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Women must play greater role in conflict prevention, UN says

Article / Review by on October 28, 2011 – 6:26 pmNo Comments

Women must play greater role in conflict prevention, UN says

The Security Council began a day-long debate today on the role of women in achieving peace and security, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for much greater involvement by women in conflict prevention and mediation as essential building blocks in reinforcing democracy.

Women from Um Dersay IDP Camp (Shangil Tubaya, North Darfur) participate in a gender awareness training

“Women’s participation remains low, both in official and observer roles. This has to change,” he said, pledging that the United Nations would lead by example, and noting that the number of women leading UN peacekeeping, political and peacebuilding missions had gone up to six out of 28 missions over the past year.

The Department of Political Affairs (DPA), meanwhile, has increased the proportion of women candidates in its roster of senior mediators, team members and thematic experts to 35 per cent.

In the field, our teams are supporting women so they can engage in peacebuilding and conflict prevention, management and reconciliation,” he said.

At the same time Mr. Ban decried widespread and systematic abuses of women’s rights during conflict. “While there is undoubtedly progress, I am deeply concerned about the persistence of serious abuses of women’s rights,” he said.

“Last year at this time, I lamented the mass rapes that had occurred in Walikale, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). My alarm has not diminished. We must respond swiftly and effectively to such crimes wherever and whenever they occur.”

The debate marked the 11th anniversary of the adoption of Council resolution 1325, which demanded action to reverse the egregious and inhumane treatment of women and girls, the denial of their human rights and their exclusion from decision-making in situations of armed conflict, in peacemaking and peacebuilding.

The Council had before it Mr. Ban’s latest report on the issue, presented by UN Women’s Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, in which he voiced concern that implementation had been so uneven.

“Proactive steps must be taken to accelerate implementation of key elements of this agenda, such as strengthening women’s engagement in conflict resolution and deterring widespread and systematic abuses of women’s rights during conflict,” he wrote.

The report covers findings in five areas of the women, peace and security agenda — prevention, participation, protection, relief and recovery, and coordination and accountability for results – noting that there is growing recognition of women’s roles in peace and security, and highlighting an increasing number of innovative measures and good practices.

“Specific actions to address the low numbers of women in conflict resolution and in the implementation of peace agreements are required,” Mr. Ban wrote. “Member State participants in contact groups supporting specific peace processes should offer negotiating parties various incentives, such as training, logistics support or adding a negotiating seat, in order to ensure women’s inclusion on delegations.

“I encourage Member States to increase the number of women in their foreign service and national security establishments and to take steps to ensure that women diplomats are engaged in leadership roles in conflict resolution.”

He welcomed increases in the number of women in police and troops contributed to the UN and urged Member States to do even more. He also called on Member States to strengthen measures to ensure the equal participation of women in peace agreement implementation bodies.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous also addressed today’s debate.

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New York – Secretary-General’s remarks at Security Council Open Debate on Women and peace and Security

New York, 28 October 2011

” Thank you, Madam President, Distinguished Members of the Council, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I commend Nigeria’s choice of theme for today’s debate, and I thank Madam President and Council members for understanding and agreeing to start earlier than usual to allow me to participate in this important meeting.

The Security Council has emphasized repeatedly that involving women in conflict prevention and mediation is essential for building peace and reinforcing the foundations of democracy.

This understanding was further acknowledged by the award of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to three extraordinary women peacemakers: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia; and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.

Their examples should inspire us to intensify our efforts to ensure women’s full participation in all conflict prevention and resolution processes.

The Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, will present my report on women, peace and security.

As it indicates, women’s participation remains low — both in official and observer roles.

This has to change, and I am determined that the UN system should lead by example.

In the past year, the number of women leading UN peacekeeping, political and peacebuilding missions has gone up to 6 from 33 missions.

My Special Representatives for Children and Armed Conflict and Sexual Violence in Conflict and my Special Representative on Violence against Children are all female too.

The Department of Political Affairs has increased the proportion of women candidates in its roster of senior mediators, team members and thematic experts to 35 per cent.

A gender and inclusion expert is now serving in the UN Standby Team of Mediation Experts, and guidance will soon be issued for UN mediators addressing conflict-related sexual violence in cease-fire and peace agreements.

In the field, our teams are supporting women so they can engage in peace building and conflict prevention, management and reconciliation in West Africa, Central Asia, the Balkans and Southeast Asia.

In Afghanistan, our mission continues to engage with women networks struggling against the abuse of women. We have also worked for the inclusion of women in the High Peace Council and Provincial Peace Council.

In Darfur, our mission worked to ensure that more than 30 per cent of civil society representatives at the Doha peace negotiations were women.

In South Sudan, UNMISS is working with women parliamentarians to enhance the role of women in conflict resolution, mitigation and peace building.

In turn, I encourage Member States to increase the number of women in senior positions in international and regional conflict prevention.

This means more women in senior governance roles, at the top of security institutions, and serving as diplomats.

The next few months will see international meetings to support recovery in South Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan and Libya. Let us use these opportunities to ensure women’s voices are heard.

Excellencies, Distinguished Members of the Council,

As you know, I have presented a Strategic Framework to accelerate implementation of Security Council resolution 1325.

It has targets and indicators for 2014 and 2020, and a baseline is being assembled to track progress and ensure accountability.

I will welcome further improvements in the flow of information to the Council on progress in the situation of women in armed conflict.

I also urge Member States to do more – including through additional funding – to implement the Strategic Framework’s priorities and protect the rights of women and girls.

While there is undoubtedly progress, I am deeply concerned about the persistence of serious abuses of women’s rights.

Last year at this time, I lamented the mass rapes that had occurred in Walikale, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

My alarm has not diminished.

We must respond swiftly and effectively to such crimes wherever and whenever they occur.

We must hold those responsible to account.

Let us make women’s dignity, safety and needs a priority.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am committed to working with the Council to ensure the full implementation of resolution 1325 and its related resolutions 1820, 1888, 1889 and 1960.

I look forward to hearing your proposals for bringing women from the margins of conflict prevention and mediation into the centre, where they belong.

Thank you very much”

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Ban Ki-moon is the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Ban Ki-moon is the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations. His priorities have been to mobilize world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from climate change and economic upheaval to pandemics and increasing pressures involving food, energy and water. He has sought to be a bridge-builder, to give voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and to strengthen the Organization itself.“I grew up in war”, the Secretary-General has said, “and saw the United Nations help my country to recover and rebuild.  That experience was a big part of what led me to pursue a career in public service.  As Secretary-General, I am determined to see this Organization deliver tangible, meaningful results that advance peace, development and human rights.”Mr. Ban took office on 1 January 2007. Highlights of his tenure have included:

Promoting sustainable development
One of the Secretary-General’s first major initiatives was the 2007 Climate Change Summit, followed by extensive diplomatic efforts that have helped put the issue at the forefront of the global agenda.  Subsequent efforts to focus on the world’s main anti-poverty targets, the Millennium Development Goals, have generated more than $60 billion in pledges, with a special emphasis on Africa and the new Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health.  At the height of the food, energy and economic crises in 2008, the Secretary-General successfully appealed to the G20 for a $1 trillion financing package for developing countries and took other steps to guide the international response and protect the vulnerable and poor.

Empowering women
The Secretary-General pressed successfully for the creation of UN Women, a major new agency that consolidates the UN’s work in this area.  His advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality has also included the “Unite to End Violence against Women” campaign, the “Stop Rape Now” initiative, the creation of a “Network of Men Leaders” and the establishment of a new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.  Within the UN itself, the Secretary-General has increased the number of women in senior management positions by more than 40 per cent, reaching the highest level in the Organization’s history.

Supporting countries facing crisis or instability
The Secretary-General has sought to strengthen UN peace efforts, including through the New Horizons peacekeeping initiative, the Global Field Support Strategy and the Civilian Capacity Review, a package of steps to improve the impact of the 120,000 United Nations “blue helmets” operating in the world’s conflict zones. A mediation support unit, along with new capacity to carry out the Secretary-General’s good offices, have been set up to help prevent, manage and resolve tensions, conflicts and crises.  Accountability for violations of human rights has received high-level attention through inquiries related to Gaza, Guinea, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, legal processes in Lebanon and Cambodia, and advocacy for the “responsibility to protect,” the new United Nations norm aimed at prevent and halt genocide and other grave crimes.  He has also sought to strengthen humanitarian response in the aftermath of mega-disasters in Myanmar (2008), Haiti (2010) and Pakistan (2010), and mobilized UN support for the democratic transitions in North Africa and the Middle East.

Generating new momentum on disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation
The Secretary-General has sought to rejuvenate the disarmament agenda through a five-point plan, efforts to break the deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament and renewed attention to nuclear safety and security in the aftermath of the tragedy at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Strengthening the UN
The Secretary-Generalhas introduced new measures aimed at making the United Nations more transparent, effective and efficient.  These include heightened financial disclosure requirements, compacts with senior managers, harmonization of business practices and conditions of service, the adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards, and continued investments in information technology and staff development.

Personal
The Secretary-General was born in the Republic of Korea on 13 June 1944.  He received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Seoul National University in 1970. In 1985, he earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.At the time of his election as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban was his country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. His 37 years of service with the Ministry included postings in New Delhi, Washington D.C. and Vienna, and responsibility for a variety of portfolios, including Foreign Policy Adviser to the President, Chief National Security Adviser to the President, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and Director-General of American Affairs.Mr. Ban’s ties to the United Nations date back to 1975, when he worked for the Foreign Ministry’s United Nations Division. That work expanded over the years, with assignments that included service as Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization and Chef de Cabinet during the Republic of Korea’s 2001-2002 presidency of the UN General Assembly.  Mr. Ban has also been actively involved in issues relating to inter-Korean relations.The Secretary-General speaks English, French and Korean. He and his wife, Madam Yoo (Ban) Soon-taek, whom he met in high school in 1962, have one son, two daughters and three grandchildren.  Since 2007, Mrs. Ban has devoted her attention to women’s and children’s health, including autism, the elimination of violence against women, and the campaign to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.


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> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

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* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

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