Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: UN: Women & Peacekeeping Press Conf

United Nations

30 October 2001


The United Nations must involve women in its peacekeeping and peace-building efforts, a group of women leaders from Afghanistan, Kosovo and East Timor told a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.

A humanitarian worker from Afghanistan, Jamila, who is Director of the Afghan Women’s Welfare Department, said women must be included in any peace-building effort in Afghanistan to ensure peace and lasting security in the country.

The women were among others who met Security Council members this morning on the implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. The meeting took place under the Arria Formula and on the eve of the first anniversary of its adoption. The resolution promised to involve women in peace negotiations while protecting them from the abuses of war.

Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), said much had happened since the adoption of the resolution on 31 October 2000. There was much to celebrate, but there were also “several gaps” that needed to be dealt with.

The meeting with Council members included discussions of what had happened since the adoption of the resolution, what had not occurred and the critical challenges that remained. Some of the issues covered early warning and prevention, understanding the role of women, and their impact on peace-building. It was stressed by many of those present that without timely and well-channeled documentation and analysis, no political response would ever take into account women’s rights. There would consequently be a very weak attempt to bring about sustainable peace.

She observed that after many years the protection of women in war-torn areas had not been widely guaranteed and their contributions in peace-building had been marginalized. From the presentations of women, it had been seen that peace-building suffered when women were not at the peace table. That was particularly true now with the current Afghanistan situation.

Improvement of protection for women also came up during the meeting with the Council, she said, observing that as long as international protection and assistance for women were neglected, critical concerns of the times could not be resolved. The gaps were still visible to anyone visiting war-torn countries -­ the thousands of children born out of rape and the growing number of women dying of HIV/AIDS, and the issue of rape as a weapon of war. Another issue that came up very strongly was women’s leadership in peace processes. “This is extremely important, again, in the Afghan situation”, she said. The issue of gender justice in post-conflict peace-building was a very critical question, she said, adding that the East Timor case had been brought up.

She said it was possible to bring about participation of women in post-conflict situations if partnership between the United Nations system and civil society was right. She welcomed the fact that almost 27 per cent of all the people who had been elected at local and national levels today were women.

In terms of the framework that had been put in place in several countries in post-conflict situations, she said the issue of gender justice was extremely important. UNIFEM had organized a study in which two independent experts visited several post-conflict countries to study the impact of crises and the role of women in peace-building and post-conflict situations. The study would feed into another study being prepared by the Secretary-General. It would be part of a report to be presented to the Security Council next year.

Jamila, the Afghan humanitarian worker, said the notion that Afghan women were not political was an illusion. She began her humanitarian work 13 years ago when few women were able to study and were largely restricted to their homes. She saw role models in her own community who were capable of making a difference. Today, such role models were many. Together with other organizations, the Afghan Women’s Welfare Department had joined forces with the Afghan Women’s Network, an umbrella organization of non-governmental women’s organizations.

They faced challenges within their communities, particularly when men were unemployed. Women’s organizations worked in refugee camps and reached out to the refugee communities in several Pakistan cities where Afghan refugees did not receive United Nations assistance. “We are the role models for our youth, working for security and peace.”

She said most women’s organizations did not have political affiliation, and provided assistance to all Afghan people irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds. Their humanitarian work should be supported, so that they could play an active role in the rebuilding of Afghanistan. ”Anyone searching for Afghan women to engage in peace does not have to look far”, she said.

Another participant, Haxhere Veseli, a 15-year old refugee from Kosovo now living in the United States, spoke of her experiences and those of her friends, including their tribulations on their escape route. Her generation had not seen peace, she said. Even before the war, as an occupied people, they faced many difficulties. Over half the population of Kosovo was under 24 years of age. Peace for the country must address the concerns of adolescents and offer them an opportunity to be active citizens, she said. It was important for people to know where Kosovo was, what happened there and what was going on there now.

Natercia Godinho-Adams, from the Timor Aid organization in East Timor, said 96.6 per cent of East Timorese people had experienced trauma in the last 25 years. She said that with the assistance of the Gender Unit of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) under the leadership of Sergio de Mello, women had obtained 26 per cent of the seats in the recently elected Constituent Assembly. She said “this remarkable achievement occurred despite the mixed messages from United Nations departments and ultimate rejection of the proposal that would have required 30 per cent of each party’s political candidates to be women”. She said the will of the East Timorese must be celebrated by continued efforts at expanding women’s roles within a patriarchal society.

Among several other successes, she said, was the formation of Timor Loro Sae’s Women’s Political Caucus, as well as the Women’s Charter of Rights which would be proposed for the Constituent Assembly. Some of the proposals would be accepted neither in the United States nor Europe, and that marked a historical milestone, she said. Although much progress had been made in East Timor, much more needed to be done, and rural women in particular were very vulnerable. They were very grossly neglected in East Timor. They lived in extreme poverty and lacked access to adequate health care, particularly pre- and post-natal care. They also did not participate in decision-making. The women complained that their local chiefs had told them whom to vote for during the elections for the Constituent Assembly. Electoral observation efforts must therefore be gender sensitive, she asserted.

She said the efforts and the resilience of the commitment of East Timorese women constituted their plea for the establishment of an international tribunal to apportion accountability for the crimes that took place there.

Another speaker was Maha Muna, of the NGO Working Group on Women and International Peace and Security. She spoke of the “amazing level” of commitment from the women present at the interaction with Council members and in the questions from Council members themselves.

She was amazed by their interest in how women changed the lives of teenagers, how women could play a leadership role and change their communities. United Nations missions to East Timor, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to Kosovo had met with representatives of women’s organizations, she said. Mechanisms should be established to continue those dialogues. She said the women had urged Council members to implement resolution 1325, which put gender firmly on the Security Council’s agenda.

In implementing the resolution, she said, Council members should ask for information on gender in the reports they received from the field, including both mission reports and thematic ones. The women had asked for the appointment of women Special Representatives of the Secretary-General or at the Special Envoy level. They asked the Council to consider new issues -- what the role of the peacekeepers should be in ensuring the safety of humanitarian personnel who were providing life-saving assistance; and what their role should be in providing protection to women who were emerging as leaders and peace-builders in their communities.

She said the Council members took their urging to heart. She hoped the resolution adopted following the report of the Secretary-General (to be issued by the middle of next year) would take account of some of the issues they had raised this morning.

Jamila told a questioner that involvement of women in any future political settlement in Afghanistan would not be anything new. In 1964 there were women ministers, parliamentarians and ambassadors. Women must be included because females were about 54 per cent of the population. She added that there were many Afghan women’s organizations in Pakistan, and their activities must be supported.

Asked whether she could foresee a future broad-based government in Afghanistan which included Taliban elements and women, she said the Taliban were extremists who were not accepted by Afghan women. A government acceptable to Afghan women would be one that recognized equal rights for them as well.

Responding to a question about Security Council attitudes to the involvement of women in peace-building, the Executive Director of UNIFEM said a number of female ambassadors (including Angela King, the Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women) had met Lakhdar Brahimi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. What came out of the meeting was the sense that no United Nations mission should be filled without the presence of women. She said the Security Council was extremely interested in addressing the issue of women in Afghanistan.

Security Council SC/7191

4402nd Meeting (AM) 31 October 2001


Adopts Presidential Statement S/PRST/2001/31

The Security Council this morning underscored the importance of promoting active and visible mainstreaming of a gender perspective in all its policies and programmes on armed conflict.

In a statement read by its President, Brian Cowen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, the Council reaffirmed its strong support for increasing women's role in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution. The Council renewed its call on States to include women in negotiations and implementation of peace accords, constitutions and strategies for resettlement and rebuilding.

Concerned that there were still no women appointed as special representatives or special envoys of the Secretary-General to peace missions, the Council urged Member States to redouble their efforts to nominate women candidates to the Secretary-General.

Adopting presidential statement S/PRST/2001/31, the Council reiterated its request to the Secretary-General to include, in his reporting, progress in gender mainstreaming throughout United Nations peacekeeping missions and on other aspects relating to women and girls.

The meeting began at 10:41 a.m. and adjourned at 10:45 a.m.

Presidential Statement

Following is the full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2001/31:

“At the 4402nd meeting of the Security Council, held on 31 October 2001, in connection with the first anniversary of the Council’s adoption of its resolution 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000 on women, peace and security, the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council:

“The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the implementation of its resolution 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000 and welcomes the efforts by the United Nations system, Member States, civil society organizations and other relevant actors in promoting the equal participation and full involvement of women in the maintenance and promotion of peace and security and in implementing the provisions of resolution 1325 (2000).

“The Council further reaffirms its strong support for increasing the role of women in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution and renews its call on States to include women in the negotiations and implementation of peace accords, constitutions and strategies for resettlement and rebuilding and to take measures to support local women’s groups and indigenous processes for conflict resolution. In this regard, it recognizes the efforts of the Mano River Women’s Peace Network in facilitating peace and dialogue in the Mano River Union region. It is encouraged by the inclusion of women in the political decision-making bodies in Burundi, Somalia and in East Timor.

“The Security Council underscores the importance of promoting an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes while addressing armed conflicts, in particular peacekeeping operations in keeping with the statement of the President of the Security Council on 8 March 2000.

“The Council, therefore, reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to include, where appropriate, in his reporting to the Security Council, progress in gender mainstreaming throughout United Nations peacekeeping missions and on other aspects relating to women and girls. It expresses its intention to give full consideration to these reports and to take appropriate action. The Council also reaffirms its call for the inclusion of gender components as appropriate, in peacekeeping operations.

“The Security Council renews its support for gender-sensitive training guidelines and material on the protection, rights and the particular needs of women, as well as on the importance of involving women in all peacekeeping and peace-building measures. The Council calls upon all troop-contributing countries to include these elements in their national training programmes for peacekeepers.

“The Council welcomes the specific proposals made by the Secretary-General aimed at strengthening the Best Practices Unit of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations with the appointment of gender advisers at sufficiently senior levels.

“It also welcomes the practical efforts, including the preparation of complementary reports, already made by the United Nations and its agencies, funds, programmes and regional bodies, in particular those participating in the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) Inter-agency Task Force on Women, Peace and Security to implement all aspects of resolution 1325 (2000), as well as the timely issuance of the publication Gender Perspective in Disarmament, which gives a clear indication of ways in which women can be fully involved and the benefits to the parties concerned.

“The Security Council notes with satisfaction that the Secretary-General’s study requested under paragraph 16 of its resolution 1325 (2000) on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, the role of women in peace-building and the gender dimensions of peace processes and conflict resolution is under way and welcomes the coordinated comprehensive input of the United Nations and all the relevant agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system and looks forward to its review.

“The Security Council is concerned that there are still no women appointed as Special Representatives or Special Envoys of the Secretary-General to peace missions, and urges Member States to redouble their efforts to nominate women candidates to the Secretary-General. The Council also urges the Secretary-General to appoint women as Special Representatives and Envoys to pursue good offices on his behalf in accordance with his strategic plan of action (A/49/587, para. 2).

“The Security Council recognizes the need to implement fully international humanitarian and human rights law that protects the rights of civilians, including women and girls, during and after conflicts and calls on all parties to armed conflicts to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, and all other forms of violence.

“The Security Council remains actively seized of the matter and expresses its willingness to consider, as appropriate, the gender dimensions of armed conflict in carrying out its responsibility of maintaining international peace and security under the Charter of the United Nations.”


The Security Council met this morning to consider the item on women, peace and security. One year ago today, the Council adopted resolution 1325 (2000), calling on all actors involved in negotiating and implementing peace agreements to adopt gender perspectives that included the special needs of women and girls during repatriation and resettlement, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction. The gender perspective should also include measures supporting local women’s peace initiatives and indigenous processes for conflict resolution, and involving women in all the implementation mechanisms of the peace agreements, as well as measures to ensure the human rights of women and girls, particularly as they related to the national constitution, the electoral system, the police and the judiciary.

Also by that resolution, the Council expressed willingness to ensure that Council missions take into account gender considerations and the rights of women, including through local and international women’s groups. The Council requested the Secretary-General to provide to Member States training guidelines and materials on the protection of the rights and particular needs of women, as well as on the importance of involving women in all peacekeeping and peace-building measures. The Council invited the Secretary-General to carry out a study and report to it on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, the role of women in peace-building, and the gender dimension of peace processes and conflict resolutions. It urged Member States to increase the participation of women at decision-making levels.

see also
Natercia Godinho-Adams statement to Security Council

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