Statement by the Permanent Representative of Lithuania on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women and peace and security
I have the honour to address the Security Council on behalf of Estonia, Latvia, and my own country Lithuania. Allow me to start by commending the French Presidency of the Security Council for the month of October for convening this open debate. We thank the briefers for their remarks and steadfast commitment to this important issue.
Our delegations align themselves with the statement made on behalf of the European Union.
Empowerment of women and their inclusive engagement, gender equality as well as mainstreaming of human rights are fundamental for sustaining peace. We commend the Secretary-General for his dedication to further advance the women, peace and security agenda.
Having in mind a broad scope and cross-cutting nature of this agenda, allow me to focus on priority aspects for the Baltic countries.
While women are disproportionately affected by conflict, the critical role of women in negotiating, peacekeeping, and peace building in their communities is often overlooked. The Baltic countries emphasize the need for a full and effective participation of women at all stages and all levels of conflict prevention and resolution as well as peacebuilding. However, 17 years after the adoption of resolution 1325, far too few women around the world act as mediators or are engaged in a decision-making. It is not only a question of equality. Peace negotiations and agreements set the structure and direction for post-conflict reconstruction and overall politics, which affect lives of all women and the society as a whole.
We strongly advocate for gender perspective to be fully integrated into all aspects of peace operations. Increased numbers of women peacekeepers, deployment of women’s protection and gender advisers, as well as human rights and gender awareness training, have all proven successful and should be further expanded.
In the course of last year, the Baltic countries significantly stepped up their contribution to the UN peace operations. While striving to deploy more gender-balanced peacekeeping troops, we continuously encourage female military and police personnel to apply.
Training is crucial to raise awareness and improve implementation of gender aspects in peace operations. Before their deployment, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian peacekeepers undertake high quality training on human rights and gender related issues, including eradication of sexual exploitation and abuse, prevention of and response to conflict-related sexual violence. Noticeably, these trainings moved beyond abstract concepts towards more hands-on, scenario-based learning that those working on the ground can relate to.
In this regard, the Baltic countries strongly support the Secretary’s-General efforts to bringing sexual exploitation to an end. Therefore, we signed a Compact on elimination of sexual exploitation and abuse, and the Presidents of Estonia and Lithuania joined the Circle of Leadership.
The scale and complexity of the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda requires coherent and comprehensive efforts. In this respect, the pivotal role of civil society, including women’s organizations, should be fully recognized. We are pleased that women civil society representatives now regularly brief the Security Council during country-specific meetings. This useful practice should be continued.
We also note that it is crucial not to ignore the benefits of inclusive participation of all relevant actors in the context of preparation and renewal of national action plans. The broad involvement of multi-stakeholders is valuable in implementing various activities to advance the WPS agenda. However, insufficient funding is possibly the greatest obstacle for its implementation. Therefore, all member states should ensure adequate funding of these activities as well as to provide other financial support to civil society organizations, for example, through “Women, Peace & Humanitarian Fund” or other global or regional instruments.
Last but not least, as it is emphasized in the Secretary’s-General report, a gender-responsive legal and judicial system constitutes one of the building blocks of a resilient society. However, access to justice as well as to transitional justice processes still faces structural inequalities and hindrances due to poverty and discrimination. Without credible judicial and security systems, the perpetrators of crimes against women and girls will pursue their malfeasance. The Baltic countries remain committed to securing accountability for sexual and gender based violence in conflict through national and international mechanisms. It is equally important to ensure that victims receive genuine compensation for the harm they have suffered. The ICC continues to be an important mechanism in combating sexual and gender based violence in conflict and should be used vigorously to pursue accountability.
In conclusion, Mr. President, we would like to emphasise that gender equality, resilience to conflicts and their prevention are intrinsically linked. Therefore, we fully support the Secretary’s-General profound commitment to shift the focus of all activities of the UN towards a holistic approach to prevention, including through advancement of the women, peace and security agenda.
I thank you.
New York, 27 October 2017