New York

28 May 2015

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Women, Peace and Security Panel: “The Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda” [as prepared for delivery]

Thank you for inviting me to join you today and for Ambassador Nusseibeh’s and the United Arab Emirates’ continued leadership role on women, peace and security.

It is a pleasure to see this room full of so many friends and partners, and to greet so many outstanding champions of gender equality and peace.

This important panel series on women, peace and security, co-hosted by UN Women with UAE, ends today. Let me congratulate you on this endeavour, and to share with you some observations:

The convergence of so many important UN policy reviews is no coincidence.

If we add the new Sustainable Development Goals and our first-ever World Humanitarian Summit next year to the three reviews represented here today – on Peace Operations, the Peacebuilding Architecture, and Security Council Resolution 1325 -- we are in effect reviewing a significant proportion of the agenda and activities of the UN.

The demands on us are daunting. Never before has the United Nations been asked to reach so many people with emergency assistance.  Not since the end of the Second World War have there been so many refugees, displaced people, migrants and asylum seekers. Around the world, we are seeing new crises proliferating, as ongoing conflicts grow ever more intractable.

We are working to meet these challenges in the context of deepening political divides in the international community, increasingly frequent and extreme weather events, and constrained financial resources.  These factors can quickly contribute to unravelling peace and development dividends, and to exacerbating existing tensions and inequalities.

We know that these strains are taking an especially high toll on women and girls.

Today we also face the emergence of a rising wave of violent extremist groups who are directly and explicitly targeting girls, women and women’s rights.  They stop women’s access to education and health services, restrict their participation in economic and political life, seek to control their bodies and lives, and enforce these restrictions through terrifying violence.

For the United Nations and its Member States, the response should be very simple and very firm.

Violent extremist groups place the subordination of women at the forefront of their agenda.  We must continue to place the promotion of gender equality at the top of ours.  Women’s leadership in peace and security and the protection of women’s rights should come first and never be an afterthought in international security.  And that is precisely why it is so important that these reviews mutually reinforce each other.

UN peacekeeping missions are one of our most visible and valuable tools and can profoundly impact women’s lives.  The Review by the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations must include as a central concern women’s empowerment and leadership in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.

Similarly, we cannot assess the effectiveness of our peacebuilding architecture without placing women’s empowerment and gender equality at the heart of it.  The Secretary-General included women’s participation in peacebuilding as one of his five priorities for his second term.  He is deeply aware of the importance of women’s roles in recovery from conflict and the consolidation of peace.

In closing, let me say a few words about coordination between the different panels.  I know that the panelists and the secretariats have been in constant contact with each other.  There has been a conscious effort from the start to share information and findings. Some advisors sit on more than one panel and most have expertise that cuts across gender equality, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding.

This is good news -- but we will not reap the benefit of this coordination unless it is reflected extensively in the outcomes of and follow-ups to these reports.  I am pleased that meetings such as this panel today are being organised.  They are important to help bring the three processes together into one interactive conversation and truly holistic working methods. 

After several dozen country visits and multiple consultations, the time for study and reflection should be followed by concrete commitments, policy shifts where needed, accountability at all levels, and, of course, political and financial support.
We cannot recycle the same recommendations made over the last several years without taking a serious look at implementation. This year’s work must conclude with an explicit roadmap for the way forward on women, peace and security.  This is what the Secretary-General intended and expects.

The Secretary-General and I are committed to supporting Member States to build a UN system that is fully equipped to draw on the strengths of individual entities as part of an integrated approach to peacekeeping, peacebuilding, development, human rights and the rule of law. We simply have to become “fit for purpose”.

We have an enormous responsibility this year.  These reviews offer us a rare chance to shape the way in which we address our global challenges in the next decades. Let us make the most of it, both as Member States and as members of this, our own Organization.

I thank you for your dedication, and look forward to the results of your discussions.