SPEAKERS EMPHASIZE NEED FOR GENDER PERSPECTIVE IN
NEW YORK, 29 October (UN Headquarters) -- As the Security Council concluded its open debate on women, peace and security, which started yesterday afternoon, speakers this morning stressed the need to incorporate the gender perspective in peacekeeping mandates and to increase the participation of women in all decisions regarding peacemaking, peacekeeping and post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction.
With speakers generally endorsing the proposals contained in the Secretary-General’s report on the subject, Japan’s representative said that since the recommendations covered such a wide range of areas, the Council should formulate a roadmap identifying the agencies that would be responsible for the type of actions to be undertaken, the areas in which they would be undertaken, and the appropriate timescale. Implementation and follow-up should not be left solely to the Security Council, but should involve the whole United Nations system, she added.
Drawing attention to the important work of women’s groups in promoting peace and peace processes, many speakers supported the Secretary-General’s proposal for the establishment of a database of gender specialists and women’s networks in conflict areas and stressed the need for a greater representation of women in formal peace negotiations.
The representative of Venezuela called for the strengthening of United Nations mechanisms to ensure that the gender perspective was included in all efforts to maintain peace and security. However, she said it was regrettable that the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the only United Nations body with a specific mandate to conduct research on gender issues, had not been consulted in the development of the Secretary-General’s report. INSTRAW’s work should be taken into account and given adequate resources to fulfil its goals.
Jamaica’s representative, while welcoming steps to include a gender dimension in peacekeeping mandates, said he remained concerned that the institutional support at Headquarters did not adequately meet the needs in the field. In implementing its own resolution, the Security Council should take the lead in practising what it preached, he stressed, adding that its missions to regions in conflict should make contact with women’s groups and take their concerns fully on board when considering peacekeeping mandates.
The representative of Austria, speaking in his capacity as chair of the Human Security Network, welcomed efforts to strengthen early warning capacities concerning the trafficking in persons and related areas. The Network was committed to enhancing the protection of, and assistance to, women during their displacement and upon their return to their communities. In addition, he said, there was an urgent need to enhance the involvement of women in peace negotiations and peace operations.
Addressing sexual violence against women and girls in conflict situations, Namibia's representative welcomed the fact that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court took gender concerns into consideration when defining genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. However, much more must be done to ensure gender-sensitive justice. Women and girls faced unique and particular hardships under foreign occupation, and it was hoped that a study on that subject would be submitted to the Council for appropriate action.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Bangladesh, Egypt, Philippines, Australia, Chile, Pakistan, Canada, Republic of Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, South Africa, Indonesia and India.
The meeting, which was called to order at 3:15 p.m. and suspended at 6:05 p.m. yesterday, resumed at 11:20 a.m. today and adjourned at 1:50 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to resume its discussion on the issue of women, peace and security, which began yesterday afternoon. (For more background information, see Press Release SC/7550 of 28 October.)
StatementsFUMIKO SAIGA (Japan), noting the importance of education and public awareness in preventing violence against women and girls, said that the 78 recommendations in the study by the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women provided useful general guidance. However, detailed strategies were required for their translation into concrete actions and for regular follow-up. The Security Council should formulate a roadmap identifying the agencies that would be responsible for the type of actions to be undertaken, the areas in which they would be undertaken and the required timescale.
Since the recommendations covered such a wide range of areas, she said, implementation and follow-up should not be left solely to the Security Council, but should involve the whole United Nations system. Furthermore, the question of women, peace and security was intertwined with two other issues: namely, children in armed conflict and the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Urging the Council to address all three issues in an integrated manner, she said that gender mainstreaming in peace and security was too important to be considered just once a year and should be integrated into the ongoing discussions and activities of the United Nations system.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) emphasized that the Council must demand that all parties to armed conflict comply fully with international law regarding the rights and protection of women and girls. That protection should also be extended to women and girls in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories. The Council must ensure that there was no impunity for gender-based crimes and consider, where appropriate, the establishment of gender advisers/units in multidimensional peacekeeping operations.
In order to facilitate greater contact with women’s groups and networks, a database of gender specialists and women’s groups and networks in conflict areas must be established, he said. Furthermore, there was a need for greater representation of women in formal peace negotiations.
Describing Bangladesh as a member of the "Friends of UNSC-1325", formed on the initiative of Canada, he said that a positive Council decision on the Secretary-General’s recommendations would be a forward movement, not just for gender equality, but mainly in forging harmonious cooperation between the sexes to advance the interests of the United Nations and the common aspirations of all humankind.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) expressed concern over the increasing rate of violence against women and children during conflict, as well as over the economic, sociological and psychological consequences of such violence. Egypt had hosted a conference to establish an international organization for women and peace with a view to organizing an international conference in 2003 recognizing women as an effective element in establishing peace.
Emphasizing that the Palestinian women’s call for help could not be ignored, he said they were not only killed alongside men, but also wounded by wild shots fired by Israeli occupation troops or settlers. The Council must deal with that situation by stressing the necessity of withdrawal from Palestinian territories and the restitution of their land.
He stressed that the Council must maintain the delicate balance between its own work and that of other United Nations bodies, particularly the General Assembly, when dealing with humanitarian and human rights issues, adding that international humanitarian practices should not contradict the Charter or international humanitarian law. If the Council could not address certain situations because of reasons beyond its control, it could benefit from Assembly resolutions. He welcomed the fact that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court included gender-based violence, rape, forced prostitution and trafficking under crimes against humanity.
ENRIQUE MANALO (Philippines) reaffirmed his country's commitment to a positive role for women in resolving and preventing armed conflicts. As victims of armed conflict, their experience and sufferings would be helpful in pursuing solutions and concrete actions to fight its root causes. Their participation in peace processes, whether through formal or informal processes, was, therefore, essential.
Calling for adequate measures by all United Nations agencies and other relief organizations to protect women and girls from violence, he said that they must be given basic goods and services, as well as access to social and economic programmes. In the Philippines, the plight and contributions of women in conflict were covered in a 25-year plan for women, as well as other measures to mainstream peace agendas for women and children that were consistent with the Secretary-General’s recommendations. It was that the Council could look into the specifics of those recommendations at its next consideration of the subject.
PETER TESCH (Australia) welcomed the detailed information in the Secretary-General’s report and the study upon which it was based, saying that his country was pleased to support it financially. Gender perspectives were neither marginal nor optional and were central to the Council’s work, he noted, adding that a strategy of conflict prevention should in fact focus on empowering women before conflicts started. Australia’s development cooperation programme recognized the social and gender dimensions of conflict and supported increased participation by women in decision-making and access to control over resources.
In recent years, he said, Australia’s aid programme had supported activities in East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Bougainville and elsewhere, providing the opportunity to address such issues. In the future, the country would also support those elements of society that worked for the peaceful resolution of disputes and grievances. The role of women in peace-building would be a particular focus, he added.
JUAN GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) noted that women and girls were particularly affected by armed conflicts and terrorism because of their status in society and their gender. Their human rights were systematically violated and measures to stop that must include effective steps to remove the barriers that excluded women from effective decision-making and denied them access to the levers of power. The mainstreaming of a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations must be given priority in government agendas, and it was also essential to increase the number of women appointed as representatives or special envoys of the Secretary-General. He further called for increased recruitment of women as military observers, civilian police, as well as humanitarian and human rights personnel.
The time had come to bridge the gap between intentions and reality, he stressed, adding that it was a task for governments, on the one hand, and the United Nations system and civil society, on the other. The Secretary-General’s report was, in a way, the finishing touch on the work that had begun almost a decade ago. Its concrete and practical approach, through a series of pragmatic recommendations, would help to bridge the gap between intentions and reality. He drew attention to the International Conference on the Role of Women in Peacekeeping Operations, to be held in Chile on 4 and 5 November.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that crimes against women had been frequent in several recent and ongoing conflicts, and that systematic rape had been used to terrorize populations, force displacement and demoralize adversaries. In Jammu and Kashmir, the rape and humiliation of women and girls had been used as an instrument of war. Citing testimony by human rights organizations that "rape and ill-treatment of women are usually reported to have taken place during counter-insurgency operations" by Indian forces, he said that Amnesty International had reported "harassment, abduction, rape and deliberate and arbitrary killings perpetrated by pro-Indian ‘renegades’ in Kashmir", carried out "with the support of the (Indian) security forces".
Pointing out that destitution of women was another manifestation of the conflict in Kashmir, he urged the United Nations and non-governmental organizations to prepare a survey of the number of destitute Kashmiri women and urged the international community to provide them with help and compensation. Political considerations should not stand in the way of international humanitarian agencies responding to the plight of Kashmir’s women and children. He suggested the adoption of a declaration that would consider the targeting of women, especially the use of rape as an instrument of war, as a war crime and require current and future United Nations peacekeeping operations to monitor and report to the Council on the situation of women and girls in their mission areas.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) supported the Secretary-General’s call for stronger integration of gender considerations throughout the work of the Council and the United Nations system, noting that the Council should ensure that gender aspects were seriously considered in its analysis and reflected in its decisions as a matter of routine. Hoping that the report’s recommendations would catalyse action by Member States to move beyond words, he stressed that the issue of women, peace and security should be considered as part of the civilian protection agenda.
Calling for explicit reference of gender considerations in all mandates of special representatives of the Secretary-General, he also urged the Fifth Committee to authorize the resources needed to strengthen the capacity of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations specifically to address gender issues, and pointed out that gender advisers deserved support from Headquarters.
He underscored the need for continued efforts in the post-conflict, reconstruction phase, noting that the Council, the United Nations and Member States had every interest in ensuring that the rights of women and girls were not set aside in such situations. The signing of a formal peace agreement did not necessarily eradicate violence in communities and families, and increased risks of domestic violence must be addressed in building sustainable peace for all.
JOUN-YUNG SUN (Republic of Korea) said that the Secretary-General’s report, besides its comprehensive analysis and suggestions for action, also offered new proposals to increase the participation of women in peace processes, peacekeeping, humanitarian operations, reconstruction, rehabilitation, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration.
Agreeing that the organization of data relating to participants in peace operations by gender and age should be an international priority, he also acknowledged that seeing more women and girls benefiting from and participating in the initial stages of humanitarian operations would help to prevent them from later becoming victims during crisis situations.
In order to increase and highlight women’s contributions to conflict-prevention and crisis-management processes, he urged the Secretary-General to appoint more women as special representatives and special envoys. He also called for the expansion of programmes for women’s groups in peace processes and conflict prevention at the local level, pointing out that women tended to be more flexible and consensus-oriented than men.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said very little had been achieved in practical terms to improve the plight of women and girls in armed conflict. They continued to be disproportionately affected, making up the majority of refugees and internally displaced persons. They were still subjected to rape, sexual exploitation, trafficking and other forms of dehumanization, thereby making them more vulnerable to AIDS and other infectious diseases.
Women were not sufficiently and appropriately represented at all levels of decision-making in peace processes and peacekeeping operations, he said, adding that they also faced unique and particular hardships under foreign occupation. It was hoped that a study on that subject would be submitted to the Council for appropriate action.
He welcomed the entry into force of the Rome Statute, which took gender concerns into consideration in defining genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. However, much more must be done to ensure gender-sensitive justice. Strongly endorsing all efforts aimed at increasing the participation of women in all aspects of peace operations, he said that gender perspectives must be explicitly incorporated into the mandates of all peacekeeping missions and into rehabilitation and reconstruction processes.
MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) pointed out the daily insecurity of Palestinian women under Israeli occupation, adding that, in general, despite all the Council activity on women, peace and security, women and girls continued to be the chief victims of armed conflict. He stressed the critical need to train personnel on the vulnerable situation of women and girls, and welcomed the Peacekeeping Department’s position regarding gender parity in peace operations.
Maintaining a lasting peace was only possible if women were fully integrated into all levels of reconstruction efforts, as well as into national government in general, he said. Thirty-five women had been elected to Parliament in Morocco’s last election and gender mainstreaming should take place throughout society. At the international level, there were many laws, and the Council had an obligation to apply them. Any violation of human rights must be denounced with as much vigour as possible, and those exploiting women and children for purposes of power must account for their crimes before the global community, he added.
DON MACKAY (New Zealand) said that, in recognition of the importance of the Secretary-General’s study, his country had contributed financially to its development. And as a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court, New Zealand urged Member States to ensure that gender balance, as well as appropriate expertise on women’s human rights and violence against women, were reflected in the appointment of its investigators, prosecutors and judges.
Endorsing fully the need to involve women in the negotiation of peace agreements at all levels, as had occurred in several conflicts in the Pacific region, he said that gender sensitivity and the inclusion of women were also critical to successful peacekeeping operations. Women made up a significant component of New Zealand’s deployment and the country had also focused on increasing the role of women in the United Nations system. In addition, it was imperative that women be involved in every level of the post-conflict rebuilding of societies. In that regard, he welcomed the growing participation of women in the political and economic life of Afghanistan and Timor-Leste.
GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria) spoke in his capacity as current chair of the Human Security Network, which had sponsored a workshop on gender in human security in Oslo last year. Human rights education was one of the two priority issues of Austria’s chairmanship, he said, adding that related meetings and a manual would contain substantive elements on the human rights of women. The second priority issue was children affected by armed conflict, he said, welcoming the Secretary-General’s recommendation to increase the number of programmes for child soldiers and to address the specific needs of girl soldiers.
Sexual violence and trafficking clearly undermined human security, he went on. The Network welcomed efforts to strengthen early warning capacities concerning the trafficking in persons and related areas. It was also committed to enhancing the protection of, and assistance to, women during their displacement and upon their return to their communities of origin. The Network agreed that there was an urgent need to enhance the involvement of women in peace negotiations and peace operations and would do its utmost to identify and nominate qualified women for upcoming vacancies.
JEANETTE NDHLOVU (South Africa) said she fully associated her views with the statement delivered by Austria on behalf of the Human Security Network. While there was much hope for the regeneration of Africa in the context of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the continent faced critical challenges in bringing an end to the conflicts that ravaged it. In efforts towards that end, she said, there should be a genuine integration of all peoples, especially women. However, that was more easily said than done.
Gender dimensions of peace processes and conflict resolution could not be overlooked, she said. A conscious effort was needed by Member States to ensure that women's negotiation skills were utilized. In all areas, the 21 actions highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report could serve as a useful guide to eliminate the untold suffering of women and girls caught up in armed conflict and in ensuring the active participation of women in peace processes.
ADRIANA PULIDO SANTANA (Venezuela) said that since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), the Organization had been providing greater space for the gender perspective. While gender equality and the advancement of women were topics for the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, she particularly welcomed the Council’s initiative in taking up the specific item of women, peace and security, in the spirit of cooperation between the principal organs of the United Nations. The implementation of some of the Secretary-General’s recommendations would diminish the culture of violence and discrimination against women and girls in peace.
She said that the implementation of the recommendations implied the strengthening of coordination and greater integration among all bodies involved in the maintenance of peace and humanitarian efforts. The mechanisms of the United Nations should be strengthened to ensure that the gender perspective was included in all efforts to maintain peace and security. However, it was regrettable that the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the only United Nations body with a specific mandate to conduct research on gender issues, had not been consulted in the development of the Secretary-General’s report. INSTRAW’s work should be taken into account and given adequate resources to fulfil its goals.
STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica) said that the international legal framework for women’s human rights was crucial in ensuring their protection in relation to crimes against women during armed conflict. Future ad hoc tribunals created by the Council should include provisions on violence based on existing statutes and include judges and advisers with legal expertise on the violation of the rights of women and girls, including gender-based and sexual violence. Women could contribute significantly in promoting peace, particularly in preserving social order and education for peace.
While welcoming steps to include a gender dimension in peacekeeping mandates, he remained concerned that the institutional support at Headquarters was inadequate to meet the needs in the field. In implementing its own resolution, the Council should take the lead in practising what it preached, he stressed, adding that its missions to regions in conflict should make contact with women’s groups and take their concerns fully on board when considering peacekeeping mandates.
DEWI S. WAHAB (Indonesia) said there was a failure on the part of the international community to convert what was already known about the impact of conflict on women and girls into specific policies, planning and implementation processes in all peace operations, humanitarian activities and reconstruction efforts. Not only was the contribution of women and girls in the promotion of peace and peace processes becoming more and more important, it was also achieving greater recognition. The open support of the Council for the involvement of women and girls, as well as that of peace-oriented grass-roots organizations in which they played key roles, would go a long way towards enhancing their political status and relevance.
She said that the recommendation calling for the full involvement of women in peace negotiations at the national and international levels merited further consideration by the international community. She supported the Secretary-General’s intention to establish a database of gender specialists and women’s groups and networks in conflict countries and regions and urged him, using the existing extensive network of United Nations resources, to establish such a database throughout the developing world.
Urging the Council to make more conscious efforts to integrate gender-consciousness and perspectives in its decisions and resolutions, she said that the involvement of women and girls was not only critical to efforts to maintain peace and avoid conflict, but also for the maintenance of the family and, therefore, of social harmony. Any investment in the education and protection of women was an investment in the education and protection of society, she added.
V.K. NAMBIAR (India) supported the proposal to integrate gender perspectives in the planning and mandates of peace processes, and expressed pleasure to note that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was developing concrete measures to mainstream those perspectives in the daily work of mission components. However, he had doubts about the overall desirability of gender balance in peacekeeping forces, supporting instead a greater role for women as special representatives within the Department and in negotiations for settling conflict.
He also expressed support for the establishment of gender focal points in field missions and the inclusion of women, girls and child soldiers in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. Sexual violence, in particular, required careful attention and remedial measures, he added.
Pointing out that terrorism was another reason for the increase in civilian casualties in today’s conflicts, he said women and children in India had been primarily targeted for the past 20 years, resulting in almost 60,000 casualties. That was the product of a carefully crafted, hard-nosed State strategy against so-called "soft targets", namely, unarmed civilians. Women and children assured the future, he said, and they must live in security.
* *** *