On Wednesday, 29 January 2014, the United Nations Security Council held an open debate on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security under the theme “War, its lessons and the search for a permanent peace.” President of the Security Council for the month of January 2014, Jordan, circulated a concept note to the Member States prior to the open debate. Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Council.
Fifty-four Member States, in addition to the European Union, addressed the Council. Only few speakers addressed the gender dimension of international peace and security.
A few Member States made gender references to issues including violence against women and the need for women's participation in conflict prevention, peace processes and peacebuilding.
Chile was the only Security Council Member State to make an explicit reference to the resolution on the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Chile stated that we must enhance women's participation in all decision-making processes in post-conflict societies in accordance with the Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000).
Representatives of Canada, Namibia and the Netherlands said that women must be included in peace processes and peacebuilding. Canada stressed that we cannot achieve lasting peace when women are not part of post-conflict reconciliation and recovery. Namibia highlighted the need for women's participation in peacekeeping operations to maintain lasting peace. The Netherlands stated that women's role is crucial before, during, and after conflicts, and that is why the Netherlands support the Syrian women.
Representatives of Chad and the Republic of Korea discussed sexual violence during conflicts. Chad, noting that violence has devastating impact on women, said that women often fall victims to sexual violence and trafficking. Republic of Korea addressed violence against women issue in reference to the Korean “Comfort Women” who were forced into sexual slavery under the Japanese colonization. Representative of the Republic of Korea stressed that this issue is a universal women's rights issue.
Briefer USG Jeffrey Feltman and other speakers noted the importance of reconciliation in preventing recurrence of conflicts. A ceasefire must be followed by former warring parties accepting accountability and setting shared historical narratives in order to build mutual trust among communities affected by violence. Feltman noted that in the era of increasing intrastate conflicts, fighting without reconciliation can, and often does, resume. Several European countries spoke about reconciliation and cooperation among European countries after the end of the Second World War as an event that others can derive lessons from.
A few Security Council members noted the relevance of the theme of the open debate to current events in Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan. All three conflicts involve sectarian, ethnic or religious divisions, and sustainable peace will not be achieved without genuine dialogue and reconciliation.
During the open debate, many discussed their views on how the United Nations, and more specifically the Security Council, could facilitate such dialogue on historical narratives and reconciliation. While noting that multilateral organizations play an important role in mediation and peacebuilding, several speakers urged the UN to do more. Member States said that the UN should use tools available to it, including the Peacebuilding Commission, to the fullest extent to strengthen its assistance in areas of transitional justice, truth and reconciliation committees, rule of law and others. Jordan suggested that the UN establish a historical advisory team to preserve the facts and to facilitate national authorities to reconcile divergent narratives.
Member States who spoke at the debate included representatives of: Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Georgia, Germany, Guatemala, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Montenegro, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Viet Nam.
The representative of the European Union also delivered a statement.
* States and representatives who referenced gender are in bold.
The UN meeting records of the debate can be accessed here.