Skip to main content

Annual High-Level Tripartite Meeting

Sergei Ordzhonikidze

14 juin 2010
Annual High-Level Tripartite Meeting

Opening Statement by Mr. Sergei A. Ordzhonikidze
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Annual High-Level Tripartite Meeting
"Gender and Comprehensive Security"

Hofburg Palace (Raatsaal), Vienna
Monday, 14 June 2010

Mr. Secretary General of the OSCE
Madam Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a pleasure to be with you for the 19th high-level meeting of the “Tripartite” process. Allow me, first of all, to thank our host – the Secretary General of the OSCE – for the impeccable organization and for identifying such a crucial topic for our exchanges today.

In the context of the 10th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325, the empowerment of women is among the United Nations Secretary-General’s key priorities. Our respective organizations bring valuable lessons and there is potential for stronger cooperation to operationalize these lessons.
We need to be blunt. Ten years ago, Resolution 1325 was seen by many – quite rightly – as a giant leap forward. For the first time, it gave us a foundation for addressing the particular vulnerability of women in conflict and for engaging them to overcome this vulnerability. In reality, we have moved forwards with very small steps only.

The foundation has now been broadened through Resolutions 1820, 1888 and 1889. These Resolutions represent an important development of the scope of Resolution 1325 by linking the prevention of sexual violence, peacemaking and mediation. The appointment of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict marks another step forward. Yet, the road ahead remains long. And the road also remains unpredictable, as we lack sufficient and accurate data to guide us. We simply don’t have all the facts, so that we can tailor our responses. And I think it is sobering to note that Special Representative Wallström could not be represented today because there simply is not enough staff to cover the many requests for involvement. The expectations of this position are indeed high, but they are not necessarily matched by resources.

We want to leave as much time as possible for discussion, so I will limit my remarks to four key areas where we need to focus further attention – namely, monitoring and analysis; accountability; capacity-building at headquarters and in the field; and partnership-building:

Firstly, it is widely recognized that part of the problem in implementation of Resolution 1325 has been the absence of benchmarks, monitoring and a good knowledge base. Data on sexual and gender-based violence remains fragmented and often anecdotal. Lack of services, shame, limited knowledge of the individual’s rights and continued high security risks prevent victims from coming forward. Without this critical data, we cannot properly measure progress and set priorities.

The formulation of 26 draft indicators, which were presented to the Security Council in April, represents an important development in this regard. The indicators are the result of an inclusive inter-agency process and draw on a wide range of expertise. As noted by the Council, the draft indicators need technical and conceptual development before they can come operational, but they do represent a basis for establishing a much-needed monitoring and accountability framework.
Secondly, we need to make strides towards an end to impunity. Lack of justice remains the rule rather than the exception. Often women continue to suffer sexual violence, not because the law is inadequate, but because it is inadequately enforced. The capacity of the judiciary is frequently weak and traditional conflict resolution mechanisms are often applied in a discriminatory manner. Crimes must be punished – and be seen to be punished.

Thirdly, we must strengthen capacity – both among local actors and within our own ranks to enable women to take part in a meaningful way in peace processes. Research commissioned by the United Nations Development Fund for Women – UNIFEM – demonstrates that only less than eight percent of participants in official delegations to peace processes since 1992 were women. Yet, experience shows that women exposed to conflict and displacement are better protected, their rights more respected and their peacebuilding potential better utilized if they are actively involved and empowered at all stages of the conflict cycle.

The new Joint Strategy on Gender and Mediation, elaborated by the United Nations Department of Political Affairs and UNIFEM provides helpful tools for increasing women’s participation in mediation. The three-year strategy aims to identify and prepare qualified female mediators, to increase the availability and quality of gender expertise in mediation processes, and to enhance women's participation in peace processes.

In peace operations, there is a clear need to reinforce the role of gender advisers. To be effective, they need better funding and staffing and to be included in coordinating and implementing mechanisms from the country team to local levels.

Resolution 1325 highlighted the need for more female military observers, civilian police, human rights and humanitarian personnel. For its part, the United Nation has launched a global effort to boost the number of female police officers in peacekeeping missions where women can play a unique role, including in responding to sexual and gender-based violence. While the numbers are increasing, currently only 8.5% out of 13,689 United Nations police in our 17 peace missions are women. We aim to double that number to 20% by 2014.
We must also recognize that there is a need to confront the absence of women in senior leadership in the peace and security structures within our respective organizations. Despite concerted efforts, until last week, only seven women had ever held the post of Special Representative of the Secretary-General in over 60 years of peacekeeping. I am pleased to announce that the recent appointment of the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus – Ms. Lisa Buttenheim – brings that number to eight. The lack of women in the most senior positions does weaken our ability and our clout to advocate effectively for change.

Fourthly, we need to build partnerships. The Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign aims to eliminate violence against women and girls by bringing together United Nations agencies to galvanize action to prevent and punish violence against women. Through UNiTE, which will run until 2015, the United Nations is joining forces with individuals, civil society and governments to put an end to violence against women in all its forms.

In this context, the Secretary-General has launched a Network of Men Leaders, which supports the work of women around the world to defy destructive stereotypes and to inspire men and boys everywhere to speak out against violence. The leaders in this expanding Network – current and former politicians, civil society and youth activists, religious and community leaders, cultural figures and other prominent individuals – work in their spheres of influence to undertake specific actions to end violence against women, from raising public awareness, to advocating for adequate laws, to meeting with young men and boys, to holding governments accountable. I encourage you to support the UNiTE campaign.

On 15 September, the United Nations Office at Geneva will be hosting a joint seminar with the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, taking a critical look at implementation of Resolution 1325. Part of the discussions is intended to concentrate on how the role of civil society can be enhanced. I hope that we will also debate that dimension in greater detail today because a strong civil society base is critical in these efforts.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
We must not lose sight of the fact that even after armed conflict has ceased, we still encounter high levels of sexual and gender-based violence. Confronting this requires gender-sensitive approaches also in early recovery, reconstruction and peacebuilding. As Member States this year review the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission after its first five years of existence, the Commission’s ability to integrate gender in its approaches needs to be assessed as well. The success of peacebuilding efforts will inevitably, to a large extent, depend on how well women are integrated into the process.

In September, in the margins of the General Assembly, Member States will come together for a Summit on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to identify gaps that need urgent attention and to establish priorities. The empowerment of women must be at the top of that agenda, in security-related situations and beyond. The reality is that while women are slowly gaining ground in political decision-making generally, the progress is erratic and marked by regional differences. Figures from May of this year from the Inter-Parliamentary Union shows that women account for just under 20% of members of Parliament worldwide, including both upper and lower houses. In some regions, it is under 10%. It is imperative that we step up efforts for the empowerment of women more generally if we are to have any hope of integrating them fully in peace processes and putting a stop to sexual and gender-based violence.

I will stop there for now. I have no doubt that these points will be elaborated in more detail in our discussion. I look forward, in particular, to the input from the field which I hope will direct our discussions to be as practically-oriented as possible.

Thank you again, Secretary General, for organizing this timely meeting.

Thank you very much.

This speech is part of a curated selection from various official events and is posted as prepared.