10 June 2003






NEW YORK, 6 June (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) —- In a briefing note to the Security Council released yesterday in preparation for its upcoming missions to Africa, Angela King, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, reminded the Security Council of its commitment to put women and girls at the centre of peace efforts and indicated concrete steps to be taken by the two missions to ensure a greater participation of women in the peace processes in these regions.  Two Security Council missions are scheduled to travel to West Africa and to the Great Lakes region later this month.


According to the briefing note, prepared in cooperation with an Inter-agency Task Force on Women, Peace and Security, “women and girls have been plagued with violence, loss of loved ones, destruction of communities and untold hardship in these regions riddled by internal conflict and war”.  The use of rape as an act of war, acts of violence, trafficking and forced displacement and massacres targeting women are detailed in the briefing note, which goes on to say:  “While women and girls bear the brunt of the devastation, they have laboured hard to provide for their families, tried to rebuild communities and contributed to peace processes”.


The note sent to the Council highlights the use of rape as a weapon of war, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Upon returning from her recent trip to the region, United Nations Deputy Emergency Coordinator Carolyn McAskie reported a disturbingly high number of mass rapes and brutal atrocities against women and girls “as young as two years old” in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.


In her note, Ms. King addresses several practical recommendations and outlines benchmarks on gender issues for the Council to review throughout its assignment and specifically when meeting with representatives of women’s organizations.  The benchmarks the Council is encouraged to look for include:  the impact of the conflict on women and girls; equal participation of men and women in consultations; training and capacity-building programmes; programmes to prevent and respond to violence; abuse and exploitation against women and girls, including programmes on HIV/AIDS; mechanisms for gender-sensitive redress for victims of armed conflict; and the role of women’s human rights issues in reconstruction and nation building.


The note also provides members of the Security Council with country-specific gender issues, such as acts of gender-based violence, displacement and massacres, participation of women in peace negotiations, as well as humanitarian and protection concerns.  Names and addresses of women’s organizations that Council members could meet in each country are also provided.


Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, adopted in October 2000, calls on “all actors, when negotiating and implementing peace agreements, to adopt a gender perspective”.  Specifically, it points out the importance of meeting the special needs of women and girls during repatriation, resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction; supporting local women’s peace initiatives; and ensuring the protection of human rights of women and girls, particularly as they relate to the constitution, the electoral system, the police and the judiciary.  The resolution further urges an expanded role for women in United Nations field operations, especially among the military, police, human rights and humanitarian personnel.


Recognizing “the vital role of women in promoting peace”, the Council in its Presidential Statement of 31 October 2002 (document S/PRST/2002/32), had undertaken to “integrate gender perspectives into the terms of reference of its visits and missions to countries and regions in conflict” and had requested the Secretary-General “to include gender specialists in the teams”.


In a report to the Security Council last year on the issue of women, peace and security, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan had called for stronger measures to integrate women in all steps of peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace building, including humanitarian operations, reconstruction, rehabilitation, disarmament and reintegration programmes.  Women and girls must have a greater role in peace processes and must be brought to the negotiating table more systematically, the Secretary-General said in his report.


For more information:  Media contact; Myriam Dessables, Department of Public Information, tel:  +1 (212) 963-2932, fax:  +1(212) 963-1186, e-mail:






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