Open Debate Security Council “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict"

Statement by Peter van der Vliet Chargé d’Affaires of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations New York, 30 January 2015

Thank you Mr. President,

I would like to start by thanking Chile for organizing this important debate on Protection of Civilians.

I align myself with the statement made by the EU. I would also like to thank OCHA, the ICRC and Ms. Ilwad Elman for their valuable contributions to this debate.

Let me make 3 points today: on women as change agents, on peacekeeping and on the importance of prevention of conflict.

First, the rights of women and girls are increasingly under attack in armed conflicts. When the role of women as change agents in society and as contributors to peace processes is undermined, the stability of societies and of peace itself is eroded. It is therefore imperative to integrate the protection needs of women and girls systematically in the PoC agenda.

The Netherlands attaches great importance to implementing good practices related to the improvement of the position of women. For example, in Syria we work with UNDPA and UN Women to support the Syrian Women’s Initiative for Peace and Democracy. This initiative gives Syrian women a voice in shaping the future of their country. We can only achieve this through collaboration between the UN, member states and civil society.

Mr. President,

My second point relates to peacekeeping. We welcome the High-Level Review of UN Peace Operations, as well as the Global Protection Cluster Whole of System Review of Protection in Humanitarian Action.

We also welcome the continuing efforts of the Secretariat to strengthen the policies and guidance on PoC. We urge the Council to examine the challenges impeding implementation of PoC mandates more systematically, specifically where it pertains to the needs of women and girls.

With regard to concrete contributions to peacekeeping, the Kingdom of The Netherlands is doing its share. We train our staff to protect civilians effectively. Between 2007 and 2017 we are contributing 54 million Euros for capacity building through the ‘Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance’ (ACOTA) programme. ACOTA has already trained more than 250,000 peacekeepers. Together with Spain we conduct training in gender for civilian, military and police personnel who are to be deployed as part of a UN mission.

We also fund phase II of the ‘Senior Women Talent Pipeline’ project, aimed at placing more qualified women in senior positions in UN missions. We fund the ‘Female Military Officers Training Project’ of UN Women, which aims to facilitate and augment the deployment of female military. And we are contributing 5.6 million Euros to the ‘Women on the Frontline’ programme for the 2013-2016 period, aimed at the MENA region.

On 16 and 17 February, we are organizing a conference on women, peace and security with particular attention to enhancing participation and leadership of women in conflict and post-conflict peacebuilding. We aim to gather concrete inputs for the UN High Level Review on resolution 1325. We want to share real examples of action and change, and learn.

This conference will take place parallel to a Regional European Conference in support of UN Peace Operations, also in The Netherlands. That conference aims to feed into the UN Peace Operations Review. Both conferences intersect on the topic of gender perspectives in peacebuilding and peace operations. And both reviews are thus of direct relevance to each other.

Mr. President,

My third point and last point is on the importance of prevention and mediation.

Ensuring the rights of civilians before, during and after armed conflicts is essential, because we know peace is fragile and conflicts often repeat themselves. This is why conflict prevention, good offices and mediation are so important. And to be effective, we must ensure early on that women are at the center of these efforts.

When mass atrocities do occur, the Security Council should strongly condemn them. Failure to do so contributes to a climate of impunity. We support the French initiative aimed at voluntary restraint on the use of veto by permanent members of the Security Council in situations where mass atrocities are imminent or deemed to be occurring. And we believe the principle of Responsibility to Protect should be increasingly applied, and further operationalized.

Mr. President,

I want to end by focusing briefly on protection by and of humanitarian actors. Humanitarian relief is under extreme pressure. Relief organizations are stretched to the limit and face increasing difficulties due to the arbitrary denial of access, funding shortages and even attacks on humanitarian personnel and medical staff. This is unacceptable and must be condemned by this Council. We welcomed the debate on this issue last August, at the initiative of the UK.

Thank you.