OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation Statement on the Role of Women in Conflict Resolution
- UK Delegation to the OSCE
- Part of:
- UK Delegation to Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
- First published:
- 25 July 2016
Delivered by the Rt. Hon. Baroness Anelay, Vienna, 20 July 2016.
Good morning distinguished Ambassadors, Representatives. Before I begin, I would like to thank the Polish Chairmanship of the Forum for Security Cooperation for inviting me to speak on this very important topic this morning.
Involving women in conflict resolution is fundamental to successful implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. It is an issue of huge importance to the UK and one which I feel personally very strongly about. I want to take this opportunity to set out why the UK Government believes women’s participation in peace processes is so crucial and why it lies at the heart of the OSCE.
I have always believed passionately in non-discrimination and opportunity for all. I champion women’s participation in conflict resolution and in political life more broadly, not just because it is the right thing to do for the individuals concerned, but also because it is the right thing to do for society more widely.
And the evidence is there to prove it. Countries in which there are large disparities between how women and men are treated are more likely to experience conflict. Conversely, countries in which men and women are treated more equally tend to be more stable and peaceful. And conflict resolution and peace processes in which women meaningfully participate are more likely to succeed. In fact, according to research by the International Peace Institute, they are 35 percent more likely to last for fifteen years than initiatives that exclude or marginalise women. However, despite the clear benefits of involving women in peace building, it still does not happen enough. According to UN Women, between 1992 and 2011 only 2 percent of chief mediators and 9 percent of peace negotiators were female. This is clearly unacceptable. It is the responsibility of all us to correct and improve this.
I am proud of the role the UK has played on Women, Peace and Security agenda since the adoption of the first UN Security Council resolution in 2000. Last October, coinciding with the 15th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, we announced eight ambitious commitments in New York to drive this work forward – many of which have the role of women in political participation and conflict resolution at their heart.
These included increasing women’s participation in peace processes and ensuring that the voices of women are heard and represented in all fora. It also included promoting gender perspectives. All UK conflict analysis and early warning tools will be gender-sensitive by September 2016. We are also committed to ensuring women play a key role in humanitarian interventions, by helping others to develop their own National Action Plans and implement UNSCR 1325.
In our work to counter violent extremism, the UK will ensure that we include programmes specifically for women and that women will lead the delivery of these programmes, both at national and local level.
Our Ministry of Defence has also undertaken to deliver their High Level Review Commitments on military doctrine. Work is well underway on training all troops deploying overseas. Our troops who are deploying to South Sudan and Somalia are trained in Women, Peace and Security and Sexual Violence in Conflict issues. We are on track to roll this training out to all deploying troops by November 2016, as well as increasing the number of gender advisers within our Ministry of Defence.
But of course success on this agenda is contingent upon all countries working together. This is most evident at the United Nations where over 60 Member States have adopted a National Action Plan to implement UNSCR 1325. It is also evident at the African Union where 12 countries out of 16, have developed Action Plans. The African Union Special Envoy has made clear that women have a key role to play in peacebuilding and early warning systems. Both the UN and AU have achieved so much, but it is important that political will across the world capitalises on the renewed energy on this agenda and maintains the momentum for change.
The OSCE’s makeup and purpose make it a useful and niche forum in which to promote the role of women in conflict resolution. The OSCE action plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality, adopted in 2004, remains the cornerstone for OSCE commitments on gender, including on the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Ministerial Council Decision 14/05 on the role of Women in Conflict Prevention, Crisis Management, and Post-Conflict Rehabilitation also provide direction for the OSCE and its participating States on the specific issue of women in conflict resolution. I welcome that successive Chairs of the Forum for Security Cooperation have organised Security Dialogues on Women, Peace and Security to pursue these commitments.
It is vital that we continue to deliver on these commitments. I commend the OSCE for giving some attention to the topic of the role of women in conflict resolution. The “Follow-Us Initiative” is an excellent example. It is providing a platform for dialogue between prominent women in Serbia and Kosovo. This intervention could both help advance reconciliation in the Western Balkans and serve as a useful model for other regions in the OSCE neighbourhood. The OSCE has also been working to improve the participation of women in OSCE Field Missions. We, as participating States, must do everything we can to support this ambition.
If I may, I would now like to make four suggestions for how I believe we could strengthen existing work on Women, Peace and Security, and women’s role in conflict resolution in the OSCE, particularly to shift the focus of efforts towards implementation:
First, along with a large number of participating States, I believe the OSCE would benefit hugely from its own action plan on WPS, with specific ownership and tasking on this issue for the OSCE Chairmanship Special Representative on gender, Melanne Verveer. This would complement and help coordinate efforts with, among others, the EU and NATO, which have a similar mechanism in place. The Special Representative can help give direction to the work of the OSCE on this issue, engage internationally to find opportunities for the OSCE to add maximum value, and report back to participating States on progress in implementation. I know there has previously been discussion of such an OSCE wide action plan and that are some in this room who remain to be convinced of its value.
But it is clear from commitments made both at the UN, and in the OSCE itself at ministerial level, there is without question a responsibility on the OSCE to help participating States implement specific UNSCR 1325 commitments. So, we are all signed up to this agenda.
Best practice from other multilateral organisations shows that dedicating specific resource is the best way to ensure appropriate focus, including in the area of gender mainstreaming. Evaluating achievements in this area is a fundamental component of National Action Plans. In the interim, we would therefore urge the OSCE to incorporate targets and methods of verification for Women, Peace and Security goals when programme planning and in gender mainstreaming, and to share these with participating States.
Second, and as guided by this plan, we must all make sure that WPS issues feature prominently throughout OSCE decision making, not least in Security Dialogues such as this in the Forum for Security Cooperation. We would like to see Security Dialogues and all other events and activities on this issue be focused on an exchange of best practice to help promote implementation and updates on implementation.
Third, we need to ensure stable funding within the OSCE for this work. In that regard I’m pleased to inform you that the UK has recently agreed a series of extra-budgetary contributions to OSCE work on gender and WPS. This includes over €100,000 for an ODIHR project aiming to enhance women’s political participation in OSCE States; and nearly €70,000 to support implementation of UNSCR 1325 National Action Plans. We regret that more of this work is not provided with a more stable and sustainable footing. It is incumbent on the OSCE and each of us as participating States to ensure that our priorities are adequately supported through appropriate allocation of central funding.
And finally, on the specific question of the role of women in conflict resolution, the OSCE must do more to improve the representation of women across the organisation – which is a key objective of UNSCR 1325, to ensure that as national governments and multilateral organisations, we are practicing what we preach. You heard from the Department for Human Resources last week that female candidate numbers are actually falling in the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. There is a notable shortage of women in senior decision making positions in that Mission.
This is mirrored across the OSCE. For example, a fairly good gender balance in the Secretariat is not reflected in its senior management positions. This is particularly the case for heads of field operations and Special Representatives working in areas of conflict and conflict resolution issues. We must do better. It is important that we strive to set the best possible example in terms of gender mainstreaming and ensuring appropriate gender balance in our structures. Responsibility is of course partly on our shoulders as participating States - we are simply not providing candidates for seconded positions from a diverse enough pool. It is a trend we see again and again, including outside the OSCE.
In November, we the UK are undertaking a roadshow around cities in the UK to encourage a more diverse pool of applicants to consider senior careers in multilateral organisations.
Finally, I would like to highlight the crucial role for men in advancing this agenda. I can’t underline this point enough. We need men to stand up, speak out and support women’s participation.
A great example has been set by Iceland’s recently departed Ambassador to the OSCE, Audunn Atlason, who has raised the profile of Women, Peace and Security and Conflict Resolution through the OSCE Men Engage Network.
We often find that it is women who are appointed to the senior roles on gender issues – which is something of a paradox given their lack of representation in general. This is why I am especially grateful to Ambassador Atlason for working tirelessly to change this attitude and to lead the Network by example.
I also welcome Ambassador Andrej Benedejcic who is the new Chair of this Network. We look forward to his leadership on this issue.
We can all surely agree that societies will always underachieve if they fail to harness the talents of a substantial section of their population. By the same token, conflict resolution will be harder and peace less enduring if the hopes, fears, talents and voices of women are not fully taken into account. Women must not be on the periphery. We all have a responsibility to ensure that they participate fully, using every means available. It is in all our interests that they do.
Thank you, I look forward to hearing your views and questions.
Published: 25 July 2016