Historical archive

Speech at the establishment of a Nordic Women Mediators Network

Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Nobel Peace Centre, Oslo, 27 November 2015

State Secretary Tore Hattrem's speech at the launch of the establishment of a Nordic Women Mediators Network at the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo 27 November 2015.

Dear friends,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Nobel Peace Centre and to Oslo.

I am proud to launch the establishment of a Nordic Women Mediators Network – in the presence of my Nordic colleagues.

- It is due time that we, the Nordics, join a global network of women mediators, State Secretary Hattrem said in his speech. Credit: Julie Lunde Lillesæter/Differ Media

The whole idea of such a network is inspired by South Africa, the first to establish a network of African Women Mediators.

We want to follow suit.

(Renders better results)

Negotiations are not only to end wars, - they are just as much about building peace. Both perspectives must be represented at the negotiation table.

Many times, experience from the battleground is predominant amongst the negotiators.

Obviously, we need to bring in others:

  •  to balance perspectives,
  •  to look towards the future,
  •  to look towards peace.

It is all about sustainability.

When Security Council Resolution 1325 was adopted 15 years ago, we believed the inclusion of women would result in greater security – in a more sustainable peace.

Today we know we were right. Inclusion is key to success.

We must level the playing field. Participation must be meaningful. Presence must lead to influence.

We have research to support us:

The Geneva Graduate Institute recently showed that when women were able to effectively influence the process, peace agreements were more likely to be reached, implemented and adhered to.

In fact, women's participation increases the probability of peace agreements lasting 15 years by 35 per cent.

Peace agreements are often the political and institutional foundation for the future of a country. It is imperative that they are non-discriminatory and inclusive from the start.

If we want peace – and if we want it to last - we simply cannot afford not to include women in peace processes.

(Local – national)

At the local level in many conflict-ridden countries, women are at the forefront in mediation efforts, be it in ceasefire negotiations in Syria, in dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan, or when bargaining for access to goods and services with Al Shabab in Somalia.

Women and women's perspectives must be present throughout – locally and nationally.

Women's traditional role locally must be transformed into prominence nationally.

That became particularly clear to me in the case of South Sudan.

The conflict affects all corners of the country. Therefore, all of South Sudan must be represented in the peace process. Women included.

A chair at the back of the room is not good enough.

In all processes towards peace, including the IGAD-process, women have an obvious right to sit at the table where decisions are made. Decisions that concerns the whole population in South Sudan, not just half of it.

As a member of the troika – we have worked consistently towards full representation.

In Afghanistan, Norway supports efforts to establish an inter-Afghan peace process. We helped establish dialogue between Afghan stakeholders to try to make an opening for direct communication.

A prerequisite in our dialogue has been acceptance of existing women's rights in Afghanistan. There is no reason to assume that women's rights must be traded off in order to reach agreement with the Taliban.

Quite the contrary, the high-level Oslo Symposium on Advancing Women's Rights and Empowerment in Afghanistan last year gave us numerous examples of how women deliver.

Women's rights should not - cannot be dismissed on cultural grounds.

In Colombia, Norway has for years supported the peace efforts by national women's organisations.

The women made a strong cause for inclusion at the negotiating table.

We also encouraged the establishment of a sub-commission on gender at the peace talks. Several delegations of women have since met directly with the parties in Havana.

Norway is also providing funding to the Global Alliance of Women Countering Extremism and Promoting Peace, Rights and Pluralism.

If we are to succeed in fighting violent extremism, we need to get women on board.


15 years after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325, women are still heavily under-represented in peace negotiations.

In 31 major peace processes during the last two decades, only four per cent of signatories and nine per cent of negotiators were women.

The UN Security Council has several times expressed concern about the persistent obstacles to women's involvement in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.

The Nordic Women Mediators Network aims to redress this situation.

In this room, we all know that there are capable women mediators out there. However, we need to make sure that others are aware too, and make sure their competence is recognized and put to use.

This new Nordic network will be an attempt to ensure precisely that.

The network will aim to connect to and promote networks of women mediators globally, both at country level and regionally.

The Nordic network will contribute to building competence and sharing experiences with already existing networks in Africa, in the Mediterranean region, in the Philippines, in Colombia.

In turn, these networks will serve as pilots for similar initiatives in other regions.

(Leading by example)

Through the years, in promoting the agenda of women, peace and security, Norway has often been challenged on how our own delegations and mediation teams are set up, and what we do to promote women and train our staff.

Those are legitimate questions. We have to lead by example.

We have had a conscious approach to this, but still there is a way to go. Earlier this year, we launched the third action plan on women, peace and security.

We commit to provide training on "women, peace and security" to Norwegian participants in peace and reconciliation processes.

We also commit to make sure that Norwegian facilitation teams now include at least one person with special responsibility for "women, peace and security".

The plan underlines how important it is to provide women with the training and experience they need to fill the role as a mediator.

Women must be promoted to these positions. That is why we want to have more women as special envoys and special representatives.

Gender balanced negotiation teams should be the rule rather than the exception within the Ministry.

(Concluding remarks)

This is not merely a normative issue. We are missing the point if we believe this agenda to be a matter of women's rights solely.

Because it is not, inclusion is about sustainability.

Women's participation is about having access to the full force of our societies. Women's perspectives are about deepening our common understanding.

It is about dealing with the whole range of challenges.

It is about looking for and listening to the whole variation of possible solutions.

It is about building a peace that is solid, to the benefit of men and women.

It is not about counting women. It is about making women count.

The promotion of gender equality and women's rights is a common aim of the Nordic countries. It is something that unites us.

It is due time that we, the Nordics, join a global network of women mediators.

Thank you.