EU Statement – UN Security Council : High-level Open Debate on the Role of Regional Organisations in Implementing Women, Peace and Security
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Madam Executive Director of UN Women,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- With the return of war in Europe and against the backdrop of increasing pushbacks on women's rights and gender equality, it is more important than ever to safeguard and promote our shared values, as well as to uphold international commitments and a rules-based multilateral order, with the UN at its core. This holds true for the WPS agenda adopted with UNSC resolution 1325 as much as for any other international instrument or Security Council Resolution.
- The Albanian Presidency of the Council is very right in pointing out in the concept note that regional organisations have a critical role to play. But also, in drawing our attention to the fact that, in times of turmoil especially, it all too often happens that commitments on women, peace and security are interrupted and women, whether they be journalists, peacebuilders, members of Parliament or representatives of civil society, see their work, safety and security threatened or worse.
- Unfortunately, as EU Ambassador for Gender and Diversity, I have witnessed several occasions when this happens. And I can testify on the basis of my own experiences how difficult it is to ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation, despite the positive messages of intent shared by all.
- Even in times of immediate crisis and political turmoil, women, continue to be left out of the political dialogue about their countries' future, as we are seeing now in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Yemen or Syria. And when decisions need to be made, including in this room, women remain underrepresented. We need to start discussing this reality.
- We are currently standing at a crossroads with different directions to choose. I see we have two options;
- We can continue on the road of more talk than action.
- Or, we can agree to accelerate our action, including in times of immediate crisis and unlawful takeover of countries, to guarantee women's participation in all our diplomacy and political dialogue. We can do our utmost so that gender equality and the role of women are part of the immediate response, and not deprioritised as it usually is.
- As a concrete example of support for women empowerment, the EU launched the Afghan Women Leaders Forum in March this year. The Forum provides a platform for Afghan women from diverse backgrounds, within and outside Afghanistan, to contribute to the political dialogue of the EU and the wider international community on the future of Afghanistan. Thus, the Forum presents an alternative for women to express their views while they are not included in the political dialogue in their own country and see their rights violated in all imaginable and possible ways.
- Today, we are also confronted with the crimes committed by Russian armed forces in Ukraine. The EU continues to support Ukraine, in close coordination with the UNSG Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. There too, in this war waged by Russia on Ukrainian territory, we see that women’s dignity and rights are being trampled on. The war in Ukraine is another example of how we need to pay particular attention to working together with local and regional organizations to make sure that our understanding of the situation and therefore our action and approach are based on reliable information and facts on the ground. It is because of the appeal of these organizations, women’ organizations that have started to collect evidence and document cases of CRSV, that the mandate of the EU civilian CSDP Advisory mission to Ukraine was amended to support the Ukrainian authorities in investigating international crimes, including conflict-related sexual violence. We have also taken steps to address the increased risks of trafficking facing those fleeing the conflict, especially women and children, through the adoption of a Common Anti-Trafficking Plan. Without the role of regional organizations, we would not have been able to take this important step.
- It shows, just like in the case of Afghanistan where we have women representing all kinds of local and regional networks and organizations, that this is the way how we should go about it. We have to listen, we have to pay more attention and, above all, we must make sure to feed the views and positions of women into our political dialogue. And we must do that on time. That means: not wait to deal with this until the other, so-called more important issues, will have been dealt with first.
- I have just given you two examples of how it actually can be done; bringing in the women, having them participate meaningfully in our political discussions and dialogue. It can be done. It just requires a deliberate effort and a consistent and continuous banging on the door of those places where conflict and peace are being addressed.
- The UN Security Council is such a place – actually it is the highest body to discuss peace and security. That is why I am grateful to Albania for having put this on the agenda.
- The EU is fully committed to do its part, in line with our WPS Action Plan and as demonstrated by our actions, internally and externally. Gender mainstreaming is a guiding principle of our 18 civilian and military missions and operations and a priority of our external action. We have committed to ensure that 85% of all EU external action will have a gender dimension by 2025. In all regions, from the Sahel to the Middle East, Central Africa to Asia, we support capacity building and monitoring actions for women’s leadership, we contribute to women’s networks, and we work closely with civil society, grassroots organisations, and UN Women.
- I would like to conclude by saying: let us do this much more often, let us get together and discuss how we can – how we need to - make sure women are offered a chance to participate meaningfully in our discussions. As a concrete outcome of today’s meeting, I propose to relaunch the Regional Acceleration Resolution 1325 mechanism, a platform aimed to facilitate the exchange of best practices and lessons learned among the UN, the EU, the African Union, NATO and the OSCE. We welcome additional partners such as the League of Arab States. Let us do whatever it takes because it is 2022 – and our daughters – and sons – will not understand why we were not capable of doing that.