many women and girls.  In those challenging times, partnership with women’s networks was crucial.  On resolution 2242 (2015), he said that gender considerations were an integral part of Switzerland’s programmes in the area of religion and meditation, and that the country had set up such programmes in both Morocco and Libya.  Non-State armed groups were stakeholders in the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda and Switzerland continued its efforts to facilitate dialogue with those groups.  The Government supported the non-governmental group “Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice”, which had helped reintegrate former child soldiers in Uganda and victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It was also partner to the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies, which would make gender-based violence a top priority of its humanitarian engagement from 2017 and onward.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said that, while there had been progress in mainstreaming women, peace and security, many agendas had been limited both geographically and politically.  It was important to renew commitment and to state “loud and clear” that women and gender perspectives must be at the centre of peacebuilding and peacekeeping plans.  Sustaining peace required holistic and long-term approaches, from promoting human rights to national efforts which emphasized the role of women.  He cited the peace agreement in Colombia as an example and said that such cases should become a generalized practice to ensure that mediation processes include a gender perspective.  It was essential that activities carried out by peacekeeping operations take into account the specific needs of women and girls.  All peacekeeping operations should integrate from the planning phase a gender perspective.  More attention should be paid to women and girls who were victims of sexual violence.  To that end, a greater number of women on the ground were needed.  Armed conflict affected women more because sexual violence and exploitation had become a weapon of war.  Abuses by United Nations personnel were simply unacceptable, he stressed, emphasizing the need to uphold the zero-tolerance policy.  Greater synergy was needed between Member States, the United Nations and women’s organizations to combat the use of sexual violence as a terror tactic.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said last years’ review of resolution 1325 (2000) had been an opportunity to calibrate the international community’s collective ambition to promote the shared goal of strengthening women’s roles in conflict resolution, peacebuilding, peacekeeping and transitional justice systems.  “Women across the world, from Colombia to Uganda to Burundi to Tunisia, have emerged as leaders and consensus-builders, inspiring hopes of peace and prosperity amidst conflict and violence,” she said.  Yet, millions of women and girls remained most vulnerable in situations of armed conflict.  Calling for a renewed focus on those challenges, she said that women also had vital roles to play as agents of peace and achieving sustainable development.  Women’s special skills in mediation made them particularly suited as Special Envoys and Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, she said, adding that Pakistani women peacekeepers had also served as police officers, doctors and nurses in missions around the world.  In addition, as host to the largest protracted refugee population in the world, Pakistan had allowed Afghan refugees — including women and girls — unhindered access to free education, health care and secure employment.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) said it was essential to bridge the gap between intent and implementation and between words and action.  There was a need to increase the availability of gender-disaggregated data and reports on progress towards implementing and monitoring commitments.  Women must be engaged in mediation and conflict resolution, and post-conflict and recovery phases, in closer coordination with the relevant United Nations entities.  Global processes were effective only when they had strong roots on the ground.  For its part, Kazakhstan was enhancing training on gender equality for armed and security forces, promoting the participation of women soldiers in peacekeeping operations and implementing the zero-tolerance policy towards sexual violence.  It was also doing its part to ensure that women on mediation teams were appointed as gender advisers in relevant ministries.  Kazakhstan would work to ensure the global target of earmarking 15 per cent of official development assistance (ODA) for efforts to achieve the women, peace and security agenda.  He also made the link between peace and sustainable development.

CLAUDIO NARDI (Liechtenstein), also speaking on behalf of Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland, said it was critical to empower women in order to prevent conflict.  The United Nations as an international instrument had to become more effective in conflict prevention, he added, calling for greater emphasis on gender-sensitive conflict prevention and early warning.  As seen in the instance in Colombia, empowering women was indispensable to establishing peace.  Data showed that women’s participation increased the probability of a peace agreement lasting at least two years by 20 per cent, and of it lasting 15 years by 35 per cent.  It was vital to eliminate barriers for women’s participation in peace-related activities and ensure that women were fully included during the formulation and implementation of early warning systems and peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts at all levels.  The massive displacement of people in different conflict areas in the past year had showed that when conflicts arose, women and children were among the first victims to suffer.  To that end, it was critical to further strengthen the fight against human trafficking.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said that the only way to achieve sustainable peace was through the meaningful inclusion of women in conflict prevention, resolution, mediation and peace processes.  The inclusion of women in peace processes must be the rule rather than the exception.  The Netherlands used a twin-track strategy to implement the women, peace and security agenda.  The first track was the integration of the principles in Council resolution 1325 (2000) and the second track was the implementation of its national action plan.  The third national action plan had been published last March and was drafted in partnership with more than 50 Dutch civil society organizations and knowledge institutions.  By coordinating its activities with those of civil society the Netherlands aimed to make each stronger and achieve better, more sustainable results.  The third national action plan would also focus on assisting eight countries in Africa and the Middle East and North Africa region.  Together with UN-Women, the Netherlands was working to help Syrian women pursue a common agenda and had a voice during the Syrian peace talks.

MATEO ESTREME (Argentina), recalling that resolution 1325 (2000) had acknowledged the important role that women played in peace processes, said that one of the greatest remaining challenges was the resolution’s implementation on the ground.  Warning that sustained peace would only be possible with the inclusion of women in all phases of those processes, he welcomed the establishment of the network of focal points for women, peace and security, which would contribute to the agenda’s implementation by States.  Resolution 1325 (2000) was fully embedded in Argentina’s commitment to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.  The country was also committed to the full participation of women in decision-making.  Noting that egalitarian societies that respected the rights of women were more peaceful, he went on to emphasize that civil society organizations should also contribute to the design and implementation of relevant gender policies.

VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, said that women-related issues and gender perspective had been addressed in several key regional mechanisms and frameworks.  The ASEAN Declaration of the Advancement of Women had promoted equitable and effective participation of women whenever possible in all fields as well as the integration into Member States’ national plans of the specific concerns of women and their roles as active agents in peace, security and development.  Another regional agreement on the elimination of violence against women affirmed the region’s commitment to tackle violence against women in all its forms.

At a recent ministerial meeting on women, ASEAN sectoral bodies and Member States were encouraged to promote gender responsiveness and integrate gender-mainstreaming into their respective activities and initiatives, he said.  The meeting adopted the 2016-2020 Work Plan of the ASEAN Committee on Women, which focused on promoting women leadership and non-gender stereotyping and social norm change.  ASEAN recognized the constructive role and valuable contributions of female peacekeepers, he added, calling for an increase in the number and citing that several regional States had already provided well-trained female peacekeepers.  A holistic approach to addressing women-related issues would be complementary to global endeavours to implement Council resolution 1325 (2000).

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary), associating herself with the European Union, said women were a strong constituency for peace, having participated in Colombia’s peace negotiations as well as in mediation efforts in Burundi and Uganda.  United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad’s story highlighted the need for women’s substantive participation in conflict prevention and in countering violent extremism.  In was in that spirit that Hungary had financed a gender-based workshop in Kenya.  She hoped for recognition of the important role that women-led organizations could play in formal peace processes.  Stagnation in the proportion of women in United Nations peacekeeping was deeply disturbing, she said, adding that she personally hoped that the next Secretary-General would make improvements in that regard.

RICHARD GALBAVÝ (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said the challenge in the area of women, peace and security was not a lack of a normative framework but significant gaps in its implementation.  The evidence that peace talks were more successful when they involved women was mounting, he said, noting that a peace agreement was 35 per cent more likely to last at least 15 years if women participated in its creation.  “The standard of inclusion is one we can always live up to,” he said, stressing that the equal participation and involvement of women in peace and security was a cross-cutting issue that involved such areas as security-sector reform.  Women’s participation and empowerment was also closely linked with the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.  There were many reasons to be hopeful about the women, peace and security agenda, including the adoption of important global policy tools, increasing numbers of women involved in peace talks, and the participation of civil society in today’s debate, which demonstrated the Council’s willingness to listen to those with direct experience on the issue.

ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, said that despite progress made, women remained unequally involved in peace processes and their positive role in all stages of conflict prevention and resolution was often underestimated or even ignored instead of being recognized and utilized.  The Network called on Member States, United Nations entities and regional and subregional organizations to support efforts to implement Council resolution 1325 (2000).  It called for the engagement of women in the design and implementation of humanitarian action and early recovery, taking into account the increasing needs for sustained donor support to host countries and communities to appropriately support women’s self-reliance and resilience.

He called for greater efforts to promote and respect the human rights of women and girls and to strengthen all efforts to effectively address gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence.  It was important to fight impunity and ensure accountability under national and international jurisdictions.  Women’s empowerment and participation was a cornerstone of any prevention and protection response.  Economic, political and social empowerment of women and girls reduced their vulnerability and enhanced their ability to protect themselves.  Speaking in his national capacity, and aligning himself with the statements made by the European Union and Liechtenstein, he said it was time to begin showing tangible results.  All stakeholders had to cooperate and harmonize efforts in order to avoid duplication.  Awareness-raising and education on the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda had been integrated into the country’s educational programmes and had become an important component of training the Slovenian forces.

MARGARETA KASSANGANA-JAKUBOWSKA (Poland) said it was a primary responsibility of Member States to integrate the commitments and obligations under the women, peace and security agenda into national policies and legislative frameworks.  Poland remained committed to the promotion of women’s meaningful participation in all facets of peace processes: political, institutional and financial.  Poland had appointed a focal point on the issue and participated in the founding meeting of the Women, Peace and Security National Focal Points Network that took place on the margins of the General Assembly’s general debate.  Upcoming meetings of that network would surely provide a platform for the exchange of good practices in the field and Poland was developing a national action plan to implement Council resolution 1325 (2000).  Poland had earmarked a minimum of 15 per cent of all its future donations to the Peacebuilding Fund for gender responsible policies, including those addressing the special needs of women in post-conflict situations.

TIMOTHY HERRMANN, the Holy See, said that, in order to harness the special capacities of women in peace and security, international efforts were needed to enable them to succeed.  That would be difficult if women continued to represent a disproportionate number of the world’s disadvantaged.  The lack of women’s access to education, in particular, must be addressed.  Describing the Catholic Church’s longstanding efforts to provide young women and girls with education around the world, he said setting up women to succeed also required combating poverty and ensuring access to other fundamental resources.  Women commonly lacked access to basic services, including health care and social protection, as well as to consistent and nutritious food, clean water and sanitation, employment opportunities and decent pay.  Calling on the international community to spare some of the money it spent on weapons to help the victims of conflicts — a disproportionate number of whom were women — he concluded by stressing the need to dispel the false impression that women were only victims and not also peacekeepers.

PASCAL BUFFIN (Belgium), aligning himself with the European Union, said that his country’s priorities on women, peace and security could be summed up in one word — implementation.  In Belgium itself, all sectors were focused on implementing a second action plan, and internationally the country was working with partners to assist national efforts, particularly in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali.  The country was also a founding member of the network of focal points on the issue.  Going forward, he stressed that the active participation of women at all levels in all peace processes must be increased, impunity must be ended to counter sexual violence through building up structures of justice, and implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) must be at the core of country-specific actions of the Council where appropriate.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica) said that lack of political will meant there was still resistance to greater women’s participation in peace processes, despite the proof that such participation was crucial for success.  He called for such obstacles to be overcome.  He also called on all members of the Security Council to ensure gender equality for positions at the United Nations and elsewhere.  It was important for the Council to work with UN-Women on those efforts and in efforts to deploy gender advisers where needed.  He urged that gender violence in conflict situations be punished severely, with impunity ended and zero tolerance of abuse applied universally within the United Nations system.  It was imperative to empower women to play their vital role within peace processes, in their Governments and in their communities.

TIM MAWE (Ireland), noting that the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants recognized the role of women in peace and reconciliation, urged the Security Council to maintain momentum by ensuring that the women, peace and security agenda was mainstreamed into the international community’s response to the migration crisis.  Ireland urged Member States and the Security Council to support the work of the Peacebuilding Fund and the Peacebuilding Commission.  The Irish national action plan on women, peace and security had been mainstreamed into the country’s overseas engagements and recruitment programmes.  With regard to sexual exploitation and abuse by the United Nations and other peacekeepers, there was not only need for a change, but a need to create a new paradigm.

ION JINGA (Romania), aligning himself with the European Union, welcomed the establishment of the Group of Experts and other progress in implementing resolution 1325 (2000).  Romania had participated in the founding meeting of the national focal points network, which would provide opportunities to share lessons learned and best practices.  Member States, regional organizations, civil society and the media should all continue to do their part in implementing the resolution, as peacebuilding required work at all levels.  Gender equality, tolerance, non-discrimination, and interdiction of sexual harassment and violence were reflected in all military training in Romania, recently reinforced by the national action plan adopted by the Ministry of Defence.  Currently, 15 per cent of the country’s police officers in United Nations missions were women, one of whom was recently awarded top honours, and mix-gender teams were deployed in civilian and military cooperation units in Afghanistan.  In concluding, he affirmed the priority of preventing conflict for the interest of women and all persons.

MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada), speaking for the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, welcomed the establishment of the Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security as it would facilitate a more systematic approach to the agenda in the Council.  His Group emphasized the importance of implementing national action plans with appropriate resourcing, monitoring and civil society consultation, and it called for increased participation of women in peacekeeping operations.  The Group was profoundly concerned by the impact of the forced displacement of women and girls and called for their more systematic engagement in the design and implementation of humanitarian assistance.  The Group condemned in the strongest terms incidents of sexual violence in all conflicts and also reaffirmed its full commitment to the zero-tolerance policy.

Speaking in his national capacity, he said that Canada supported the work of UN-Women and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Sexual Violence in Conflict.  Member States had to do more to integrate women, peace and security into peace operations by ending sexual violence and abuse by peacekeeping personnel.  A broad approach to ending gender inequality also entailed engaging men and boys.  Canada implemented the agenda domestically by renewing its national action plan, ensuring the participation of women in peace operations; establishing a gender-based approach in military operations; and providing support to victims of sexual violence in conflict areas.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) said his country invested both domestically and globally in achieving gender equality.  At home, it had adopted national action plans and development strategies aimed at tackling stereotyping, violence and the lack of access to victim support services.  The newly elected female President was testament that the Estonian people could reach the highest ranks regardless of their gender.  Estonia would continue to encourage women’s participation in all spheres of society, governance and industry.  In the military, where the majority of participants were male, Estonia hoped to triple the number of female attendants in two years.  On a global level, Estonia remained committed to promoting the potential of information and communications technology and innovation towards protecting women’s and girl’s rights.  Information and communications technology could also give access to voting and education, and it could detect and collect data and offer victim support services.  It could also function as a platform for free speech and global communication.  He commended UN-Women for incorporating technology into programmes and supporting a number of related measures.

MAHLATSE MMINELE (South Africa) said his country believed in the empowerment of women in all aspects of peace, security and development, and that was reflected by the fact that it had one of the largest contingents of women peacekeepers deployed throughout Africa.  In recognition of the role of women within the context of peace operations, South Africa had developed training programmes to equip peacekeepers to deal with unique circumstances.  He also highlighted efforts towards mainstreaming the involvement of women in peace and security, which could be achieved through further coordination and cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations.  Women and girls were disproportionately affected by conflict situations, especially with regard to sexual abuse and violence.  Member States had a fundamental responsibility to prosecute the perpetrators of human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including those related to sexual violence against women and girls.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said research had highlighted that women’s participation made humanitarian assistance more effective, strengthened the protection of civilians, contributed to the political settlement of disputes and accelerated economic recovery.  Women were the main victims of current crises, especially in the Middle East.  The spread of violent extremism and takfiri ideology, which had no respect for women, threatened the life and rights of women and girls in the region.  Women and girls had been targeted for systematic sexual exploitation and slavery, rape and other forms of sexual violence by extremists and terrorist groups.  The systematic violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people, including Palestinian women, by the brutal occupation of the Israeli regime and the illegal blockade of Gaza was the most blatant form of terrorism against a whole nation.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), aligning with the statement made on behalf of ASEAN, affirmed his country’s commitment to work with Member States, the United Nations and other relevant actors to empower women and girls as the agent for change for peace and security around the world.  In furthering that agenda, it was critical to invest more in conflict prevention, to promote a culture of peace and tolerance and to acknowledge the role of women and family in the prevention of radicalization.  It was also necessary to ensure that the work of the Security Council complemented the work of other parts of the United Nations system.  Affirming the imperative to ensure zero tolerance of sexual abuse in conflict situations, he urged that the contribution of Member States to peacekeeping operations be increased.  His country currently contributed to 10 United Nations operations with some 3,000 personnel in total, including 18 female peacekeepers, with gender perspectives incorporated into training.  Calling for predictable and sustained funding for implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), he pledged his country’s cooperation in all peace and empowerment of women as a candidate for a non-permanent Council seat for the period 2019-2020.

MARIE CHATARDOVÁ (Czech Republic) said her country aimed to strengthen women’s position in society through development cooperation as well as humanitarian aid.  That goal was enshrined, among others, in the 2013‑2017 Strategy of Multilateral Foreign Development Cooperation.  The Czech Republic cooperated with relevant United Nations agencies.  In the field of humanitarian aid, it paid special attention to victims of gender-based violence.  The Czech Republic had become a lead nation in a programme, requested by Jordan, which focused on the training of Jordanian female soldiers in explosive ordnance disposal.  Since women were still underrepresented in decision-making positions in the Czech Republic, the Government in July 2016 adopted the 2016-2018 Action Plan for Balanced Representation of Women and Men in Decision-Making Positions.  The Ministry of Defence adopted in June 2015 its own action plan to implement Council resolution 1325 (2000).  By year’s end, the Ministry would adopt the 2017‑2020 National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said human rights violations against women and girls had continued unabated.  “The international community must do everything it can to stop this,” she said, noting Australia’s contribution of $6 million to the United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women.  Recently, Australia had announced further humanitarian and stabilization assistance for Iraq, with particular support for reproductive and sexual health for women and girls in the city of Mosul.  It had also committed $200 million in response to the Syrian crisis, including dedicated components to address the unique needs of women and girls.  She reiterated her country’s support for more women in United Nations peacekeeping operations, stating that there was no excuse for inaction when addressing sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of Friends on Women, Peace and Security, said that his country remained committed to enhancing the role and participation of women, including in its contingents.  Bangladesh so far had 1,047 women peacekeepers, including 774 police personnel, in various peacekeeping missions.  It was currently in the process of detailing two female military observers and looked forward to deploying women contingent commanders in the near future.  Peacekeepers remained sensitized to taking decisive action to prevent and combat sexual and gender-based violence as part of their broader mandate on the protection of civilians.  Bangladesh also unequivocally condemned allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and had demonstrated its resolve to extend necessary cooperation in implementing the comprehensive measures needed to combat those scourges.  Bangladesh had made it a priority to further mainstream women’s participation in its multidimensional efforts to combat terrorism and prevent violent extremism.  Bangladesh would remain determined to forge ahead with its women’s development and empowerment efforts to defeat violent extremists and terrorists.

DANIJEL MEDAN (Croatia), associating himself with the European Union, underlined gender equality as the only effective way to achieve sustainable peace and development.  While much had been achieved since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), 2015’s high-level review had shown that the protection of women in armed conflict, parallel to the enhancement of their contribution to peace processes and rebuilding their communities, remained a crucial challenge.  Women’s participation in decision-making was still unacceptably low, while sexual violence against women and girls in conflict continued to be devastating.  Existing commitments needed to be translated into concrete actions that would bring tangible benefits for the advancement of women and girls.  Member States bore the primary responsibility to ensure that global commitments and obligations were integrated into domestic policies and laws.  Describing Croatia’s national action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), he said a second such plan was currently being developed and would be adopted by the end of 2016.

EMILIA GATTO (Italy), aligning herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said there was clear evidence that no peace was possible without women’s active participation.  It was inconceivable that half of society were excluded from efforts to make and sustain peace.  Women’s participation in conflict prevention must also be promoted.  Less than half of peace agreements said anything about women.  Her country was committed to promote the needs of women into all aspects of peacekeeping, conflict prevention and resolution.  A comprehensive strategy was needed to prevent radicalization of women and girls.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala) said his Government had established an inter-agency panel on women, peace and security.  The appropriate implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) required an unshakable commitment in national budgets and from international donors.  Condemning sexual violence by peacekeepers, he demanded full implementation of the zero-tolerance policy.  Perpetrators of sexual abuse should be brought to justice, he said, noting that two people had been brought to trial.  Women’s participation was essential to establishing sustainable peace and should play an essential role in the promotion of justice and in conflict prevention and resolution.  He urged Member States to move towards a stronger commitment to gender equality.

CARLOS SERGIO SOBRAL DUARTE (Brazil) said that, despite progress in implementing resolution 1325 (2000), women were still a minority in peace negotiations and peacekeeping operations.  As women were proven agents of change and suffered disproportionately from conflict, all resolutions on the women, peace and security agenda must be fully implemented.  Having participated in the founding meeting of the national focal point network, he stressed the importance of regional organizations and States.  Furthermore, synergies between that agenda and relevant goals of the 2030 Agenda should be utilized in a complementary manner, without dulling the focus of either.  The efforts of all other relevant bodies should be coordinated in a complementary manner as well.  In protection efforts, particular attention should be paid to women and girls who belonged to vulnerable groups, and all peacekeeping operations must be include gender advisers and peacekeepers adequately trained in gender issues.  His country had made considerable progress in a range of areas on the agenda, he said, adding he was confident that national efforts would positively influence activities in the international arena, through Brazil’s substantial South-South cooperation and peacekeeping contributions.

HEIKO THOMS (Germany), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that despite progress, huge gaps remained in the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).  Noting that such shortcomings were not due to a lack of words but to a lack of action, he stressed that the Council needed to live up to the commitment made through its adoption of resolution 1325 (2000) and should open its country-specific considerations for briefings by civil society whenever possible.  Noting that the establishment of the Informal Expert Group on Women and Peace and Security had been a “milestone”, he emphasized the need to improve the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) at the regional level, noting that as part of its Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Germany had appointed a special representative on gender issues.  Next month, the country would host a meeting on women, peace and security in Berlin.  In addition, it was currently revising its national action plan on resolution 1325 (2000) and working with UN-Women and the African Union to explore ways to facilitate the exchange of experiences between African women leaders.

MARRIET SCHUURMAN, Special Representative on Women, Peace and Security for the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), noted that 55 Heads of State and Government had endorsed NATO’s action plan for implementing resolution 1325 (2000).  Such an endorsement might be the largest coalition on the agenda.  Last week, NATO hosted its first ever Civil Society Advisory Council on the issue.  A range of practical steps were being taken, including in the area of preventing sexual violence, for which NATO needed to look at itself too by raising awareness of its codes of conduct and other relevant tools.  With just 10 per cent of NATO’s armed forces being women, however, it must do better, she acknowledged.  In that regard, she supported the Defence Ministers’ London pledge to double the proportion of women in United Nations peacekeeping missions.  Among progress in NATO, she further cited the first female Deputy Secretary-General, first female four-star officer and other female high-level officers.  The momentum must continue.  “Equal participation is not a favour to women.  It is a security requirement”, she stated.

ABDERRAZZAK LAASSEL (Morocco) said women were unavoidable agents of change and of the maintenance and consolidation of peace.  Women’s involvement in peacebuilding was not only a right but also an obligation.  Research had proven that the participation of women improved prospects for conflict resolution and the sustainability of peace.  Morocco had adopted a proactive policy to promote women’s equality.  It had launched a training programme for women mediators in the Mediterranean.  His country had also organized an international conference in September on women, peace and security during which the role of women in mediation, prevention and de-radicalization, as well as best practices in the prevention of sexual violence, had been discussed.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), aligning himself with ASEAN, welcomed progress in implementing resolution 1325 (2000).  Responsibility for implementation, he stressed, lay first and foremost with States, but further success could only be ensured through international partnerships.  Expressing grave concern over continuing violence targeting women and girls, especially those displaced by conflict, he condemned all such abuse and called for strengthened work on the issue.  He urged the United Nations, in addition, to strictly implement its zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.  Greater efforts were needed to end conflict by addressing its root causes as well as strengthening post-conflict peacebuilding.  Viet Nam fully recognized the crucial role of women in conflict prevention and settlement, State-building, peace maintenance and socioeconomic development.  Vietnamese women fought valiantly for the country’s independence and today women officers were preparing for deployment in the near future in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

PAUL BEKKERS, Director, Office of the Secretary-General, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), warned that the normalization of violence at all levels — local, regional, national and international — posed one of the greatest challenges of modern times.  Attacks on women and girls, as well as sexual slavery, which were sometimes part of the strategy of combatants and violent extremists groups, must stop.  Expressing disappointment that implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) was still lagging, he stressed the need to “walk the talk” and go beyond rhetoric.  As the largest regional security organization under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, the OSCE was working to prevent and resolve disputes peacefully and was committed to gender equality. 

Indeed, he said, of the 60 existing national action plans on resolution 1325 (2000), 28 were from the OSCE region, and more were in the making.  Members of the organization had established a network of 60 gender focal points and they were also working to address violence against women and domestic violence in times of peace.  In addition, OSCE would soon convene a conference on “Gender Mainstreaming in Operational Responses to Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism”.  While there remained a long way to go, the organization remained committed to the full implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) and hoped to cooperate with partners to that end.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), associating himself with the European Union, said one of his country’s persistent concerns related to the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) in conflict-affected territories.  That included the 20 per cent of Georgia that remained under illegal foreign military occupation.  Hundreds of thousands of Georgian internally displaced persons and refugees — victims of ethnic cleansing — were being denied the right to return to their homes, while the fundamental rights of women and girls in the occupied Abkhazia and Tskhivali regions and South Ossetia continued to be neglected.  Effective conflict prevention must start from an understanding of the broad and deep insecurities that permeate women’s lives prior to conflict.  Stressing that current challenges in peacekeeping should be addressed in a comprehensive and transparent way, he recalled that Georgia had reacted immediately to allegations voiced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in January 2016 regarding sexual abuse cases by foreign military forces in the Central African Republic.

KIRA DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines), associating herself with ASEAN and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that it was important to ensure the protection of women’s human rights.  Women must be empowered to actively participate in areas of peacebuilding, peacekeeping, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and post-conflict reconstruction.  It was also important to focus on promoting and mainstreaming gender perspectives in all aspects of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding.  States could benefit from each other’s national experiences.  It was in that context that the Philippines signed up in the women, peace and security focal points network.  That network was instrumental in sharing of experiences that were more efficient and timely.  The Philippines was also in the process of negotiating a peace agreement with its Communist Party and implementing other peace agreements.

MAMADOU TANGARA (Gambia) said lack of political will, intolerance and archaic laws continued to present obstacles to women’s full participation in the quest for peace and security.  Encouraging the appointment of more women in key peacekeeping posts, he emphasized the need to take concrete steps to outlaw violence against women.  Women represented “soft targets” in conflict situations and rape was increasingly being used as a weapon of war.  “Rape with all the pain and indignities it entails should not only be condemned but prosecuted,” he said, adding that rape in war zones should be made a crime against humanity and prosecuted by all countries.  Underscoring the importance of education in the quest to further peace and security, he said women in Gambia were regarded as agents of change and progress, as pillars of society and as natural pacifiers.

MARIA HELENA LOPES DE JESUS PIRES (Timor-Leste), underscoring that women and children suffered disproportionately in both conflict and post-conflict situations, called for funds to ensure support for survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse.  She noted the adoption by her country’s Council of Ministers in April of their five-year National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, focusing on areas of participation, prevention, protection and peacebuilding.  Timor-Leste was grateful to UN-Women for its support for that process, she said, adding that, with the participation of women, Timor-Leste society would be more inclusive, its people empowered to contribute to development, and the country ultimately stronger.

OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), affirming support for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), said that women in his country had obtained all their rights, some of them ahead of many other countries.  They held important positions in the Government and were significant partners in national dialogue.  Sixty per cent of civil servants were women.  There was also a strong framework countering violence against women.  Stressing that there was no military solution to conflicts and always a need for a negotiated solution, he called on the United Nations to allow no exceptions to that principle and to enforce the zero-tolerance policy towards sexual abuse in peacekeeping situations.  Condemning extremism, he supported all United Nations efforts to ensure the protection of women and children.  As women’s advancement was integral to development, he called on the United Nations to support more capacity-building, debt relief and relief from sanctions that presented obstacles in that regard.

NKOLOI NKOLOI (Botswana) welcomed the adoption of the Global Acceleration Instrument on Women, Peace, Security and Humanitarian Action, which aimed to expedite implementation of the women, peace and security agenda by building capacity and increasing funding for women’s participation, leadership and empowerment.  Through the Instrument, women mediators in some conflict-affected countries had been involved in conflict prevention and resolution efforts, with encouraging outcomes.  Deeply concerned that women continued to bear the brunt of armed conflicts, domestic violence, sexual abuse and humanitarian crises, he said it was imperative that women had the capacity to prevent violence, conflict and extremism.

GÜVEN BEGEÇ (Turkey) said the world was now facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, with an increasing influx of displaced populations due to protracted conflicts.  It was, however, promising that gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment had emerged as an overarching theme at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.  The horrific acts perpetrated against women and girls by terrorist organizations such as Da’esh and Boko Haram required a comprehensive approach to eliminate the root causes of the problem, which should include women’s equal and full participation as active agents in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.  All actors should take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence and efforts were also necessary to prevent women and girls from becoming victims of human trafficking.  He then described national efforts to implement Council resolution 1325 (2000).

ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama), aligning herself with Slovenia’s statement on behalf of the Human Security Network, noted that violence against women and girls was increasing, including by terrorist groups.  She supported the zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse by peacekeepers and welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to make such conduct public.  There was a need to incorporate a more significant role of women in the fight against terrorism.  Extremism had deteriorated into the worst forms of violence against women, which one had thought was part of the past.  She underlined the importance of Spain’s initiative to create a network of focal points on women, peace and security.  The role women must play in conflict prevention and resolution was indispensable.

CARLOS OLGUÍN CIGARROA (Chile) said that advancing the women, peace and security agenda was a priority for his country nationally and internationally as a founding member of the national focal network.  The country’s national action plan included cross-cutting training for peacekeepers and a commitment for increased women’s participation in missions, among other effective provisions.  He cited the women officials deployed this year in United Nations peace operations.  Women’s leadership in peacemaking was particularly important, and women’s participation was needed at all stages of conflict.  He agreed that women’s empowerment was the best investment that could be made in peace and security.

LOUISE SHARENE BAILEY, African Union, recalled that the Union had recently launched its first report on the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda in Africa.  So far, 19 countries on the continent and two regional economic communities had developed relevant action plans, she said, adding that the African Union Commission had embarked on a continental results framework that would facilitate regular monitoring of and reporting on women, peace and security.  In an effort to consolidate and accelerate the gains made in the participation of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, the Commission was also undertaking a number of activities to empower women.  Those included the establishment of a Network of African Women Mediators; efforts to change narratives on women to recognize their roles in peacebuilding; work to mobilize and support Member States and regional economic communities to develop action plans on women, peace and security; and the training of military personnel on women’s rights in line with the African Union’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual and gender-based violence.

HAHN CHOONGHEE (Republic of Korea) said that, despite progress in implementing resolution 1325 (2000), the women, peace and security agenda still faced daunting challenges.  “There remains a wide gap between our expectations and the reality on the ground,” he said, adding that acts of sexual violence committed by non-State actors were particularly alarming.  An increasing number of female mediators had led to a rise in agreements with gender-specific provisions, and efforts must continue to integrate gender perspectives into all stages of conflict resolution.  It was also noteworthy that the Peacebuilding Fund had met its target of allocating at least 15 per cent of its projects to advance gender equality.  National Governments had an indispensable role in upholding the women, peace and security agenda, he said, stressing that “we must pay more attention to building the capacity and awareness of national Governments in conflict and post-conflict settings.”

JAMAL JAMA AHMED ABDULLA AL MUSHARAKH (United Arab Emirates), noting that the situation for women in conflict was difficult and made worse by extremism, welcomed the creation of the national focal point network, the advancement of a regional strategy on implementing resolution 1325 (2000) by the League of Arab States with UN-Women and the hosting of an informal expert group by the Security Council.  His country was continually increasing participation of women in every aspect of society as well as in its foreign policy.  It was also supporting gender analysis that studied drivers of radicalization, while integrating gender concerns into all aspects of counter-terrorism.  He described campaigns that used media to fight extremism and terrorism, highlighting efforts to create awareness of the abuse of women by extremist groups.  As resolution 1325 (2000) made clear the critical link between humanitarian crisis and women’s rights, his country also continued to be a steadfast advocate of the Every Woman, Every Child global strategy and similar initiatives.  Affirming the need to empower women in peace efforts as well, he pledged his country’s continued work for the full realization of the women, peace and security agenda.

MOHAMMED SAHIB MEJID MARZOOQ (Iraq), describing the framework to ensure women’s equal opportunity in his country, said that there were now 83 women parliamentarians, in addition to heads of educational institutions and members of the judiciary.  Unfortunately, his country was now beset by terrorist gangs, which had subjected women from many ethnic groups, particularly the Yazidis but also many others, to rape, torture and oppression.  He called on the international community to increase its assistance in freeing women of the scourge.  His Government was engaging women in the war against terrorism and was continuously cooperating with United Nations programmes on women’s advancement, including the efforts of United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan) reaffirmed the importance of including women in efforts to achieve peace and security and called for the necessary funds to do so.  Women’s role in peace negotiations and humanitarian assistance and the fight against extremism was indispensable.  Jordan continued to suffer from the flow of refugees from Syria, but despite the burden placed on the country it had committed to provide protection and basic services to Syrian refugees.  The Council had recently adopted a resolution in favour of strengthening the participation of youth in peacemaking.  Peace could not be achieved without the participation of women.  Her country would continue to work to strengthen the women, peace and security agenda and to improve the lives of women refugees.  She also drew attention to the plight of Palestinian women living under occupation.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) said her delegation recognized the existing implementation gaps in the women, peace and security agenda.  Ethiopia noted with great concern the heightened risk of violence and threats to the physical safety of women and their exposure to sexual abuse in conflict and post-conflict settings.  The engagement of the Security Council and the General Assembly was critical in ensuring the full implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).  As a major troop- and police-contributing country, Ethiopia had been working to increase the participation of women and was one of the leading contributors of female peacekeepers.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said he was alarmed at the current displacement crisis and the range of violations displaced people were facing.  The importance of gender-responsive approaches to refugee and migrant movements could not be overemphasized.  The growing spread of violent extremism and terrorism caused unspeakable suffering to women and girls.  Restricting women’s rights in conflict settings in the name of religion was a dangerous development.  It was therefore crucial to include a gender-perspective in strategies to counter terrorism and violent extremism.  The suffering of millions of women and girls could not be alleviated without putting an end to armed conflicts.  Armenia had unleashed a war against Azerbaijan, occupied almost one fifth of Azerbaijani territory and carried out ethnic cleansing.  Hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani had been forcibly displaced.  The most recent large-scale attack by Armenia had taken place in April and had claimed the lives of innocent civilians.  He therefore fully supported the Secretary-General’s call to redouble efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts.

ÁLVARO MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal), spotlighting a number of very positive recent developments in the women, peace and security agenda, said that since the adoption of Council resolution 1325 (2000) the peace and security context and the nature of conflict had evolved dramatically.  Entrenched cycles of conflict and fragility, daily violations of human rights and humanitarian law, growing humanitarian crises, mass-scale displacement and new threats such as rising violent extremism and terrorism disproportionately affected women and girls.  Now more than ever it was essential to sustain and develop the progress already achieved and maintain Member States’ commitment to the issue.  Describing several national initiatives in support of the women, peace and security agenda, he emphasized the need to redouble efforts in consolidating and reinforcing its implementation and to ensure a gender perspective and women’s and girls’ participation in all stages of peace processes.

CHARLOTTE OMOY MALENGA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that her country, beset for many years by armed conflict, was resolutely engaged in the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).  It was now 50 years since the first women’s minister of the country had been appointed, and the empowerment of women continued since then, including through the rights guaranteed by the 2006 Constitution.  Women participated in all national and international peace negotiations, a gender dimension had been integrated into all areas of national life, security-sector reform had targeted sexual violence, a family code had been promulgated, a national plan of action had be elaborated and many institutional improvements had occurred.  Challenges remained, however, including illiteracy, early marriage, and lack of the range of resources needed.  The Government had made a firm commitment with its development partners to build synergy in countering those challenges and to continue to increase women’s participation in peace processes.

PENNELOPE ALTHEA BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago), noting that the paramount importance of the United Nations was its responsibilities in peace and security, said that integration of women into all related efforts was critical given the complexity of current conflict situations.  Empowerment of women was an integral part of national development and the country was steadfast in its implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).  Outlining the legal framework for gender equality in the country, she said that equal opportunity existed in peace and security sectors.  There were women in the senior ranks of the police service and defence force, and women participated in regional security initiatives.  Noting its membership on the Executive Board of UN-Women, she pledged her country’s commitment to continue to work with the United Nations in the advancement of women at the global level.

RICHARD NDUHUURA (Uganda) noted that sexual exploitation, violence and abuse were often used as a weapon of war; conflicts and wars had created many widows and orphans, with girls being the most vulnerable; and women continued to be side-lined and marginalized in conflict management and resolution, peacemaking and peacebuilding.  In Uganda, women were making a remarkable difference as agents of change.  Local programmes had resulted in a decrease in sexual and gender-based violence.  Those who committed sexual exploitation and abuse while in a peacekeeping operation should be held accountable.  Some Ugandan men accused of sexual abuse while serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) had been tried both in the mission area and in Uganda.  He called on the United Nations to involve more women in preventive diplomacy, negotiations and mediation.

RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania) said that women’s networks such as women’s situation rooms in Africa played an important early warning and preventive role.  The African Union had declared creation of such rooms a best practice to prevent conflict.  Existing good practices should be emulated.  Women suffered disproportionately from the effects of armed violence in conflicts.  They were killed, robbed, raped, trafficked, or forced into prostitution at gunpoint, she said, stressing the need to reinforce the gender expertise of relevant expert groups to further enhance sanctions regimes’ cooperation with the United Nations.  Communication was a powerful tool and the way in which women were depicted in the media had a profound effect on societal attitudes, perceptions of gender roles, and effective tackling of stereotypes that constrained and limited women’s roles and opportunities.  Female journalists could offer particular insights into the plight of women in conflict zones where accessing women may not be possible for their male counterparts due to prevailing restrictions and social norms, but women journalists themselves faced serious risks and were subjected to aggressive targeting, trolling and sexualized attacks online.

RY TUY (Cambodia), aligning himself with Thailand’s statement on behalf of ASEAN, said women played an integral part in conflict resolution and peacebuilding and they should no longer be overlooked.  Peace could only be sustained through an inclusive process that included justice, reconciliation and upholding of human rights.  Women were no longer just housekeepers, but also were active in the process of peacebuilding.  Women and girls had been targets in areas of conflict.   Member States affected by conflict must be given support to provide for the basic needs of all women.  Physical and psychological services should be provided to women who had been raped.  It was important to give women equal rights in political, social and cultural spheres and to enhance efforts to end gender-based discrimination.  Empowering and protecting women was not only for the benefit of women, but also for the common good of everybody.  Cambodia had deployed 142 women as peacekeepers.

For information media. Not an official record.