The launching of the Government’s plan
of action for the implementation of UN Security Council resolution
1325 (2000) on women, peace and security
Oslo, 8 March 2006
Translation from the Norwegian
Check against delivery
Congratulations on International
This day is devoted to promoting
human worth, promoting equality between women and men. It is a
symbolic day, a day that has long traditions, a good day. A day for
celebrating, and a day for pointing out everything that hasn’t been
accomplished. And a day for being concrete.
The last of these is the reason why
we are here today. To present a plan of action to improve the
situation of the most vulnerable of all women, those affected by
war and conflict.
This reminds me of an article in
Aftenposten last summer about a woman named Marguerite
Barankitse in the town of Ruyigi in Burundi. She is known as Maggy,
and everybody knows her. She heads the organisation
Maison Shalom, which builds houses for orphans and helps
former child soldiers with schooling and finding jobs. Hutu
children live next door to Tutsi children. With a simple message of
reconciliation and love, she gives the children of the Burundi
massacres hope. Marguerite says that the new generation must
overcome their parents’ hate. More than 400 houses have given more
than 10 000 children a new start.
This is a story of hope. But also
of despair and struggle, where this one woman symbolises the burden
borne through the ages by women all over the world during and after
Promoting equality between women
and men has been on the international agenda for a long time.
Adopting the gender perspective means recognising that all people
have equal rights and the same human worth.
When Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi received
the prize in Oslo on 10 November 2003, she said, “… it is not so
easy to rule over a people who are aware of their rights, using
traditional, patriarchal and paternalistic methods.” She also said:
“Women constitute half of the population of every country. To
disregard women and bar them from active participation in
political, social, economic and cultural life would in fact be
tantamount to depriving the entire population of every society of
half its capability.”
Much has already been done, and we have made a
great deal of progress. It is beginning to be generally accepted
that the gender perspective must be included in all the areas on
the international agenda. This applies not least here in Norway and
to what Norway can do, which is what this event and the launching
of the action plan for the implementation of Security Council
resolution 1325 is all about.
But we still have a long way to go before the
significance of gender equality is fully recognised – and accepted.
There are still some people who regard women’s rights as different
from and less important than human rights.
We still have a long way to go before the gender
perspective has been fully integrated into our efforts to promote
peace and security. This is what we have to try to change.
We are living in a world where there are
internal, violent conflicts in many countries – weak states that
lack basic social structures, where rival groups vie for political
power, where small elites exploit the country’s resources for their
own private purposes. This is happening in Africa, Asia and Latin
America – and also in Europe.
The civilian population is always particularly
vulnerable in such conflicts.
And there is one thing that never seems to
change: women are most severely affected. Women are most vulnerable
to poverty, hunger, disease, abuse.
Armed conflicts arise in societies where
conditions are not conducive to respect for human rights.
Armed conflicts take place in societies where
women have been subject to discrimination, oppression and violence
for a long time. This is aggravated by the conflicts.
There is a clear connection between security,
democracy and welfare. Societies where democracy functions and
human rights are respected are more secure. Only when the social
structures are in place can a country concentrate on the security
and welfare of its citizens. Of all its citizens.
Both women and men must be able to use their
creativity and participate in society if we are to achieve
equitable and sustainable development. I know this sounds obvious,
but we must remind ourselves of it. If the international community
is to succeed in meeting the many formidable global challenges it
is facing, we must draw on all the human capital that exists, on
all of humanity. No country can afford to exclude half of its
population, as Ms Ebadi reminds us.
In many of today’s conflicts, women are excluded
from conflict management and from managing peace and reconciliation
It is obvious that this is not how it should be.
The involvement of women would have provided a far better – and
broader – basis for finding solutions. Women’s experience,
knowledge, networks, contributions to welfare and development, to
dialogue and reconciliation, their alternative approaches – all of
this would provide a better basis for managing conflicts and peace
If the gender perspective is integrated into
peace processes, this will increase women’s political, economic and
social participation, increase their control over their own lives,
and enhance the prospects of building lasting peace within a
democratic framework. This is the main message of the plan of
Women play a key role in efforts to develop
peace strategies, and in efforts to ensure that political solutions
are accepted by the people of a country – and implemented.
Research and experience show that many of the
resources the international community employs in conflict
situations are not effective enough. Peace processes break down,
and post-conflict reconstruction is an extremely difficult
Nonetheless, perceptions of what is needed to
create lasting peace have changed.
We are talking about complex conflict
situations. About dealing with problems with a whole range of
different means – military and civilian, short-term and long-term.
We are talking about humanitarian efforts and aid.
And we are talking about the critical transition
from humanitarian aid in a crisis to development and reconstruction
once peace has finally been made. Here the UN is taking a new
approach in establishing a Peacebuilding Commission, which is
intended to coordinate our efforts in this critical phase. And here
the situation and interests of women must be given a more prominent
The discussion on the gender aspects of conflict
led to the UN Security Council adopting resolution 1325 on women,
peace and security five years ago.
The purpose was to establish that the situation
of women and their resources have a central role in preventing and
resolving conflicts. The resolution takes both a rights perspective
– acknowledging the importance of safeguarding women’s human rights
in a conflict situation – and a pragmatic perspective –
acknowledging the fact that the participation of women is essential
to all aspects of promoting peace and security, managing conflicts
and building and maintaining peace.
Our guest of honour here today is Elisabeth
Rehn, former Finnish Minister of Defence, who, together with the
recently elected president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, wrote
the book Women, War, Peace for UNIFEM in 2002. The two women
travelled all over the world documenting women’s situation and
their participation in war and conflict areas. Today their book is
an important tool and source of inspiration to us in our efforts to
follow up resolution 1325.
Today we have special reason to have the newly
elected president of war-ravaged Liberia in our thoughts. Norwegian
Minister of International Development Erik Solheim visited Ms
Sirleaf a few days ago. Liberia has a new leader who inspires hope
and confidence. We must be ready to give her our support.
Resolution 1325 is important. But as we all
know, resolutions in themselves don’t solve any problems.
Although the resolution is binding on all the
member states of the UN, it has been no easy task to put the good
intentions into practice. The responsibility for following up the
resolution lies with the individual member states and regional
organisations such as the OSCE, NATO, the EU and the AU, and with
the UN system.
The resolution did not establish an
internationally recognised follow-up or monitoring mechanism. The
responsibility for follow-up and monitoring lies with the
authorities and civil society.
For a long time Norway has been at the forefront
of efforts to promote gender equality, internationally, regionally
and nationally. Norway has taken a leading role in applying the
gender perspective to peacekeeping and post-conflict
However, we have not been effective and
systematic enough. We see this now. We haven’t had an overall
strategy, a plan that takes account of the gender perspective in
the context of international peacebuilding efforts and what is
needed in terms of coordinated national efforts.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been
responsible for coordinating the work on the Norwegian action plan,
which has been drawn up in cooperation with the Ministries of
Defence, Justice and the Police, and Children and Equality.
And equally important, a dialogue and contact
have been established with Norwegian NGOs and research
institutions. Here Norway has a great deal of experience we can
draw on – and share with others. This is one element of a Norwegian
model that has proved to be very effective.
The plan of action is thus the product of
broad-based cooperation. Its purpose is to systematise efforts to
promote peace, security and a more democratic society. Now the plan
is to be put into practice, and it is vital that we succeed. The
process that has begun bodes well.
I would like to express special thanks to Helga
Hernes, Torunn Tryggestad and Siri Johansen. You have done a great
job of compiling all the ideas and comments and combining them to
produce a coherent the plan of action.
Together with Denmark, Sweden and the UK, Norway
is one of the first countries to draw up an action plan for
implementing resolution 1325. We are presenting this plan for three
First, coherence. An overall strategy and
systematic follow-up will make it possible to utilise all existing
Second, visibility and measurability. The plan
will spotlight our ambitions and set benchmarks for our efforts.
And we are happy to compete with other countries.
Third, dialogue and process. We are interested
in openness and debate on the plan of action. The document is not
an exhaustive, finished product that can never be altered. It is a
plan in progress, which can be adjusted, altered and improved. We
will report regularly on its progress, and will encourage debate
Again, congratulations on International Women’s