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Statement at the UNSC Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security

Thank you very much Madam President, and I would like also to thank you for convening this debate. It is one that you know is very important to Ireland, so thank you very much indeed.


As many speakers this morning recognized of course it’s a very apposite one. The world is experiencing unprecedented proliferation of conflicts.


Alongside a global pandemic, we know that we’re seeing an epidemic of coup d’état, seizures of power and territory. Indeed outright disregard for human rights and the rule of law.


In some cases, gains made for women in peace and security matters have been slipping away. Indeed, we need only to look at Afghanistan. To echo the Secretary General earlier today, in many cases we are going in the opposite direction. As the Secretary General said to us this morning, we are going backwards.  


We have faced such times of crisis before. And we know too well that disregarding gender, and disregarding women, only results in certainly ephemeral, and often illusory peace and stability.


The international community has the responsibility to work for the prioritisation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, not to oversee its marginalisation. We at this table carry that responsibility as we sit here.


Madam President,


Today we have had the honour to hear from UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous and our prestigious briefers from the AU, EU, OSCE and League of Arab States.


I won’t repeat the shameful figures about the shortfall in WPS implementation. Nor dwell on the yawning chasm in financial support and resources dedicated to women’s ogranisations worldwide. They are the shameful facts. This Council knows that grand statements, commitments, and resolutions are far from being matched by results on the ground.


Women, in all our diversity, continue to be sidelined, tokenized, and, frankly, too often completely forgotten at the negotiation table. Often, women are not even in the room – yet alone heard. We are making the same mistake over and over again. To echo the Executive Director of UN Women this morning, we are not living up to our commitments.  


 Horrific conflict-related sexual violence continues to be waged as a weapon of war, something that we were starkly graphically reminded of here at last week’s briefing on Ukraine.


But what I would prefer to focus our statement on today is how we can change the trajectory and harness the collaborative nature of regional organisations to advance the urgently long overdue delivery of our precious WPS agenda. How we can ensure that women’s participation, women’s voices, become standard practice rather than an afterthought. That is a minimum, a baseline, as far as we are concerned.


There are over eleven regional organisations with Action Plans or dedicated strategies on WPS. A twelfth on its way: in the Regional Plan of Action on WPS in ASEAN.


Ireland wants to commend ASEAN for its prioritisation of this work, coming as it does  at a critical time in the context of the deteriorating situation in Myanmar - where we know women need our urgent support


Such action plans are invaluable.


But putting them into practice and ensuring the necessary spending is fundamental and essential to reaping the results.


As part of the European Union, Ireland is working to advance the EU Action Plan on WPS and the third Gender Action Plan. Ireland knows the benefits of working collaboratively, including as we do through the EU informal taskforce on WPS, allowing us to share experience and to support one another in furthering the critical Agenda.


The African Union’s leadership in advancing Women, Peace and Security, including through the role of the Special Envoy, is to be highly commended.


Ireland is directly supporting the vital work being done by the African Union and Special Envoy Bineta Diop’s office, and the African Women Leaders Network. We salute that work.


The African Union’s Continental Results Framework should also be recognised. It is an example not just of good practice but as a unique Women, Peace, and Security framework.


Ireland promotes the Regional Acceleration of Resolution 1325 to support and learn from WPS initiatives across regional groups and organisations.


As we watched, sadly, hard fought gains on peace be diminished by tyrannical and patriarchal forces, we are deeply concerned by the rollback of the WPS agenda. Nowhere is this more evident than in the abominable Taliban edicts in Afghanistan, which as the Secretary General said, puts nearly 20 million Afghan women and girls into a situation of being silenced and erased from sight. Simply unacceptable.


Madame President,


As we see violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, proliferate in other contexts such as Mali, Myanmar and Ukraine, we know that women and girls are often targeted and that they suffer disproportionately from the impacts of war.


As co-Chairs of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace, and Security, alongside Mexico, we have worked hard over the past 18 months to ensure that the Women, Peace, and Security agenda remains at the forefront of the minds of this Council, as we collectively try to work towards peace and security.


Enhanced regional cooperation is one of the many tools that we should wield to stop the rollback on Women, Peace and Security. 


In order to stop what the Executive Director of UN Women described this morning as backsliding, and to advance this agenda, Ireland has a number of recommendations.


First, in addition to adopting specific regional action plans on WPS, we need to ensure that all of the peace and security initiatives deployed by regional organisations are actually gender-responsive. That means actions, not rhetoric.


Importantly, we must support their implementation. Put simply, deliver on them concretely day by day.  


 Regional organisations are also well positioned to engage with Troop Contributing Countries to promote the inclusion of women peacekeepers in UN Missions. That is a critical step as far as Ireland is concerned.


Second, we must think beyond our tired old silos.


The WPS-Humanitarian Action Compact that emerged from the Generation Equality Forum has a real wealth of knowledge for its members, and we commend the African Union for joining. We encourage regional organisations to be creative, even risk being innovative, in advancing WPS in this way.


At the Council, Ireland, together with Kenya and Mexico, kick-started a set of WPS commitments during our respective Presidencies. These include striving to ensure women’s participation and civil society representation at our Security Council discussions.


Having them in this room and at this table matters.  


How can we bring these kinds of commitments to the regional level and ensure they become the norm?


Third, regional organisations often have unique access to emerging conflicts in their neighbourhood. We need to use this to respond rapidly, react in a robust way and immediately apply gender-responsive approaches, not as an afterthought to be applied post facto.


We applaud regional organisations for standing up against the atrocities happening in their regions, and we urge those who have been silent so far, to find their voice.


Madam President,


Ireland is deeply aware of the benefits of international and regional cooperation. We’re beneficiaries.


Before our accession into the United Nations in 1955, and to the European Union in 1973, we were a nation still regaining our voice after centuries of colonisation.


In the close to fifty years of our EU membership, we have come through conflict on the island of Ireland, where women had to fight for their right to have a say in peace and in shaping our collective future.


We know from first-hand experience that without the participation of women, we simply would not have gained the peace and prosperity we enjoy in Ireland today.


But this was not simply a national or bilateral effort.


We’re grateful for the support and instrumental role played by our European and international partners in the peace process– both then and now. We thank the women who pressed forward to be in the room and at the table where and when it mattered.


We know the importance of such collaboration in delivering inclusive peace and we wish if for others


There is an Irish proverb that says, “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” - we live in each other’s shelter. Let’s step up to that aspiration.


Thank you Madame President.

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