UN Security Council Open Debate on Women and Peace and Security: Statement by Under-Secretary of State Jaakko Laajava, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, on behalf of the Nordic Countries, New York, 28 October 2011
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
I would like to begin by thanking the Nigerian Presidency for organizing this debate and the Secretary-General, Under-Secretary-Generals Bachelet and Ladsous, as well as Orzala Ashraf for their valuable remarks. Fully recognizing the contribution of women and further increasing their effective participation before, during and after conflict is a priority for the Nordic Governments and we thank you for the choice of the theme for this year’s debate.
Last year we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The emphasis was made on commitments for action and systematic follow up. We thank the Secretary General for his excellent report which includes concrete data based on the indicators the Council agreed to last year, and a very good strategic framework to guide the UN’s way ahead.
Exactly a week ago the Security Council resolution on Yemen called upon all concerned parties to improve women's participation in conflict resolution and encouraged them to facilitate the equal and full participation of women at decision making levels. Yesterday’s resolution on Libya emphasized the importance of full and equal participation of women and the respect for human rights of all. We welcome these strong calls.
During this eventful year women have taken to the streets and squares across North Africa and the Middle East and demanded change, equality, freedom and justice alongside men. We call on the Security Council to ensure that women’s voices are heard and reflected in planning, actions and results. Provisions on women’s full participation at all levels as well as protection and promotion of women’s human rights should be included in all relevant country-specific resolutions, such as the future resolutions on DRC and Afghanistan, and systematically followed up when the Special Envoys and SRSGs report back to the Council.
In conflict prevention and mitigation the efforts of women through civil society and governmental channels deserve our increased financial, political and technical support. Participation through non-governmental organisations serves a double aim: it fosters inclusive local, regional and national dialogue and development. It also builds the capacity of women to engage in more formal processes. Increasing the number of women in government structures, for example in the security and justice sectors, makes those institutions more democratic, gender-responsive and accountable which in turn contributes to conflict-prevention.
To enhance the quality and sustainability of peace agreements, we need to ensure women are fully involved from the very beginning of peace processes. Mediation and negotiation teams should have specialized gender-expertise and carry out inclusive consultations. Further efforts are urgently needed to nominate and appoint more women mediators and to address the obstacles women face. Increasing the number of women in mid- and high level positions in international organisations and in national diplomatic services is one tool to enlarge the pool of qualified women. At the same time, guidance and expertise is needed for both male and female mediators to fully integrate a gender perspective in ceasefire agreements and all relevant areas of peace agreements, such as disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, or power-sharing. The Nordic countries recognize the fact that the UN system as a whole is greatly strengthened in this regard through the establishment of UN Women and fully support the Joint Strategy on Gender and Mediation of UN Women and the Department for Political Affairs as an effective tool to this end. We welcome the guidelines to address conflict-related sexual violence in peace processes that are now being developed.
Sector-specific gender-expertise and targeted actions are needed also in the implementation of peace agreements and during post-conflict planning and budgeting. The Secretary-General’s Seven Point Action Plan on Peacebuilding provides detailed recommendations to this end. We welcome the work done thus far and encourage the UN to continue its implementation without delay. As donors we commit to do our part both by supporting women’s participation in post-conflict donor conferences and by directing funding for initiatives that contribute to gender-equality.
A year ago we made commitments to advance the implementation of 1325. I would like to report briefly on three areas in which the Nordic countries have concretely implemented those commitments: National Action Plans, participation of women in peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and work against impunity with due attention to the victims.
Firstly, National Action Plans. All Nordic countries have National Action Plans based on a holistic view of peace, security, development, human rights and gender equality. Several line ministries, governmental agencies and civil society organizations are committed to working together to ensure a timely and effective implementation and promotion of Resolution 1325. The Nordic National Action Plans are action oriented and their implementation is guided by the set of indicators to measure real progress.
The Nordic countries have engaged in twinning and cooperation with partner countries, including Afghanistan, Kenya, Nepal, Philippines and Liberia. Through twinning our actions are being guided by the views and needs of countries with a recent experience of conflict or fragility, while we can share experiences, best practices and provide financial support to the development of their new structures. Together we show and foster political will to ensure that women enjoy the rights and possibilities they need and deserve in every part of the world.
The Nordic countries are fully committed to including the civil society in the implementation of 1325. We want to be innovative in our approach and have greatly benefitted from civil society’s advice and partnership. In this spirit the Nordic countries also support the work of local and regional NGOs from the Philippines to the Great Lakes and from Nepal to Sudan. Women in conflict affected countries all over the world are doing crucial work to build peace and reconcile communities. Their long-term peace building must get recognition, visibility and support.
Secondly, we have committed to increase the number of women and to build gender-awareness in the military and police and also among civilian peacekeepers. We are pleased to report that those efforts have borne fruit and there has been a clear increase in the number of women deployed. In some cases the percentage of female police officers deployed to peace operations has been even higher than in the national police service.
We are delivering our commitment to train our personnel to be more aware of gender equality and human rights. The mixed police teams deployed in Haiti, Liberia and Afghanistan have all received training on 1325 and some of them are specifically trained to address sexual and gender-based violence. We have developed a human rights manual for all crisis management personnel and supported gender-sensitive security sector reform through training of trainers in Palestine and the Balkans.
Thirdly, we have increased our efforts in the fight against impunity with a due attention to the rights of victims. Justice, including meaningful reparations for victims is essential in restoring the confidence of the people in their government and in promoting sustainable peace. There should never be amnesty for the most serious crimes, including sexual violence, which can constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. We remain staunch supporters of the International Criminal Court and have been at the forefront of the work linking complementarity with development activities in the field of rule of law. We have also led the discussions around the review of the Court’s strategy for victims and we support its Trust Fund for Victims.
Madam President, I thank you for this opportunity to share some of our views and recommendations. We stand ready to continue working together with the Council and the UN towards full implementation of 1325.