The Permanent Missions of the United Kingdom and Portugal held an Arria formula meeting on International Women's Day to highlight the need for the greater participation of women in mediation and conflict resolution. This Arria meeting was held as an opportunity for dialogue between civil society and the Security Council, marking International Women's Day with an interactive discussion on the challenges, and the progress already made, in this important area.
Speakers include Betty Atuku Bigombe, Ugandan State Minister for Water Resources, and Jamal Benomar, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Yemen and Shadia Marhaban, President of the Aceh Women's League (LINA). Minister Bigombe participated in mediation with the Lord's Resistance Army. Jamal Benomar has worked with women mediators in Yemen. Shadia Marhaban participated in mediation of the Aceh peace talks.
Summary of Speakers:
Betty Atuku Bigombe, Ugandan State Minister for Water Resources, noted how critical it is that women are involved at early stages of mediation processes. She stated that there still is a need to train women to participation in mediation processes including at the grassroots level. Here she said that funding should be made available to enable participation. Also responding to question she stated that the role of ICC is very important and should act as deterrent.
Jamal Benomar, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Yemen, remarked that although there are increasing gender expertise and norms and obligation to ensure women's issues addressed, in reality it is hard to ensure systematic inclusion in chaotic environments of mediation processes. He recalled recent good process regarding preparing women in the Afghanistan for Bonn Conference. He recommended support and training for how women to support effectively participate. He discussed his current role in Yemen and the gender expertise in the team. He also underlined that women's human rights are non- negotiable.
Shadia Marhaban, President of the Aceh Women's League (LINA), spoke about her role as the only woman involved in Aceh peace process. She spoke about the reality of being overwhelmed with no support or gender expertise available to her. She reminded the Council that although Aceh is often considered as a model that in fact it was not a model for women. She discussed the lack of gender perspectives in the DDR processes among other key areas. She noted that peace processes are not only contracts between warring parties but also road-maps for peace and community development. Her remarks and recommendations emphasised that implementation is far from reality and urged for concrete action. It is critical that there a real and meaningful dialogue between Member States and civil society including women;s groups.
Comments and Remarks:
Comments from the floor underlined the potential but under-utilized role of the UN Security Council in this area. Council members also noted that implementation of SCR 1325 relating to mediation and peace processes remains a gap. NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security took the opportunity to ask the Council directly, "As we have this opportunity today to speak with Council members, we would like to ask you: what strategies will you use to ensure women's rights are fully respected in peace agreements? Given the risks that women often face when they try to assert their voices in conflict resolution processes, what will you do to turn the Council's own rhetoric into reality? In short, what will you, as Council members, do to ensure that women's participation and rights are not ad hoc and incidental, but are instead non-negotiable?" Other Civil Society members made comments including: Action Aid; Hague Appeal for Peace, Cora Weiss; GNWP; Nana Pratt; among others. Council Members had the opportunity to respond. Comments were made by Germany; Guatemala; Pakistan; Morocco; France; US; Colombia; India; Azerbaijan; Togo; South Africa. In addition remarks were made by Canada (Chair of the Group of Friends of WPS); Turkey and Finland (Co-Chair of Group of Friends on Mediation) After the closed Security Council Arria Formula, informal comments were made to the media on the role of women in mediation and conflict resolution.
Remarks delivered by Ambassador Parham, President of the Security Council and Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN at the media briefing.
"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, As you know, we have just held, what's called, an 'Arria Formula' meeting of the Security Council, which has involved discussion between members of the Security Council and a wide range of representatives of civil society and some other members of the United Nations to talk about the role of women in mediation and conflict resolution and we've done that together with our colleagues from Portugal and we've done it on, of course, International Women's Day and we've been very privileged to have with us for this discussion, on the panel, Betty Bigombe, who is the State Minister of Water from Uganda, who is involved in mediation with the Lord's Resistance Army, and Shadia Marhaban, from the Aceh Women's League, who is involved in mediating in the conflict in Aceh, in Indonesia, and Jamal Benomar, the Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Yemen, who spoke about his experience in particular of Women's involvement in mediation and the treatment of women';s issues in mediation and conflict resolution in Yemen. So we have addressed what is an extremely important subject. A subject which is both an issue of fundamental rights and an issue of security and a subject where there is a lot more work to do because the involvement of women in mediation and conflict resolution and the protection and promotion of their rights when we are keeping peace and building peace and resolving conflict, is crucial, both for their own rights, but also importantly, in order to achieve genuinely sustainable peace. So with that I'll just hand over to the other members of the panel and my colleague from Portugal".