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Security Council urges protecting women in war, empowering them as peacemakers

Security Council urges protecting women in war, empowering them as peacemakers

Council President  Amb. Motoc
Five years after adopting a resolution on protecting women who are victims of war and helping them play a greater role as peacemakers, the United Nations Security Council today stressed the importance of accelerating implementation of the landmark measure.

In a presidential statement adopted after a daylong debate on the issue which saw the participation of more than three dozen speakers – including representatives of countries as well as members of civic groups – the Security Council reaffirmed its commitment to resolution 1325 while acknowledging that more must be done to help women caught in the maelstrom of war.

While the original resolution contained no reference to sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, the statement adopted today – reiterating more recent Council declarations – contained strong language condemning the scourge.

"The Council expresses its support to the efforts of the United Nations to fully implement codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and enhance monitoring and enforcement mechanisms," said Ambassador Mihnea Ioan Motoc of Romania, which currently holds the presidency of the 15-member body.

He urged troop-contributing countries to "ensure full accountability in cases of misconduct involving their personnel."

The Council statement voiced deep concern about "persistent obstacles and challenges resulting from situations such as violence against women, shattered economies and social structures, lack of rule of law, poverty, limited access to education and resources, various forms of discrimination and stereotypes."

The President said more must be done to ensure that women play a greater role at the negotiating table and "in developing and implementing post conflict strategies" after the guns have fallen silent.

Member States and the Secretary-General were encouraged to maintain regular contacts with local women's organizations and networks and ensure their involvement in reconstruction, "particularly at the decision-making level," the President said.

Looking to the establishment of a UN Peacebuilding Commission called for by last month's World Summit in New York, the Council said the new intergovernmental body should focus on the contributions women can make to consolidating peace.

The Council statement requested the Secretary-General to ensure that all peace accords concluded with UN assistance "address the specific effects of armed conflict on women and girls, as well as their specific needs and priorities in the post-conflict context."

Speaking at the outset of the meeting, UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette stressed that five years after the adoption of the resolution, women still have not won the place they deserve, and called on governments to redouble their efforts to bring women into the political and development process.

"Women are still not adequately represented at the negotiating table, the cabinet table and the conference table," she said. To attain resolution 1325's goal of ensuring that women are represented at all decision-making levels requires a more systematic approach to consulting with women in the earliest stages of the peace process, including in discussions on constitutional development, judicial reform and reconciliation, she added.

As a further practical step towards ensuring that all parts of the UN system play their role in implementing the resolution, Ms. Fréchette referred to the 10 October system-wide action plan on women, peace and security presented by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and urged the Security Council to find better ways to empower women, share good practices, and enhance women's role in decision-making at all levels. That plan was welcomed in today's statement.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, shared examples of progress in the protection of women and in their involvement in the peacekeeping in Liberia, Burundi, Timor-Leste, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Côte D'Ivoire. He noted in particular work that supported the integration of gender perspectives in the judicial and legal sectors, and increased political participation of women in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste.

But he said major challenges remain, including stopping the shameful engagement of some peacekeepers in sexual exploitation. While many steps were being taken to address that problem, Mr. Guéhenno stressed that abuse could not be ultimately prevented without empowering women and girls through gender mainstreaming. He also noted that the UN peacekeeping department had made limited progress in placing women in senior positions, but that this was one his priorities for the year to come.