Speech/statement | Date: 11/11/2009
- For me, women, peace and security is not a gender issue. It is a cross-gender issue. It is a security issue. It is an issue for women and men alike – and an issue of our common interest and future, State Secretary Gry Larsen said in her opening statement at a conference in Oslo on 11.11.09.
First of all, let me warmly welcome you to Oslo to this conference on the monitoring and implementation of the Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security.
As a politician, I have attended many international conferences. And I must say: Usually there are not so many women. Therefore. Let me give a special welcome to the men that are here today.
For me, women, peace and security is not a gender issue. It is a cross-gender issue. It is a security issue. It is an issue for women and men alike –and an issue of our common interest and future. Therefore I am happy to see you all here today.
As you all know, the next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
The nine years that have passed have seen a growing awareness in the Security Council, as well as globally, that women must be included in peace processes and all phases of peace building efforts.
Much has been done, and many steps have been taken in the right direction. But we are far from full implementation, and many great challenges remain before we can meet to really celebrate.
In addition to resolution 1325, the implementation of the Security Council resolutions 1820, 1888 and 1889, focusing on sexual violence in armed conflict do face a number of challenges.
In the following, I am not going to spend too much time on the past. I will rather focus on how we can push the implementation of the resolutions forward. These efforts will take place on various levels. Let me therefore mention 4 areas I believe it is important to focus on.
Let me start with the role of the United Nations in implementing these resolutions. That will be my first point.
1: First of all, the importance of engaging women in all aspects of peace building has finally been internationally recognized. These resolutions are not simply empty phrases in a UN documents.
They are a call to all member states for action, not only to protect women from the atrocities of armed conflicts, but to give them a prominent role in the whole circle of building peace – and preventing war.
Since the resolutions were adopted by the UN, the UN itself has a special responsibility to follow up, including in its own organisations and field operations.
Let me therefore be clear on our Government’s position:
· We will do what we can to keep the situation of women on the agenda of the Security Council when relevant. And we will also follow up UN’s own concrete steps to translate the resolutions to actions. For instance, we want to see more women as leaders of peace keeping operations.
· We want an absolute zero tolerance for sexual abuse and violence perpetrated by UN peacekeepers themselves. Impunity must never protect perpetrators from being held accountable by courts of justice.
· We want to see stronger participation of women in the police forces that are a part of UN peacekeeping operations.
· Our government strongly supports the appointment of a UN special representative to take the strategic lead and coordinated endeavours in the battle against sexual violence in armed conflicts.
2. Secondly, the challenges on national level.
It is clear that the main responsibility for the implementation of resolution 1325 remains with UN’s individual member states.
So how can we play an active role for this to happen?
The development of national action plans is a good way of initiating strategic actions. Many of you have already made such strategies.
· They should identify priorities and resources and determine responsibilities.
· They should also include timeframes for monitoring implementation efforts.
It is important to engage all relevant minstries and state entities in the process.
In Norway, for instance, our national action is endorsed and owned by five ministers: the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of International Development, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Children and Equality.
I also believe it is important that countries cooperate and help each other to develop such plans, to take maximum advantage of their own experiences.
And, needless to say, women should actively take part in both making and implementing action plans!
I just said that all relevant ministries and state entities should be involved in the process of making action plans. But a crucial factor in implementing the resolutions is to cooperate with and involve civil society.
3: Therefore my third point is the role of civil society.
Some people may say that official documents like white papers and action plans tend to remain in the archives and in the bookshelves of bureaucrats. They may be right! Of course not in my own ministry.
But my point is this –that we, the governments, need to explore possibilities that can help us to redouble our efforts and multiply the effects with relatively limited resources.
In many countries, a partnership between the government and civil society organisations will provide a strong alliance in implementing the resolutions and action plans.
Also tripartite partnerships where the UN is on board with civil society organisations are useful.
It is especially important to consult with women’s organisations, since women usually are the most vulnerable during conflict, but also beacuse their voices are so seldom heard, both before, during and after the conflicts.
But what do we do in countries where the civil society hardly exists, and where there are no “NGOs”, let alone women’s organisations?
Some of these countries are the poorest of the poor and particularly exposed to armed conflicts.
It goes without saying that these countries represent a special challenge. But we can never give up!
We will have to use our creative imagination to engage the networks of our own non-governmental organisations and church communities, both nationally, regionally and internationally.
· We must identify possibilities to create new, and sometimes untraditional, alliances and help individual women and men who are agents for peace to organise and engage and empower them to do so.
· We must help them to strengthen their legitimacy and create space for political action, to mention just a few elements.
4: My last, and 4th point. Men. We must be open to engage men who are agents of peace, too. Let us not behave in the way that excludes men. You all know what I am thinking about.
Men and boys are also victims of armed conflicts and sexualised violence. For example in Congo now, where reports tells us that more and more men and boys are victims of sexual violence.
But we must also address the fact that it is men that usually are the perpetrators of violence, not least during wars and armed conflicts.
We need to talk about masculinity and male roles, and why they are often taken as synonymous with dominance, aggression and violence.
We have to discuss these problems more in detail and find mechanisms to address them. Unless we do so, the traditional perceptions of men and masculinity will prevail and again and again fuel new conflicts.
This very necessary discussion will not be an easy one. The roles of men are often deeply rooted in cultural and historical traditions.
But this cannot serve as an excuse for violent behaviour in total disrespect of women and girls and in gross violation of their human rights.
This brings me back to my point of departure.
The adoption of the security counsel resolutions on women, peace and security with the addition of the resolutions on sexualised violence in armed conflicts expresses a set of norms on the highest international level.
At the same time, they call for concrete action on the ground that will sensitize and affect millions of individuals.
We now have a whole chain of commitments, from the normative down to the operative levels.
It is our responsibility as governments, as representatives of international organisations, civil society and non-governmental organisations, as individual men and women to do our utmost to implement these resolutions.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen,
All I have said about implementation and monitoring is nearly useless if we do not have indicators, benchmarks, relevant data and statistics that can tell us whether we are actually doing the right things or not.
Last year’s “1325”- conference here in Oslo focused on “Women in the lands of conflict”. This year’s conference is more technical, in that it will discuss more broadly issues like monitoring, evaluation and data.
But “more technical” does by no means mean less important!
I am, therefore, confident that the outcome of this conference will give significant contributions to the implementation of the resolutions I have discussed, and as such underline the role of women in the whole process of peace and reconciliation.
I wish you all a successful conference!