Pace of Change Too Slow, Says Secretary-General as Civil Society Briefers Spotlight Abandonment, Sidelining of Women Activists
The Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2493 (2019) today, urging States to recommit themselves to its women, peace and security agenda — now approaching its twentieth anniversary — including by creating safe environments for women leaders, peacebuilders, human rights defenders and political actors around the globe.
By terms of the resolution, the 15‑member Council encouraged Member States to fully implement all provisions of its resolutions on women, peace and security — including the initial resolution 1325 (2000).
Also by the text, the Council urged countries supporting peace processes to facilitate the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, including at the earliest stages. It also asked States to address threats, harassment, violence and hate speech, and to remain committed to increasing the number of civilian and uniformed women in peacekeeping operations.
Council members also heard several briefings, including from the senior United Nations official responsible for gender equality and empowerment of women, the African Union Chairperson’s Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, and leaders of civil society organizations representing African women.
Delivering opening remarks, Secretary‑General António Guterres said change is coming at a pace too slow for the women and girls whose lives depend on it. Nearly two decades after the adoption of the landmark resolution 1325 (2000), they still face exclusion from peace and political processes, as attacks against women human rights defenders increase. Only a tiny percentage of peacebuilding aid goes to women’s organizations, he noted. “But despite this grim litany, we will not give up,” he vowed.
Briefing members, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women), declared: “Progress is too slow, political will is not strong enough and pushback against the needs and interests of women is threatening the progress made.” Calling upon States to heed the calls of women and close the gaps between their words and actions, she said violent misogyny is on the rise and political violence is targeting women at record levels, as sexual violence remains a weapon of war and terror. Meanwhile, “we still live in a world that tolerates and excuses women’s continued exclusion from peace and political processes and institutions,” she said.
Bineta Diop, Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Women, Peace and Security, pointed out that violence against women continues unabated and includes the use of women and girls as suicide bombers, as seen in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin regions. Outlining the crucial mediation role being played by women on the continent, she said the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation — commonly known as FemWise‑Africa — was established for that purpose.
Alaa Salah of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security spotlighted women’s important role in her native Sudan — including their opposition to colonial rule and their recent struggle against the dictatorship of former President Omar al‑Bashir — while pointing out that women have largely been sidelined from the formal political process in the months following the revolution. Accounting for 70 per cent of Sudan’s most recent protests, women were teargassed, threatened, assaulted and jailed without charge or due process, she recalled.
Lina Ekomo, speaking for FemWise-Africa and the African Women Leaders Network, recounted the persistent efforts of women in the Central African Republic to gain inclusion in that country’s peace process. The absence of women participating meaningfully in the process enabled perpetrators of gender‑based violence to win and hold leadership positions, she said, adding that victims of abuse have been abandoned as civilians live in fear of abduction. She called for women to participate in the 2020 and 2021 elections and for the routing of aid through civil society groups rather than unreliable institutions.
Speaking after the resolution’s adoption, the representative of the United States noted that the resolution refers to previous Council texts containing references to sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as to the safe termination of pregnancy, which the United States cannot support. The text also falls short of throwing the Council’s full weight behind those women putting their lives on the line every day as peacekeepers.
The United Kingdom’s representative, however, described the text as the “the final push” needed to advance the women, peace and security agenda. While welcoming its focus on establishing safe spaces and increasing funding, she also expressed disappointment that its language on human rights defenders is not more ambitious, and that it was not able to better spotlight the important role of civil society. “They are the ones on the front line and they need greater recognition and support,” she pointed out.
The Russian Federation’s representative acknowledged the need for National Action Plans, while emphasizing that adopting them merely to satisfy reporting requirements does not provide an assessment of national actions. He went on to stress that women themselves must participate at all levels of peacemaking in order to make real change. He also pointed out the text’s focus on human rights, underlining that such questions are the purview of other organs.
Poland’s representative said new tracking confirms that women’s participation in peace talks is not increasing fast enough. Among other things, she said, women are often viewed as more honest brokers, are more likely to advocate for accountability and services for survivors of sexual and gender‑based violence and are well‑placed to detect early signs of radicalization.
Jordan’s representative said that, although men have long been considered the only relevant actors in armed conflict and in conflict resolution, women are greatly affected and involved as relatives, caretakers, politicians, human rights defenders and combatants. Their engagement must be enhanced, not only in “soft” preventive diplomacy, but also at the core of peace processes, she stressed.
Namibia’s representative was among delegates who cited statistics revealing that peace agreements that women are involved in negotiating are 35 per cent more likely to last for at least 15 years. “This number alone should encourage parties to ensure that women must be part of the conversation,” he said, adding that Namibian women are among personnel deployed to three major United Nations peace operations in Africa.
Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, and Council President for October, spoke in her national capacity, saying the high percentage of women in her country’s national defence force has enabled it to deploy more women to the front lines of conflict as a troop contributor. However, women’s participation in peace processes continues to be undermined, she said, emphasizing the critical need to increase their involvement in both uniformed and civilian components of peacekeeping operations, invest in women as peacebuilders, protect their human rights and advance accountability for heinous crimes such as sexual violence.
France’s representative noted that recent erosions, as well as an unacceptable questioning of women’s rights, have cast doubt on the progress of the women, peace and security agenda. He described the resolution adopted today as an opportunity to press forward rather than simply “treading water” on the rights of women.
Also speaking were Cabinet Ministers from Germany (also on behalf of the Group of Friends of the African Women’s Leaders Network), Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Sweden, Guatemala, Liberia and the Republic of Korea.
Others included representatives of China, Belgium, Dominican Republic, Kuwait, Indonesia, Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, Equatorial Guinea, Georgia, Japan, Switzerland, Latvia, Ireland, Hungary, Thailand, Netherlands, Uruguay, Slovenia, Armenia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Italy, Luxembourg, Colombia, Australia, Albania, Canada (also on behalf of a group of 56 Member States), Lithuania, Argentina, Viet Nam, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Austria, Egypt and Qatar, as well as the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m., suspended at 1:22 p.m., resumed at 3:01 p.m. and ended at 6:05 p.m.
Action on Draft Resolution
The Council unanimously adopted draft resolution 2493 (2019).
KELLY CRAFT (United States) noted that the resolution refers to previous Council texts containing references to sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as to the safe termination of pregnancy, which the United States cannot support. She added that the United Nations should not put itself in a position in which it promotes the right to abortion. Welcoming the resolution’s adoption more broadly, she nevertheless said it falls short of throwing the Council’s full weight behind those women putting their lives on the line every day as peacekeepers. She also expressed disappointment that the resolution fails to highlight elements of the Council’s women, peace and security strategy that aim to increase the number of women in peacekeeping, urging all troop- and police-contributing counties to pursue those policy objectives.
KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) welcomed the resolution’s focus on implementation, saying it represents “the final push” needed to push forward the Council’s women, peace and security agenda. The focus now should be on delivering fully on the agenda’s existing framework, not putting new texts forward, she emphasized. Noting that gaps in the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) remain visible, she said insufficient progress has been seen in building an effective response to conflict‑related sexual violence. She went on to underline the need to include sexual and reproductive health services as a vital part of public services for women in all countries, and to ensure that women can play a truly equal role in nation‑building. While welcoming the focus on establishing safe spaces and increasing funding, she expressed disappointment that the text’s language on human rights defenders is not more ambitious, and that it was not able to better spotlight the important role of civil society. “They are the ones on the front line and they need greater recognition and support,” she stressed.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) applauded the resolution’s focus on implementing joint commitments on women, peace and security, while expressing regret that it fails to underline the key role of human rights defenders. Nor was the Council able to adopt measures on the protection of civil society members and language aimed at safeguarding the critical rights of freedom of thought and expression, he said.
MICHELLE MÜNTEFERING, Minister for State of Germany, said today’s action underlines the crucial role of women’s meaningful participation in peace processes, conflict prevention and related matters. “Implementation is key in making progress, but we still have a long way to go,” she said. Noting that the text highlights a critical element ‑ the role of civil society ‑ she expressed deep concern over ongoing attacks against women leaders as well as attempts by some States to reverse course on the women, peace and security agenda, as well as all manner of human rights.
ANNE GUEGUEN (France) said her delegation would have preferred the text to better highlight the role of civil society, including women leaders and human rights defenders. She also expressed regret that the resolution omits references to women’s crucial sexual and reproductive health and rights.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that with so much activity at the international policy level on women, peace and security, an observer might think that things are improving substantially. However, “change is coming at a pace that is too slow for the women and girls whose lives depend on it, and for the effectiveness of our efforts to maintain international peace and security”, he emphasized. Nearly two decades after the adoption of the landmark resolution 1325 (2000), women still face exclusion from peace and political processes, he said, adding that only a tiny percentage of peacebuilding aid goes to women’s organizations, attacks against women human rights defenders are increasing, gender‑based violence continues to be used as a weapon of war and armed groups that deny women’s rights have proliferated. “But despite this grim litany, we will not give up,” he vowed.
He went on to cite the areas in which progress has been made, including the participation of women in the peace processes of Yemen and Guinea‑Bissau, adding that some 30 per cent of Syria’s new Constitutional Committee are women. Within the United Nations itself, he reported, the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations are putting a stronger policy on women’s issues in place, reporting has increased on the promotion of women’s participation by officials, more women officials have been appointed, the percentage of women troops and police is rising and incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse have been reduced by half. He added that he has asked for monitoring of threats against women human rights defenders to be built into early‑warning systems relating to escalation of conflicts. “Today we recognize both progress and how much more we must do,” he said, stressing the high price that women and all society pay when the effort to empower and protect women falls short. “Let us work together to change the narrative and improve the situation on the ground.”
PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women), said a common message is emerging from among the many voices of women affected by conflict and those highlighting the need to increase their participation in peace operations: “Progress is too slow, political will is not strong enough and pushback against the needs and interests of women is threatening the progress made.” Change is not as real as it needs to be, she said, adding: “I urge that we heed the call of women.”
Calling upon Member States to close the gaps between their words and actions, she spotlighted the correlation between gender equality and society’s propensity for civil and inter‑State conflict, as well as between greater participation by women and a more durable peace. “We still live in a world that tolerates and excuses women’s continued exclusion from peace and political processes and institutions,” she said. Violent misogyny is on the rise, there are record levels of political violence targeting women, and sexual violence continues to be used as a weapon of war and terror, she added. Noting that post‑conflict economic recovery for women is limited mostly to microcredit and microenterprises, she said men dominate and overwhelmingly benefit from large‑scale reconstruction. Meanwhile, calls by feminist organizations for disarmament, arms control and a shift from military spending to social investment go unanswered.
She went on to recall that in 2018, the Secretary‑General tasked UN‑Women with commissioning an independent assessment of the progress made towards implementation of the gender‑related recommendations of the three recent United Nations peace and security reviews. The assessment found that only 50 per cent of those recommendations have been implemented or are progressing, while 10 per cent have either gone backwards or are not progressing at all, she reported. In addition, the study found that only 20 per cent of peace agreements from 1990 to 2018 included provisions addressing women or gender, and in 2018, none of the agreements reached in United Nations‑led peace processes included provisions on women. “We can all do better than this,” she emphasized, calling upon Member States to demand direct and meaningful participation by women in all phases of peace talks. “Women’s absence from peace tables is still commonplace, but it no longer goes unnoticed,” she stressed.
Turning to the relationship between gender and violent extremism, she said the UN‑Women study identified areas in which progress is under way, including stronger integration of gender considerations in efforts to prevent extremism. However, national counter‑terrorism legislation often has a negative impact on women’s civil society organizations, she said, noting that the study urges Member States to review such laws and take action. She went on to cite several case studies examined in the UN‑Women report, noting that in all of them, hostile, sexist attitudes towards women were the factors most strongly associated with support for violent extremism — far more than age, degree of religiosity, level of education or employment.
Underlining the key importance of women’s economic rights to sustaining peace, she said discrimination against women in access to assets and productive resources violate women’s human rights and leaves them vulnerable to extreme poverty, gender‑based violence and trafficking. Family members are also at risk of being drawn into terrorism, she cautioned. She went on to outline the study’s findings in such areas as the marginalization of women in decision‑making processes and their exclusion from development assistance and other funding, pointing out that it is more difficult for women to realize their rights and participate in public life if they lack access to their full reproductive health and rights. “I hope you will continue to fight for these rights at every turn,” she said.
BINETA DIOP, Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Women, Peace and Security, said the continent continues to lead in the adoption of National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security, noting that 25 countries have adopted them, constituting 30 per cent of all such plans globally. South Africa recently organized a validation forum, she added, expressing hope that the country will soon adopt its own National Action Plan. The plans continue to incorporate lessons learned in Africa, including one focused on determining a leading role for security sector ministries, she said.
Despite the existence of advanced instruments, implementation continues to lag, she continued, pointing out that only seven out of 25 countries have attained the 30 per cent threshold of female participation in parliaments and only two have reached parity at the Cabinet level. Violence against women — including the use of women and girls as suicide bombers, as seen in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin — continues unabated. “Female peacekeepers require gender‑sensitive strategies for deployment,” she emphasized, noting that the African Union Commission has established the Network of Women Mediators, commonly known as FemWise, to enhance the role of women in mediation at all levels, including the community level.
She went on to state that women mediators have been deployed to African Union liaison offices in conflict‑affected countries to support women’s initiatives and programmes. The African Union Gender Peace and Security Programme is deploying gender advisers to provide better capacity on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Through joint missions, the African Union and the United Nations have adopted an action‑oriented approach to hearing women at the community level, she reported, noting that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has provided technical expertise on drafting its first national gender policy and community watch programmes to prevent violent extremism.
Urging Member States to scale up the adoption of National Action Plans for the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda and to ensure the establishment of a clear accountability framework, she emphasized that women’s organizations live the realities of women and girls on a daily basis. “They take care of the survivors, providing legal services, psychological support as well as economic recovery, to restore their dignity,” she added. It is crucial to provide support to these organizations so they can work with Member States in addressing the gaps identified in the delivery of the women, peace and security agenda, she stressed.
LINA EKOMO, speaking for the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa) and the African Women Leaders Network, recounted the persistent efforts of women in the Central African Republic to gain inclusion in that country’s peace and reconciliation process. Because of obstacles to meaningful participation by women, perpetrators of gender‑based violence have been allowed to occupy leadership positions, the social dimension of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic has been allowed to drop off, victims of abuse have been abandoned, and women and other civilians live in fear of abduction, she said. Armed groups perpetrate dozens of violations every week, she added.
A change of strategy is needed, beginning with inclusive dialogue, she continued, emphasizing the particular importance for women of participating in the organization of elections planned for 2020 and 2021. Some have been trained for related activities, but many women are not accessible since they are in remote areas dominated by armed groups, she pointed out. Calling for the routing of more assistance through civil society rather than unreliable institutions, she said the lack of systematic support for women’s organizations weakens peace building. Only a long‑term programmatic framework aiming to change mindsets can bring about the necessary changes, she said. Support for victims must be systematized, she added, also stressing the need for more women peacekeepers.
Recounting the plight of a woman who lost her family and house to the violence, she said frustration building among displaced persons threatens the peace. Unfortunately, the participation of women in calming the situation is still limited to raising awareness of the peace agreement, she said, calling for a strategy to place women in the peacebuilding leadership. For that purpose, partners are needed to build capacity in negotiation, mediation and lobbying, she said, adding that cooperation should also ease the monitoring of performance indicators. “Women’s organizations need to work more closely with partners in order to alleviate the suffering of women and girls in the Central African Republic,” she concluded.
ALAA SALAH, NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, said she grew up in Khartoum, Sudan, where she was a student of architectural engineering. “In December last year, our fight for bread became a fight for our freedom,” she added, noting that thousands of ordinary people in her country share her story. Recalling that women played a particularly important role in opposing colonial rule, she said they fought for the right to vote as well as in recent struggles against the dictatorship of Omar al‑Bashir. They have also demonstrated courage in fighting for the right to wear trousers, leave their hair uncovered, express their opinions on social media or share a meal with male friends — all of which were criminalized under the former regime’s public order laws, she said.
Those laws were designed to quash dissent and to target women from the most marginalized communities, including tea and food vendors whose tools could be confiscated without explanation, she continued. Recalling that women and young people were at the forefront of recent protests in Sudan, in which she was a participant, she said they accounted for 70 per cent of the protestors. Many women were teargassed, threatened, assaulted and jailed without charge or due process, she reported, pointing out that both men and women suffered sexual harassment and rape as well as retaliation from their own families.
She went on to state that women also served as key members of the Forces of Freedom and Change, helping to shape its roadmap for Sudan’s transition from military to civilian rule. Despite that role, however, women have been sidelined from the formal political process in the months following the revolution, she said, recalling that even when women represented 31 per cent of parliamentarians in 2018, they often lacked real influence and were left out of decision‑making circles. Only one woman participated in the talks that began in April between the military council and the Forces of Freedom and Change and, she noted, unsurprisingly, women’s representation in the current governance structure falls far below parity.
Moreover, women’s organizations face security restrictions and obstructive administrative requirements which prevent critical work in such areas as Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains, she continued. Humanitarian access to Jebel Marra — a notorious conflict area in Sudan’s western Darfur region — remains a major challenge. “If we are not represented at the peace table and if we don’t have a meaningful voice in Parliament, our rights will not be guaranteed and discriminatory and restrictive laws will remain unchanged,” she said, emphasizing: “Gender inequality is not and will never be acceptable to the women and girls of Sudan.” The discrimination they faced, coupled with decades of conflict, has resulted in their suffering a range of human rights violations, she said, stressing that violence against women did not end with al‑Bashir’s reign.
“The strength of the revolution came from the representation of diverse voices from across the country — this inclusion is now integral to the legitimacy of the transition process,” she continued, warning that unless the political process reflects and embraces the society’s diversity, no agreement will reflect collective aspirations. As such, she urged the Security Council and the international community to press the Transitional Government, the Forces of Freedom and Change and armed groups to support full, equal and meaningful participation by women, calling for at least 50 per cent representation of Sudanese women across all peace processes. She also called upon the Transitional Government to support an independent international fact‑finding mission to investigate and hold accountable all perpetrators of human rights violations, including sexual and gender‑based violence. Omar al‑Bashir must immediately be transferred to the International Criminal Court, she demanded, while emphasizing that women human rights defenders must be able to carry out their work unhindered and without fear of reprisals. She urged all countries to stop arms exports to Sudan, where they could be used to violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
NALEDI PANDOR, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa and Council President for October, spoke in her national capacity, noting that women’s efforts to ensure participation in peace processes continue to be undermined. Recommendations of the 2015 global study on the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) are still relevant in terms of elaborating practical and attainable deliverables, she noted. Those deliverables must be clearly aimed at ensuring the meaningful participation of women in peace processes at all levels, increasing their numbers in both uniformed and civilian components of peacekeeping operations, investing in women as peacebuilders, protecting their human rights and advancing accountability for heinous crimes such as sexual violence, she stressed. Noting that women comprise 30 per cent of the South African National Defence Force, she said they enable the country to deploy more women to the front lines of armed conflicts as a troop‑contributing country. The United Nations Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy (2018-2028) clearly indicates quotas and time frames that must be reached to increase the numbers of women deployed in military, police, corrections and justice personnel, she said.
Ms. MÜNTEFERING (Germany) emphasized that women’s rights are human rights. “Representatives from civil society, including human rights defenders, peacebuilders and local activists — especially women — need to be an integral part of the discussion of the Security Council,” she said. Expressing concern that survivors of sexual violence receive little or no psychosocial care, counselling or health care, she said Germany is implementing 10 out of 12 commitments of the women, peace and security agenda. Turning to Afghanistan, she said that country can only attain lasting peace and stability if it listens to women’s voices. Delivering justice and accountability is key for survivors of sexual violence, she said, stressing that, in the context of Iraq and Syria, criminal prosecution of crimes committed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) remains a top priority. Speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of the African Women’s Leaders Network, she went on to stress that the meaningful participation of women in peace, security and peacebuilding processes requires moving beyond the numbers to real qualitative representation. Building capacity to enhance women’s qualitative participation remains critical, as does supporting a bottom‑up approach from the grassroots level, she said, also emphasizing the need to integrate young people through dialogue between youth and experienced women leaders.
Ms. PIERCE (United Kingdom) emphasized that ambitions must be raised for more radical change and the question as to why more progress has not been made towards empowering women in peace and security must be asked more often. The United Kingdom has been trying to identify and overcome obstacles in nine target countries receiving its international assistance, she said, outlining its efforts to increase women’s participation in the peace processes in Afghanistan, South Sudan and Yemen. She invited the United Nations to work closely with the group of women mediators by holding managers to account for implementing the resolution 1325 (2000) agenda and ensuring it remains an integral part of all peace operations. Given the significant anniversaries ahead, “now is the time to make progress”, she affirmed.
ZHANG JUN (China) emphasized the need for assistance to improve education, gender equality and capacity‑building projects for women, noting that his country supports such projects through regional and other organizations. China intends to deepen its cooperation with all partners, he added. All measures to empower women should be appropriate in view of national conditions, he said, emphasizing that national sovereignty and the role of regional organizations must be respected. In addition, non‑governmental organizations must respect and consult with host Governments, he said, also stressing that any group working with the Council must respect its rules.
Mr. PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) recalled that his delegation recently gave a joint presentation in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) on behalf of 75 countries, demonstrating that global support for women’s empowerment is strong and that no culture can justify discrimination against women and girls. Belgium is now implementing its third national plan on implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), which covers training African women mediators and applying a survivor‑oriented approach that entails support for victims of trafficking, sexual violence and other crimes. He went on to emphasize the importance of ensuring that women in such difficult situations who make the painful choice to undergo abortion are able to do so.
JOSÉ MANUEL TRULLOLS YABRA (Dominican Republic) said full implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) calls for strengthening commitments as well as supporting and protecting women civil society leaders. Noting United Nations efforts to include women in the peace process in Syria, he emphasized the importance of creating a safe environment for the negotiation process. He also called for keener monitoring of relevant indicators and increased deployment of gender advisers, while pledging his country’s continuing support for the women, peace and security agenda.
Ms. CRAFT (United States) recounted her recent visit to meet with women in South Sudan, asking: “Are we ensuring that they have a voice? Are we paying attention when they speak?” Outlining her country’s strategy on women, peace and security, she said participation begins by ensuring a seat at the table. The United States is hosting nearly 80 women in a cross‑cultural understanding initiative, and recently hosted a high‑level forum on women in the Middle East. It has also implemented mandatory increases in women’s representation at all levels of decision‑making, she added, emphasizing, however, that ensuring a seat at the table is just the bare minimum. She called upon all partners to do their part to push the agenda forward, spotlighting the important role of women civil society members and pledging the readiness of the United States to support all Member States in crafting and implementing National Action Plans. “This entire Council has the moral obligation to follow through,” she said.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said the women, peace and security agenda has been greatly enriched over the past two decades. It is now widely understood that women and men have different experiences and needs, both during and after conflict. However, new tracking reveals that women’s participation in peace talks is not increasing fast enough, she said, noting that a huge number of highly qualified women are available to serve in high‑level positions, including as mediators and negotiators. However, changing the current dynamic requires a mental shift on the part of today’s leaders, she noted. Meaningful involvement by women helps to ensure lasting security and stability, and she said that “women are well placed to detect early signs of radicalization” because their own rights are often the first targeted by radical groups. Women are also more often viewed as honest brokers and more likely to advocate for accountability and services for survivors of sexual and gender‑based violence, she said, spotlighting Poland’s new deployment of women personnel to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
NICOLAS DE RIVIERE (France) said progress on the women, peace and security agenda has been cast into doubt by recent erosions, as well as the unacceptable questioning of women’s rights. The Council must act more vigorously to combat conflict‑related sexual violence, he emphasized. Welcoming recent action on that front by Sudan’s armed forces and the “Group of Five for the Sahel” (G5 Sahel) joint force, he said the perpetrators of sexual violence must never enjoy impunity. Describing today’s resolution as an opportunity to go further, he cautioned against simply “treading water” on the rights of women. France will continue to support a wide range of health‑care services, including sexual and reproductive health services, for victims of sexual and gender‑based violence, he said, adding that his country will also host the upcoming Generation Equality Forum, which, among other aims, will spotlight the importance of ensuring women’s rights over their own bodies.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) cited remaining challenges to implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, including persistent sexual violence in armed conflict and insufficient women’s representation in decision‑making processes. Calling upon Member States to continue to push forward the successes achieved to date, he said the denial of women’s rights before, during and after conflict situations remains a core challenge. Exacerbating such violations are the exclusion of women from peace talks, which is another prevalent challenge. While Member States bear primary responsibility for ensuring respect for human rights and for ending all forms of violence against women, the United Nations and regional groups should support their efforts, he stressed.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), associating himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) has been challenging. In many cases, the quota of women’s representation has only been implemented in early stages and commitments have not been fulfilled, he said. Available resources must be optimized, he went on, recalling that Indonesia hosted a regional training in April on the women, peace and security topic for ASEAN women mediators. Emphasizing the importance of women’s roles in peace processes, he expressed support for female peacekeepers, saying they can win the hearts and minds of local communities.
TIEMOKO MORIKO (Côte d’Ivoire) said his country’s Government has worked to place women at the heart of the national peacebuilding strategy, legislative activity and local government, adding that it also supports the African Women Leaders Network and deploys women peacekeepers in United Nations peace operations. He welcomed the African Union’s commitment to implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, in particular its support of monitoring mechanisms, pointing out that the Government has released significant funding for women’s micro‑projects.
PAUL DUCLOS (Peru) said women should participate at all levels of political life, which calls for addressing the root causes of inequality. Gender specialists must be integrated into United Nations peace operations and more women deployed as “Blue Helmets”, he added. The Council should engage more with women civil society leaders, he said, stressing that on the world stage, empowering women is the most effective tool for ensuring peace and security.
AMPARO MELE COLIFA (Equatorial Guinea), recalling the adoption of the “Silencing the Guns by 2020” resolution during her country’s Security Council Presidency, reiterated the need to strengthen the guidelines for the appropriate training of personnel set for deployment to peacekeeping missions. She also stressed the connection linking gender inequality and violent extremism. The right of all States to sustainable development is also relevant to the women, peace and security agenda, she said, applauding efforts by United Nations departments to emphasize the cross‑cutting nature of implementation efforts. She went on to stress the need to reinforce cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union in moving the women, peace and security agenda forward.
Mr. KUZMIN (Russian Federation) called upon relevant parts of the United Nations system to work in concert to stamp out such outrageous practices as trafficking in women during conflict and perpetrating sexual violence as a weapon. While acknowledging the need to develop National Action Plans, he emphasized that adopting them merely to satisfy reporting requirements does not provide an assessment of national actions. Women themselves must participate at all level of peacemaking in order to make real change, he stressed. He went on to state that his delegation supports today’s resolution through its firm conviction of the need for women’s empowerment, but recognizes problems with the text, such as its focus on human rights — the purview of other organs. He went on to point out that the Informal Expert Group on Women and Peace and Security has been unable to avoid politicization or develop democratic procedures, emphasizing the need to address such shortcomings.
INE ERIKSEN SØREIDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, also speaking on behalf of the other Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, said that peace processes including both men and women have better prospects for creating lasting peace than less inclusive processes. The launch in September of the Global Alliance of Regional Women Mediators was a milestone, showing the commitment of large numbers of women to lead peace processes. The Nordic countries support the mandate of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and welcome the International Fund for Survivors of Conflict‑Related Sexual Violence, she said. They call on the Council to preserve and build on the cross‑regional consensus that has been the trademark of this agenda.
ANN CHRISTIN LINDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said leadership is needed to keep women’s rights and participation at the top of the agenda. Concrete steps must be taken in 2020 to counter attacks on women’s human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. Resources must be committed, and messaging made clear in this regard. Practical measures must be taken, and a gender perspective must influence conflict analysis, she observed, calling for the inclusion of sex‑disaggregated data in all reporting. Moreover, clearly defined responsibilities are needed, including necessary follow‑up to ensure that data and analysis reflect realities. The prevention and prosecution of conflict‑related sexual violence must be central to peace efforts. Highlighting the role played by civil society organizations, she noted that they have drawn attention to increasing hostility towards them, especially women human rights defenders. Member States and the Council must take concrete steps to include them as partners, she said, pointing to the untapped potential for civil society to prevent conflict through early warning.
SANDRA ERICA JOVEL POLANCO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, suggesting that her current position demonstrates the improvement of women’s political participation in her country, said that, unfortunately, they are still humiliated in the media when they rise to high positions. Looking forward to a full review of efforts to implement the women, peace and security agenda, she said her country’s Government has put multiple plans in place for the empowerment of women as part of its efforts to promote sustainable development, human rights and democracy. Discrimination against women is a stumbling block to development because women are agents of change, she noted. Women must participate at all levels of peacemaking, she emphasized, calling for redoubling of efforts to implement the women, peace and security agenda. For that to happen, the United Nations must return to its fundamental principle of defending human dignity, she stressed.
WILLIAMETTA EDOURDA SAYDEE-TARR, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection of Liberia, noted that her country has made good on 2 of the 6 women, peace and security agenda commitments in advance of the 2020 target. Phase two of its National Action Plan has been completed and endorsed and the Domestic Violence Bill was recently passed into law. The development of Liberia’s first National Action Plan in 2009 played a pivotal role in restoring peace in the war‑torn country.
While there were many stumbling blocks to the effective implementation of the first plan, the Government remains focused on fully implementing phase two, she continued. The promotion of women’s active participation in the security sector continues to be marred by various factors including inadequate financial and logistical resources, as well as lack of capacity‑building, necessary equipment and apparatus. “There is a need for specialized training in the security sector at every level,” she added. The establishment of a database on women in decision‑making is essential to identify gaps between male and female security officers so as to create equal opportunities to serve.
LEE TAE-HO, Vice‑Minister for Foreign of Affairs of the Republic of Korea, noted that the normative framework has been strengthened by nine follow-up texts since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000). However, the latter’s implementation has not lived up fully to its aspirations, he said, pointing out that a mere 83 countries have adopted National Action Plans — only 42 per cent of Member States. The commitment reached in the Council has not translated into reality on the ground, he added. Increased participation by women in peace processes is essential, and they must be represented at all stages, he said, emphasizing the essential need for a “survivor‑centric” approach protecting victims in order to avoid secondary trauma. He added that his country’s Government has pledged $8 million to support such projects. Highlighting the importance of prevention, he called for more concerted efforts to build national capacity in that regard. As such, the Government is developing interdisciplinary learning programmes on women, peace and security throughout its educational system, he said. He went on to state that successful implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) holds special meaning for his country because it seeks to recover the honour and dignity of its so‑called “comfort women” from the Second World War to avoid repetition of the same tragedy elsewhere in the world.
ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) said her country’s third National Action Plan for 2018‑2020 on women, peace and security is harmonized with its plan on the protection of human rights. As such, the plans are based on a “whole‑of‑Government” approach to the integration of gender perspectives into the security sector and the application of a “gender lens” in peace negotiations, she said. The Ministry of Defence has introduced the notion of sexual harassment into its disciplinary code as well as sanctions, to be imposed on perpetrators, and with support from UN‑Women, the Government regularly shares information on the Geneva International Discussions and the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism. However, the Russian Federation’s occupation of the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions prevents the Government of Georgia from sharing its human rights protection framework with women remaining on the other side of illegally erected fences, she said. Women living in those occupied regions and in adjacent areas continue to suffer systemic grave violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms, she added.
KORO BESSHO (Japan), renewing his country’s commitment to strengthening the women, peace and security agenda, said it strongly supports the International Fund for Survivors of Conflict‑Related Sexual Violence, which will be launched at an event on 30 October commemorating the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the mandate on sexual violence in conflict. “Sexual violence in conflict is a great obstacle for sustaining peace,” he said, adding that the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict — to which Japan is a leading donor — provides crucial assistance to relevant Governments, particularly in the areas of criminal investigation and prosecution, legislative reform and capacity‑building. Starting in January 2020, Japan will also support a UN Women project in Sri Lanka under the “Group of 7” Women, Peace and Security Partnership initiative, which will support the empowerment of females and their participation in the country’s national reconciliation process.
CHRISTINE MONIQUE SCHNEEBERGER (Switzerland) said that her country is strongly committed to implement the entirety of resolution 1325 (2000), with the priority of sharing its experiences as one of the first to adopt a national action plan to monitor progress. She also emphasized women’s key role in prevention of conflict and violent extremism. There is a need for specific language on this factor in mission mandates and other Council resolutions. In addition, she stressed the importance of coordination of the whole international community and the entire United Nations system, across the three pillars, in an effort to empower women and protect them in conflict. Noting that civil society and human rights defenders also have a crucial role, she called on States to respect their obligations in that regard.
ANDREJS PILDEGOVIČS (Latvia), associating himself with the European Union, said that the empowerment of women is not a “whim of our century” but rather a building block of a more peaceful and secure world. “It comes with a positive spillover effect that benefits our children, families and entire communities,” he added. It is often overlooked that women’s participating in conflict prevention and resolution has a meaningful effect on the outcome of the process. Special attention must be paid to the needs of women and girls in post‑conflict situations, including physical security and access to health care. The close link between global security and equal participation of women should not be underestimated. Latvia is drafting its own national action plan, with many of the guidelines already having been integrated into its national system. Noting the achievements, he underscored that the number of women elected to Latvia’s Parliament is slightly above the European Union average and that his country also has the highest percentage of women researchers in Europe.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends on Women, Peace and Security, said that her country has placed gender equality at the heart of its foreign and development cooperation policy. Through its Third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, Ireland has ensured that it will match its overseas engagement with domestic action focused on migrant women affected by conflict. Women’s meaningful participation is key to peacebuilding, she said, adding that it has been more than 20 years since the Women’s Coalition of Northern Ireland participated in the Good Friday Agreement. Elements introduced by women into the Good Friday Agreement have been critical to sustaining peace in the two decades that have followed. She also underscored the importance of integrating gender perspectives and empowering women in peacekeeping. Expressing support for the African Women’s Leaders Network, she urged Member States to continue to promoting gender equality and supporting women’s organizations.
KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary), associating herself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security as well as the African Women’s Leaders Network, said her country is currently in the process of drafting a national action plan on the topic. The Hungarian Defence Forces has incorporated training and education about resolution 1325 (2000) and conflict‑related sexual violence into predeployment courses. It also carries out intensive training courses for non‑commissioned officers. On increasing the proportion of female‑deployed personnel, her delegation is also working on programmes creating a better work‑life balance. Survivors of sexual violence require immediate medical care and comprehensive psychosocial support and services, she observed, calling on the international community to better address the needs of women and girls belonging to religious and ethnic minorities. As such, she called for action taken during peacetime to address the root causes of conflict, prevent militarization and protect and promote human rights for all women and girls.
VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN, said meaningful action on women, peace and security requires recognition of the interrelated, inseparable and mutually reinforcing nature of all gender equality elements in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The empowerment of women and girls as well as gender equality constitute key elements for conflict prevention and the promotion of international peace and security. Thailand has adopted and is implementing national measures and guidelines in this area for 2016‑2021. Moreover, 7 out of 27 of Thailand’s peacekeepers are women, accounting for 20 per cent of the total, he pointed out.
KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands), associating himself with the statements to be delivered by Canada on behalf of 56 Member States as well as the European Union delegation, said that the international community must stand together to ensure that the women, peace and security agenda is not weakened by compromising on agreed‑upon language. Women’s organizations and human rights defenders play key roles in promoting peace and security, and the rising threats against them are deeply concerning. When it comes to protection against conflict‑related sexual violence, adopting a survivor‑centred approach is essential, he added. The Netherlands will double its funding for women, peace and security, beginning in 2021.
SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan) noted that men have long been considered the only relevant actors in armed conflict and its resolution, even while women are greatly affected and involved as relatives, caretakers, politicians, human rights defenders and combatants. Women’s engagement must be increased not only in “soft” and preventive diplomacy but also at the core of peace processes. Jordan has made big strides towards integrating gender perspectives across all peacekeeping functions, further developing best practices on gender mainstreaming in military and police operations including predeployment training. Unfortunately, only 13 per cent of countries dedicate a budget to statistics and almost 80 per cent of indicators for gender equality across the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals lack data. Jordan’s Department of Statistics is collaborating with UN-Women to work through a three‑pillar programme in this regard. It is aimed at a supportive policy and institutional environment to improve the monitoring of 2030 Goals commitments and produce regular gender statistics as well as ensure that such data is widely accessible and used to inform policymakers.
CARLOS DANIEL AMORÍN TENCONI (Uruguay), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, detailed his country’s domestic measures towards the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda. The Government will soon conclude its national action plan to implement resolution 1325 (2000), and he stated that such plans are the best tools to speed up the agenda’s implementation. National legislation focuses on preventing and combating human trafficking, sexual violence and other violations of human rights. Further, it provides for reparation, care and protection for victims and includes qualitative and quantitative indicators to measure its progress. Uruguay also seeks to increase the number of women in its armed forces and in peacekeeping missions of which it is a part. Highlighting the link between the agenda and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, he pointed out that violations of women’s rights don’t occur in a vacuum; they are the extension of another form of violence rooted in inequality, discrimination and contempt for female’s fundamental rights.
DARJA BAVDAŽ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said her country is now implementing its second national action plan on women, peace and security. It is the only country in the world where females concurrently hold the positions of Chief of the Armed Forces and the Chief of Police, she said, also outlining Slovenia’s high rates of women’s participation in other Government and diplomatic positions. “We can only achieve tangible results by working together” to “halt regression or inconsistencies in the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda,” she said.
MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) said women have a key role to play in all stages of conflict prevention, particularly in confidence‑building and the promotion of peace and reconciliation. Emphasizing the need to protect the rights of women and girls living in conflict‑affected areas — as the most affected population — he also called for the advancement of their meaningful participation and representation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding processes. In that regard, he said the spouse of the Prime Minister of Armenia initiated a “Women for Peace” campaign as an important example of an inclusive platform for females to raise their voices for peace, non‑violence and reconciliation across dividing lines. Outlining the implementation of Armenia’s National Action Plan — which focuses on prevention, protection, participation, relief and recovery — he said the plan identifies a concrete set of measures to increase the engagement of women in the security sector, including peacekeeping missions.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said the various anniversaries in 2020 mark a good time to take stock of strides achieved in the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, and to course correct where needed. “The world remains a dangerous place, especially for women,” she said, noting that over 50 parties around the world are suspected of committing such crimes as rape and sexual violence in conflict. Women bear the brunt of such violations, which prevents them from participating fully and meaningfully in peace processes. Describing the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000) as a watershed moment, she said the agenda’s implementation still suffers at the hands of various geopolitical interests. Women’s rights continue to be violated in cases of foreign occupation, including the brutal clamp‑down on rights by occupying forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiri children, including girls, suffer and die from lack of medical help and are kidnapped in midnight raids. “This travesty of justice must end,” she said, calling on the Council to address that dire and unacceptable situation.
DIDAR TEMENOV (Kazakhstan) said that, despite commendable strides, the lack of opportunities for women to assume leadership is apparent. Kazakhstan recommends greater focus on imparting special gender‑sensitive training and including more women in a country’s national deployment to field missions; full implementation by Member States of the Secretary‑General’s policy of zero tolerance by United Nations personnel and redoubling efforts to support women in grassroots organizations working for a culture of peace and community‑based reconciliation. Further, it recommends involving women in the management and security of camps for refugees and internally displaced persons as well as increasing women’s engagement in the women, peace and security agenda. In October 2018, the country, together with the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), launched an education programme to train Afghan women in Kazakh universities. The first group of 30 women have begun an English‑language course to prepare them for degree programmes in four eminent Almaty‑based institutions, he said.
MARIA ANGELA ZAPPIA (Italy), aligning herself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union and by Canada on behalf of 56 Member States, strongly supported the Secretary‑General’s proposals to intensify efforts to fully implement the women, peace and security agenda. Confirming that Italy will further enhance its own efforts in that regard, she noted that the country’s third plan envisages a monitoring mechanism. Affirming that the agenda is a priority in the country’s varied leadership roles, she recalled its launch of the Mediterranean Women’s Mediators Network and said that in December Italy would host seminars on women’s participation in peace processes, noting also the country’s support to several initiatives to prevent gender‑based violence and aid victims of abuse. Among many other efforts, Italy is stepping up efforts to increase the number of female peacekeepers and domestic security officers, she added.
TATJANA KONIECZNY (Luxembourg), aligning herself with the European Union, called on the international community to redouble its efforts to address gaps in the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000). She pointed out that it is unacceptable, in 2019, to see women denied access to justice, socioeconomic opportunities and sexual and reproductive health care. She urged all countries that have not yet done so to establish national action plans by 2020. For its part, her country’s plan follows a holistic approach, covering diplomacy, defence, national security, justice, health, education and development to ensure the long‑term empowerment and emancipation of women and girls. To address the numerous intersectional obstacles this group faces, she called for global consideration and implementation of the women, peace and security agenda in a broader context to strengthen all rights of females.
MARA MARINAKI, European Union, said that since the Secretary‑General’s last report, the bloc has adopted a new strategic approach as well as an action plan on women, peace and security, reaffirming its determination to pursue the implementation of that agenda in a holistic fashion. Tomorrow, together with the United Nations, African Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Union will launch the Initiative on the Regional Acceleration of Resolution 1325, which will strengthen the connectivity and cooperation between practitioners at all levels, she said. The bloc will take further steps to protect women’s organizations, peacebuilders and human rights defenders, including through sustainable funding. It will continue to promote women’s leadership and engage actively with women’s organizations and human rights defenders. In its civilian and military mission and operations, the Union reiterates its comment to a zero‑tolerance policy towards misconduct and abuse, and aims to improve its response to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment through a new policy.
GUILLERMO FERNANDEZ DE SOTO VALDERRAMA (Colombia), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said his country works to implement Council resolution 1325 (2000) by facilitating the economic empowerment of rural women and combating the cycles of violence that have undermined women’s rights for decades. Colombia has also set up a national roundtable that brings together women from the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to discuss the reintegration process on a weekly basis. Further, his Government has the first gender‑balanced cabinet in Colombia’s history. Domestic efforts to ensure women’s participation in decision‑making processes have borne fruit, he added, as local elections saw the greatest‑ever number of female candidates.
MITCH FIFIELD (Australia) said that his country has deployed forces on more than 60 operations overseas, including long‑standing contributions to some of the United Nations oldest peacekeeping efforts. The Australian Defence Force has 166 Gender Advisers who can be deployed on military, humanitarian, relief and recovery operations. Women and girls are central to the success of efforts to prevent, respond to, and resolve conflict and build peace, he continued. The country’s second women, peace and security national action plan, to be released later in 2019, is underpinned by a commitment to human rights and inclusion, and women’s meaningful participation in all aspects of peacebuilding, crisis response and prevention.
BESIANA KADARE (Albania), associating herself with the European Union, said that nowhere is the gender gap more evident than in field missions. Despite clear evidence that the inclusion of women in peacekeeping improves efficiency, they represent only 4.2 per cent of United Nations military personnel in the field. “We need international mechanisms that overcome the structural barriers that exist and ensure women’s participation in all peace and security decision‑making processes,” she emphasized. Albania has one of the most gender‑balanced cabinets in the world. To implement its first national action plan, Albania has established a technical group — composed of gender focal points — and another group to monitor progress. Appointments and the promotion of women to leading positions — both in the police and the army — remain a priority. Her country’s Government has put a clear focus on policies that aim at boosting women’s meaningful engagement in public life.
JACQUELINE O’NEILL (Canada), speaking on behalf of a group of 56 Member States, said women remain continuously underrepresented and excluded from peace and security efforts, including peace negotiations. Their full, equal and meaningful participation in all aspects of those matters must be safeguarded, she said, adding: “This is a non‑negotiable.” Underscoring the Secretary‑General’s emphasis on enhancing support and resources for such participation, she said political violence targeting women continues to be of grave concern and inhibits their ability to participate in public life and decision‑making processes. The deliberate targeting of women peacebuilders and human rights defenders also remains a major concern. Condemning such acts in the strongest terms, she said more progress is also needed in ensuring women’s full and meaningful participation in peacekeeping operations.
Welcoming the adoption of the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy, she said mission leadership must play a key role in integrating gender perspectives across their work. “This must be a top priority for the United Nations leadership, troop- and police‑contributing countries and all Member States,” she said, voicing additional concern about the continued devastating impacts of sexual and gender‑based violence in conflict situations. In that vein, she called on the Council to incorporate such crimes as a criterion for their sanctions regimes as well as to address the gender impacts of sanctions.
Speaking in her national capacity, she went on to spotlight several ways the international community can transform its concerted action to push forward the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda. First, it should establish stronger partnerships and reach across both social and institutional silos, as well as across national borders. In 2020, Canada will co‑chair the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network with Uruguay. It also works through the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, alongside Ghana, Zambia and Senegal, to assess and address barriers and design bold interventions to make a difference for women in police and military institutions. “No country and no region has a monopoly on good ideas,” she stressed, noting that Canada is transforming the way it funds the work of “those who need it most” and has doubled its commitment to the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund. Among other things, she spotlighted the importance of being intentional about including young people, indigenous women, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex community, and others.
AUDRA PLEPYTĖ (Lithuania), associating herself with the European Union, welcomed the Council’s recent decisions to expand the sanctions designation criteria to include individuals who perpetrate sexual and gender‑based violence in the context of armed conflict. Advocating for the concept’s further expansion so that those crimes become a standard element of sanctions regimes, she underlined Lithuania’s commitment to implementing the women, peace and security agenda and its recognition of the pivotal role of civil society, including women’s organizations. Expressing concern about increasing attacks against members of such groups, she declared: “Their safety and protection are essential, as they are our key allies in moving the women, peace and security agenda forward.” Lithuania’s second national action plan on that agenda was drafted alongside civil society representatives, and the country supports such impactful initiatives as the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, she said.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, called for a redoubling of efforts to include women at all levels of decision‑making in peace processes. Efforts to eradicate sexual violence, in addition, must address structural causes and become victim‑centred. Argentina has trained security personnel in gender issues and is considering organizing a women’s mediators’ group for its region. Maintaining ongoing access to safe education is a priority to protect and empower women in conflict areas, he said, inviting all States to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration.
DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam) expressed concern that women are underrepresented in all stages of peace processes, calling for stronger, sustained political will of Member States to rectify that. Within the United Nations system, coordination and coherence are essential in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Turning to mine action, he said that 800,000 tons of residual explosive remnants of war remain in Viet Nam. Hence, the Government is paying special attention to the participation and contribution of women in this area as “women are the best educators to impart knowledge to their children, their families and wider communities”. He called for greater focus on monitoring and measuring progress. A holistic approach to implementing the women, peace and security agenda requires a comprehensive set of indicators to assess performance.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), expressing support for the resolution adopted today, said that achievement of Council resolution 1325 (2000) is lagging badly in terms of women’s participation in peace processes, where “they should be an integral part of both formal and informal negotiations from start to finish, and in the aftermath of conflict resolutions” to ensure that they are not excluded at critical points during backroom negotiations. To make this happen, targeted financing is critical, as is increasing the number of women in security uniforms. In that regard, she noted, her country has been organizing training for women for military and peacekeeping purposes in partnership with UN‑Women, with which it was also endeavouring to create a broader platform for effective change. Noting that her country is also sponsoring panel discussions on addressing numerous security challenges from a gender perspective, she believes the focus on inclusion of women in post‑conflict issues must remain a priority.
RICARDO DE SOUZA MONTEIRO (Brazil), affirming the importance of women’s participation in peace processes, said that such processes are critical in liaising with local women. Noting that a Brazilian woman signed the original United Nations Charter, he described what he called the clear guidelines of his country’s action plan, which has dramatically increased the number of female officers in his country’s troop contributions to the Organization’s peace operations. Brazil is working with the United Nations Department of Peace Operations to ensure that women are trained for all roles, including combat roles. He described efforts and encouraged further work to integrate the women, peace and security agenda through country configurations. He also supported inclusion of the Peacebuilding Commission in discussions of Council resolution 1325 (2000) as part of advances to be considered on the twentieth anniversary of the resolution.
JAN KICKERT (Austria), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said his country is working to implement that agenda through cooperation with partner countries as well as UN‑Women and other United Nations agencies. Agreeing with other speakers that much more remains to be done to push the agenda forward, he said violence against human rights defenders in particular is on the rise, and sexual violence continues to be used around the world as a weapon of war. Austria is a proud supporter of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund and deems the role of civil society paramount both as actors on the ground and as monitors of the Council’s women, peace and security efforts. It is endeavouring to increase the number of deployed Austrian peacekeepers, including to missions of both the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). “Let us actively follow up on our pledges” to implement the women, peace and security agenda, he stressed.
MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt) said next year’s anniversary marks a timely opportunity to take stock of progress made in achieving the targets of the women, peace and security agenda. Outlining initiatives being carried out at the national level as part of Egypt’s 2030 Vision for Women’s Empowerment, he said the country has fully endorsed the Secretary‑General’s zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse and has joined the network of focal points for women, peace and security. In addition, it has sponsored related texts in the General Assembly and supports the provision of assistance to victims of gender‑based crimes. Noting that the Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding provides trainings to military and police personnel on dealing with sexual exploitation and abuse in conflict, he said those courses also seek to raise awareness of the various elements of the women, peace and security agenda.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) affirmed a pressing need to ramp up efforts to implement the women, peace and security agenda. Her country has been supporting it at all levels, having contributed to the comprehensive study on the issue. Redoubled efforts as the twentieth anniversary approaches would have the benefit of also contributing to the 2030 Agenda, and to boosting the participation of youth in peace processes. Noting that her country will soon host a conference on such youth participation, she said it intends to do all it can to promote the participation of women in peace processes through practical actions. It had co‑sponsored, in that vein, a peacebuilding conference in Afghanistan that included women. She pledged further such work in coordination with partners.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said his country contributes peacekeepers — including female troops — to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the African Union‑United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Noting that peace agreements in whose negotiations women are engaged are 35 per cent more likely to last at least 15 years, he declared: “This number alone should encourage parties to ensure that women must be part of the conversation.” Noting that women also continue to be underrepresented in arms control and disarmament forums, he recalled that Namibia launched its first National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security earlier in 2019, which is informed by consultations with UN‑Women, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other partners. In that vein, he urged regional and subregional organizations to take stronger measures to ensure that the agenda is implemented at those levels.
AMARSANAA DARISUREN, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said that, as the world’s largest collective security organization, OSCE sees the women, peace and security agenda as a critical part of its toolbox. Following a global trend, the number of national action plans on that agenda has continued to grow in the OSCE region, with more countries paying attention to conflict prevention. Underlining the need for such plans to also address underlying challenges facing women and girls, she said that over 80 per cent of the action plans make no or minimal reference to how the women, peace and security agenda will be funded. In response, OSCE intends to set present recommendations for how to better implement those plans at the national level in early 2020. Emphasizing that regional organizations are well‑placed to support States in that regard, she said OSCE also plans to put forward a toolkit on the inclusion of women in effective peace processes in December, aimed at addressing the unacceptably low levels of women’s participation.