Security Council Ministerial-Level Open Debate: Maintenance of International Peace and Security- Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace January 10, 2017

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Debate Overview

The Security Council Ministerial-Level Open Debate entitled “The Maintenance of International Peace and Security- Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace” was convened by the Council’s current president, Sweden, on 10 January 2017. The meeting was framed as an opportunity to strengthen cooperation between the Security Council and the Secretary-General, particularly regarding strategic approaches to conflict prevention. Overall the debate reflected the political shift within the UN towards institutional reform, as well as the emerging priorities of the recently inducted Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres. Member-state representatives emphasised the need to address the root causes of conflict and endorsed preventative diplomacy, early warning triggers, and improving information flows as prevention tools. Many speakers afforded the WPS Agenda only a passing mention in their statements, rather than recognising that, as the greatest indicator of peace, the engagement of women should be at the forefront of the discussion.

General Analysis

A total of 93 statements were delivered at the debate. The meeting was introduced by the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who urged Member States to remain mindful of the United Nations’ origins in conflict prevention, a call that was echoed by many speakers throughout the day. Guterres also condemned imbalances between conflict prevention and concerns for state sovereignty, wherein the latter too often undermines prevention commitments or where prevention is pursued for political gain. Sweden’s Representative Margot Wallstrom appealed to logic, noting that the cost of conflict prevention efforts are only one tenth of the costs of conflict response and recovery.

Margot Wallström (front centre), Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden and President of the Security Council for January, addresses the Council’s ministerial-level open debate on conflict prevention and sustaining peace. She is flanked by Secretary-General António Guterres (left) and Jeffrey Feltman, Under- Secretary-General for Political Affairs. Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Throughout the ensuing discussion, representatives of Member States stressed the need for multilateral action, system-wide analysis, and focusing on the root causes of conflict as drivers. Political instability, displacement, and economic inequality were at the forefront of these drivers, however representatives including those of Sweden, Italy, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Micronesia, and France highlighted climate change, while representatives of Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ecuador, Iraq, Iran, Italy, Jordan Netherlands, Senegal, Vietnam addressed instability resulting from the spread of violent extremism. Many representatives, including those of Azerbaijan, Canada, Egypt, Estonia, the EU, Netherlands, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, South Korea, Senegal, Sweden, and the USA encouraged the council to utilise existing prevention tools, such as strengthening the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and building on sustainable peace resolutions such as 2282 (2016) and 2233 (2015).

 

Less frequently member-state representatives discussed issues of nuclear disarmament, international law, and financing prevention. The Representative of Ecuador noted that the issue of disarmament is too often overlooked within the framework of conflict prevention and offered support for renewed efforts on this topic. Representatives from Colombia and Belgium emphasised the role of disarmament processes in peacebuilding, naming disarmament measures as vital for successful transitions. Finally, the representative of Panama highlighted the inverted priorities of Member States: whose vast spending on arms proliferation and militarism far outweighs funds devoted to conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

Other major themes throughout the debate included calls for national and localised solutions - acknowledging that the individuals with the greatest expertise on a given conflict are those on the ground - and reform throughout the UN system. Among others, representatives of Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, South Africa, and the United States criticised the Security Council, citing a loss of legitimacy and double standards amidst the failure to effectively engage in prevention efforts. The representatives of Estonia, France, and Poland stressed that the veto powers of the Permanent Five members of the Security Council should be revoked in situations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Within this scope, many representatives supported increased reporting, reviews, and general contact between the Secretary-General and the Council.

Gender Analysis

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Of the 93 statements delivered at the debate, 44 (47 percent) speakers addressed issues relevant to Women, Peace and Security. A majority of the relevant statements included advocacy for the engagement of women in conflict prevention efforts, peace processes, and governance. Others called for the implementation of resolutions and mechanisms such as Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, which closely align with and facilitate international peace and security.

During the debate 12 (12.9 percent) member-states representatives directly highlighted the crucial role of women in preventing conflict. Representatives of Uruguay, the Marshall Islands, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Panama, Ireland, Hungary, Georgia, Finland, Estonia, Colombia and the Secretary-General emphasised the benefits of empowering women as agents of prevention in their communities. Furthermore the representatives of Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Mali, Morocco, Marshall Islands, Namibia, Organisation of American States, Panama, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, and Uruguay (25 percent) advocated for engaging women and girls in politics and governance, to facilitate stability. Women were also named as pivotal to the success of peacebuilding efforts and peace processes by the representatives of Sweden, the Philippines, Poland, Papua New Guinea, Ireland, Finland, Ethiopia, Colombia, and Belgium (9 percent). Notably, the representative of the United States was the only speaker to stress the use of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) as weapons of war, and was joined by Germany in encouraging states to engage with women’s civil society organisations.

The combined WPS resolutions, initiatives, and advisory groups such as the Informal Expert Group 2242, offer member-states key tools to engage with the WPS Agenda and implement impactful prevention mechanisms. Given that the treatment of women is the greatest indicator for whether or not a state will engage in conflict, it is disappointing that only 9 percent of the representatives present at this debate (China, Germany, Finland, Georgia, Cyprus, Jordan, Italy, Senegal, and South Africa) identified implementing the above mechanisms within the context of conflict prevention.

Themes of Disarmament and Displacement were entirely absent from the debate. The issue of arms as a root cause of conflict and instability is well established, as is the gendered impact of militarism and arms proliferation or transfers. Though few states referenced broad themes of disarmament, the utter lack of a gender lens within these statements denies the inherent linkages between women and disarmament long recognised by the UN (“Women, Disarmament, Arms Control and Non Proliferation” (A/RES/65/69) Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)). Similarly, displacement is both a result and a cause of instability, with a deep gendered impact. The humanitarian needs of displaced women and girls must be considered to increase international peace and security.

Though this debate was focused on Conflict Prevention and Sustainable Peace, only 15 of the 44 total references to Women, Peace and Security (34 percent) addressed these themes. Instead, representatives offered short addenda in their speeches on engaging women, before moving on to other concerns.  In this light, it is difficult to perceive these references as anything more than token statements. The precedent of UNSCR 1325 and its subsequent resolutions establish, without ambiguity, the central role of women as agents of change in conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts. Member-States were offered a key opportunity in this debate to recognise and emphasise these precedents: in doing so carrying the global community one step closer to the reality of a feminist peace. For now, this opportunity remains unfulfilled.

Country-Specific Analysis

During the Debate, the crisis in Syria rose to the forefront of statements referencing country-specific situations. Situations in Libya, Yemen, Palestine, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were afforded limited emphases.  Though scarce, the situations in Bosnia, Nigeria, Colombia, and Iraq also found a platform in this debate.

Of the 93 statements delivered at the debate, 22 (23 percent) highlighted the dire situation persisting in the Syrian Arab Republic. These were the representatives of Denmark, Ecuador, France, Georgia, Iran, Iraq Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, The UAE, and the USA. More often than not, the atrocities perpetrated in this crises were cited by representatives as the responsibility of failed prevention. In this vein, the representative of Latvia stated that the international community’s failure in this matter resulted in five years of bloodshed and horror, destined to haunt their collective conscious.

Few action steps were proposed on this situations, though there was a strong emphasis on political solutions and Security Council reform. Among others, the representatives of Kazakhstan and Italy expressed that the only solution available to the international community is to encourage inclusive dialogues between the Assad Regime and its opponents. On the other hand, the representatives of Ukraine, Japan, and France placed particular pressure on the Security Council, reminding the entity of its responsibility to resolve conflict and condemning the use of vetoes by permanent members.  

As recently reaffirmed in SCR 2242 (2015), women and girls’ empowerment and gender equality are critical to conflict prevention. In the discussion on conflict prevention, Member States should commit to adopting holistic approaches that address the root causes of conflict, including systemic and structural discrimination and inequalities, which are often at the heart of grievances driving instability. Member States should further outline steps to ensure women participate in the design of all conflict prevention measures, including early warning mechanisms and preventative diplomacy initiatives. Women’s civil society organisations should have an important role in all conflict prevention efforts at local levels, and Member States should recognize the need to support grassroots efforts with increased funding and political support.

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Statements:

The Meeting Record is available here.

States Represented at this meeting included:  

Italy, Japan, Ethiopia, United Kingdom, Sweden, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, the United States, France, Ukraine, Uruguay, China, Russian Federation, Egypt, Senegal, Poland, Latvia, Netherlands, Rwanda, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Finland, Germany, Brazil, Colombia, South Africa, Norway, Pakistan, Iraq, Hungary, Lebanon, Ecuador, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Viet Nam, Chile, Switzerland, Iran, Estonia, Indonesia, Cuba, Bangladesh, Peru, Ireland, Federated States of Micronesia, Jordan, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Nigeria, Belgium, Georgia, Panama, India, Kuwait, Venezuela, Mexico, Austria, Republic of Moldova, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Portugal, Syria, Slovenia, Guatemala, Morocco, Israel, Denmark, Philippines, Mali, Bulgaria, Djibouti, Sierra Leone, Malaysia, Namibia, Equatorial Guinea, Armenia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Cambodia, Kenya, Haiti, Slovakia, Cyprus, Marshall Islands, Liechtenstein and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

UN Speakers:

Secretary-General, representatives of the European Union, African Union, and the Organization for American States (OAS) .

Resources: 

Meeting Record: Security Council Open Debate: Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace January 10, 2017

Concept Note: Security Council Ministerial-Level Open Debate: Maintenance of International Peace and Security- Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace January 10, 2017

Please choose

General Women, Peace and Security
  • Country

    United Kingdom
  • Extracts

    I would also like to thank the Swedish presidency for convening today’s open debate. You and I, Madam President, have also worked together in the past, when you were Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Sexual Violence in Conflict. I salute your continuing efforts to place conflict prevention and gender at the centre of your foreign policy.

  • Country

    Israel
  • Extracts

    Men and women on their way to work, as well as children and the elderly waiting for their buses home, have all fallen victim to shootings, stabbings and other horrendous acts of terror.

  • Country

    Eq. Guinea
  • Extracts

    Daily, we read the headlines and witness the effects of complex and multidimensional conflicts — images of violence, destruction and humanitarian crises that arise from the precarious state of security. Men, women and children are at risk as the result of decisions taken by internal and external political actors and institutions.

  • Country

    Afghanistan
  • Extracts

    Based on the most recent reports, approximately 135 people, mostly civilians, including women and children, were killed or wounded in the carnage

Conflict Prevention
  • Country

    Austria
  • Extracts

    Conflict prevention is as necessary as it is notoriously difficult. It is also thankless, as, when successful, it mostly goes unnoticed by the public eye. Since the 2015 reports on peace operations, peacebuilding, and women, peace and security, the concept of conflict prevention as an essential element of achieving sustained peace has gained more traction than ever before.

  • Country

    Mali
  • Extracts

    In conclusion, I would like to highlight the need for an inclusive and global approach that takes into account women and youth in the analysis and implementation of conflict prevention and peacebuilding strategies.

  • Country

    Namibia
  • Extracts

    The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action declared that the full participation of women in decision-making, conflict prevention and resolution, and all other peace initiatives, is essential to the realization of lasting peace.

  • Country

    Slovakia
  • Extracts

    Where mediation and gender equality are concerned, we should to draw on the best available expertise in the global community of mediators, both men and women. By now it is a well-established fact that women’s involvement in mediation and conflict prevention is essential rather than optional.

  • Country

    Marshall Is.
  • Extracts

    We fully support the Council’s increased attention and appropriate engagement on the role of women and young women in conflict prevention and resolution. The Marshall Islands affirms the Pacific Islands Forum’s Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, adopted in 2012, and we call for renewed efforts to take it forward.

  • Speaker

    Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Extracts

    It is essential to ensure that women and girls participate fully in building inclusive and resilient societies. Where gender equality permeates the social fabric and women and men face difficulties as equal partners, societies have a much better chance of achieving stability and preserving human dignity and prosperity.

Participation
  • Country

    Sweden
  • Extracts

    The fourth is that we need to harness the agency of women to create sustainable peace through inclusive processes. Experiences shared through a network of female peace mediators, which I have also initiated, confirm the importance of inclusiveness.

  • Country

    United States of America
  • Extracts

    As Permanent Representative for the past three and a half years, I know that the Council’s richest, most meaningful exchanges have come when we have heard from real people — when Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a Yazidi woman trafficked by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), implored the Council to take action because ISIL, in her words, was using rape “to ensure that women could never again lead a normal life” (S/PV.7585, p.6); or when Dr. Zaher Sahloul returned from eastern Aleppo to relay the pleas of the city’s doctors that wounded children be allowed to be evacuated; or when Jackson Niamah, a Liberian health- care worker, briefed the Council (see S/PV.7268), at the height of the Ebola crisis, on the anguish of turning away infected patients and their children for a lack of supplies and beds. When we on the Council show leadership and put people at the centre of our decisions, the effect is powerful. It can change minds.

  • Country

    Uruguay
  • Extracts

    The maintenance of peace is a complex process that covers a broad range of tasks and actors and that requires integration and coordination with the Government of the country involved, leading to dialogue and peace processes that are inclusive and representative of society as a whole. In this regard, we would like to stress that the role of women is essential in order to ensure peace.

  • Country

    Egypt
  • Extracts

    It is only natural for women and young people to play a central role in all phases of planning, implementation and follow-up of all sustainable peace processes as a means to move from conflict to peace. We believe that such an approach gives an objective and comprehensive meaning to the concept of national ownership.

  • Country

    Finland
  • Extracts

    We also acknowledge the need to empower more women to serve as mediators. For that, sustained political support, coherence, cooperation, systematic efforts and adequate resources will be needed.

  • Country

    Germany
  • Extracts

    That includes new partnerships, inter alia, with regional organizations — as has been mentioned — as well as with civil society. And it entails an inclusive approach in which all members of society, especially women, have a role to play. In that regard, resolution 1325 (2000), on women and peace and security, should guide our activities.

  • Country

    Hungary
  • Extracts

    We believe that women’s participation in United Nations peace and security efforts, including post- conflict governance and peacekeeping, is very important. Hungary has intensified its efforts to identify, nominate and deploy female military experts and police officers to United Nations peacekeeping and EU Common Security and Defence Policy missions. In the coming months, female Hungarian officers will be deployed to the African Union-United Nations

  • Country

    Lebanon
  • Extracts

    Moreover, partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, youth, women, civil society and academia will improve our early-warning systems’ ability to identify the source of tension, to address it and to consolidate the national, regional and international support needed to support peaceful and developmental processes built on respect for human rights.

  • Country

    Canada
  • Extracts

     The sustaining peace and sustainable development agendas intersect in multiple ways, but perhaps the most important priorities are gender equality, women’s empowerment and the participation of women and youth in peacebuilding and governance.

  • Country

    Indonesia
  • Extracts

    A nationally driven process should also encourage women and youth to play a greater role in fostering reconciliation and building the basis of a collective national vision of peace and prosperity.

  • Country

    Bangladesh
  • Extracts

    The active participation of all segments of society, including women and youth, is fundamental to efforts to mitigate the potential drivers of conflict, as well as elements with a propensity to act as spoilers.

  • Country

    Ireland
  • Extracts

    When States and societies are fractured, we need to listen to civil society organizations and to ensure their participation in the achievement of lasting peace. Women must be involved at all stages along the peace continuum — from prevention to peace negotiations and post-conf lict governance.

  • Country

    Jordan
  • Extracts

    To sustain peace, we need to include the whole of society without any kind of discrimination, in particular of women and young people. These two groups should have an opportunity to participate in an effective way.

  • Country

    Papua New Guinea
  • Extracts

    First, the imperative of investing political will and commitment in conflict prevention actions before, during, and after conflict; secondly, adequately addressing the underlying root causes of tensions and conflict; thirdly, the importance of peaceful dialogue to resolve conflicts; and, fourthly, the relevance and importance of proactively engaging women in peace processes.

  • Country

    Belgium
  • Extracts

    It begins with the inclusion in the text of its statements and resolutions of concepts emphasizing the inclusiveness of such a global approach. Whether it is women, children or minorities, a specific mention can make a difference.  Belgium also calls for women to play an active role in the mediation and conflict-resolution processes in their countries.

  • Country

    Georgia
  • Extracts

    We view peace prospects as directly linked to advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to the international community’s continuous focus on strengthening human rights. As a strong supporter of greater involvement by women in preventing conflicts, we also place particular emphasis on the implementation of the women and peace and security agenda.

  • Country

    United Arab Emirates
  • Extracts

    We try to address all aspects, not only economic factors. We invest in our people by encouraging women and youth to be active members in protecting our communities by empowering them and providing them with the necessary tools and opportunities.

  • Country

    Slovenia
  • Extracts

    In past years, we dedicated most of our efforts in this field to enhancing mediation in the Mediterranean region, especially by highlighting the priorities of actively engaging women and young people and respect for international law and the rule of law.

  • Country

    Morocco
  • Extracts

    There are many stakeholders with an important role in addressing the root causes of conflict, including bilateral and multilateral partners and non-governmental organizations, as well as representatives of civil society, young people and women.

  • Country

    Philippines
  • Extracts

    Secondly, aside from formal peace tables, we have instituted the Peoples’ Peace Tables, which are open to all stakeholders who are directly involved in conflict, as well as those who are on the sidelines but are affected just the same — women, indigenous peoples, youth, local Government, civil society, traditional and folk leaders, religious leaders, as well as representatives of business and other sectors.

  • Country

    Kenya
  • Extracts

    The inclusive participation of youth and women in national institutions is also vital to sustaining peace.

Peace Processes
  • Country

    Papua New Guinea
  • Extracts

    First, the imperative of investing political will and commitment in conflict prevention actions before, during, and after conflict; secondly, adequately addressing the underlying root causes of tensions and conflict; thirdly, the importance of peaceful dialogue to resolve conflicts; and, fourthly, the relevance and importance of proactively engaging women in peace processes.

Protection
  • Country

    Colombia
  • Extracts

    Preventing conflict means strengthening institutions and building resilient societies, prioritizing national and international policies and protecting and empowering women and girls — one of the most important steps in sustainable development.

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
  • Country

    United States of America
  • Extracts

    The Government accepted the force. Five months later, not a single RPF soldier has been deployed, even as Government forces have continued killing civilians, used sexual violence as a systematic weapon of war, and positioned themselves to carry out large-scale mass atrocities.

  • Country

    Liechtenstein
  • Extracts

    It is also an important global institution in the context of resolution 1325 (2000) for its pioneering work on gender justice. By recognizing a range of sexual and gender-based crimes experienced by women in conflict, the ICC also acts to deter the commission of such crimes in the future.

Peacekeeping
  • Country

    Panama
  • Extracts

    Among those instruments is the recognition of the role that women play in peacekeeping. That role should be substantially increased.

Human Rights
  • Country

    Brazil
  • Extracts

    Strategies to sustain peace must also focus on the structural prevention of the outbreak of, or relapse into, conflict, including by fighting poverty, ensuring youth employment and gender equality, promoting socioeconomic development, building full-fledged institutions, and promoting national reconciliation, improved governance and more inclusive societies.

  • Country

    Panama
  • Extracts

    Fortunately, wars among States are becoming increasingly fewer, but we are seeing a critical situation around the world owing to the rise of complex and violent conflicts, which extend beyond borders and trigger massive displacements of people and have led to large-scale human rights violations, with women, children and girls as the main victims.

Justice, Rule of Law and Security Sector Reform
  • Country

    Liechtenstein
  • Extracts

    It is also an important global institution in the context of resolution 1325 (2000) for its pioneering work on gender justice. By recognizing a range of sexual and gender-based crimes experienced by women in conflict, the ICC also acts to deter the commission of such crimes in the future.

Reconstruction and Peacebuilding
  • Country

    Colombia
  • Extracts

    We have the benefit of the studies that have already been mentioned here on the peacebuilding architecture, on maintaining peace and, of course, on the issue of women and peace and security, all of which reaffirm the importance of focusing our efforts on prevention and the sustainability of peace.

  • Country

    Cyprus
  • Extracts

    Widening gaps and increased inequalities are the yeast of new conflicts. In that regard, a shift towards a more all-encompassing and diverse approach to conflict prevention is imperative, including incorporating the basic elements of the sustaining peace agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and interlinking the recommendations and proposals for action put forward in the reports on peacekeeping reform (see S/2015/446), the peacebuilding architecture (see S/2015/490) and the women and peace and security agenda.

  • Speaker

    Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Extracts

    It is essential to ensure that women and girls participate fully in building inclusive and resilient societies. Where gender equality permeates the social fabric and women and men face difficulties as equal partners, societies have a much better chance of achieving stability and preserving human dignity and prosperity.

  • Speaker

    European Union
  • Extracts

    We must also develop more creative approaches to diplomacy, including by continuing to promote the role of women in peace efforts, for we need them to be at the forefront in creating and sustaining peace.

Implementation
  • Country

    Italy
  • Extracts

    Conflict prevention and the primacy of political solutions are at the heart of two crucial United Nations reviews — one on the peacekeeping and peacebuilding architecture, the other on the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) on women and peace and security.

  • Country

    Senegal
  • Extracts

    The reviews of peacekeeping operations, the peacebuilding architecture and the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000), on women, peace and security, all found that prevention needs a new impulse. The cross- cutting dimension of the preventive approach requires the development of synergies among those three complementary reviews so as to develop consistent strategies to promote lasting peace, bolstered by political sols that take the protection and promotion of human and national rights into due account, which is the only guarantee of real human security.

  • Country

    Finland
  • Extracts

    The three reviews — on peace operations, peacebuilding, and women and peace and security — and their concrete implementation can truly transform the United Nations peace and security sector.

  • Country

    Hungary
  • Extracts

    As part of our prevention efforts we must deal with transnational risks such as violent extremism, climate change, water scarcity and modern slavery. In that context, Hungary just increased its voluntary contribution to the UN- Women project that focuses on violent extremism.

  • Country

    Chile
  • Extracts

    First, we must empower women and increase their participation in politics, including in peace processes, and we must continue to examine gender issues in conflict prevention and peacekeeping. That entails working for the full implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) and related resolutions, to which the Informal Expert Group on Women and Peace and Security, known as Group 2242, can contribute.

  • Country

    Jordan
  • Extracts

    The role of women is very important, as it supports the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and helps to uphold peace and security in the face of challenges. It also helps to implement resolution 1325 (2000) in Jordan.