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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2010

Security Council: Women, Peace and Security

Statement by H.E. Jim McLay Permanent Representative, 26 October 2010

New Zealand appreciates the opportunity to mark the tenth anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 (“1325”), and thanks all those involved, particularly Uganda, for organising this debate.

Ten years is a long time in international politics - conflicts have started, some have been avoided, some have stopped altogether; many governments have taken power; others have fallen; many countries (around fifty in fact) have taken non-permanent seats at this very table. Throughout it all – the conflict, the peace, the destruction, the reconstruction, the change – women and girls have often been the most affected.

In the ten years since resolution 1325 was adopted, there have been some significant advances. Some women and girls have benefited from greater involvement in peace processes, greater representation in key decision-making positions, and a stronger focus on prevention of sexual violence. There have also been major institutional achievements. New Zealand strongly supported the establishment of UN Women, for example, with Michele Bachelet at its head, and we look to that organisation to demonstrate leadership, including on this issue of women, peace and security.

The last ten years has also demonstrated that much needs to be done. Rape is still used as a tool of war, as was recently and horrifically demonstrated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Women are still excluded from, or not adequately represented in, peace processes, their rights are curtailed, and, all too often, they lack or are denied access to humanitarian aid and development assistance. Full implementation of 1325 is needed to address these deficiencies.

New Zealand agrees with the conclusion in the Secretary-General’s report that the main factor impeding full implementation is the lack of a clearly-framed, single, coordinated approach, complemented by meaningful indicators to track progress. There are many concrete ways to develop such a framework. In addition to those mentioned by Canada on behalf of the Group of Friends, I’ll highlight just two that New Zealand considers particularly important.

First, because implementation of 1325 is difficult to measure, we call on this Council to endorse and utilise the indicators outlined in the Secretary-General’s report. Some of those indicators still require development, but that’s best achieved through implementation, tracking and continued close engagement with civil society. And, by themselves, the indicators are not enough; the information they yield must be analysed and incorporated into the Council’s work. Given its expertise, UN Women will be well-placed to lead this analysis, but must also be able to interact regularly with this Council.

Second, while there has been excellent policy development on 1325, that policy has rarely translated into action on the ground. To ensure more action, the Security Council could better incorporate 1325 issues into its daily work - for example, when it discusses country situations, peacekeeping mandates, sanctions, or holds Arria Formula meetings. Further, an effective leadership system within the Council could be developed to ensure that 1325 issues are regularly integrated into the Council’s work. Given the churn of non-permanent members, that responsibility could be jointly shared by a permanent and non-permanent Council member. Better integration of 1325 issues doesn’t just feel or sound good, it makes practical sense. Involving women in peace processes, stopping sexual and gender-based violence, and guaranteeing the protection of women’s rights will better ensure a lasting peace, which will, in turn, improve this Council’s ability to maintain international peace and security.

Member States also have responsibilities for the implementation of 1325 nationally and in their regions. Women constitute up to 30 percent of New Zealand’s contribution to UN and UN-mandated peace missions – among the highest rates in the world. The New Zealand Defence Force pursues a diversity strategy that values the full integration of women, including at senior levels.

New Zealand’s region is the Pacific, where women are playing critical roles in brokering and maintaining peace in places such as Bougainville, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Timor-Leste. Despite their important role, women remain marginalised from formal negotiations, are seriously under-represented in national decision-making processes, and are vulnerable to domestic violence. As well as raising awareness of 1325 in the Pacific, New Zealand’s Aid Programme identifies women and girls as a priority group for attention; supports initiatives to mitigate the exposure of women and girls to violence; and specifically includes the need to support full implementation of 1325. Elsewhere, New Zealand’s Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan, Afghanistan, has several initiatives to ensure full participation of women in our PRT and in the Afghan National Security Forces which PRT supports. Likewise, in Timor-Leste, New Zealand is working with the National Police on projects to address high rates of gender-based violence.

But, like others, New Zealand can still do more, and agrees commitments are required to ensure advancement of 1325’s agenda. We commit to developing a national plan of action on Resolution 1325. We commit to mainstreaming issues faced by women with disabilities in our implementation of resolution 1325 and generally in our work on women, peace and security as an emerging issue for a group that is too often subject to multiple discrimination. We commit to increasing the number of women in higher ranks of our Defence Force, and becoming more effective in retaining women in the Defence Force throughout their careers. We commit to working with others in the Pacific – countries and civil society - to ensure 1325 is better implemented.

We call on others to also make similar, concrete commitments, including on the needs of women with disabilities; commitments which, when combined with a more effective approach by this Council, will ensure full implementation of resolution 1325.
That will, in turn, mean that, as governments come and go, as conflicts explode and abate, women and girls are protected and can fully participate in the promotion and maintenance of peace and security.

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:49 NZDT