New York, US- The UN Security Council on Friday issued a strong call on the international community to strengthen its commitment to ensuring that women play a more prominent role in conflict prevention, resolution and in post-war peace building.
In a new resolution, the Council reaffirmed that sustainable peace hinged on an approach that integrated “political, security, development, and human rights, including gender equality”.
It urged UN member states and UN entities to ensure women’s full and meaningful participation in peace and security issues, and and ensure commitment to increase focus on their adequate access to justice in conflict and post-conflict settings.
It said: “Women must be involved at every stage of efforts to reassert the rule of law and rebuild societies through transitional justice. Their needs for security and justice must be addressed. Their voices must be heard. Their rights must be protected”.
Speaking at the opening of the day-long debate, on “Women, Rule of Law and Transitional Justice”, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for actions to not only increase the number of women in peace-making, but crucially to improve the way gender issues are addressed by peace and security institutions, including the Council itself.
He noted that women’s participation in peace efforts was a matter of gender equality and universal human rights and crucial to achieving sustainable peace, economic recovery, social cohesion and political legitimacy.
Ban said the rule of law, women’s access to transitional justice, and women’s participation were deeply connected.
The UN chief urged the Council to also deal with the full range of conflict-related violations of women’s rights, adding that political and peacekeeping UN missions should support national
prosecution for serious international crimes against women.
The debate also featured Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and Ms. Navi Pillay and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Ms. Brigitte Balipou, founder of the Association of Women Jurists of the Central African Republic, spoke on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security took part in the debate.
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said the new resolution made the Council, the wider United Nations, regional organisations and member states responsible for providing seat at the peace table for women.
“I know for sure that there are women who are adequately trained for these roles, that women are available for high-level appointments and, further, that qualified women are everywhere.
“It is up to us, together, to take responsibility and open the doors to their full participation.”
Ms. Mlambo Ngcuka, who presented Mr. Ban’s annual report on the implementation of the women and peace and security agenda, said inclusion must be accompanied by access to gender expertise, and gender analysis must be used to identify the impact on women’s rights of all peace-related decisions.
“We are now seeing what could be described as a ‘new generation’ of gender-responsive mediation practice from these and other peace leaders.
“Elements of this new practice include holding early and regular consultations with women leaders and women’s rights groups, securing a gender adviser for the mediation team; and ensuring that crimes against women are addressed in ceasefire and peace negotiations.”
On her part, Ms. Pillay underscored the importance of prosecuting not only individuals who violated women’s rights during conflict, but also to address structural gender-based discrimination and inequality.
“Efforts to halt violations must be framed in State obligations to address structural and systemic gender inequality and discrimination through comprehensive legislative policy and
institutional reforms,” she told the Council via a video conference.
She added that it was crucial to support women’s participation in political processes in countries emerging from conflict and ensure women had a space in the public sphere without fear of intimidation.
Held yearly, the open debate provides an opportunity for the wider UN membership to reflect on the progress made and accelerate action on implementation of the Security Council resolution 1325, adopted in 2000.
The resolution requires parties in a conflict to respect women’s rights and support their participation in peace negotiations and in post-conflict reconstruction.