UN resolution calls for more women peacemakers

The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution last week urging all countries to increase the ranks of women with a seat at the table when negotiations take place to resolve conflicts and start building peace.

Nine years after the adoption of a landmark U.N. resolution calling for women be included in decision-making positions at every level of peacemaking and peace building, the council expressed “deep concern” at the small number of women in key leadership roles.

According to the UN Development Fund for Women, since 1992 only 2.4 percent of signatories to peace agreements were women, and women’s participation in negotiating delegations averaged about 7 percent.

Ines Alberdi, executive director of the fund, known as UNIFEM, said the “striking absence” of women in peace negotiations meant that they lacked a voice in everything that followed in trying to move their countries from war to peace.

The resolution adopted Monday requests Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit a set of indicators to track implementation of the landmark Security Council resolution adopted in 2000. It not only called for women to be included in decision-making at every level of the peace process but for increased protection of women and girls during war and prosecution of perpetrators responsible for rape and other crimes against women.

“It is time for us all to count the number of women at the peace table, the number of women raped in war, the number of internally displaced women who never recover their property, the number of women human rights defenders killed for speaking out,” Alberdi said.

She said targets should also be set for next year’s 10th anniversary commemoration of the resolution – likely to be a ministerial meeting – to start increasing women’s participation in peace efforts.

Alberdi suggested at least a 50 percent increase in the number of uniformed women peacekeepers and an even higher target to boost the number of women mediators and U.N. special representatives in countries emerging from conflict.

“The council must be relentless in its insistence on women as peacekeepers, peace builders and decision-makers,” said Assistant Secretary-General Rachel Mayanja, the U.N. special adviser on gender issues and the advancement of women.

She lamented that women and girls continue to be victims almost a decade after the 2000 resolution was approved.

“Armed conflict and its aftermath continue to account for untold hardship for civilians, especially women and girls,” she said. “These violations – especially sexual violence against women and girls – are pronounced during open hostilities, but they exist even where open hostilities have subsided.”

Mayanja said the Security Council must reinvigorate efforts to put women at peace tables and help countries strengthen their judiciary and security institutions to enable them to hold the perpetrators of crimes against women and girls accountable.

Ireland’s UN Ambassador Anne Anderson recalled that almost 17 years ago she went to former Yugoslavia as Part of a European Union mission to investigate the rape of women during the Balkans conflict, which was being used as “an instrument of war.”

While men have always been victims and victors, waging war and authoring peace, she said, “women have largely been imprisoned in the victim role: the collateral damage of war and, if present at all, a kind of add-on at the peace table.”

To implement the 2000 resolution “means climbing mountains,” Anderson said.

“To get to first base, we need real, transformative, attitudinal change,” she said.

Anderson recalled US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying at a high-level breakfast last month on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly’s ministerial meeting that she is repeatedly questioned about spending time on the issue of women in conflict.

“She has had to explain for the millionth time that these issues are not secondary, but primary; that they are core foreign policy issues,” Anderson said.

Clinton presided over the council on Sept. 30 when it unanimously adopted a resolution condemning sexual violence in war zones.

That resolution creates a special UN envoy to coordinate efforts to combat the use of rape as a weapon of war and directs the secretary-general to dispatch a team of experts to advise governments on how best to prosecute offenders.

US deputy ambassador Rosemar DiCarlo told the council Monday that the US believes its continued focus on women, peace and security “is critical” and strongly supports the newly adopted resolution to include more women in peace processes and post-conflict deliberations.



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