Security Council Resolution 1325 is more than the text of a good decision. It is a process – a process of implementation, but also a process of awareness and understanding. It is necessary at the decision-making level as well as at the implementation level to constantly strive for an improved understanding of the situation and the role of women in conflict.
The process leading to Resolution 1325 and the seven years that has passed since its adoption has led to an increased understanding of the role, needs and vulnerability of women and girls. It has provided us with a useful platform for re-doubled efforts to ensure that women are included in peace processes, so that their needs can be addressed, and the peace processes thus effectively sustained.
Still, we must conclude that we are still far from where we should be. Women are still too often neglected in peace negotiations; they are not allowed to participate on equal terms with men. Women’s perspectives are still disregarded, their concerns and needs overlooked. Women and girls are still targets and victims of injustice, assaults and sexual violence. And impunity for atrocities committed towards women remains largely unresolved. Most shameful of all to us here in the United Nations: The Secretary-General’s declared zero-tolerance policy is still not getting through to civilians and soldiers, and allegations of sexual misconduct by UN peacekeepers continue.
After seven years, and commendable efforts by member States, the UN and this Council we should have been doing better. We must do better. As a step in that direction, Norway encourages the Council to make the following specific decisions:
1) To develop a monitoring mechanism to improve its contribution to preventing and redressing violence against women in armed conflict, as proposed by the Secretary-General;
2) To develop a transparent mechanism to ensure that gender issues are specifically addressed and reported on in all UN peace operations;
3) To mandate a reporting mechanism on sexual violence within peacekeeping missions.
The challenge does not stop there. We need to expand the efforts beyond traditional institutional boundaries. We must realize the multi-dimensional aspects of consolidating peace which will be elusive if half of the populations concerns are ignored. We can not allow stove-piping to hinder actual progress on the ground.
Last month here at the United Nations the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, France, Indonesia, Norway, Senegal, South Africa and Thailand invited interested Ministers and delegations to consider areas where foreign policy more or less directly affects global health. Conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post conflict reconstruction and peace building is one such area. It is well understood that improved health is an important peace dividend. It is, in our view, less well understood why and how, and that insufficent attention to helath issues may contribute to the collapse of peace processes.
In his summing up, the Foreign Minister of Norway referred to this, by i.a. pointing to conflict as an area where the health focus has not been given sufficient attention, and where a concrete focus can drive change, such as
o development and use of gender specific health indicators to better assess peace and reconstruction processes
o roadmaps for health recovery as a peacemaking tool
o more empirical and gender specific knowledge of the effect of health intervention at different stages in conflicts
Given the focus this work has had on the health impact of conflict on women and girls, I would like to take this opportunity to insist that we still need to improve our understanding of this impact – and we need to act on it.
One neglected area in this regard is in the health recovery after conflict. The scars – that often are mental as well as physical – take considerable time to heal, and the establishment of health services which can contribute to normalcy and hope in the lives of women and girls takes considerable time to work. Reversely, ignoring the health impacts of conflict can hamper stabilisation and the consolidation of peace.
We look forward to continue working with our partners to ensure that the relationship between conflict and health issues are better understood and taken into account in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. And we invite members of the Security Council to join us in this effort.