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UN Security Council debates women in peacebuilding

[UN-Women, 24 October 2011] The UN Secretary-General’s annual report to the Security Council on women and peace and security has been released ahead of the Open Debate. The report analyzes progress in implementing Security Council resolution 1325, which was passed in 2000, along with related commitments on women, peace and security. It is based on contributions from 38 Member States, four regional organizations and 27 entities of the United Nations system.

The report covers findings in five areas of the women and peace and security agenda — prevention, participation, protection, relief and recovery, and coordination and accountability for results — and provides baseline data on several of the indicators presented in the Secretary-General’s report to the Security Council last year. It also includes information on the strategic results framework developed by the UN system as a tool to support national efforts to address implementation gaps and challenges.

Broadly, the report notes that there is growing recognition of women’s roles in peace and security, and highlights an increasing number of innovative measures and good practices. Progress continues to be uneven, however. For example, the levels of women’s participation in peace negotiations, in preventative efforts and other key decision-making processes related to peace and security remain unacceptably low. Weaknesses in security, legal and justice institutions continue to present serious challenges to the safety and security of women and girls in many armed conflict and post-conflict settings.

More needs to be done to ensure that the momentum for action built in 2010 in connection with the 10th anniversary of resolution 1325 is sustained. The recognition of women’s contributions to building just and sustainable peace must be fully translated into concrete initiatives and support for such efforts, and good practices should be scaled up. The needs and priorities of women and girls should be brought to the center of policy discussions and planning processes.

The report’s recommendations include improving information on women and peace and security presented to the Security Council; greater attention to women’s participation in conflict prevention, preventative diplomacy and mediation; and the creation of innovative mechanisms for women to access peace talks.

UN Women Press Release - October 28, 2011

UN Women calls for robust measures to ensure women’s role in peace processes

United Nations, New York — On the anniversary of the Security Council Resolution 1325, on Women, Peace and Security, the UN Security Council is holding an Open Debate today on the theme of “Women’s Participation and Role in Conflict Resolution and Mediation.” The theme is particularly apt in light of the award this month of the Nobel Peace Prize to three women peace makers. This year, for the first time the Nobel Prize Committee citation mentioned UN Security Council resolution 1325, passed in 2000, which champions women’s roles as peace makers and which recognizes conflict-related abuses of women’s rights as international security concerns.

During the Open Debate, the Security Council is addressed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, ECOSOC President Lazarous Kapambwe and civil society activist from Afghanistan Orzala Ashraf, along with statements by over 55 Member States.

“If women’s participation is essential, not optional, why is it often the missing ingredient in conflict prevention and mediation? 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,” said Ms. Bachelet, Under Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women.

This eleventh anniversary of resolution 1325 this year marks both progress in the last year and lays out the remaining challenges and expectations from women and girls in post-conflict contexts. Huge gaps remain in the level of women’s direct participation in formal conflict resolution. However, there has also been progress. In Philippines, women make up 50 percent of the formal negotiation and mediation delegations. In the Darfur peace process, women made up 30 percent of delegates in the civil society consultations linked to the Doha process. The resulting peace agreement for Darfur was one of two out of nine UN-supported peace agreements in 2010 that included specific provisions dealing with gender issues.

Targeted action is needed to increase numbers of women at peace tables, including: provision of financial and other incentives to negotiating parties to include women in official delegations; increasing the number of women mediators, provision of gender expertise to negotiating delegations; and establishing procedures for mediators to hold regular and structured consultations with women’s civil society groups.

Increasing support to women’s civil society groups in transitions and conflict is also critical. Not only does the level of funding for women’s civil society groups need to dramatically increase, but the UN system should broker women’s access to international decision making forums such as international contact group meetings, donor conferences and Security Council discussions. Women peacemakers from Afghanistan are making plans to ensure their voices are heard at the 2011 Bonn Conference, which comes ten years after the first Bonn conference established Afghanistan’s transitional government.

Women’s associations cannot compete with stronger and better organized groups in moments of transition and for this reason specific steps must be taken to open doors to women, a point highlighted in the Security Council today. “In the next few months there will be international meetings to support the recovery of post-conflict countries such as South Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Libya. Let us use these opportunities to ensure women’s voices are heard and their participation is secured,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The anniversary also provides fresh momentum in implementation of the resolution. For the first time the United Nations system has a way of tracking its own progress in advancing this resolution though an agreed set of 26 indicators on women and peace and security that will enable it to assess progress, such as: whether women are equal beneficiaries of post-conflict assistance; whether the numbers of women peacekeepers are increasing; or if there is a significant increase in the proportion of women senior UN leaders in conflict contexts. For example in 2010, although no woman was appointed a UN Chief Mediator, by October 2011 six women headed senior UN field missions and five more were serving as deputies.

Over the next year UN Women will build on the momentum achieved by the Nobel peace prize and support women’s participation in political transitions, work towards bringing women’s voices to the table at international donor conferences, and conduct pre-deployment training for peacekeeping troops on dealing with sexual violence in conflict.

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