Eight years have passed since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 – eight years where we have seen a growing awareness in the Security Council of the need to include women in peace processes and peacebuilding efforts. This is a step in the right direction. But we are still far from a full implementation, and numerous challenges remain.
Women’s perspectives are still neglected in peace negotiations. Women’s particular concerns and needs are overlooked – or relegated to the bottom of the list of priorities. Women and girls continue to be targets and victims of injustice, assaults and sexual violence in armed conflicts and in post-conflict situations. And the issue of impunity for atrocities committed towards women and children remains largely unresolved.
Allegations of sexual misconduct by UN peacekeepers are still heard despite the Secretary-General’s declared zero-tolerance policy. This shameful situation must end. It is clear that the zero-tolerance policy needs to be strengthened. It is time to establish better internal controls, develop more effective prevention measures, and improve the investigation and prosecution capacity. Norway will once again encourage the Council to take action on the Secretary-General’s recommendation of developing a monitoring mechanism to prevent and redress violence against women in armed conflict. This will also require efforts to improve the UN’s internal auditing in this area, as well as efforts to ensure that troop-contributing countries commit to prosecuting offenders.
A recent Wilton Park conference took a closer look at existing efforts to prevent the targeting of women and children for sexual violence, and found that military peacekeepers need a clear doctrine and guidelines for action for protecting women and girls. Strengthening and clarifying peacekeeping mandates with regard to sexual violence must be given even higher priority both within the UN system and at the national level.
Violence against civilians during and after armed conflict, especially against women and children, makes reconciliation, durable peace and development much more difficult. Sexual violence against women and girls as a method of warfare is extremely destructive, for the victims and for society as a whole.
The adoption of resolution 1820 on “Women, peace and security, sexual violence in situations of armed conflict” last summer, was an important step. By stressing that “sexual violence, when used as a tactic of war in order to deliberately target civilians, can significantly exacerbate situations of armed conflict and may impede the restoration of international peace”, the Council showed the world that the Council recognises sexual violence as a security problem – a problem that requires a systematic security response. We are looking forward to the Secretary-General’s report on this issue in June 2009.
Norway strongly supports the united effort of 12 UN entities in creating “United Nations Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict”, which will seek to improve coordination and accountability, support national efforts to prevent sexual violence, and respond effectively to the needs of survivors.
The lack of security in and outside of refugee camps is a major problem. Refugee and displaced women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault and sexual violence because of the conditions of dependency that are often created in camps. The distribution of food, the need to fetch water and fuel outside the camp area, and poor sanitary conditions are all important factors. Therefore Norway, in our humanitarian efforts, aims to ensure that both women and men take part in all levels of planning, organisation and the general management of refugee camps. Women must be systematically registered and treated as individuals rather than solely as members of a man’s family, and camps should be organised so that single women and single men are housed in separate areas.
The main responsibility for the implementation of resolution 1325 remains with the individual member states. The development of national action plans is a good way of initiating strategic actions, identifying priorities and resources and determining responsibilities and timeframes for monitoring implementation efforts. Norway adopted a national action plan in 2006, and this has proven to be an efficient tool in the process of implementing the resolution. We are pleased to note that the action plan has inspired similar processes among our partners, and are particularly encouraged to see women taking their rightful place in the peace processes in Sudan and Nepal.
We look forward to continuing to work with all the Council members and other partners to ensure the implementation of resolution 1325 and women’s equal participation in peacebuilding.