Statement by Dr GNM Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, during the United Nations Security Council open Debate on Women, Peace and Security
Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank you all for participating in our discussion today.
Women from diverse contexts across the world continue to face obstacles and resistance, they continue to bear the brunt of armed conflict and their personal, economic, civil and political security is persistently undermined.
Women’s efforts to ensure their participation in peace processes continue to be undermined and if we fail to address the barriers in the next 20 years and beyond that, then we must face that we are falling short of our ambitions to realise the objectives we set as an international community. Together, the United Nations, Member States, regional organisations, civil society and other actors supporting peace processes must hold each other accountable to maintain and go beyond the current progress in the area of the WPS agenda by 2020 and beyond that.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Your participation today in this important meeting confirms the significance of the women, peace and security agenda. The myriad and complex conflicts in the world underscores the need to reinforce the implementation of the Women Peace and Security (WPS).
Resolution 1325, which was passed 19 years ago in October and its subsequent resolutions underpin the Women, Peace and Security International normative Framework.
My country views the women, peace and security agenda as a means for women to mediate in conflict situations and as essential to end the use of force as a means of settling disputes.
The report of the Secretary-General that we have before us provides us with a useful overview of the successes and gaps in the implementation of this agenda. The report provides us with concrete recommendations that should move us from rhetoric to action, so that we can effectively implement the commitments we have set ourselves.
It is within this context that South Africa saw it fit to present a resolution focusing on full implementation of the WPS agenda. The resolution recognises that although there has been great progress made, great opportunities still lie ahead of us.
As we exchange views on how to strengthen implementation of the WPS agenda, particularly as we move towards the 20th anniversary of the adoption of resolution 1325 next year, it is also imperative for the international community to take into account the findings, including recommendations made in the 2015 Global Study on the implementation of resolution 1325, commissioned by this Council. We believe some of these recommendations are still relevant in terms of elaborating practical and attainable deliverables and it is for this reason that South Africa advocated for its inclusion to embolden the message on full implementation of the agenda.
Our deliverables must be visible and discernible. They must be clearly aimed at ensuring the meaningful participation of women in all levels of peace processes; increasing the number of women in uniformed and civilian components of peacekeeping operations; investing in women as peacebuilders, such as in mediation and negotiation; protecting the human rights of women, particularly sexual and reproductive health rights; and advancing accountability for heinous crimes such as sexual violence.
South Africa has been a proponent of the women, peace and security agenda since its inception and we remain committed to implementing the agenda, so that it can also support and contribute to Silencing the Guns across the world, and work towards saving ‘succeeding generations from the scourge of war’, as we committed to at the founding of the United Nations.
South Africa has been engaged in training women across all of these areas. We are, therefore optimistic that the operationalisation of the Global Alliance of Regional Women Mediators Networks will advance some of these objectives.
On peacekeeping, South Africa will continue to ensure the meaningful participation of women in peace support operations. Currently the South African National Defence Force comprises 30% women. This has enabled South Africa, as a troop contributing country to UN peacekeeping missions, to deploy more females in the frontlines of armed conflicts. The South African contingent of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) to MONUSCO is composed of 14,5% women and the Officer commanding the South African Force is a woman.
During our side-event on Women in Peacekeeping held yesterday afternoon, we shared experiences on how to achieve the goals we have set on increasing the representation of women in peace support operations. We are pleased that the UN’s Uniformed Personnel Gender Parity Strategy clearly indicates the quotas and timeframes that must be reached to increase the number of women deployed in military, police, corrections and justice personnel.
As a supporter of collective approaches to address issues that affect us all, South Africa will continue to actively participate in existing global initiatives, such as the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network; the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations; and the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping Initiative. We find these initiatives useful and also serve as instruments to raise awareness on the importance of the women, peace and security agenda.
Let us commit today to continue to advance the cause of women, peace and security agenda through implementing the recommendations and guidelines emanating from the resolutions.
I thank you.