|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference Marking Tenth Anniversary of Security Council
Resolution 1325 on ‘Women, Peace and Security’
In the decade since the Security Council adopted its landmark resolution 1325, calling for higher levels of women’s involvement in peacemaking and peacebuilding, “unprecedented” tools had been put in place to advance that cause, but commitments must be met and resources harnessed for women’s views to really be represented in decisions affecting their lives, United Nations and civil society experts stressed today during a Headquarters press conference marking the resolution’s tenth anniversary.
“It shouldn’t have to take a formal occasion to encourage women’s voices to be heard”, said Ann Marie Goetz, Chief Advisor on Governance Peace and Security at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), now part of the Organization’s new gender entity, UN Women. Today’s commemoration coincided with the 21 October Global Open Day on Women, Peace and Security, which showcased the results of 27 “Open Day” events held around the world in June, July and August. Those events provided forums for women to share their views on improving implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) and aimed to deepen local ownership of the text.
In those discussions, Ms. Goetz said, women peacebuilders had stressed that they must participate in all decisions about their futures, from peace talks to decisions on justice and security sector reform, employment, land rights and economic security. Gains, however, had been made, with two powerful resolutions on sexual violence in place, and the Peacebuilding Commission working on the ground.
Also, the Security Council now had various tools to advance implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), not least of which was the Secretary-General’s seven-point action plan, outlined in his “Women and Peacebuilding” report, aimed at changing practices among all actors and improving outcomes on the ground. Resources were still a gigantic problem, she said, with less than 6 per cent of post-conflict spending flowing towards women’s needs.
Joining Ms. Goetz at the press conference was Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief of the United Nations Office for West Africa, and Mandira Sharma, Executive Director of the Advocacy Forum, Nepal, a non-governmental organization that promotes the rule of law and upholding international human rights standards in Nepal.
Offering a regional perspective, Mr. Djinnit said resolution 1325 (2000) was being used by the 16 countries of the West African subregion as a way for women to participate in peace and security issues. The Dakar Declaration and its related action plan for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had been adopted in September, in Dakar, Senegal. Through those instruments, countries committed to adopt, as soon as possible, a national action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).
Carrying out those action plans, Ms. Sharma added, was still a challenge. Commitments made had not come to fruition. There were hundreds of cases of sexual abuse against women, but women’s voices had not been heard in international justice systems. No one had been punished. Her organization was pushing for the creation of transnational justice mechanisms, whereby States would not be allowed to harbour a culture of impunity or provide amnesty for those responsible for committing sexual violence against women.
Taking a question on progress made in Guinea after September mass rapes took place at a stadium in 2009, Mr. Djinnit said a United Nations Commission of Inquiry had been set up and a report handed over to both the Security Council and the African Union. The International Criminal Court was also discussing the matter. The emergence of a democratic Government in Guinea would help in the follow up to the Commission’s recommendations. The 2009 events had exposed women’s vulnerability and the need for redoubled efforts to implement resolution 1325 (2000). His office would be heavily involved in ensuring countries implemented their national plans.
To a query on the United Nations’ implementation of the resolution in the current Doha Round of the African Union-sponsored inter-Sudanese peace talks on Darfur, Ms. Goetz said it was true there were few women involved in negotiations. In both the current round, and the 2005 Abuja Round, women from internally displaced persons camps had been involved. A joint mediation standby team and an African Union panel, chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, were taking steps to include women.
Also, the African Union had “performed well” on appointing women to lead negotiations, including in the 2008 Goma peace talks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said. Peace talks were “context specific” and it was difficult to establish a rule for women’s involvement. The United Nations should be doing more: Mediators at all times should be asked to consult with women, and further, UN Women hoped to provide stronger expertise to negotiators on that front.
In West Africa, Mr. Djinnit added, his Office had made it a priority to ensure women were consulted. He had been involved in the Abuja talks on Darfur, when the chief negotiator had insisted there be minimum women representation. He was pleased that representation had improved since that time.
Taking another question, Ms. Sharma said sexual violence in any context was an important issue and a lack of accountability, in any setting, was a problem. “Without addressing impunity issues, we can’t address the problem of sexual violence”. Her organization was working to contest impunity and organize women’s efforts in that regard.
Mr. Djinnit added that the United Nations and African Union both had sought more women in peacekeeping operations, but that had not been easy, especially in Darfur, where female police were needed to monitor violence against women. Women should be encouraged to enlist in national security defence forces.
On whether it was even possible for steps to be taken to ensure the accountability of United Nations troops, or set up a tribunal for peacekeepers accused of committing sexual violence, Ms. Sharma said it would be hard to hold them accountable. However, minimum vetting standards could help ensure accountability on the ground. By way of example, she said in December 2009, the United Nations sent a peacekeeper back to Nepal after being informed he had been involved in the killing of a 15-year-old girl.
That person had not been handed over to a civilian court, she said, but the United Nations had sent strong message to authorities that such behaviour would not be tolerated, which in turn, started a strong dialogue on the ground. To institutionalize such practices, she suggested that the United Nations devise minimum vetting standards. Also, she encouraged States against providing safe havens to perpetrators.
Ms. Goetz, noting that such measures were preventive in nature, said it was up to States to deal with abuse by on-duty peacekeepers. Yes, the United Nations had compensated victims, but that was never going to be enough. “We really need to see more determined prosecution”, she stressed. Also, organized, systematic sexual violence used for political or military ends was an enormous challenge.
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