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UN: Security Council Urges Integrating Women Into Peace, Security Issues

  • Nikola Krastev

The UN has a 'predominantly male profile in peacekeeping,' according to the head of operations (AFP) UNITED NATIONS, October 27, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The UN Security Council is appealing to UN member states to undertake concrete steps to prevent violence against women in armed conflicts and to ensure their participation in the postconflict rebuilding process.

The call comes six years after the Security Council adopted a landmark resolution on the role of women in security and peace issues. Some progress has been made, Security Council members say, but note that women continue to suffer discrimination that impacts all aspects of rebuilding efforts in war-torn countries.

Adopted on October 31, 2000, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 for the first time highlighted issues that prevent the participation of women in the rebuilding process in postconflict countries.

Effort 'Falling Short'

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special adviser on gender issues and the advancement of women, Rachel Mayanja, says it is taking too long for some UN member states to bring their legal frameworks into compliance with Resolution 1325.
"Justice for women...cannot be done on the cheap. And women's rights cannot be bargained away for other political gains.


"Our collective efforts to ensure equal participation of women in the consolidation of peace so far have generally fallen short of what is required," she says. "Women continue to be exposed to violence or targeted by parties to the conflict, marginalized in formal processes, particularly on war and peace issues."

Mayanja outlined three main priorities:

-- establishing clear accountability systems on a government level for implementation of Resolution 1325,

-- more effective leadership by the Security Council in monitoring progress and implementation,

-- and convincing states and UN entities to allocate sufficient resources to fully implement the resolution.

Leading By Example

In the October 26 Security Council debate, the UN's undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, noted that women constitute only 2 percent of UN military personnel and just 5 percent of its police forces.

"Our predominantly male profile in peacekeeping undermines the credibility of our efforts to lead by example in the host countries in which we are engaged," he said. "We need [UN] member states to nominate more women candidates for senior civilian positions in missions."

The cultural sensibilities of local populations, Guehenno said, imperils the ability of predominantly male UN peacekeeping forces to carry out their mandates.

The executive director of the UN Development Fund For Women, Noeleen Heyzer, said the UN recently held training for countries contributing troops and police for overseas missions, as part of its commitment to boost the role of women in peace and security matters.

"Women make a difference, in part, because they adopt a more inclusive approach to peace and security and address key social and economic issues that provide the foundations of sustainable peace that would otherwise be ignored," Heyzer told the UN Security Council.

Rape Seen As Minor Crime

But Heyzer said women urgently need guarantees of physical safety, economic security, and justice. "Too often in conflict-affected countries, we see that laws on compensation for victims do not include the compensation for rape, which is still regarded as a minor crime," she notes.

"I have just returned from Kosovo with our goodwill ambassador, [Australian actress] Nicole Kidman, where we met with women who had been raped during the conflict," she added. "They feel that they have undergone a double violation as they seek justice, both locally and from the international system, who promised to help them but have never delivered."

Heyzer said women in many nations are left at the mercy of traditional legal systems. The result are so-called "honor" crimes, exchanges of women to resolve interclan conflicts, and women routinely being denied inheritance claims.

She said that "justice for women...cannot be done on the cheap. And women's rights cannot be bargained away for other political gains. Justice for women has to be featured as an integral and achievable part of any UN plan of assistance."

Roman Kirn, who is Slovenia's ambassador to the UN, noted that sexual and gender-based violence in conflict areas is continuing at alarming rates.

"Sexual violence is repeatedly used as a deliberate method of warfare with frightening persistence," he said. "Therefore, the issue of violence against women needs to receive adequate attention during and after the armed conflict."
UN Peacekeepers
UN peacekeepers in Haiti in February 2006 (AFP)

MISSION In cases in which international intervention in regional conflicts is deemed necessary, peacekeeping missions authorized by the UN Security Council provide legitimacy by demonstrating the commitment of the international community to address such crises.

MANDATE UN peacekeeping missions are prepared, managed, and directed by the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The unique mandates of peacekeeping missions falls under the authority of the UN's Security Council and General Assembly, and under the command of the UN secretary-general.

MONEY Funding for UN peacekeeping missions is provided by UN member states. All are legally obliged to pay a share under an established formula. The leading financial providers as of 2006 were: the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada, Spain, China, and the Netherlands.

MORE All UN peacekeeping missions share the goals of alleviating human suffering and creating conditions for self-sustaining peace. Missions can consist of armed or unarmed military components, depending on their mandate, and various civilian tasks.

Military operations can include:
· Deploying to prevent the outbreak of conflict or the spillover of conflict across borders;
· Stabilizing conflict situations after a cease-fire in order to create an environment for the parties to reach a lasting peace agreement;
· Assisting in implementing comprehensive peace agreements;
· Leading states or territories through a transition to stable government, based on democratic principles, good governance, and economic development.

HISTORY There have been 60 peacekeeping operations since 1948. Fifteen peacekeeping missions were in operation in mid-2006, employing more than 60,000 troops, 7,000 police, and over 2,500 military observers. Peacekeeping operations in 2006 were supported by uniformed personnel provided by 109 countries.

(source: UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations)


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