Press Releases

SG/2080
SC/7541
WOM/1365
22 October 2002

SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS CRITICAL ROLE
OF WOMEN AND GIRLS IN BUILDING PEACE

NEW YORK, 21 October (UN Headquarters) -- Women and girls must have a greater role in peace processes and must be brought to the negotiating table more systematically, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report to the Security Council, issued today.

Women and girls still are those who suffer the most from armed conflicts, said the Secretary-General. He called for stronger measures to integrate women in all steps of peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace-building, including humanitarian operations, reconstruction, rehabilitation, disarmament and reintegration programmes.

The Council takes up the issue on Friday, 25 October, two years after its adoption of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, which called for a greater recognition of gender perspective in peacemaking efforts.

The Secretary-General’s report on women, peace and security (document S/2002/1154) delineates action-oriented recommendations for stepping up implementation of resolution 1325. It is based on the findings of the Secretary-General’s study, published separately, on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, the role of women in peace-building and the gender dimensions of peace processes and conflict. Both the study and the report had been requested by the Security Council as part of its recommendations contained in resolution 1325.

In a related development, Singapore will host an Arria formula briefing of Security Council members by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, on the afternoon of 23 October. Following the formula initiated a few years ago by Ambassador Diego Arria of Venezuela, this closed meeting will give the members of the Security Council an opportunity to hear the views of non-Council members.

Also on 23 October at 11 a.m. the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security will address the media in a press conference sponsored by Chile.

In a series of 21 recommendations to the Security Council contained in his report, the Secretary-General calls for action on issues, including the impact of armed conflict on women and girls; the international legal framework for their protection; and the role and needs of women and girls in peace processes, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, as well as in post-conflict programmes.

The Secretary-General’s recommendations include the need to take measures to end human rights violations specifically targeted against women and girls in situations of armed conflict; to ensure that amnesty provisions do not provide impunity for war crimes, including gender-based crimes; to ensure that war crime tribunals have expertise on issues such as sexual violence as a weapon of war; to bring a gender perspective in peace missions and humanitarian operations, reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts; and to incorporate the needs and priorities of women and girls ex-combatants, women forced to serve as sexual slaves or domestic servants, and families of ex-combatants in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.

According to the Secretary-General’s report, "women do not enjoy equal status with men in any society. Where cultures of violence and discrimination against women and girls exist prior to conflict, they will be exacerbated during conflict. If women do not participate in the decision-making structures of a society, they are unlikely to become involved in decisions about the conflict or the peace process that follows".

The report recalls that not only do women and children constitute the majority of all victims, but they also constitute the majority of the world’s refugees and internally displaced persons. It also finds that the use of sexual violence as a strategic and tactical weapon of war places women and girls at increased threat of contracting sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.

The report notes that women and girls are not just victims in armed conflict -- they are also actively involved in efforts to make peace, resolve conflict and work for reconciliation. The report identifies positive examples of women making a critical difference in the promotion of peace. It also notes occasions where, for example, the Security Council has recognized and supported the informal peace initiatives of women’s groups, including during its missions to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone.

However, according to the report, women lack access to mechanisms or channels for bringing their priorities and recommendations into more formal processes. The report says that often women are excluded because they are not military leaders or political decision-makers, and they are assumed to lack the appropriate expertise to negotiate. It calls for increased participation of women in both formal and informal peace processes, as well as in all aspects of international peace operations. "We can no longer afford to minimize or ignore the contributions of women and girls to all stages of conflict resolution, peacemaking, peace-building, peacekeeping and the reconstruction processes. Sustainable peace will not be achieved without the full and equal participation of women and men", the report concludes.

The report and the study can be found on the web at www.un.org/womenwatch/daw.

For more information contact: Myriam Dessables, tel. (212) 963-2932; or Patsy Robertson, tel. (212) 963-2226; e-mail: mediainfo@un.org subject: women and peace

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