Thursday, October 1, 2009

Women: Peace Efforts

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has highlighted the need to strengthen the involvement of women in peace processes worldwide, noting that nine years after the adoption of a landmark United Nations resolution on the issue, obstacles to their full participation remain.

“Many existing challenges reflect the fact that women continue to be considered as victims and not as key partners in addressing and resolving situations of armed conflict,” Mr. Ban wrote in his latest report on the implementation of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Resolution 1325, which was adopted by the Council in 2000, stresses the importance of giving women equal participation and full involvement in peace and security matters and the need to increase their role in decision-making.

Mr. Ban noted that one of the most persistent obstacles to women’s full and equal participation in post-conflict peacebuilding and reconciliation is the threat of further violence even after the fighting has ended.

“Threats of violence and abuse often remain long after armed conflict ceases, intimidating women and preventing them from engaging fully in rebuilding their societies,” he said. The Secretary-General also cited cultural challenges to women’s participation, including traditional views about women’s roles, as well as socio-economic factors such as low literacy rates and poverty.

He underscored the pressing need to focus on gender considerations as an integral part of peace processes rather than as an “add-on.”

Specifically, he said States should ensure the representation of women at all decision-making levels of peace processes. They should also not only condemn violations of the rights of women and girls during armed conflict but also take swift action in prosecuting those who commit gender-based violence.

In addition, the Security Council should vigorously pursue a strategy to ensure an increase in women’s participation in all peace processes, particularly in negotiation and mediation, as well as in post-conflict governance and reconstruction.

It should also urgently establish a monitoring mechanism for the implementation of resolution 1325 at the global, regional and national levels.

Mr. Ban suggested that the Council use next year’s commemoration of the tenth anniversary of resolution 1325 to organize a high-level ministerial event to generate renewed and revitalized momentum towards fully implementing provisions of the text.

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