27 March 2017, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union by H.E. Ms. Joanne Adamson, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the United Nations Security Council open Arria meeting on Women, Peace and Security and Mediation: Increasing the participation of Women in global conflict prevention and mediation: Towards the Creation of a Mediterranean Women Mediators Network
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The full implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda will represent a critical contribution to conflict prevention, sustaining peace, sustainable development and human rights for all. The Women, Peace and Security agenda, which grew out of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 from October 2000, both embodies and catalyzes an important paradigm shift in how we approach peacemaking and peacebuilding. Women, Peace and Security focuses not only on the protection of women and girls from war’s violence, but also on the right of women to participate in decision-making at all levels. It stresses that gender equality is integral and essential to peace and security.
The EU and its Member States strongly welcome and support the focus of UNSG Guterres on conflict prevention and mediation as well as his commitment to gender equality. These go hand in hand with the key objective of the European Union’s Global Strategy, which is to address conflicts at an early stage while building the resilience of societies around us.
The 2015 UN peace and security reviews converged in their recommendations to increase investment in prevention, including increased attention, resources and coordination for mediation within the UN system, as well as to integrate a gender perspective and strengthen women’s participation and leadership in all stages of addressing the conflict cycle. As regards women’s participation in mediation, the Global Study from 2015 on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 has noted an increasingly routine practice of including gender expertise in mediation support teams and of consulting with women’s organizations, in particular in peace processes with UN engagement. However, the Global Study has also reminded us of the persistent risks that women’s involvement and the use of gender expertise in mediation, and more broadly in peace negotiations, could remain symbolic, restricted to track II diplomacy and remain devoid of substantial influence over the outcome. These risks to women’s meaningful participation undercut the proven benefits of inclusive peacemaking and peacebuilding, and infringe on the speed, effectiveness and sustainability of the peace process.
The EU remains strongly committed to promoting full inclusiveness at all levels of conflict prevention, management and resolution, including mediation, dialogue and negotiation processes. We have provided systematic support, both financially and diplomatically, to ensure women’s active role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding and to their meaningful and formal participation in peace processes. Our framework policies on gender in EU external action set out specific indicators to measure progress in promoting women as mediators, negotiators and technical experts in formal peace negotiations.
The more recent examples of the EU’s practical support to mediation initiatives include our political, technical and financial support to the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board of UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura. We have provided long-term peace mediation coaching and learning opportunities to female members of the Afghan High Peace Council. We have supported training Libyan women peace activists in negotiation and mediation skills, to help them interface more effectively with the official, UN-led dialogue process. We have also been supporting the ‘Follow Up and Evaluation Committee’ in Mali, which oversees the implementation of the peace agreement of 2015, including the Gender and Women, Peace and Security related commitments.
The EU recognizes the important role that International and Regional Organizations and Networks play in mediation. We have actively encouraged international networking and experience sharing. Having recourse to international networks and connecting to similar initiatives elsewhere can help mobilize and cross-fertilize women’s participation within their own contexts. In 2015, the EU hosted peace mediation experts from sixteen Regional and International Organizations in Brussels, including the United Nations, the League of Arab States, the African Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Mediation experts gathered in Brussels discussed joint, practical steps to strengthen the complementarity, coordination and coherence of their work in ongoing peace processes. In 2016, the EU initiated and hosted a first, regional dialogue among women’s organizations from across the Middle East and North Africa to come together to exchange experiences on dialogue, conflict prevention and Countering Violent Extremism in their communities – with the aim to motivate new initiatives in each country.
The EU remains committed to further strengthening dialogue, cooperation and partnership on mediation together with the UN, regional and sub-regional organizations, CSOs and dedicated networks. We welcome and encourage initiatives aiming at promoting and supporting a stronger role of mediation at regional and international level. In this respect, we appreciate the important work done to promote women’s role in mediation in the framework of the Spanish/Moroccan Mediation in the Mediterranean Initiative. We have actively engaged with the Nordic Women Mediators Network, comprising Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. And we are looking forward to closely interacting with the network of women mediators in the Mediterranean area, envisaged by Italy.
The EU stands ready to further strengthen its collaboration with all relevant players on mediation in order to ensure the coherence, complementarity and impact of mutual efforts in a specific mediation context. We reiterate the critical importance of sub-national and local mediation capacities, which entails recognizing and supporting the crucial mediation role of women’s networks, committees and groups working at the grassroots level and creating opportunities for their inclusion in more formal mediation settings.
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