2019 marks the year when Germany is once again occupying a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council and in April takes the presidency. Together with France, they picked “Woman, Peace and Security” as their focus topic. Against this background, Germany and France organized an Open Arria Meeting in New York looking at the inequalities between women and men in political processes, war, and conflict. As a civil society partner to the Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations and its ambassador Dr. Christoph Heusgen, Global Perspectives was invited to accompany the conference at the UN.
Women, peace, security and the forward projection of Resolution 1325
The informal meeting of the UN Security Council took place amidst the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, convened from 11-22 March at UN headquarters. Mary Robinson was one of the prominent speakers of this week emphasizing the link between climate change and security and the crucial role women play in that context.
The Arria Meeting
Numerous permanent and non-permanent members discussed the importance of protecting women in conflict and crisis situations as well as actively including them in related strategies for conflict avoidance. They are among those who suffer most from war and conflict. The gathering therefore also focused on advancing the components of the Resolution 1325. It is known as the first resolution to specifically mention the unique impact of conflict on women and has since become an organizing framework for the women, peace, and security agenda.
Investing in women means investing in peace
“Without women, there is no peace,” was frequently echoed during the meeting. The Parliamentary State Secretary Carmen Marks emphasized the significance to include women in the peace-building and peacekeeping processes. As the leader of the German delegation, she hosted the Arria Meeting together with her French counterpart Marlène Schiappa.
The voices of women must be heard and become visible in order to have more influence in these processes, Marks said and spoke out for appointing more women in the respective peace committees. Moreover, budgets must be distributed gender-sensitively according to Marks.
Further members of the Council highlighted the direct correlation between conflict resolution and the number of women in parliament arguing that the more women are put into leading roles in parliaments, the lower the number of conflicts. In particular, in crisis areas like Mali, women would systematically be excluded according to a briefing expert from the region. Among their opponents are also Islamist women refusing to support their sisters to step up in politics.
Zero tolerance for sexualized violence
Participating members of the African Union (AU) reinforced its “zero-tolerance” policy on sexual and gender-based violence. Women must know their rights and require access to justice and the rule of law. A Code of Conduct would be important. A measure liable to prove helpful would furthermore be “naming and shaming” where the names of the states or individuals that have failed to comply with the Code would be made transparent. It would be crucial to fill the gap between agreements and the actual implementation and realization of law and order – which still frequently fails. The Congolese gynecologist and most recent Nobel Laureate Denis Mukwege was mentioned as a great role model saving over 50,000 survivors of sexual violence during the last 20 years.
My Stealthy Freedom is a platform founded by the Iranian-born Masih Alinejad. Jointly with many other women, she uses it as a vehicle to fight against forced veiling of women, as she would call it, in her home country. Germany’s public international broadcaster „Deutsche Welle“ portrayed her creative initiative in a movie which she passionately commented on together with other female activists during a side event moderated by ambassador Heusgen.
Fighting impunity remains primary task
The fight against impunity has ever increased and gained an important momentum. Africa and countries all over the world started to use universal jurisdiction. Yet, in various parts of the world, the culture of impunity persists. All participating members demanded that every crime committed must be followed by prosecution and result in criminal proceedings. The use of sexual violence as a weapon in conflicts and war must be ended, unconditionally be prosecuted and responsible governments be held accountable.
Angela Merkel to meet Denis Mukwege in April
On April 23rd, Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to meet Denis Mukwege at the Security Council as part of a high-level event advancing the components of Resolution 1325.
We at GPI appreciate the German effort in raising the issue of woman and peace, and we feel honored to have the opportunity to shape the discussions around it. At GPI, we have done so on various occasions: during the Aurora Dialogues with Wolfgang Ischinger in December 2018 or as part of a discussion on Responsibility to Protect (R2P) at the Munich Security Conference with Christoph Heusgen and the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
As these debates remain crucial, we will continue them in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry in Fall 2019 in Berlin in order to help finding sustainable solutions on how to protect the most vulnerable, women, in war and conflicts and how to furthermore empower them to actively engage in peace-building and peace-keeping processes.
The concept note on the Open Arria Meeting can be viewed here.
The conference has been recorded and can be reviewed here.