UNSC Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security
Statement20 October 2022
Thank you Mr. President and to Gabon for organising this very important debate.
My thanks also to DSG Amina Mohamed, Executive Director Sima Bahous and Special Envoy Benita Diop for their remarks. And to Ms Nader whose words about the realities faced by women in Afghanistan resonate with us and challenge us all.
There can be no sustainable peace when women are targeted in war and excluded from peace processes. Women are essential to resolving conflict and to building peace.
Although women have shown their resilience time and time again both in conflict-affected countries and elsewhere, this resilience should not be necessary.
As we near the end of our term as members of the Council, to our deep regret, we cannot report much progress. We must admit that the situation of women in conflict has worsened over these past two years.
Women and girls continue to bear the brunt of war and conflict. In Ukraine, the Russian invasion has resulted in the displacement of millions of women, violated their rights and placed them at heightened risk of violence and trafficking. In Afghanistan, as we have heard from Ms Nader, women are being erased from political and public life, their fundamental rights stripped. In Haiti, women and girls have been subjected to unthinkable systematic sexual and gender-based violence.
President, this Council is tasked with maintaining peace and security in the world. Yet today we see more people impacted by conflict than ever.
To begin to reverse this, one urgent and meaningful step would be to implement what each of us around this table has agreed to under the Women peace and security agenda.
This involves empowering and strengthening women’s leadership. Ireland’s statement will focus on four areas to achieve this.
First, by protecting those who defend women’s rights. It is shameful to see States or non-State actors attacking those protecting others. Those who raise their voice to challenge oppression. Yet globally, we are witnessing alarming levels of reprisals being committed against human rights defenders.
Autocratic leaders and repressive governments aim to silence these voices because they fear them. Driven by violent misogynistic rhetoric, women human rights defenders can face specific targeting. The crack-down on protesters in Iran following the death in appalling circumstances of Mahsa Amini, and the persecution of activists in Myanmar are shocking and disturbing examples.
We must investigate and hold those responsible for intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders. As the Secretary-General said in his report, this is our collective moral responsibility.
Second, we must push for women to be at all decision-making tables.
That includes at this table. We thank all Member States who have joined the WPS Presidency Shared Commitments, initiated by Ireland, Kenya and Mexico last year.
The WPS Presidency Trio set a blue-print for bringing more women voices to the Security Council. We invite incoming Members and others to build on this initiative, and to continue to ensuring the safe and meaningful participation of women briefers here.
It also means including women in all political and peace processes, from grass-roots to national and regional level. Without inclusive participation, peace agreements are simply not sustainable. We understand this from our own involvement in the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Therefore we reiterate our call to the United Nations to lead by example, and make women’s participation in all UN-led or co-led peace processes an essential requirement.
Third, we must prevent violence against women and girls. We need only look to northern Ethiopia where women and girls have suffered horrific sexual crimes. Orto Mali, wherethere has been a 40% increase in conflict-related sexual violence in the past year alone. These bear witness to what happens when we do not focus on prevention.
In these contexts and others, conflict-related sexual violence is being used as a tactic of war. We must therefore make it a strategically costly tactic. Perpetrators, those who give orders, those who fail to take the necessary steps to stop conflict-related sexual violence – they must all be held to account.
Prevention of violence also includes ensuring women have full access to their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The deployment of Gender Advisers and Women Protection Advisers to UN country teams and missions also play a crucial role in monitoring and promoting this. The Council should consistently include those roles in all peacekeeping and political missions.
Fourthly, we must back our words with funding and adequate resources. We have heard today that global military spending stands at 2.1 trillion US dollars, following 7 consecutive years of increased spending. It accounts for over four times the amount spent on bilateral aid. We must look hard at our priorities, and ensure we are placing our investments in peacebuilding.
President, you asked us to highlight any new concrete commitments to advance the WPS agenda. Ireland has committed to investing at least 50 million dollars in feminist and women’s rights organisations and women peacebuilders over 5 years. We have also made a specific pledge of $1.5 million to the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund.
President, as I said, this is likely Ireland’s last debate on WPS during our Council term. So, I want to offer a parting reflection. Over the past two years, chairing the Informal Expert Group on WPS, we have seen a great demonstration of will and commitment by Member States to advance theis agenda.
The Presidency Commitments have signalled that. However, We cannot afford to let public commitment just be for show, advanced when it suits, and laid aside when inconvenient. We implore all those speaking today to make women’s empowerment and participation non-negotiable (repeat: non-negotiable) in their vision for a peaceful future.