Division for the Advancement of Women

United Nations


in cooperation with


Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women

Department of Political Affairs


Expert Group Meeting

Peace Agreements as a Means for Promoting Gender Equality and Ensuring Participation of Women – A Framework of Model Provisions


Ottawa, Canada

10-13 November 2003


Opening Statement by

Ms. Carolyn Hannan

Director, Division for the Advancement of Women



Distinguished experts, observers, ladies and gentlemen,


We have gathered here in Ottawa from all corners of the world for the Expert Group Meeting on “Peace agreements as means for promoting gender equality and ensuring participation of women – A framework of model provisions.”  It is my great pleasure to welcome you all very warmly to the meeting.


I wish to extend my deep appreciation to the Government of Canada, and the

Human Rights, Humanitarian Affairs and the International Women’s Equality Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade for supporting the achievement of gender equality and for hosting this meeting.  I would like to express our gratitude in particular to Ms. Louise Holt, Ms. Chantale Walker and the staff of the Human Rights, Humanitarian Affairs and International Women's Equality Division, as well as Ms. Ayesha Rekhi of the Peacebuilding and Human Security Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, who have worked very diligently with us in preparing the administrative and logistical arrangements.  Through you, I also express my deep appreciation to the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York, especially Beatrice Maille and Ambassador Gilbert Laurin, for their unwavering support in making this meeting possible.


My thanks also go to our collaborators in the Expert Group Meeting, the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women and the Department of Political Affairs, for their support.  I bring you the greetings of Ms. Angela King, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, who was committed to attending this meeting, but had to remain in New York due to exigencies of work. 


I am delighted to welcome the distinguished participants in this meeting.  I thank the experts and our consultant for accepting the invitation of the Secretary-General.  I am particularly grateful to those among you who have traveled very far, and have courageously tackled sometimes cumbersome administrative procedures to be here with us today. Your outstanding credentials as researchers and practitioners on gender equality and peace processes are the best guarantee that this meeting will recommend a comprehensive framework of model provisions for future peace agreements that are supportive of gender equality and women’s participation in all aspects of the peace process.


I welcome observers from non-governmental organizations and civil society, as well as representatives of the Government of Canada and the Government of South Africa, and colleagues from the United Nations system who have joined us for the meeting.  I look forward to your contributions to this event. 


Distinguished participants,


In conflict and in the aftermath of conflict, women and girls face violence, destruction and untold social and economic hardship.  As women and girls bear the burden of war, many also have, usually in informal ways, been instrumental in resolving conflict and building bridges across seemingly unbreachable divides.  While the international community has begun to recognize women’s vital role in managing and building peace, it has only just begun to understand that gender equality and the equal participation of women are not simply important goals but also decisive factors in building sustainable and lasting peace. 


Peace agreements are crucial to this equation as they not only signify the formal cessation of armed conflict but also provide the framework for the reconstruction of post-conflict societies. Explicit attention to the participation of women, and reflection of gender perspectives in such agreements is vital to ensure that such commitments fully address the needs and priorities of women in the aftermath of conflict, and are supportive of women’s equal participation in the reconstruction of post-conflict societies, and thus in the prevention of future conflict.


The importance and potential impact of women’s participation in peace processes is clearly addressed in international documents, in particular the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly and in the groundbreaking Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.  Various initiatives of Governments, the United Nations and civil society now focus on supporting and increasing the representation of women in peace negotiations and in peacekeeping operations.  These efforts must be complemented by steps to broaden the focus from women’s presence at the peace table to consistent and systematic attention to gender issues in all aspects of peace processes, including in post-conflict reconstruction, by all actors.


This Expert Group Meeting carries a particularly important responsibility. Your analysis of the gender dimensions of peace agreements, specifically the obstacles, lessons learned and good practices in the negotiation, content and implementation of peace agreements will be the basis for a conceptual and practical blueprint for further action.  You will have the opportunity to produce comprehensive recommendations for a framework of model provisions for future peace agreements that will provide the concrete and practical tools to strengthen gender perspectives, as well as women’s participation, in peace agreements and in all subsequent societal and institutional development.


Your insights and policy recommendations will provide critical input to the forty-eighth session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March 2004.  During this session, the Commission will consider progress made in women's equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building. The Commission’s deliberations are expected to result in comprehensive global policy guidance for addressing women’s equal participation in peace processes. 


            I wish you success in your deliberations.