On April 11, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an intervention during the Security Council Open Debate dedicated to the theme, “United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Women in Peacekeeping.”
In his statement, Archbishop Auza said that the UN Security Council committed itself in 2000 to increase the representation of women in peace processes, protect them from violence during armed conflict and facilitate their participation of agents of change in peace work on the ground. He said that women bring courage, professionalism, responsibility and a special sensitivity to peace operations and also play an essential role in rebuilding trust and facilitating reconciliation at local levels and in emerging democratic and legal processes. Their participation at every stage of the peace process, he said, is necessary and invaluable. He added that female leadership is often found in faith-based communities, which have a large and lasting role in peace work and should be further harnessed particularly in regions where religion has been manipulated to incite division. He finished by thanking all peacekeepers, women, and men, and urged continued inclusion of women in the peace and security agenda.
The Archbishop’s Full Intervention:
The Holy See thanks the Presidency of Germany for convening this open debate on UN Peacekeeping and especially the role of women in it.
Almost twenty years ago, the landmark Resolution 1325 called for women to be increasingly represented in decision-making levels in peace processes and the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict, to be protected from violence in situations of armed conflict, and, because they often bear the brunt of violent conflict, to participate actively as agents of change for durable peace. As Assistant Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix has emphasized, “Peacekeeping works effectively when women play meaningful roles and when women in host communities are directly engaged.”
Our discussion today should consider the role of women in two particular circumstances. The first are those who take part in UN Peacekeeping operations around the world, whose numbers, in line with the Secretary-General’s key priority, are increasing. They are daughters, sisters, wives and mothers who not only bring their courage, professionalism and sense of duty to their work, but also a special sensitivity which enables them to engage more effectively with local populations, to better assess the real needs on the ground through offering women, boys and girls the opportunity of sharing their grievances and concerns, and to galvanize local efforts being made to say no to violence and misery and yes to peace and development.
This brings us to the second context, the women who are living in conflict zones or who have experienced the trauma of war. They play an essential role in rebuilding trust, offering insights and facilitating reconciliation. Some of them have political responsibilities and have been key players in negotiating peace deals. It is encouraging to see that more women are involved in emerging democratic processes, strengthening the rule of law, giving voice to the voiceless and so on, yet the vast majority of women who make a contribution do so through their commitment at the local level. Women who have seen their families and communities torn apart, their villages and homes savagely destroyed, their dignity violated and their loved ones taken, are often, by their inner strength, courage, and resilience, the most inspiring witnesses with the capacity to sow hope, open new prospects and bring people together. Their presence at the negotiating table and during each and every stage of the peace processes is a necessity and an invaluable benefit. They ensure inclusivity, credibility, and durability. It is of utmost importance to guarantee that their voices are heard.
In crisis situations, female leadership is often found in faith-based communities, where women, because of their openness to the Other, their religious formation and conviction and the values that they hold dear, excel in the path of dialogue, collaboration, and nonviolence.
They actively engage in peacebuilding and the prevention of relapse into conflict. Their involvement normally brings large and lasting dividends. It is important, therefore, not to overlook such a valid contribution of civil society, but to seek ways to further harness these efforts especially in regions where religion has been manipulated to incite division or prevent peace processes from effectively taking root.
My Delegation wishes to commend and express gratitude to all women peacekeepers and peacebuilders in the world, in particular, those who work to promote greater involvement at all levels of women in the UN Peacekeeping Missions, which remain the most recognizable presence of the United Nations across the world. Since a future of peace is the ardent desire not only of those seated at this table but also of the peoples they represent and of most others in the world, the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda for more effective peacekeeping and peacebuilding must be at the center of our efforts.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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