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SC/14932
15 June 2022
9064th Meeting (AM & PM)

With Conflicts Destroying Hard-Won Gains, Regional Organizations Must Include Women in Peace Talks, Political Negotiations, Speakers Tell Security Council

With conflicts and military takeovers wiping out gains on women's rights, and with the safety and prospects of women and girls on the ground and in political and economic spheres being driven backwards, regional organizations have an important role to play in promoting women's participation in peace and other decision-making processes, almost 60 speakers told the Security Council today in a ministerial-level open debate on women, peace and security.

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, opening the meeting on the theme “Women and peace and security:  Keeping the promises:  The role of regional organizations in implementing women, peace and security in the face of political turmoil and seizures of power by force”, said today’s conflicts are amplifying gender inequality.  In some countries, extremists and military actors have taken power by force and are persecuting women for simply going about their daily lives.  Misogyny and authoritarianism are mutually reinforcing, he stressed.  Although the Council meets several times a year on the issue — “on the ground, the situation is going backwards”, he said.  “The reason is simple.  Women’s equality is a question of power.”

He cited Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s Government of men has resulted in nearly 20 million women and girls being silenced and erased from sight, as well as deteriorating situations in Myanmar, Mali and Sudan.  Similarly, the Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine has forced millions of women and children to flee their country overnight.  The importance of collaborating with regional organizations, however, is evident in Sudan where the United Nations, working with the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), requests every delegation to ensure that at least 40 per cent of participants are women.  Studies also show that the active engagement of women peacebuilders increases the chances of lasting peace.  “That is why we need full gender parity,” he stressed.

Sima Sami Bahous, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), noting that 12 regional organizations have adopted action plans on women, peace and security, up from five since the fifteenth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) in 2015.  However, while women participate in groups in the Sahel and the Great Lakes region, the input from their platforms are not adequately reflected in political updates.  “Yet, with all this institutional progress, almost every time there are political negotiations and peace talks, we still have to ask:  ‘Where are the women?’,” she said.

Stella Ronner-Grubačić, Ambassador for Gender and Diversity of the European Union, echoed that, observing that women continue to be left out of the political dialogue about their countries’ future in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Yemen or Syria.  “When decisions need to be made, including in this room, women remain underrepresented,” she stated.  Calling for accelerating action over talk to guarantee women's participation in all diplomacy and political dialogue, she spotlighted the European Union’s launch of the Afghan Women Leaders Forum in March — providing a platform for Afghan women to contribute to the political dialogue on the future of that country.

Helga Maria Schmid, Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), speaking via video-teleconference, pointed out that the Russian Federation’s war on Ukraine is having a devastating impact on civilians and infrastructure, with women and girls becoming victims of rape, trafficking and violence.  The war is also threatening food and energy security, with disastrous consequences for the poorest households — many of which are headed by women.  In 2021, OSCE launched a networking platform for women leaders, mediators and peacebuilders that included women from Ukraine and Afghanistan, allowing the sharing of experience and practices in a safe space.  Emphasizing that OSCE “leads by example”, she noted that over 40 per cent of leadership positions within the organization are held by women.

Bineta Diop, Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, speaking via video-teleconference, underscored how the resurgence of military coups d’état in Africa was having dire consequences for women and girls.  Conditions that lead to a military coup are often exclusion and gender inequality, she said, adding that research shows that gender equality is the number-one predictor of peace.  In Africa, 58 per cent of States adopted the national plan on the women, peace and security agenda; however, a 2022 study showed that women’s fundamental rights and access to services had deteriorated.  Citing the African Union’s efforts on the issue, including a solidarity mission with the African Women Leaders Network that went underground and talked to affected women, she urged the Council to deliver what women are asking for:  action and impacts.

Haifa Abu-Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary General and Head of the Social Affairs Sector of the League of Arab States, said that, since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), the region is still witnessing crises and conflicts, with women’s potential to build peace remaining untapped.  The League supports efforts to broker ceasefires initiated at the national levels, and in 2019, established the Arab Women Mediators Network, a regional mediation instrument comprising high‑level diplomats from regional member States.  Noting that the League also initiated the formation of an emergency committee for the protection of women during armed conflicts in the region, she suggested that the Secretary-General appoint a special envoy for women, peace and security.

During the day-long debate, many speakers underscored that the full and meaningful participation of women was crucial to building and maintaining international peace and security.

Spain’s delegate stressed that “women must be empowered in times of peace, so their vulnerability is reduced in times of violence”.  There can be no lasting solution for any conflict unless women are involved in negotiations, and there can be no lasting peace if the rights of women and girls are not included in the political peace framework, she added.

India’s representative emphasized that women police officers and peacekeepers have played a critical role in preserving the women, peace and security agenda and welcomed the uniformed gender parity strategy to increase the number of women peacekeepers.  “Just as a bird cannot fly with one wing, durable peace cannot be achieved without the active participation of the other gender,” he said.

Thailand’s delegate reported that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has placed the women, peace and security agenda high on its regional agenda.  Noting that Thailand deploys women peacekeepers to United Nations peace operations, she said the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting is working on enhancing a support mechanism for ASEAN women peacekeepers and their participation through capacity‑building and knowledge- and experience‑sharing.

Kenya’s delegate, noting the challenge of institutional bureaucracies, called for enhanced collaboration between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations.  When aligned with political will, that contributes to mainstreaming gender perspectives in multidimensional peacebuilding efforts, as is evident in work in the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in the joint efforts between the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), African Union and IGAD.

South Africa’s representative, however, said that full implementation of commitments is lacking in addressing women’s underrepresentation and exclusion in decision-making and peace processes, as well as elections.  He called on Member States to adopt measures that address discriminatory barriers and to strengthen electoral bodies and judicial institutions so that they can hold perpetrators of human rights abuses and violators of international law accountable.

The United Arab Emirates’ delegate sounded a note of caution:  there is an alarmingly low number of women negotiators implementing the women, peace and security agenda — currently only 13 per cent on average — and as of 2020, almost half of the world’s 30 major international organizations have never been led by a woman.  “If we do not achieve gender-responsive leadership, we will not succeed in institutionalizing gender equality and the women, peace and security agenda — and may as well stop paying it lip-service,” she said.

The United States’ representative, along with a number of speakers, highlighted the threat to women and girls’ rights in conflict hotspots, including Mali, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ukraine and Ethiopia.  She pointed to several United Nations sanctions regimes, such as for South Sudan and Yemen, that included designation criteria for those who perpetrate violence against women.

Canada’s delegate, speaking for the Group of Friends of Women, Peace, and Security, called for swift and concerted action to fully implement Council resolution 1325 (2000).  Speaking in his national capacity, he also stressed that, in Ukraine and Myanmar, it is impossible to deny the evidence that gender-based violence is being used as a deliberate weapon of war — setting the international community back centuries.

However, the representative of the Russian Federation denied crimes of sexual violence had been committed by Russian personnel.  Meanwhile, in Ukrainian territories liberated from nationalists, the Russian Federation is investigating and documenting such crimes.  Although Western partners proclaim themselves leaders on the women, peace and security agenda, he stressed that the use of unilateral coercive measures by the West primarily affects women in socioeconomic spheres.

Ukraine’s delegate underscored that implementing resolution 1325 (2000) will only be effective if national efforts are complemented by cooperation within regional and subregional organizations.  In the context of forcible seizure of power, they could be instrumental in providing support for conflict mediation and resolution.  Despite the ongoing Russian aggression, his country adopted a national action plan on women, peace and security, the first among Member States to do so during a situation of conflict.

Also speaking were ministers and representatives of Albania, Norway, Ghana, United Kingdom, Brazil, Gabon, France, Ireland, China, Mexico, Finland (also for Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), Jordan, Liechtenstein, Türkiye, Malta, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Republic of Korea, Greece, Croatia, Luxembourg (also for Belgium and Netherlands), Italy, Germany, Egypt, Namibia, Austria, Ecuador, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Poland, Chile, Guatemala, Uruguay, Morocco, Georgia, Algeria, Argentina, Venezuela and Portugal.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m., was suspended at 1:01 p.m., resumed at 3:02 p.m. and ended at 5:22 p.m.

Opening Remarks

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said today’s conflicts are amplifying gender inequality, poverty and climate disruptions.  Millions of girls are out of school with no prospect of training, a job or financial independence, while rising numbers of women and girls are suffering from violence in the home.  In some countries, extremists and military actors have taken power by force, cancelling previous commitments on gender equality and persecuting women for simply going about their daily lives.  Misogyny and authoritarianism are mutually reinforcing and are antithetical to stable, prosperous societies.  While the Council meets several times a year on the issue — “on the ground, the situation is going backwards,” he said.  “The reason is simple.  Women’s equality is a question of power.”

In Afghanistan, the Taliban have appointed a Government of men, closed girls’ schools and banned women from showing their faces in public, resulting in nearly 20 million women and girls being silenced and erased from sight, he continued.  In Myanmar, a large proportion of women’s organizations have been forced to close since the military coup, while in Mali, women are becoming poorer and more marginalized as the country goes through successive military coups.  Further, the Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine has forced millions of women and children to flee their country overnight, putting them at high risk of trafficking and exploitation.  As of 3 June, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had received 124 reports of conflict-related sexual violence across Ukraine, mostly committed against women and girls.  “We know that, for every woman who reports these horrific crimes, there are likely to be many more who remain silent or unrecorded,” he said.  In Sudan, two years after women’s role in the revolution was celebrated, another coup interrupted the transition, with alleged perpetrators of human rights violations still in power.

“In all these conflicts we have men in power and women excluded, their rights and freedoms deliberately targeted,” he pointed out.  Welcoming to the debate representatives from the European Union, African Union, League of Arab States and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), he underlined that collaboration with those organizations is reflected in daily work on the ground.  In Sudan, the United Nations is working closely with the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), with all three envoys asking every delegation to ensure that at least 40 per cent of participants are women.  Meanwhile, in West and Central Africa, the Organization is working closely with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).  It also been deepening collaboration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — which will be crucial to finding a solution to the crisis in Myanmar.

Turning to Afghanistan, he stated that the United Nations is unequivocal about the fundamental rights of women and girls.  At the most senior level, the Organization is working to maintain the parity achieved since early 2021 among Heads and Deputy Heads of missions.  Studies also show that the active engagement of women peacebuilders increases the chances of lasting peace.  “That is why we need full gender parity,” he stressed — including through quotas to accelerate the inclusion of women across election monitoring, security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and justice systems.  Citing how the proposed New Agenda for Peace, included in the report on Our Common Agenda, puts women and girls at the centre of security policy, he nonetheless observed that the women, peace and security agenda continues to be challenged and even reversed around the world.  He therefore encouraged the Council to commit to increasing support for women’s civil society, conflict prevention and peacebuilding work.

Briefings

SIMA SAMI BAHOUS, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), said 12 regional organizations have adopted action plans on women, peace and security, up from five since the fifteenth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) in 2015.  When Member States get together and make commitments, national actions often follow.  Regional organizations have also played a key role in the development of networks of women mediators, with nearly every region and subregion now with at least one such network.  “Yet, with all this institutional progress, almost every time there are political negotiations and peace talks, we still have to ask:  ‘Where are the women?’,” she said.

For example, in the Sahel, there are the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) Women’s Platform, Network on Peace and Security for Women in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Network of Young Female Leaders, among others, she reported.  However, the analysis and inputs from the platform are not adequately reflected in political updates.  In the Great Lakes region, there is significant investment in mobilizing women, peace and security actors.  Yet, those activities seem separate from the political talks to bring about a solution to the rising violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In that regard, women must be equally included and their voices and solutions heard, she said, urging all in the multilateral system to defend their values with the same determination as the women’s movement and be undeterred by current challenges and developments.  All response efforts must fully include the voices of women leaders and ensure that women are part of finding peaceful solutions for recovery and prevention mechanisms.  In addition, regional organizations, when convening negotiations, must ensure the participation of women so they can share their experiences, knowledge and vision for the future.

As well, the international community must do better at providing support, protection and in many cases asylum, temporary relocation or protected status to people facing gender-based persecution, she continued.  Last year, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund supported 215 civil society organizations, reaching 10.6 million people, including forcibly displaced women, women and girls with disabilities and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.  UN-Women and partners plan to do much more, she said, urging the international community to stand in solidarity and fully honour the commitments made to and with women.  “The peace and security to which we aspire will only be possible when women play a central role,” she emphasized.

HELGA MARIA SCHMID, Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, speaking via video-teleconference, underscored that the Russian Federation’s war on Ukraine is having a devastating impact on civilians and infrastructure, directly contradicting the core principles underpinning the European and global security order.  Women and girls have been the victims of rape and face a high risk of trafficking and violence.  Further, the war is also threatening food and energy security, with the prices of food and basic goods increasing with disastrous consequences for the poorest households — many of which are headed by women.  Against this backdrop, she highlighted the importance of ensuring women’s role in peacebuilding, conflict‑resolution and decision-making in general.

To that end, OSCE is playing a vital role, supporting women’s leadership and direct participation in peace processes and post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation, she said.  In 2021, it launched a networking platform for women leaders, mediators and peacebuilders that included women from Ukraine and Afghanistan, allowing the sharing of experience and practices in a safe space.  OSCE also supports survivors of gender-based violence by strengthening the capacity of service providers, networking women’s resource centres and developing police and justice-sector training curricula to address domestic violence.  The organization also strengthens women’s participation in the security sector — particularly in the areas of conflict prevention, arms control and disarmament — by providing a scholarship training program to young women from across the OSCE region.

Emphasizing that OSCE “leads by example”, she noted that over two thirds of participating States have adopted action plans to implement resolution 1325 (2000), and that over 40 per cent of leadership positions within the organization are held by women.  However, more must be done to advance gender equality, she stressed, calling for cooperation to ensure that the needs of women in conflict are adequately addressed and that women are part of the decision‑making process at all levels, “including the very important legislative dimension”.

BINETA DIOP, Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, speaking via video-teleconference, said today’s topic is timely given that the constitutional changes of Governments, including the resurgence of military coups d’état, are accelerating in Africa.  This has had dire consequences on the human security of women and girls, including access to social, economic services and rights.  In the Sahel, where terrorist attacks continue, women are doubly affected by the coups and those terrorist acts.  The condition that leads to a military coup is often exclusion and gender inequality.

Exclusion of women from decision-making in politics and economics is not only an example of gender inequality, but an indicator of poor democratic governance, she continued.  Coups do not address those issues but exacerbate them.  Research shows that gender equality is the number-one predictor of peace, she stressed, adding that full participation of all citizens, including women, is the best way to build sustained democracies, reduce conflict and achieve human development.  This is what the women, peace and security agenda stands for, and if fully implemented, it will contribute to addressing these devastating situations.

In Africa, 58 per cent of States adopted the national plan on the women, peace and security agenda, she pointed out, also drawing attention to the region’s governance architecture, as well as the peace and security architecture.  The United Nations could help implement that architecture, she noted, applauding the Secretary-General’s effort to work closely with the African Union in this regard.  In addition, her office conducted a 2022 study, with the support of Luxembourg, on multiple impacts of coups, related insecurity, climate change and the pandemic on the situation of women in the Sahel.  Evidence showed that their fundamental rights and access to services, as well as their livelihoods had deteriorated.

To promote women’s inclusion in peace and security, the African Union employed several tools, including a solidarity mission with the African Women Leaders Network to go underground and talk to the affected women, she continued.  A technical team, with the support of UN-Women, is currently in Mali to follow up with the previous solidarity mission in support of peacebuilding efforts and the ongoing negotiations for a return to political stability and the draft of a new Constitution.  She then urged the Council to deliver what women are asking for — action and impacts.

STELLA RONNER-GRUBAČIĆ, Ambassador for Gender and Diversity of the European Union, in its capacity as an observer, affirmed that regional organizations have a critical role to play in women, peace and security.  However, in times of turmoil, commitments are interrupted.  Women — whether journalists, peacebuilders, members of parliament or representatives of civil society — see their work, safety and security threatened or worse.  “I can testify on the basis of my own experiences how difficult it is to ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation,” she said.  Further, women continue to be left out of the political dialogue about their countries’ future in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Yemen or Syria.  “When decisions need to be made, including in this room, women remain underrepresented.  We need to start discussing this reality,” she stressed.

With the world at a crossroads, she called for accelerating action over talk to guarantee women's participation in all diplomacy and political dialogue.  As a concrete example of women’s empowerment, she spotlighted the European Union’s launch of the Afghan Women Leaders Forum in March — providing a platform for Afghan women from diverse backgrounds to contribute to the political dialogue of the European Union and the wider international community on the future of that country.  Also citing crimes committed by Russian Federation armed forces in Ukraine, she said that the European Union is collaborating with the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

In that regard, the war in Ukraine is another example of the need to work with local and regional organizations to make sure that action on the situation is based on reliable information and facts on the ground, she continued.  That collaboration has led to women’s organizations to start collecting evidence and documenting cases of conflict-related sexual violence.  Also citing the Common Anti-Trafficking Plan, she noted that, “without the role of regional organizations, we would not have been able to take this important step”.

Regarding women in Afghanistan representing local and regional networks and organizations, she affirmed the importance of feeding the views and positions of women into political dialogue.  It can be done, she said, adding “it just requires a deliberate effort and a consistent and continuous banging on the door of those places where conflict and peace are being addressed.”  Gender mainstreaming is a guiding principle of the European Union’s 18 civilian and military missions and operations, and it has committed to ensure that 85 per cent of all external action will have a gender dimension by 2025.

Calling for the Council to convene more often to ensure that women are offered a chance to participate meaningfully in its discussions, she proposed to relaunch the Regional Acceleration Resolution 1325 (2000) mechanism — a platform aimed to facilitate the exchange of best practices and lessons learned among the United Nations, European Union, African Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and OSCE, along with additional partners, such as the League of Arab States.

HAIFA ABU-GHAZALEH, Assistant Secretary General and Head of the Social Affairs Sector of the League of Arab States, said that, 21 years since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), the Arab region is still witnessing crises and conflicts and women’s potential to build peace remains untapped in the region.  The League has been supporting efforts to political solutions and efforts to broker ceasefires initiated at the national levels that allow parties to establish legitimate, accountable and effective Governments.  In 2015, the League formulated a regional strategy for women, peace and security, and supports member States' efforts to develop national action plans to implement resolution 1325 (2000).  In 2019, it established the Arab Women Mediators Network, a regional mediation instrument comprising high‑level diplomats from the ministries for foreign affairs of member States within the region.

She went on to say that the League of Arab States also initiated the formation of an emergency committee for the protection of women during armed conflicts in the Arab region. In that context, several related strategies have been adopted to support, strengthen and protect women in peace and security.  Moreover, in cooperation with UN-Women, the League developed the “Women, Peace and Security Project in the Arab Region”, which aims to provide technical assistance and political guidance for all aspects of women, peace and security commitments, she said, noting that the first and second synthesis reports were issued at the regional level on the progress made in implementing resolution 1325 (2000) after 15 years in the region.  She suggested that the Secretary-General appoint a special envoy for women, peace and security and called on the Council to adopt a new resolution on women and mediation.

Statements

OLTA XHAÇKA, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania and Council President for June, speaking in her national capacity, said that regional and subregional organizations have continued to play pivotal roles in their respective regions in the areas of peace and security, human rights and development.  Outlining global challenges that demonstrate the fragility of progress made on the women, peace and security agenda, she pointed out that the war in Ukraine has put immense pressure on — if not undone — substantive gains in women’s rights and gender equality made in recent years.  “Ukrainian women and girls are facing today maybe the biggest challenge of their lives,” she stressed.  Additionally, in Afghanistan, since the Taliban’s violent takeover in August 2021, women have been systematically erased from public life; in Sudan, Myanmar and Mali, violence has threatened the lives and work of women peacebuilders.

Welcoming the fact that many regional organizations have adopted — or are about to adopt — dedicated strategies to implement and prioritize the women, peace and security agenda, she pointed out that such organizations are often the first to react in crisis response, engage with concerned parties and ensure protection of civilians.  They can be influential in advocating for women’s full, equal, meaningful and safe participation in all aspects of peace and security.  Their voices must be heard in the Security Council and the broader United Nations system.  Albania, through its participation in regional organizations, is committed to accelerating and implementing the women, peace and security agenda.  She added that her country ranks among the top-five gender-balanced Governments in the world, where 75 per cent of the ministers are women.  As well, important steps have been taken towards officially embracing gender-responsive budgeting at the central and local levels.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), recalling the disproportionate threats women and girls face in countries and conflicts around the world, including in Mali, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ukraine and Ethiopia, pointed out that several United Nations sanctions regimes, such as for South Sudan and Yemen, include designation criteria for those who perpetrate violence against women.  The Security Council should continue to use these tools as it did for Osama al-Kuni Ibrahim, a notorious human trafficker in Libya.  In Afghanistan, the Taliban has constrained, and in many areas, eliminated, women’s participation in political, economic and social spaces.  However, the women’s peace and security agenda cannot be discussed without reflecting on the consequences of the Russian Federation’s horrific invasion of Ukraine and the disproportionate impact it has had on women.  Regional organizations must play a role here.  One area where regional organizations can truly make a difference is in creating a safe space for women peacebuilders, journalists and civil society.  For its part, through the passage of the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017, the United States became the first country in the world to codify a commitment to advancing resolution 1325 (2000).  In addition, the 2019 United States Strategy on Women, Peace and Security seeks to close the gender gap in leadership, she said, encouraging all Member States to adopt and implement action plans on the agenda.

GRY HAUGSBAKKEN, State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Equality of Norway, highlighted the leading role of regional organizations, including the African Union and ECOWAS, and their action plans on women, peace and security.  The real test is translating general policy commitments into concrete action when conflicts arise.  Regional organizations should insist on women’s full, equal, meaningful participation in all mediation efforts, in local and national conflict resolution, and in rebuilding from political crises.  That should also include women in regional organizations’ own mediation teams, he said, drawing attention to the Regional Women Mediator Networks.

In regard to potential disengagement and marginalization of women, peace and security commitments after a coup or violent takeover, he noted that, in Afghanistan and Myanmar, women peacebuilders and civil society representatives have repeatedly called for formal and informal platforms to ensure their continued and direct engagement with those who have taken power.  Regional organizations carry the weight of many diverse voices, he emphasized.  They are uniquely placed to facilitate dialogue and re-build broken relations between those in power and their populations.  Their engagement in peace diplomacy is critical, he said, adding that they are key actors and partners to the United Nations in translating the women, peace and security ambitions into actual impact.

ABENA OSEI-ASARE, Deputy Minister for Finance of Ghana, said Africa’s regional economic communities such as ECOWAS, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), ECCAS and the East African Community have a long history of engagement with the aspirations of the people of the continent, even though sociopolitical conflicts have eroded some gains.  However, in West Africa, ECOWAS has developed legal frameworks to assure the role of women in governance, conflict prevention and resolution, and peacebuilding.  The region is mindful of the role that women’s groups at national and regional levels have played in the resolution of conflicts including in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire at the beginning of the millennium.  Citing the 2010 adoption of the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) and related resolutions, she said that organization continues to work towards inclusive and participatory governance processes to integrate women in the mechanisms of preventive diplomacy and mediation.  She urged the Council to request the Secretary-General to allocate targeted, practical and rapid resources to facilitate responses to threats against women peacebuilders or avert the dangers they may face, especially in the context of military coups.  The Council can also ensure that peace operations are adequately resourced to address the challenges in monitoring, reporting and providing support to women peacebuilders.  She further called for regional organizations to ensure full participation by actively employing women as special envoys and senior mediators.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) underscored that regional organizations are the ones closest to conflict breakouts, with a deep understanding of conflict dynamics and first-hand experience with spill-over effects.  She called for efforts to amplify their role in implementing the women, peace and security agenda.  However, there is an alarmingly low number of women negotiators — currently only 13 per cent on average.  Further, as of 2018, women’s organizations received only 0.13 per cent of total official development assistance (ODA).  Among other points, she called for strengthened networks, localized security and gender-responsive leadership, including by appointing women to high-level positions.  As of 2020, almost half of the world’s 30 major international organizations have never been led by a woman, and in 2021, only 18 out of 194 Heads of Delegations at the high-level week of the seventy-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly were women.  “If we do not achieve gender-responsive leadership, we will not succeed in institutionalizing gender equality and the women, peace and security agenda — and may as well stop paying it lip-service,” she said.

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) noted that her country has ensured that the landmark Murad Code of conduct for gathering information from survivors safely and effectively — launched by Lord Admad of Wimbledon and Nadia Murad during the United Kingdom’ Council presidency in April — has been translated into Ukrainian in order to hold perpetrators to account for their crimes.  In November, the United Kingdom will host in London an international conference on preventing sexual violence in conflict, the centrepiece of a global campaign launched by Foreign Secretary Truss in 2021, she said, stressing:  “For us, all options are on the table to strengthen international prevention and response to the heinous crimes of conflict‑related sexual violence.”  The United Kingdom supports and funds the regional Women Mediators across the Commonwealth network, who have resolved electoral conflicts in Uganda, mediated the political conflict in Myanmar, and bridged divided communities in Northern Ireland and Cyprus.  Also noting her country’s support for regional collaboration to drive change on the ground, she called for ensuring women are at the heart and forefront of organizations, in leadership and decision-making roles; actively promoting the women, peace and security agenda through communications and dialogue; and developing regional action plans, among other actions.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the meeting’s agenda had been formulated vaguely, but could be projected on developments in Ukraine.  That State’s deterioration and disintegration began in 2014 with an anti-constitutional coup d’état and the seizure of power by Western-backed radical nationalist forces, leading to the destruction of everything Russian, and the repression of opposition political parties and media outlets.  Kyiv authorities unleashed a civil war against the Donbas population and “tried to drown dissenters in blood”, he said, including through eight years of shelling peaceful cities and instituting a blockade.  Ukrainian authorities further persecute journalists and detain media representatives, including many female correspondents.  By supplying weapons, the United States and NATO member States are accomplices in the killing and wounding of women in Donbas, he said, noting a maternity hospital there was shelled, without any condemnation in the West.  “Fakes and lies are all that you have” regarding sexual violence crimes committed by Russian personnel, he stressed; meanwhile, in Ukrainian territories liberated from nationalists, the Russian Federation is investigating and documenting such crimes.  He noted the importance of enhancing the role of women in the socioeconomic development of conflict or post-conflict States.  Western partners proclaim themselves leaders on that agenda without evidence, he said — stressing that employing unilateral coercive measures is unacceptable, as they primarily affect women in socioeconomic spheres.  Xenophobia and racism against women and people of African and Asian descent — a product of Western colonialism, now become neo-colonialism — must be eradicated.

T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) noted that there are more than 1.3 million elected women representatives in his country.  In addition, among other initiatives, 20 Indian states have made provisions for 50 per cent reservation for women in legislative bodies.  Underlining the importance of women’s meaningful participation in the governance of Afghanistan, he expressed particular concern about the discriminatory inferior status being accorded to women there, which has, inter alia, adversely impacted the education of Afghan girls.  Turning to the misuse of new technology, he noted that Internet and social media networks have the potential to augment women’s voice and increase their participation.  However, extremist groups and terrorists have increasingly exploited these tools to the detriment of women.  Pointing out that women and girls suffer disproportionately from terrorist activities, he urged the Security Council to focus on the consequences of terrorism on the rights of women.  He also stressed that women police officers and peacekeepers have played a critical role in preserving the women, peace and security agenda and welcomed the uniformed gender parity strategy to increase the number of women peacekeepers.  “Just as a bird cannot fly with one wing, durable peace cannot be achieved without the active participation of the other gender,” he said.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) emphasized that women briefers from regional organizations can help Member States better understand regional priorities and thus ensure an appropriate response when designing mandates.  The international community must continue to demand all parties to adopt commitments to prevent and address sexual violence, develop a victim and survivor-centred approach and hold perpetrators to account.  Moreover, the mandates of peacekeeping operations and special political missions must be strengthened to better respond to violations of international humanitarian law.  The presence of women peacekeepers on the ground should continue to be pursued.  Moreover, peacekeeping mandates must be updated so that they are more explicit in their role to promote women’s economic inclusion and empowerment in line with resolution 2242 (2015).  The Council must work not only to bring women to peace negotiation tables, but also on ways to protect those invited to the table and those working on the ground from direct violence and intimidation.  Normalizing the participation of women in peace processes and upgrading their role is a very concrete way to implement the women, peace and security agenda, he said.

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said his country is pursuing a policy that places women at the heart of its society, underscoring their central role in the revitalization of the socioeconomic and political landscapes.  Gabon remains committed to international advocacy for the participation of women in situations of upheaval resulting from conflict, recognizing that conflict‑prevention and post-conflict recovery require the mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts of women.  Turning to regional organizations, he said the African Union Commission's efforts to promote women's participation have led to the implementation of the Fem Wise-Africa programme, which aims to bolster the role of women in conflict prevention and mediation within the framework of the African Peace and Security Architecture.  Those initiatives must recognize the networks of women leaders and peacebuilders and give them financial, technical and logistical support, he said, calling for increased efforts at the national, regional and global levels for a more comprehensive, inclusive and efficient implementation of resolution 1325 (2000).  As well, partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations must be strengthened through coordination of their actions on the women, peace and security agenda.

SHERAZ GASRI (France) said that conflict, coups d’état and political unrest create major setbacks for women and girls, silencing their voices and setting back their rights.  In Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to drive half of its population back into obscurity, and in Ukraine, women are bearing the brunt of Russian aggression.  Further, many women human rights defenders and peacebuilders — even some that have spoken to the Council — are being threatened throughout the world.  Against that backdrop, she called on the Council to intensify its efforts to implement the women, peace and security framework.  She went on to support not only partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations, but between regional organizations themselves, spotlighting the European Union-African Union partnership for women’s inclusion in peace negotiations.  She added that, for its part, France will continue to promote ambitious, determined feminist diplomacy, also endorsing the statement of shared commitments of the Council presidencies on women, peace and security.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) emphasized that disregarding gender and women only results in illusory peace and stability, urging the international community to ensure the prioritization of the women, peace and security agenda, not its marginalization.  Eleven regional organizations have adopted action plans or dedicated strategies on the agenda.  A twelfth is on the way — from ASEAN, which comes at a critical time in the context of the deteriorating situation in Myanmar.  Making several recommendations, she said that, in addition to adopting regional action plans on the agenda, all of the peace and security initiatives deployed by regional organizations are gender-responsive.  She also proposed breaking the “silos” by including women in discussions.  Regional organizations often have unique access to emerging conflicts in their neighbourhood, she said, stressing the need to use this to respond rapidly, mount a robust response and apply gender-responsive approaches at all times, not as afterthoughts to be applied post facto.

BING DAI (China) said the advancement of women’s causes is inseparable from a stable political environment.  Since 2021, many countries from Africa to Asia experienced changes on the political scene.  Some were triggered by hasty withdrawal of foreign troops and others were caused by conflict that stemmed from the imposition of an ill-fitting foreign governance model.  It has become clear that supporting the affected countries in exploring their development paths that suit their needs is the only way to maintain political stability.  Rejecting the imposition of external solutions, he stressed the important roles played by regional organizations, such as the African Union, ASEAN and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in supporting local solutions.  Achieving peace is the best protection for women, who bear the brunt of conflict.  Crisis response and humanitarian assistance are not an end.  The international community must maintain the fundamental direction towards political settlement and eliminate the root causes of conflict.

JAYNE TOROITICH (Kenya) called for enhanced collaboration between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations to overcome the challenge of institutional bureaucracies.  When aligned with political will, such efforts contribute to mainstreaming gender perspectives in multidimensional peacebuilding efforts and peace support operations.  This is evident in the expansion of political space for women in the Central African Republic; inclusion of women in key political processes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and women representation in decision-making and governance in the joint efforts between the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), African Union and IGAD to support the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement by the Transitional Government.  She underlined the importance of meaningful partnership with regional women networks, particularly in fragile and conflict situations.  Coups and military takeovers further compound the challenge of protecting women peacebuilders, journalists, civil society representatives and activists, she said, stressing the need for sustained and early investment in women in peacebuilding and peacekeeping through regional networks before such conflicts arise.  There is also a need to ensure that regional women networks have sufficient financial and human resources.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) noted his country has a feminist foreign policy, granting high priority to the women, peace and security agenda, and that regional organizations on the ground are essential in bridging the gap between rhetoric and reality.  Those organizations play a crucial role in in promoting political dialogue in conflict-affected countries, as they know the local actors first-hand — and their involvement is even more relevant in times of unrest, especially when they work with women leaders, peacebuilders and human rights defenders.  Noting the situation worldwide has deteriorated, with rising sexual and gender‑based violence, he called for an update of women, peace and security action plans, and for strengthened capacities to assist the full participation of women in public life at all levels.  It is also crucial to cooperate with the Secretary‑General’s mediators and special envoys, including to ensure that peace agreements contain specific provisions for treatment and redress for survivors of sexual violence.  Calling for the promotion of inclusive networks of women mediators in various subregions, he asked UN-Women to ensure the women, peace and security and humanitarian action compact takes shape soon.

VILLE SKINNARI, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade of Finland, speaking for Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, stressed that ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sudan, Myanmar and Mali are threatening the fragile gains of the women, peace and security agenda and the lives and work of women peacebuilders.  In the context of military coups and takeovers, regional and subregional organizations are often instrumental in developing context‑specific and tailor-made approaches, including building trust, promoting dialogue among concerned parties and offering support in mediation and reconciliation.  Such organizations can be influential in advocating for women’s full, equal, and meaningful, as well as safe, participation in all aspects of peace and security, he said.

He went on to stress the need to step up interaction with civil society and support for local women’s organizations and women peacebuilders at the international, regional and national levels.  The Women and Peace and Security Focal Points Network, co-chaired by South Africa and Switzerland, provides an important platform for sharing best practices.  Highlighting the value of contextual, local expertise, he stressed that investing in better, coordinated data collection, gender analysis and systematic monitoring of results across all peace efforts, will be key to making any radical shift on women’s meaningful participation possible.  Initiatives, such as, the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action and Commitment 2025, led by Finland and Spain, are important in this respect.

RASHA MOHD KHEIR OMAR SHOMAN KHOT (Jordan) said her country is in the process of drafting its second national action plan for coordinated, holistic efforts to integrate women and their perspectives into peace and security matters.  As host to a large number of Palestinian and Syrian refugees, her Government also has included the needs of the most vulnerable in its action plan. Through that plan, strengthened prevention and protection mechanisms have reached more than 12,000 vulnerable women and girls with services addressing gender-based violence.  Her country is also building on lessons learned, knowledge acquired and challenges and opportunities that have emerged, with the aim of setting new goals to increase the full, active and meaningful participation of women in public life, she said, stressing the pivotal role of civil society organizations and women human rights defenders in conflict regions.  It is not enough to strengthen bilateral relationships with regional partners; collective regional efforts paired with international partners to reinforce implementation of the women, peace and security agenda are needed.  A shared vision that respects the characteristics of each State and ensures a flexible, sustained flow of funding is crucial to achieving optimal results, she said, noting that her country is part of the League of Arab States’ regional action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), which accelerates Arab States’ efforts to advance the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.

MYRIAM OEHRI (Liechtenstein) expressed concern over the situation of women and girls in Myanmar since the 2021 military coup, spotlighting increased risks of trafficking, child marriage and sexual violence.  Recalling that the General Assembly condemned the use of lethal force by that country’s armed forces and called for the prevention of the flow of arms into Myanmar, she urged all Member States to implement these provisions and called on the Council to take complementary action.  Turning to Ukraine, she said that systematic violations of international humanitarian law by the Russian armed forces — including the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war — are causing immense suffering.  Millions of women and children fleeing Ukraine are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking, and she supported OSCE’s practical recommendations on this issue “to prevent the current humanitarian crisis from turning into a human trafficking crisis”.

ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace, and Security, called for swift and concerted action to fully implement Council resolution 1325 (2000) and subsequent resolutions on women, peace and security, lest women and girls continue to be side-lined from political and peace processes, live in fear for their safety and be subjected to all forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence.  In conflicts and crises, he urged regional organizations and regional networks to promote women’s full, equal and meaningful participation at all levels of peace and security processes.  He commended initiatives to strengthen collaboration to improve data disaggregation and gender analyses, share best practices and coordinate gender‑responsive and human rights-based approaches to ensure the meaningful inclusion of women, in particular those from traditionally marginalized groups, in political and peace and security processes.  The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission can play a role in supporting these efforts.  It is also critical for regional partners to support safe and enabling environments for women peacebuilders, human rights defenders, activists and gender equality advocates.  Speaking in his national capacity, he stressed that, in Ukraine and Myanmar, it is impossible to deny the evidence that gender-based violence is being used as a deliberate weapon of war — setting the international community back centuries.

AYSE INANC-ORNEKOL (Türkiye) said recent events in countries such as Ukraine, Afghanistan or Myanmar showed how the fragile gains of the women, peace and security agenda can be easily rolled back, as well as how the rights and well-being of women and girls can be violated with impunity.  Türkiye has contributed to the development of recently adopted NATO policies in the context of that agenda and continues to include a gender perspective into the training of security personnel.  Building on the experience of the African Union and NATO, Member States can appoint high-level representatives to drive implementation of the agenda at the regional level.  States can establish regional advisory bodies of women peace leaders to systematically contribute to the conflict prevention and peacebuilding work of regional organizations.  In addition, they can assist in building regional capacity for monitoring and reporting on progress and also increase engagement and interaction with international and regional human rights mechanisms to ensure full consideration of women’s human rights.

FRANCESCA MARIA GATT (Malta) said the women, peace and security agenda will be her country’s priorities when serving on the Security Council in 2023-2024.  As well, Malta will strive to further strengthen its commitments to the agenda and find common ground in addressing existing gaps.  States have the primary role in implementing the agenda.  Nevertheless, some resolutions also underline the “important complementary role” of regional organizations.  She called for more cooperation with all related bodies, including the European Union, OSCE and the League of Arab States.  Regional organizations can further advance implementation of the agenda by supporting States in drafting national action plans and provide expertise for their implementation, and by working to make sure that women are at the negotiating table.  “We cannot overlook the importance of gender equality in the achievement of sustainable peace and security,” she said.  The Security Council must continue to show political will to implement the agenda.

BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia) stressed that regional organizations have an important role in complementing United Nations efforts to advance the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.  Slovenia pays particular attention to the education and training of women in this area.  Men and women involved in peace and security processes must be informed of the role of women in peace-related activities, he said.  Stressing that local and grass-roots women organizations are most often the first responders on the ground in conflict settings, he noted that regional organizations can play an important role in supporting efforts of women working on the frontlines of the world’s most intractable conflicts by collaborating with local organizations.  Women must play a leading role in political participation, conflict resolution and the transition from conflict to peace, he said.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that, under ongoing Russian aggression since 2014, his country adopted a national action plan on women, peace and security, the first among Member States to do so during a situation of conflict.  It is updating its national action plan against the backdrop of the destruction of civilian infrastructure by Russian forces and war crimes committed by Russian soldiers against women, in particular use of sexual violence as a weapon.  A memorandum signed by Ukraine and the United Nations on 3 May identifies key areas for cooperation to be included in the updated national action plan, including the opening of centres of assistance for war terror survivors.  The first one is to be opened soon in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in one of the cities near the front line.  Implementing resolution 1325 (2000) will only be effective if national efforts are complemented by cooperation within regional and subregional organizations.  In the context of forcible seizure of power, they could be instrumental in providing support for conflict mediation and resolution, and also for planning post-war reconstruction and future conflict prevention.  Expressing alarm that the Russian Federation keeps on trying to undermine the work of the OSCE Project Coordinator's Office in Ukraine, which has been instrumental in implementing women, peace and security projects in Ukraine, he warned that if that country opts to break consensus, the office may close as soon as July.

LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), commending the regional organizations that adopted the action plan to implement the women’s peace and security agenda, said these entities can and do play a role in capacity-building.  Still, women negotiators, mediators and peacebuilders are still rare sightings.  They should become an integral part of the decision-making processes when it comes to matters of security and for that they need the necessary skills.  This year, Bulgaria will prepare the midterm progress report on the implementation of its first national action plan on the agenda for the period 2020-2025.  It includes a focus on cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations, including in the South-East Europe and the Black Sea region.  Given the highest number of conflicts since 1945, and what the United Nations Secretary-General called “an epidemic of coup d’états”, she urged further efforts against political turmoil and seizures of power by force that are reversing progress on the agenda.

ADRIAN HAURI (Switzerland) said that, when power is seized by force, women peacebuilders and human rights defenders see their hard-won achievements questioned and face heightened risks.  Alongside the United Nations and Member States, regional organizations play a key role in protecting and supporting civil society, including through rapid, flexible and predictable funding.  Further, such organizations have early warning mechanisms and context-specific instruments to prevent the escalation of tensions and mitigate their root causes.  He stressed that the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in these mechanisms — and at all decision-making levels — is paramount.  He also highlighted the need to work more in networks and across geographical and institutional boundaries, spotlighting the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network meeting in Geneva.  Such meetings allow for the dissemination of good practices, capacity-building and scaling up regional initiatives, he added.

CHO HYUN (Republic of Korea), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, stressed that hard-won gains in the implementation of the agenda are being increasingly reversed in many parts of the world, including Afghanistan and Myanmar due to political turmoil and seizures of power by force.  He also pointed to recent allegations of rape and sexual violence in Ukraine.  Regional organizations should be closely engaged in the work of the Security Council for the early warning of conflict-related sexual violence, he said, also calling for national and local efforts to focus more on the root causes of sexual violence, including harmful social norms and structural gender inequality.  Stressing the need of upholding survivor-centred approaches in preventing and responding to conflict-related sexual violence, he noted that his country is committed to enhancing cooperation in Asia for the promotion of the agenda.  He also reported that the Republic of Korea has been contributing to the agenda’s advancement in Africa through contributions to the African Union Peace Fund.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said coordination among the various regional partners within the United Nations architecture can prove beneficial for bridging national and international efforts to implement the women, peace and security agenda.  Almost all organizations highly prioritize the maintenance of peace and security at the regional level, and as a result, have developed the know-how and appropriate tools and mechanisms for mediation, conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding.  Moreover, regional organizations promote context-specific, tailor-made solutions to regional challenges that threaten security, and can also serve as safe environments for inclusive dialogue and meaningful cooperation between all relevant stakeholders, such as States, civil society organizations and human rights defenders.  Therefore, the only way to promote gender-equal participation in decision-making processes, as well as to generate effective gender-responsive policies, is through systematic gender mainstreaming across the organizational structure.  Cross-regional collaboration based on sharing best practices and division of labour under the Council’s coordination is likely to have a positive impact on the promotion of a culture of peace, which places women and girls at the centre of international efforts, as well as on closing the gap between commitments and implementation, she said.

HRVOJE ĆURIĆ HRVATINIĆ (Croatia) said regional organizations can help prevent conflict escalation and bring women to the forefront of that goal.  Various regional organizations have also developed frameworks to promote the protection of women and girls from human rights violations.  Women are agents of change, as well as peacebuilders, he said, pointing to undisputable data showing that including women in negotiations and peace processes produces a more sustainable peace.  Conversely, the exclusion of women from politics negatively affects the political dialogue and social balance in a country, potentially leading to turmoil.  At the United Nations lawn in New York, the Peace Monument stands; the statue of a woman on a horse is symbolically leading the nations of the world towards peace.  As such, this monument embodies the women, peace and security agenda.  “We should take inspiration from this powerful artwork and bring its message to life,” he said.

OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), also speaking on behalf of Belgium and Netherlands, associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said protecting women’s rights, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights, means protecting the rights of all members of society as a whole.  He noted that a global study on the implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) reports the participation of women increases the probability of reaching a sustainable peace agreement that will last 15 years to 35 per cent.  Therefore, he urged all relevant actors, including regional organizations, to increase the participation of women in all stages of peace processes.  Recent unconstitutional takeovers were followed by widespread insecurity, and human rights violations, he noted, including the use of sexual violence — which affects women and girls disproportionately, be it in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Mali or in the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine.  He underscored the responsibility of regional organizations in ensuring that violations and abuses are reflected in specific provisions of peace agreements, stressing that amnesties for sexual violence crimes are never acceptable.

XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security and the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Group of Friends of the African Women Leaders Network, pointed out that full, effective implementation of commitments is lacking in addressing the underrepresentation, marginalization and exclusion of women in decision-making processes, peace processes and elections.  He also expressed concern over the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services; the rise in intimidation, reprisals and sexual violence; and abuse against women and girls in conflict and transition settings.  Against that backdrop, he called on Member States to adopt institutional, policy and legislative measures that address discriminatory barriers against women and to strengthen electoral bodies and judicial institutions so that they can hold perpetrators of human rights abuses and violators of international law accountable.

MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that promoting the full, effective and meaningful inclusion of women in all spheres of public life is key to bringing change and fostering peaceful coexistence.  This work starts in times of peace — involving local communities and grassroots civil society organizations — and helps to enhance the resilience of societies and prevent conflict.  He stressed that the women, peace and security agenda is not only a women’s rights issue; rather, it is “primarily a security issue that concerns the whole of society”.  While much has been accomplished since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), 20 years later women and girls continue to bear the brunt of conflict and remain underrepresented in peace processes despite their constructive contributions at the grass-roots level.  Their voices must be heard, he emphasized.

ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany), speaking for the Group of Friends of the African Women Leaders Network, urged that the Council to deepen its efforts towards the full implementation of all global commitments on the women, peace and security agenda. To ensure full implementation, the agenda requires strong partnerships between the Security Council, the Peacebuilding Commission, and regional and subregional organizations to support women’s organizations and peacebuilding initiatives.  The Group also urges all these actors and partners of the United Nations system to continue to support local ownership of peacebuilding efforts, as well as national and regional action plans, frameworks and mechanisms already in place.  The African Women Leaders Network has established 29 national chapters across all five regions in Africa.  The agenda has been supported through the African Union’s regional and subregional organizations, such as ECOWAS, IGAD, Mano River Region, SADC and ECCAS.

OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) stressed the importance of full implementation of the women’s peace and security mandate and achieving a balance among the four components of the agenda — prevention, protection, participation, and relief and recovery.  His country played a crucial role in establishing the global alliance for the regional networks of women peace mediators and actively participated in the African and Mediterranean networks.  Africa was the first region to place the women, peace and security issue on the Council’s agenda, he said, noting that Namibia took the initiative to do so by drafting resolution 1325 (2000).  Regional organizations, including the African Union and the League of Arab States, have a pivotal role to play in helping States to implement the agenda.

NEVILLE GETZE (Namibia) said the international community must maintain a common understanding of global women, peace and security norms, while focusing its efforts and approaches on regional and local contexts.  Regional organizations, which should be supported by national institutions, must share best practices with subregional organizations as their efforts have the potential to be mutually reinforcing.  For example, the International Women’s Peace Center was launched in his country in 2020 to strengthen regional and international innovation to advance implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, and enhance the capacity of national, regional and international actors in peacekeeping and peacebuilding, he said, adding that mechanisms must be in place to link civil society with regional and subregional organizations.  Regional organizations should focus their targets and indicators in areas where they have direct influence, such as in women’s meaningful participation in peace processes under the auspices of those organizations.  Moreover, regional organizations must improve information‑sharing among themselves and integrate early warning systems for conflict prevention into their regional frameworks to enhance effective preparedness and responses to conflict.  Regional action plans have a catalytic effect, encouraging the development of national action plans and dovetailing with the work of individual Member States, he stressed.  In that regard, the convening power of regional and subregional organizations, which individual Member States may not have to resolve conflict, must be positively exploited.

ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria) aligning himself with the European and the Group of Friends on Women, Peace and Security, stressed that the normative power of the women, peace and security agenda fades when governments switch to an emergency mode.  Highlighting the significant gaps in the implementation of the four pillars of the agenda, he pointed out that local women rights and grass-roots organizations often do not receive the necessary funding despite the fact that they move quickly from community programming to the provision of crucial humanitarian services when conflicts begin.  The challenges in implementing the agenda globally are numerous and need a continuous focus by the international community and in particular by the Security Council.  Regional organizations and the Council should collaborate in “localizing the agenda” and bringing the agenda to the level of local policies, while fully taking into consideration the role of civil society, especially women’s rights organizations, he said.

CRISTIAN ESPINOZA (Ecuador) said that, in the period 2023-2024, the women, peace and security agenda will be one of his country’s priorities.  The special political missions have worked with regional organizations to achieve greater inclusion and implementation of the agenda.  He called for the strengthening of regional plans in this area that further benefit from the contributions of civil society organizations, particularly women's organizations.  During the interactive dialogue of the Fourth Committee on Special Political Missions on 3 June, his delegation, specifically in preparation for today's debate, asked the Under-Secretary General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, what specific additional support is needed by the Security Council and the General Assembly to improve regional cooperation on the women, peace and security agenda.  The response received was direct and clear:  there are commitments and mechanisms to move forward, but greater investment and resources are required.  Cooperation must also be deepened to strengthen accountability systems in order to deter perpetrators and prevent any loss of ground.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia) said it is necessary to equip women with essential skills, connect decision-makers with women leaders and ensure the full participation of women in all relevant decision-making processes, stressing the importance of cooperation between the United Nations and other organizations.  Noting that 12 regional organizations have strategies or plans in place for implementing the women, peace and security agenda, he called on other relevant stakeholders to follow that approach in order to strengthen and advance efforts towards women’s meaningful participation. Expressing alarm by the allegations of conflict-related sexual violence in Ukraine perpetrated by Russian forces, including gang rape and rapes in front of children, he called for the immediate cessation of Russian military activities in Ukraine and unconditional withdrawal of all Russian troops from the whole territory of Ukraine.

JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic) urged the international community to strengthen efforts to prevent, respond to and prosecute gender-based and sexual violence in conflict areas, citing regional organizations as key to initiatives including early warning and the collection of evidence.  Survivors of such violence everywhere, including those of Russian Federation atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere deserve closure and justice, he stressed.  He welcomed efforts by the International Criminal Court and other international and civil society organizations to document instances of sexual violence, which is reported to be systematically perpetrated by the Russian Federation in Ukraine.  Women-led human rights organizations are often at forefront of crisis response, he noted, but are often underfunded and face unacceptable reprisals and harassment both offline and online.  Commending the Secretary-General on achieving gender parity among senior leadership, he called on all organizations to follow suit.  Member States have committed time and again to implementing the women, peace and security agenda, he said.  “The mandate exists,” and it is time to guarantee that women and girls can contribute to and enjoy a sustained and lasting peace.

MARÍA BASSOLS DELGADO (Spain), noting that taking power by force is accompanied by worsening human rights, emphasized that the use of force on a prolonged basis exponentially increases risks of sexual violence.  “Women must be empowered in times of peace, so their vulnerability is reduced in times of violence,” she stressed.  The international community must work to empower women who build peace and those who work as mediators, journalists, politicians and human rights defenders so they can contribute to the frameworks of peace and prosperity in their countries.  There can be no lasting solution for any conflict unless women are involved in peace negotiations, and there can be no lasting peace if the rights of women and girls are not included in the political peace framework.  These principles are clearly reflected in resolution 1325 (2000), she said, adding that it is well-known that inclusive peace processes that ensure women’s participation yield more stable and longer-lasting results.

MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia) underscored the important role of regional organizations in promoting the women, peace and security agenda.  His delegation had highlighted the need to enhance the United Nations engagement with regional organizations in a previous Council meeting, he said, stressing that the Council can help disseminate good practices and success stories in relation to implementation of the agenda.  In 2020, Indonesia led efforts to establish the South-East Asian network of women mediators and negotiations.  Regional initiatives are building blocks in global initiatives, he said, underscoring that the Council can also promote cross-regional cooperation.  Women and girls hold great promise in their ability to advance international peace and security, he emphasized, calling for greater partnerships with women’s organizations.

KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland) said his country, as this year’s OSCE Chairman-in-Office, is a strong advocate of the practical approach to the women, peace and security agenda. Poland has decided to financially support numerous projects implemented by OSCE that aim to increase the number of women employed in sectors traditionally dominated by men, such as the energy sector or State security services.  It is also working to strengthen women’s participation in policymaking and in structures dealing with water management and conflict resolution that focus on Central Asia and Afghanistan.  Poland strongly believes in the value of regional security cooperation.  Close ties between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations are essential to ensure a variety of tactics and solutions to global challenges.  “Just like the war in Ukraine has changed our approach to global security, it is just as important to change our commitment” to the women, peace and security agenda, he said.

VANASSUDA SUDHIDHANEE (Thailand) noted that ASEAN has placed the women, peace and security agenda high on its regional agenda.  Noting that Thailand deploys women peacekeepers to United Nations peace operations, she said the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting is working on enhancing a support mechanism for ASEAN women peacekeepers and their participation through capacity‑building and knowledge- and experience‑sharing.  She also highlighted the ASEAN-United Nations Plan of Action 2021–2025 focusing on cooperation in conflict prevention and mediation, women’s peacekeeping and peacebuilding, preventing trafficking in persons, ending conflict-related sexual violence and strengthening legal protection for women human rights defenders, among others.  She went on to recall her country’s contributions in that regard, including co-sponsoring the Joint Statement on Promoting the Women, Peace and Security Agenda at the ASEAN Regional Forum, which was adopted by ASEAN ministers.  Thailand also played a leading role in developing the Regional Guidelines and Procedures to Address the Needs of Victims of Trafficking in Persons to support the implementation of the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, she said.

PAULA NARVÁEZ OJEDA (Chile) expressed concern that, in 2020, women made up only 23 per cent of delegates in peace processes directed or co-directed by the United Nations, and that the percentage of peace agreements with gender‑based provisions is only 28.5 per cent.  The international community must strengthen structural changes to fully guarantee the full participation of all women at all levels of decision-making.  At the regional level, her country is a founding member of the network of national focal points for women, peace and security.  It is also a cofounder of the Regional Network of Mediators for the Southern Cone — a forum for cooperation created with a view to having more trained women in the area of mediation with a gender-based perspective in situations of humanitarian crises, conflict or post-conflict situations.  Her country was also a pioneer in Latin America in 2009 in crafting an action plan for implementing resolution 1325 (2000), she said, noting that it is currently drafting its third national action plan to guarantee the participation of women in the context of negotiations, mediation, peacebuilding and peace consolidating.

LUIS ANTONIO LAM PADILLA (Guatemala) said that, while the primary responsibility to implement the women, peace and security agenda falls on the shoulders of States, regional organizations can play an important complementary role.  He detailed several specific Council resolutions contemplating such role, including resolution 1820 (2008), which urges regional and subregional bodies to develop policies and actions that defend women and girls impacted by conflict-related sexual violence, and resolution 2106 (2013), which requested regional organizations to ensure that sexual violence concerns are duly reflected in peace agreement provisions.  Highlighting the important role that women can — and should — play in building peace, he pointed to the clear link between women’s significant participation in conflict-prevention and -resolution activities and the long-term efficacy of such efforts.  As such, the international community must remove all barriers to strengthening women’s role in decision-making processes and peacebuilding.

GABRIELA LILIÁN GONZÁLEZ HERNÁNDEZ (Uruguay), citing resolution 2242 (2015), said regional organizations can complement the efforts of States and provide tailor-made recommendations and promote exchanges between different stakeholders.  In March 2021, the Regional Network of Mediators of the Southern Cone was established as a pioneering project in Latin America and the Caribbean to give visibility to the important work that women do for the prevention of conflicts in their communities and the strengthening of social fabric.  For its part, Uruguay is currently awaiting to launch its first national action plan on the women, peace and security agenda.  Within the framework of the Elsie Initiative, Uruguay is one of the first countries to have completed studies on barriers to the deployment of women in armed forces and national police.  Uruguay is willing to share the results of these exercises, she said.

OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said the national women, peace and security action plan is a meaningful exercise that is a manifestation of his country’s commitment to gender equality, noting that his country’s efforts are not limited to mere statements of intent, but are reflected in concrete initiatives to meet the needs of those most vulnerable.  He called for improving international and regional cooperation to train and build the capacity of women in preventive diplomacy, mediation, peacekeeping, prevention of violent extremism, as well as establishment of synergies between the women, peace and security agenda, the normative human rights framework and the Sustainable Development Goals.  His country contributed to the launch of the African Women Leaders Network in New York in 2007, which has since created a continental force of women leaders, contributing to the transformation of Africa in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The work of the national Morocco chapter of the Network is focused on several areas, including the empowerment of rural women, leadership of young women and financial and social mobilization, he said, reaffirming his country’s commitment to working with the United Nations and regional organizations to improve implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.

GVARAM KHANDAMISHVILI (Georgia) stressed that regional organizations play a crucial role in conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict recovery.  Pointing particularly to reports about Russian forces perpetrating sexual violence as a weapon of war against women and girls, he stressed that it is imperative to ensure accountability and justice through all available international legal mechanisms.  Georgia spares no effort to increase women’s participation in areas pertaining to international peace and security, he said, highlighting its participation in the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights project, and cooperation with the relevant mechanisms of the Council of Europe related to different aspects of gender equality.  At the national level, his country is finalizing its fourth national action plan on women, peace and security agenda for 2022-2024 to integrate gender perspectives in the security sector and in decision-making processes, by using a gender lens in peace negotiations and by promoting women and girls’ meaningful participation in conflict prevention and resolution.  He also highlighted that on 17 June, Georgia will host the “Tbilisi Women’s International Conference — Leaders on Conflicts, Peace, and Security”.

MOHAMED ENNADIR LARBAOUI (Algeria) emphasized that unconstitutional regime change undermines States’ capacity to guarantee security and stability, disrupts political life and reverses gains — especially those relating to the empowerment of women.  Women’s effective, meaningful participation in political action — and in all aspects of life — is a cornerstone of any policy aiming to bolster stability and achieve sustainable development.  Resolution 1325 (2000) serves as a benchmark for Member States and regional organizations in elaborating programmes to implement the women, peace and security agenda at the regional and national levels.  All such strategies should take into consideration regional and national specificities in order to guarantee the harmonization of policies, as well as transparency and accountability, towards the safety and security of women, he said.

MARTÍN JUAN MAINERO (Argentina) said that, since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000) more than 20 years ago, there has been little progress in fully implementing it.  Advances in the normative framework for implementing the women, peace and security agenda have not been reflected on the ground.  Governments and regional organizations have a crucial role in bridging this gap, he said.  Argentina has promoted the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) in various forums, including by including it in the agenda of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), as well as in the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean.  The Santiago Commitment adopted in 2020 by the Regional Conference promotes measures to ensure the full and effective participation of women in all levels and stages of peace processes and mediation initiatives, conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and post-conflict recovery.  Argentina also promoted the establishment of the Regional Network of Mediators of the Southern Cone, he added.

ROBERT ALEXANDER POVEDA BRITO (Venezuela) said the effort to consolidate Latin American unity in recent years is based on a sound commitment to the advancement of women’s political, economic and social participation in the region, where, even without armed conflict, women are victims of systemic aggressions, as a result of poverty, destabilization and other means of interventionism.  His country has repeatedly denounced in multiple international fora the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures, he said, stressing that one of the main and most harmful results of that policy of aggression is the effect on the political stability of States and the loss of acquired rights, including women’s rights.  Venezuela supports the efforts of the United Nations and all regional and subregional organizations, as well as other leading States in strengthening the agenda on women, peace and security, he said, pointing to his country’s continued work in promoting the strengthening of the women’s empowerment agenda at all levels and arenas, including regional organizations, to which it belongs.

ANA PAULA BAPTISTA GRADE ZACARIAS (Portugal) said his country is implementing its third national action plan on resolution 1325 (2000), based on three main objectives:  prevention, protection and participation.  Highlighting Portugal’s long-standing commitment and action over the years, he said his Government has included the women’s peace and security agenda and a gender equality perspective into its operational and strategic documents in the development cooperation, defence, security and justice sectors.  The country’s development cooperation devotes approximately 35 per cent of its bilateral assistance to initiatives promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.  This approach contributes to implementing the women, peace and security agenda with a focus on prevention by building resilience and helping to further strengthen the role of women in society.  That is also Portugal’s priority as a current member of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Highlighting the need to support the actions of women peacebuilders at the grass-roots level, he said regional organizations can also play a considerable catalytic role.

For information media. Not an official record.