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Women must play greater role in conflict prevention, peacebuilding – Security Council

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

Women must play greater role in conflict prevention, peacebuilding – Security Council

The Security Council today welcomed efforts by countries to implement a landmark resolution calling for strengthening women’s participation in peacebuilding, peacekeeping, conflict prevention and mediation process, but voiced concern over continuing gaps in implementing the resolution.

Several senior UN officials – including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women – and representatives more than 50 countries addressed a day-long debate at the Council on progress since resolution 1325 was unanimously adopted in 2000.

The resolution calls for action to reverse the egregious and inhumane treatment of women and girls during conflicts, the denial of their human rights and their exclusion from decision-making in situations of armed conflict, in peacemaking and peacebuilding.

In a presidential statement the 15-member Council commended the countries that have formulated or updated their national action plans and strategies to increase the participation of women in peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

“The Security Council, however, remains concerned about the persistence of gaps and challenges that seriously hinder the implementation of [the] resolution, including the continued low numbers of women in formal institutions of conflict prevention and resolution, particularly in preventive diplomacy and mediation efforts,” the statement said.

It also noted that the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes committed against women and girls has been strengthened through the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other tribunals. It also reiterated its intention to enhance efforts to fight impunity and uphold accountability for serious crimes against women.

“The Security Council continues to encourage Member States to deploy greater numbers of female military and police personnel to United Nations peacekeeping operations and reiterates that all military and police personnel should be provided with adequate training to carry out their responsibilities,” the statement added.

Earlier, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the greater involvement of women in conflict prevention and mediation, the essential building blocks in reinforcing democracy.

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

He said the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) had increased the proportion of female candidates in its roster of senior mediators, team members and thematic experts to 35 per cent. In the field, UN teams are supporting women so they can engage in peacebuilding and conflict prevention, management and reconciliation, he added.

The Council received Mr. Ban’s latest report on the women and peace and security, 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.

“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,” he wrote.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s report, Ms. Bachelet stressed that women’s participation in resolving and preventing conflict is not an optional, but an essential ingredient of peacebuilding.

“As we go forward, we need determined leadership – by all of us – the Security Council, Member States, civil society, and the United Nations, to fully engage women in mediation and conflict prevention. This will advance peace and security and deepen democracy around the world,” she said.

Ms. Bachelet pointed out that the UN system was working to increase post-conflict spending on women’s empowerment and gender equality to a minimum of 15 per cent of overall post-conflict financing within a few years.

The President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Lazarous Kapambwe, emphasized women must be fully incorporated in efforts to rebuild societies through playing key roles in negotiating peace agreements, national reconciliation and economic recovery.