The role of women’s civil society organizations in the prevention and resolution of armed conflicts and peace building
Statement by Mari Skåre, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative in the open debate in the Security Council on women, peace and security
Thank you Mr. President.
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Civil society organizations have been instrumental in promoting women’s rights and gender equality. To a large degree, thanks to civil society, Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security saw the light of day twelve years ago. As much as states and intergovernmental organizations show leadership in advancing this agenda, we have to recognize the important role civil society plays in being opinion leaders, sources of information and in keeping us accountable.
While states have the primary responsibility for ensuring implementation of the resolutions on women, peace and security, NATO, as a political-military organization is playing its part within NATO-led operations and within our partnerships. We have a policy, we have an action plan, and together with partners we are turning words into deeds.
At the political level, NATO is actively encouraging all its partners to adopt specific goals related to the promotion of women, peace and security in the various partnership programmes they develop with our Organization. The overall aim is to raise awareness and to work towards greater female participation in the areas of defence and security. Women are still underrepresented in peace and reconciliation processes and we encourage states and our partners to ensure women’s participation in prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.
At the operational level, NATO and its Operational Partners in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Kosovo Force (KFOR) have demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting the important role that women can play and have engaged with women leaders and activists to understand their views and perspectives.
The Alliance has gender advisers and focal points at its various headquarters, as well as in operational theatres in Afghanistan and Kosovo. I work with these dedicated people and see the significant efforts they are making to mainstream UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions and to integrate the gender perspective into operations. Experience to date has shown that having gender expertise, as well as having more female soldiers in theatre, improves our ability to conduct operations more effectively. For example, we have learned that female soldiers in Afghanistan are at times able to better connect with members of the population otherwise closed off from their male colleagues. This has led to greater awareness of the specific situation and area, and led to better dialogue and understanding between NATO forces and the local community.
Our experience has also shown that training and education are strategic tools for security forces and for defence and security sector reform. If used correctly, they can be major force multipliers as attitudes amongst those trained can spread to walks of life beyond the security sphere.
As you are aware, the mandate for the ISAF mission was recently renewed, and the plans to hand over full security responsibility from ISAF forces to their Afghan counterparts are on course, as reaffirmed at the Chicago Summit. Throughout the transition process and beyond, we will continue to focus on gender-related training and support to the recruitment and retention of women in the security forces.
NATO works shoulder to shoulder with other international organizations maintaining international peace and security and we seek to strengthen further our cooperation with UN and others to make sure we learn from each other’s experiences and pave the way for greater efficiency and more results
Since my appointment as the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, I have had the great pleasure of engaging in dialogue with female associations in the security sector, womens’ rights activists, female parliamentarians and other representatives of civil society. I intend to deepen this dialogue.
NATO and its member states remain committed to upholding human rights and the rule of law. As we face up to the security challenges of the 21st century, we will continue to work with partners and other members of the international community to achieve better security and greater empowerment of women.
Thank you Mr. President