NATO Statement at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security

by NATO Secretary General’s Acting Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, Ms Allison Hart

  • 21 Oct. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 11 Nov. 2021 13:03

Mr President,

Thank you for the opportunity to address the Security Council on the occasion of this year’s open debate on women, peace and security.

Last year we marked the 20th anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The anniversary provided an important impetus to reflect on what has been achieved, to highlight where further work is required, and to make clear our commitment to advancing gender equality.

The women, peace and security agenda has driven crucial change in how security is understood and how the work of providing it is undertaken. It has not only highlighted the impact of conflict on women and girls and the importance of including women in processes to advance peace, but it has also demanded that we question assumptions by applying a gender lens to all that we do in the pursuit of peace and security.

Mr President,

NATO has taken up this charge. We recognize that every policy, plan, project, or piece of equipment may have a different impact on women and men, and we are integrating gender perspectives to ensure that we take these differences into account. This applies to our operations and missions, to how we develop defence capabilities, how we understand challenges from terrorism to climate change, and how we engage with technologies.

Integration is one of the three pillars of NATO’s policy on Women, Peace and Security, along with inclusiveness and integrity. Today NATO Defence Ministers endorsed a new action plan to guide the implementation of that policy for the next four years. It makes clear NATO’s ambition to continue advancing the women, peace and security agenda, and our commitment to work with our partners, including the United Nations, to this end.

In addition to the vital work of applying a gender lens to our core tasks, NATO is working to create environments that support and encourage the meaningful participation of women across our structures. The women, peace and security agenda is about so much more than numbers, but it matters that women make up a higher percentage of NATO’s international staff than ever before, including 30% of senior management. The number of women in NATO national forces is at 12%, double what it was twenty years ago. We will continue to adapt both policy and practice to encourage further progress in this vein.

Mr President,

NATO has long recognised that preventing and responding to sexual violence in conflict is not just a moral obligation but is also critical to achieving lasting peace and security. That is why leaders endorsed a new NATO Policy on Preventing and Responding to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence when they met in Brussels in June of this year. The policy is a clear statement of NATO’s commitment to addressing this violence, which inflicts long-term stigma and trauma on individuals and families, contributes to their marginalisation, destroys the social fabric of communities, triggers displacement, fuels armed actors’ activities, fosters prolonged conflict and instability, and is an impediment to sustainable peace and reconciliation.

The policy outlines specific actions that NATO will take to both prevent and respond to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in all NATO operations, missions, and Council-mandated activities, and it underscores NATO’s support for the international community’s efforts to end impunity for this crime.

Mr President,

The work undertaken to implement the women, peace and security agenda is contributing to a better world for women and girls and to more sustainable peace and security for all. Yet with all that we have achieved, there is still so much more to do.

NATO recognizes that we cannot effectively address security challenges if we do not account for and understand who is involved and how they are affected. We all need to ensure that everyone involved in every stage of the process understands what is at stake. The risk of ignoring the differences between women and men is unacceptably high.

NATO is committed to playing its part to fully implement the women, peace and security agenda. Working with Allies and partners, with international organizations and civil society, we are creating the change that will sustain a more peaceful, secure, and gender equal future.

Thank you.