UN Security Council Annual Open Debate on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda
Speech29 October 2019
I would like to thank South Africa for convening this debate and for shepherding the 10th Resolution on WPS across the line. Ireland co-sponsored the resolution. Of course, we hoped for more. It may not be perfect. Little in this WPS reality is optimal. We support you, Chair, so that we can build better together.
Ireland aligns with the Statement made on behalf of the EU and the Group of Friends on Women, Peace and Security. As an active member of the Peacebuilding Commission, we hope to see the PBC Chair brief the Council in the future.
Many speakers this morning have referred to the upcoming twentieth anniversary of Resolution 1325. In my view, a moment for a clear-eyed assessment of what has been achieved, rather than cause for celebration. Ireland welcomed the Secretary General’s sobering report, outlining increasing attacks against women human rights defenders and peacebuilders and the unacceptable continued exclusion of women from peace and political processes. I know I am not alone in this room in feeling a growing frustration at the slow pace of change. I feel shame at the growing threats to progress already made.
The fact is, those who wage wars –not, in the main, women – continue to set the parameters for peace. Without women. Quite apart from the inequality this reinforces, let’s be clear. It is also fundamentally ineffective as a peacebuilding approach. We have the evidence that peace is more durable when women have participated in its negotiation. Madame Chair, which part of that reality don’t we yet understand?
Put simply, WPS ought to be part of all our peacebuilding work. In this chamber, that means part of every mandate renewal, of every geographic and thematic discussion, of every local consultation, of every analysis completed in the field. We simply cannot afford for this to be confined to an Open Debate in October every year. That formula clearly hasn’t worked so far.
Ireland sees the sustaining peace agendas and WPS not as separate policy processes but as one and the same. Through the Peacebuilding Architecture Review next year, we will be working to ensure full recognition of this synergy.
Gender equality is at the heart of Ireland’s foreign and development cooperation policy. We launched our Third National Action Plan on WPS earlier this year. We match our overseas engagement with domestic action focused in part on migrant women affected by conflict living in Ireland, and those affected by conflict in Northern Ireland.
Ireland believes in women’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding because we have lived it. It is more than 20 years since the Women’s Coalition of Northern Ireland participated in the Good Friday Agreement. Yet still today that agreement is one of the few examples of where women have directly participated in a peace process.
The elements introduced by women into the Good Friday Agreement have been critical to sustaining peace in the two decades that have followed because they went to the root causes of the conflict, and helped to imagine a positive vision of Northern Ireland for the future.
With over sixty years of continuous peacekeeping experience, Ireland knows how critical it is to integrate gender perspectives; to empowering women in peacekeeping. Ireland is a gender champion within the A4P, we support the Secretary-General’s targets. We are particularly proud that today the second highest ranking female UN Peacekeeper is an Irish woman, Brigadier General Maureen O'Brien, today Acting FC in the Golan Heights. And we take the same approach in our work on disarmament and humanitarian action, where we view the equal participation of women as fundamental.
The Secretary General rightly raised the issue of funding. Today’s debate is one of the most oversubscribed every year - we are eager to talk but what if we were as eager to invest in women? It is essential that member states continue to increase their support for gender equality and women’s organisations.
Ireland earlier this year completed two years as chair of the CSW, so we know only too well the challenges, the complexities and the urgency of this debate. As an aspiring member of this Council, Ireland is committed to standing up, to raising our voice and to finding resources to move beyond rhetoric to reality. There is a short three-word sentence in the Secretary General’s report which should be our guide for the next twelve months – Implementation remains critical or, as Phumzile of UN Women likes to say, “Do Do Do”. Thank you.