Conference on Disarmament - EU Statement

European Union

Statement on the occasion International Women’s Day

Conference on Disarmament

Geneva, 8 March 2023


Madam President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The candidate countries North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Ukraine, Republic of Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina[1], the potential candidate country Georgia and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.

I am pleased to address this Conference on the occasion of the International Women’s Day especially at a very dark moment as we mark one year of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

Madam President,

Advancing gender equality in the current international security environment is of key importance for the EU. Gender equality and human rights are at the core of universal values and constitute stand-alone priorities mainstreamed across all European Union policies. The full implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda commitments, as established by resolution 1325 (2000) and subsequent resolutions, is as relevant as ever in the present geopolitical context.

The EU supports the UN Secretary General’s proposal in his Our Common Agenda report of a New Agenda for Peace, which would include building on the existing WPS agenda in order to place women and gender equality at the heart of peace and security.

The EU reiterates its call for strengthening the full, equal and meaningful participation and leadership of women and girls in conflict prevention and resolution throughout the conflict cycle, including in formal and informal mediation, crisis management, peacebuilding and peacekeeping, peace negotiations, demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration, security sector reform and other recovery and reconstruction processes. The EU recalls its commitment to support women’s and youth’s equal, full, effective and meaningful participation, in all their diversity, including in all spheres of public and political life, as per the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024. A substantial increase in women’s leadership and participation in all aspects of peace and security is necessary not only for the sake of human rights and gender equality, inclusive governance and social cohesion, but also for the sustainable resolution of conflicts and crises.

The EU expresses its concern about the worldwide backlash against women and girls’ full and equal enjoyment of human rights and the declining security and safety for women and girls. The EU condemns the increasing reprisals, violence, threats and attacks against women and girls, both offline and online, in conflict and crisis affected settings.

The impact of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine on all women and girls is of grave concern, as is the growing evidence of sexual and gender-based violence, including as a broader military tactic by Russian armed forces as well as paramilitary entities controlled by Russian armed forces. In this context, it is a priority of the EU to renew the mandate of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, which has held that war crimes were committed in Ukraine. It is of critical importance to guarantee a gender-responsive, survivor-centered and trauma-sensitive approach in all efforts to respond to the consequences of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, namely in the humanitarian response, the crisis response, and will be in the longer-term peace, security and reconstruction efforts.

The WPS agenda is central to contemporary global peace and security challenges. In this regard, the EU highlights that armed conflict, as well as new, emerging and increasingly complex security challenges, such as climate change, food insecurity, scarcity of water and other natural resources, pandemics, including the impact of COVID-19, energy challenges, terrorism, organized crime, forced migration and displacement, human trafficking, risks associated with emerging and disruptive technologies and hybrid threats, such as cyber attacks and disinformation, disproportionately impact women and girls and have resulted in an overall deterioration of women's position with detrimental consequences for the full enjoyment of the human rights of women and girls globally. In this vein, the EU also notes that the implementation of the full WPS agenda remains a key priority for EU’s partnerships with other international and regional organisations such as the UN, OSCE, NATO and the African Union.

I wish to reiterate that the EU is ready to cooperate with all countries and other partners, including civil society organizations, women’s rights activists and youth, in order to advance this agenda further.

I thank you, Madam President.


[1] North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.