Remarks by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller
at the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), Dublin (Ireland)
Thank you Marie for that kind introduction and good afternoon everyone. Pleasure to be here at the Institute with such a great crowd of friends.
I am delighted to be in Ireland - the island known for ‘Saints and Scholars’. Ireland is a very important partner of NATO. This year, we celebrate 20 years of Ireland in the Partnership for Peace – the first of many NATO cooperation programmes with partner countries.
We cooperate in a variety of areas, including peacekeeping operations, where Ireland is an international leader. We also work together in countering improvised explosive devices, where Ireland has valuable experience to share.
We also share the same values. And we certainly share a strong commitment to the Women, Peace and Security agenda – an issue that is dear to my heart.
Your country is a global champion on WPS. I’d like to congratulate you for launching your third national Action Plan on Women Peace and Security in June in Cork.
To quote from the excellent review of your 2nd National Action Plan: “Ireland is interested in WPS because we know [from lessons learned from the Northern Ireland peace process] that in conflict resolution and building lasting peace, women’s contribution is vital”.
Let me also mention the important role Ireland plays in support of the WPS agenda globally. You hosted two meetings of the Regional Acceleration for Resolution 1325 (RAR). This platform, created in 2016, aims to facilitate the exchange of best practices and lessons learned in implementing the WPS agenda among the participating organisations: the UN, the EU, the OSCE, the African Union and NATO.
Ireland plays a key role in supporting NATO’s WPS agenda. Not least by offering us Lt. Col. Mary Carroll – who I’m delighted is here with us today. A serving officer in the Irish Defence Forces, she currently works as an Advisor in the Office of the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security at NATO’s Headquarters in Brussels. Mary was the first Irish woman to command a UN peace-keeping mission on the Golan Heights in 2016. She brings remarkable experience and expertise to the team and to NATO more broadly.
We also were honoured to have the Chief of Staff of your Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, at the NATO Headquarters recently. He explained that taking the WPS agenda seriously is crucial because greater gender balance and incorporating gender perspectives drive capability. We need this capability for peace making, peace keeping, stabilisation and institutionalisation of the norms and principles associated with civil society. This makes sense to me and is a view we share at NATO.
Implementing the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security has become such a vital part of NATO’s work.
I’m proud of the Alliance’s record. We’ve had a Policy on Women, Peace and Security in place since 2007. NATO leaders endorsed a updated version of the Policy when they gathered just over a year ago for the NATO Summit in Brussels. It’s based around three I’s: integration, inclusiveness and integrity.
First, integration. This is about integrating gender equality as a core part of all NATO policies, programs and projects.
Here, NATO is strengthening our cooperation with civil society on a range of issues to advance the WPS agenda most effectively. A panel of civil society advisors makes recommendations to NATO on how we can better integrate gender perspectives into everything we do – recognizing that what we do affects both women and men.
To those of you in the audience representing civil society, I want to say that your work makes an incredible difference in the lives of ordinary people around the world. It’s not an easy job, but the results are worth the effort.
In the words of Ireland’s former President – Mary McAleese ‘It is absolutely no accident that the peace and reconciliation, and indeed the economic progress, that eluded Ireland generation after generation for hundreds of years, has at last come to pass in an Ireland where the talents of women are now flooding every aspect of life as never before.’
Long may this continue.
Second, inclusiveness. The representation of women across NATO and in national forces is vital to enhancing our effectiveness in the field. We want to increase the participation of women in all tasks and at all levels.
We have made real progress in this area. 85% of NATO countries have all positions in their armed forces open to women. Seven Allied nations currently have female defense ministers. Eight women currently serve as ambassadors to NATO’s North Atlantic Council.
Overall, we are seeing greater numbers of women in leadership positions – including in our military structures. We will soon have a woman commanding the NATO Mission in Iraq, Gen. Jennie Carignan from Canada. And I am NATO’s first female Deputy Secretary General.
This is all good progress, but it is only a beginning, and we must go further. More women on operational duty enhances our effectiveness. More diverse teams perform better. If you want to build the most effective forces to face future challenges, ignoring 50% of your talent is a really bad idea.
I know the Irish Defence Forces successfully embeds WPS within its training and international missions. It is one of very few militaries in the world to have its own exclusive Action Plan with many innovative ideas and actions for enhancing gender equality and diversity. I understand your military personnel significantly contributed to the development of your third National Action Plan. This is excellent example to all of us!
The third ‘I’ is integrity. It is said that “integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” In 2019, the world continues to mistreat (at least) half of humanity. Women and girls are too often treated terribly. Especially at times of conflict, when rape and violence disproportionately affects women and girls. Treating everyone as equals, with respect and basic human dignity should never be compromised, even in the midst of war.
NATO has a special responsibility to make sure that its own troops always observe the very highest standards of behaviour, whatever the circumstances. That is why we are in the process of developing the first ever NATO policy to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse. It’s a big focus for us right now.
And it’s vital for many reasons. First and foremost, it is the right thing to do. It is also important because winning the confidence of a local population is essential for the success of any operation we might undertake. And any form of sexual abuse or exploitation would damage our reputation and our ability to operate effectively.
Integration, inclusiveness and integrity. These are the watch-words as we move forward with our agenda to make gender equality an everyday reality for women and girls everywhere.
For NATO, realizing true gender equality at every level merits our constant attention and effort.
We are heading in the right direction. And we will continue to work closely with other international organisations and with partner countries – not least Ireland – to further advance the Women Peace and Security agenda.
We benefit from your active engagement with the Alliance on this front. So thank you, once again, for your leadership on WPS. And thank you for this opportunity to speak to you all.