Security Council Open Debate: Women, Peace and Security

Statement by H.E. Joke Brandt,
Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

New York, 25 October 2018

First of all, I wish to sincerely thank the briefers for their insights and urgent advice, the to-do list as the minister just called it.

And I would also like to state that the Kingdom of the Netherlands fully aligns itself with the statement to be made by the Group of Friends of Women, Peace, and Security.

If we want to build lasting peace and security, we need women.

It is as simple as that, and makes perfect sense. And, all of us present here support that. After all, it was the UN Security Council that unanimously endorsed resolution 1325 now 18 years ago. Subsequently, sval more resolutions were adopted further strengthening our commitment to Women, Peace, and Security.

We did that because it makes perfect sense. Because we know that when women are involved there is a better chance for lasting peace. Because we know inclusive peace is lasting peace.

So if we know, if the rationale is so clear, why is it that still women are excluded from peace processes. And why is it that still women only make up 8 percent of negotiators, and that percentage has hardly moved in recent years.

The statistics were clearly pointed out by the executive director of Human Women just now.

Is it because although we know, we still have not been able to sufficiently change our mindset? To change the way we think about leadership, roles and power. And we therefore have not acted with the urgency that is needed.

We see the same in the world of business. Research has shown that diverse boards - with men and women at the top - perform better, and actually make profits go up. So there is a clear business case, we know, but we hardly see the needle moving.

We see the rationale, but we do not act upon it because we have not changed who we see as leaders and whose experience and judgement we value most.

The same applies to involving women in peace and security. In our eagerness to stop violence, we first make place at the table for those who picked up arms, largely men. And women whom we know are crucial for peaceful solutions are left out. Or delegated to a second or third track.

Even though we know.

That’s why we are happy that the focus of the debate is not on why but on how. On how we move from knowing to truly believing to acting.

And we can act. In our own organizations and countries by including women in decision making processes, and through our national action plan.

And when it comes to Women, Peace and Security, the Security Council has shown that with regards to implementing resolution 1325: if it wants to act it can.

For example: the UNAMA mandate now calls for full and effective participation of women in decision making. And for UNIFIL, the Council requested to increase the number of women and to ensure their meaningful participation in all aspects of the operation.

As the Secretary-General pointed out, we have significantly increased the number of female briefers from civil society. And on 8 March we had for the first time a Security Council meeting seeing a 2/3 majority of women around the table.

And, we have begun to tackle impunity for sexual violence in conflict through the use of sanctions, by including a stand-alone criterion on sexual violence in the South Sudan sanctions regime. Last Monday’s Arria meeting again reinforced the message that sanctions are a tool that could be used more effectively by the Council when it comes to combating sexual violence in conflict.

Yes, there still is a lot to do to translate that to change on the ground. But I agree that we have to resist pessimism. If we really move from knowing to acting we can make further progress together.

Let me ask attention for two areas where we need to act now.

One: we need to stand up firmly against violence inflicted upon women leaders. Because it is precisely those women active in providing support and contributing to peace processes who are targeted by those who have no interest in peace. Just think of  the 83 women human rights defenders who have been killed since signing the peace agreement in Colombia. Or think of the brave women who worked in Nigeria, and were murdered for saving other women’s lives. We must stand up for them and act. And this Council has a critical role to play in preventing and responding to such horrific violence.

Two: we need to get better in learning from what works. The 2016 comprehensive peace agreement in Colombia set an international example for women’s involvement. Civil society played a big role by demanding  an inclusive peace process and so we saw much higher percentages of women in the two negotiating teams, and women contributing to the peace  process at all levels. We must learn from this and make this a reality in other parts of the world as well by appointing female mediators and by including women at the negotiation table in places like Syria and Yemen. Women candidates are available, women are more than ready to play their part. We should make sure that they can.

We have ran out of excuses. We know, so we now need to act.

Let’s make women participate. Let’s protect those who do. Let’s listen to them and let’s empower them.

Women are ready, so surely we should be as well. And together we can make inclusive peace a reality.

Belongs to