Women and peace and security: sexual violence must be brought to an end [fr]
Women and peace and security
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United NationsRetour ligne automatique
Security Council – 25 October 2018
At the outset, I should like to thank the Bolivian presidency for having organized this open debate on the women and peace and security agenda, which, as everyone knows, is one of France’s top priorities. I also thank the Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UN-Women for their briefings, their commitment and their concrete recommendations, which should guide the Council. Finally, I wish to thank Ms. Randa Siniora for her powerful statement, which eloquently demonstrates the extent to which economic and social hardship and violence against women are both strong and unacceptable barriers to women’s participation in political and economic decision-making processes.
I welcome the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad and Dr. Mukwege and, through them, to all those who work courageously to promote the rights of women, sometimes at the risk of their lives. Their commitment must inspire the Council and encourage it to accelerate the implementation of the women and peace and security agenda, 18 years after its inclusion on our agenda. That is a top priority for France.
In that context, it is imperative that sexual violence be brought to an end. We are at a time when — let us face facts — sexual violence is used more than ever as a weapon of war and terrorism tactic. That is why, during an Arria Formula meeting last Monday together with the Netherlands, Côte d’Ivoire and Peru, we continued our process of reflection on ways to promote the use of individual sanctions as a tool for deterring sexual violence, and we will translate that process into sanctions. As all here know, France has supported the inclusion of a specific criterion on sexual violence in the sanctions regime concerning the Central African Republic and the inclusion of gender-related issues in the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, which in many respects is a model to follow. Our mobilization is also essential to bridge the yawning gap that separates us from women’s full participation in peace processes.
I will first make several observations, which in our opinion are reasons for us to become actively engaged, before proposing several courses of action in the context of the anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) in 2020. Indeed, this anniversary is an opportunity that we must take together to give a new and strong impetus to the women and peace and security agenda. Let us not miss this opportunity.
First, I would like to make some observations. Women’s participation and equality between women and men is not only a moral and political imperative, but also a key conflict-prevention instrument that has proved effective and is a factor for lasting peace. Everyone should know that when there is real equality between women and men, the risk of conflict is lower. Everyone should know that when women participate in political processes, such processes are more sustainable. And how could peacekeeping operations effectively protect the entire civilian population without women being engaged as agents of peace and security at all levels, in all pillars — military, civilian, political and economic?
Enabling women to be agents of peace and security also means guaranteeing their economic, social and cultural rights. Yet their frequent lack of access to education, property, employment, appropriate financial structures and health services makes women more vulnerable to the consequences of conflicts, of which they are most often the primary victims.
Last year, the number of peace agreements incorporating gender-related provisions decreased. Moreover, women are still far too often excluded from discussions at any stage of the negotiation process or confined to discussions that perpetuate stereotypes about their role in society. It is also sadly indicative to note, as the Secretary-General so aptly pointed out this morning, that over the past 25 years only 2 per cent of mediators and 8 per cent of negotiators have been women. I would like in that regard to commend the efforts of the Secretary-General and his team to achieve parity among his Special Representatives. He can, of course, count on our full and complete support.
In that context, I would like to reiterate, on behalf of France, our call to action. We know that the Security Council has begun to take stock of these issues. But let us be realistic: it has not been not enough. We can and must do more and better. Together we must make a real qualitative leap; this is within our reach. I would like in particular to welcome the commitment and concrete recommendations of the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs in this regard.
The Council now includes provisions on women’s rights and participation in more than 70 per cent of its resolutions and nearly 90 per cent of its presidential statements. We must reach 100 per cent. Let us therefore set ourselves this target of 100 per cent. In the same spirit, it is important that the Council adopt specific press statements as part of the women and peace and security agenda. Similarly, we must continue to systematically invite civil-society leaders, especially women, to give us an accurate picture of the reality on the ground.
Security Council field visits must also give full consideration to meetings with women and to the challenges that specifically concern them. This was the case with a meeting we held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo recently, which to me was one of the most striking and inspiring during our recent mission to the country, and I think that in saying so I also speak for the vast majority of my colleagues. The same must apply to the highest United Nations representatives in crisis situations. I would like to welcome in this regard the joint initiative of the Executive Director of UN-Women and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations to travel together to South Sudan.
But we can all see that we must go further. The anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) in 2020 provides us with a unique opportunity that we must take together. Follow-up of the implementation of the women and peace and security agenda must be more robust, and the 76 action plans and 11 regional frameworks established within that framework must be monitored more closely so as to better identify problems and promote good practices. We are ready to work with all our partners to define the outlines of a mechanism that would effectively review these national and regional processes, as the Secretary-General states in his report (S/2018/900). Our actions must be consonant with our goals. We must develop the regional dimension, and we welcome the ownership of the agenda by regional and subregional organizations. This is a fundamental point if we really want to be effective in the long term.
Finally, the United Nations needs to raise the profile of women’s participation in peace processes, just as it did for the demobilization of child soldiers. We commend the efforts of the Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UN-Women in this area, and we are at their disposal to continue the process of reflection together.
France will remain fully committed to women’s rights, both within the Security Council and in all other relevant bodies. The President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, has made equality between women and men the great cause of his five-year term and a top priority of the French Group of Seven presidency next year. The women and peace and security agenda will be an important element of this priority. France is currently developing its third national plan of action for the women and peace and security agenda, which will be presented in the first quarter of 2019, and France will once again make that agenda a priority of its presidency of the Security Council in March 2019.As part of its second national plan of action, France has provided direct support in several areas of conflict. In Syria, for instance, France funded an initiative to provide emergency medical assistance to protect women in a conflict where they are too often targeted, in particular through assistance in terms of sexual and reproductive health or psychological support services designed to improve the living conditions of women, especially those giving birth in very difficult conditions. In Libya, France has supported training workshops for young entrepreneurs in Misrata, 50 per cent of whom were women, with the aim of strengthening the Libyan economic fabric by assisting young Libyan entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Our third national plan of action will resolutely pursue France’s commitments in the framework of the inclusion of women in peace processes and State reconstruction. The close involvement of civil society in the elaboration of the plan, its concrete implementation in France and abroad and the assessment of its results is, of course, vital. The challenge of the women and peace and security agenda, in addition to its implementation, lies in ensuring that genuine ownership is taken at all levels of society by the actors involved in issues of peacekeeping and the rebuilding of peace and security.
In conclusion, I would like to say that France’s deep conviction is that, at a time when multilateralism is being criticized and put to the test, women have a key role to play in giving new impetus to multilateralism, in which France believes more strongly than ever. Parity and diversity are at the heart of the DNA of the United Nations and must therefore be at the heart of our actions.
Simone de Beauvoir wrote that “the present is not a potential past; it is the moment of choice and action”. So, dear friends, let us get to work.