“Managing International Peace and Security should be seen through the lens of preventative diplomacy”. (Nigerian President H.E. Mr. Goodluck Jonathon).
22 September 2011 saw permanent members of the UN Security Council convene and adopt a Presidential Statement on the topic of Preventative Diplomacy.
Overall, this debate focused on enhancing the ability to provide effective diplomatic and mediated responses to emerging and ongoing conflicts, with a view to promoting lasting peace.
The key role played by women in both preventing and providing solutions for conflict was a consistent theme, with many representatives emphasizing the importance of engaging women and women's organizations in mediation and preventative diplomacy efforts. To this end, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called on the International Community to “invest in women who can lead the charge for domestic change”, whilst Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa praised the UN for the creation of UN Women, identifying it as a means to enhancing the role played by women in society as well as in promoting prevention of conflict.
Representatives focused on the need for better integration and coordination between UN, regional and sub-regional bodies, as well as engagement with civil society groups, notably Women's organizations. A majority of speakers signaled the overwhelming need to address root causes of conflict, namely poverty and marginalization in order to achieve prevention of conflict. Specifically the representative of Portugal identified security and development as being “two faces of the same coin”, whilst a number of states asserted the need for collaboration between the UN and local, regional and international financial institutions.
Prevalent was debate on the efficiency of force and military intervention as a means to preventing and resolving conflict, with many statements providing differing opinions here in relation to the recent NATO intervention in Libya.
"Women should be at the core of prevention and sustaining peace". (Statement by representative of Germany)
This was a particularly successful debate for gender references, with 10 out of 15 speakers making specific reference to gender perspective and/or women. Reflecting the theme of Preventative Diplomacy, most statements focused on how to foster a greater role for women in mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding with a view to enhancing United Nations capacity to provide effective diplomatic responses to conflict and reconstruction.
Despite the number of references, particularly in comparison to other debates, statements still lacked concrete proposals for achieving outlined recommendations, furthermore all failed to put forward any real plan to further disarmament and regulation of arms, key components to any effective conflict prevention strategy.
Opening the debate, Michel Sleiman, speaking in his capacity as President of Lebanon, outlined the critical need to involve women's organizations in development and implementation of measures to achieve “active prevention”. A sentiment subsequently echoed by the Secretary-General, and the representatives of Gabon and Portugal, who called for greater collaboration between Women's Organizations, Civil Society Organizations and UN organs.
"We would also benefit from greater involvement of civil society and especially women's organizations in the prevention and resolution of disputes" (President of Gabon, H.E.Mr. Ondimba)
The critical role of women in achieving effective prevention, mediation and reconstruction was emphasized by a majority of speakers, with many calling on the UN to be at the forefront of facilitating women's access to representation in this area. In addition, Brazil made note of the fact that despite recognition of women's critical role in achieving peace, women remain "underrepresented in the different stages and activities of the diplomatic agenda for peace".
Moving forward, the US (Susan Rice) and UK (William Hague), called on the UN to enhance preventative diplomacy efforts by way of increasing roles for women on the ground, specifically as envoys, mediators, chiefs of special missions and special representatives.
"We urge the United Nations and other international actors to recruit more women as envoys, special representatives and chiefs of field missions", (Susan Rice, representative of the United States).
Finally Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa praised the UN for the creation of UN Women as a means to furthering women's "critical" participation in "all aspects of the peaceful settlement and resolution of disputes" and moreover to achieving a culture of prevention and peace.