Press Releases

    SG/SM/8396
    23 September 2002

    "WOMEN’S FULL PARTICIPATION" IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION
    VITAL TO PROMOTION OF SECURITY, SECRETARY-GENERAL
    TELLS "WOMEN FOR PEACE" MEETING

    NEW YORK, 20 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Conference on ‘Women for Peace, Dialogue for Action’ (Sharm El Sheikh, 20-23 September), delivered on his behalf by Mervat Tallawy, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for West Asia:

    Two years ago, in the Millennium Declaration, the world’s governments resolved to promote the empowerment and education of women as effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease, and to stimulate development that is truly sustainable.

    That same year, the Security Council passed resolution 1325, which recognizes the vital role of women in the realm of peace and security. While it has long been understood that women must be protected from the impact of armed conflict, the resolution broke new ground in stating that they must also be recognized as key actors in conflict resolution, and that we must work harder to include them fully in all strategies and efforts for peacemaking, peacekeeping, peace-building and reconstruction.

    It is one of the tragic features of modern conflict that women and girls suffer its impact disproportionately. They are usually neither the initiators nor the perpetrators of conflicts, yet they have been specifically targeted, often as a way to humiliate the adversary and break the morale and resistance of whole societies. Steps have been taken to end the culture of impunity surrounding this lamentable practice -- both at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and in the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. We must build further on that work.

    The resolution adopted by the Security Council makes clear that we must strive to integrate women more effectively in the work for peace worldwide. It is increasingly recognized that women possess particular skills and experiences that enable them to contribute to all stages of a peace process. In times of conflict, it is often women who take over the running of homes, farms and villages. Women understand the root causes of tension and are more likely to know which groups within communities and countries are likely to support peace initiatives. Women are able to work together and communicate across barriers and divides. Yet while they are crucial actors and advocates in civil society and in building local and regional networks, they are often marginalized in official peace negotiations.

    We must make greater use of women’s potential in this area, and bring more women to the negotiating table and into decision-making positions. We must act on the understanding that women's full participation in preventing and resolving conflicts is essential for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security in the twenty-first century.

    As requested in resolution 1325, I will soon be submitting a report to the Security Council with concrete suggestions on how we can enhance the role of women in peace and security and accelerate implementation of the resolution. The report is expected to be considered by the Council as it meets next month to review progress in implementation so far, and to mark the second anniversary of the resolution’s adoption.

    With that in mind, I commend Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak for her initiative in organizing this Conference on "Women For Peace, Dialogue For Action". I send my warmest wishes and encouragement to all participants, and add the hope that your message will be heard far and wide.

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