Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

30 November 2012 - Statement to the United Nations Security Council

30 November 2012

Women Peace and Security

Statement by Mr Michael Bliss
Minister Counsellor
Australian Mission to the United Nations



Australia welcomes the convening of this Security Council open-debate on women, peace and security. We commend Guatemala, and India, for bringing the Council’s focus to the particular role of women’s civil society organisations. We thank Deputy-Secretary Eliasson, Under-Secretary-General Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General Ladsous, and Ms Diop for their briefings to the Council, and reiterate our support for continued briefings on implementation of Resolution 1325.

Australia looks forward to working with others to progress the women, peace and agenda during our term on the Council.

Mr President

We join other States in condemning the ongoing high incidence of sexual violence in conflict, and support all efforts to prevent such crimes, and to put an end to impunity for perpetrators of such crimes. This must be a priority for the Security Council and other parts of the UN system.
There is a clear consensus that the early involvement of women in conflict prevention, resolution, and peace-building promotes lasting peace, and helps in the realisation of gender equality. The fact that the Council is increasingly recognising this reality as it discharges its functions is to be welcomed.

As the Secretary-General’s report makes clear, women’s organisations play an indispensable role in enabling women to prevent conflict, and promote and build peace. But women’s organisations can only operate effectively in safety, and with support. In this regard, Australia strongly supports the Secretary-General’s call for protection of women’s human rights defenders during conflict situations, given their specific vulnerability.

Mr President

Australia commends the increasing inclusion of references in UN mission mandates to the promotion of the rights, protection and empowerment of women. Gender awareness and responsiveness of UN personnel is critical, and Australia is supporting these efforts through provision of training, a best practice toolkit for UN peacekeepers on conflict-related sexual violence, and, in partnership with UN Women, the development of a documentary and toolkit for peacekeepers, civilians and humanitarian personnel on Women, Peace and Security.

In addition, such issues must not be overlooked in mission drawdowns, and during transitions from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. Australia support the Secretary-General’s calls for the embedding of sector-specific gender experts, including in post-conflict recovery programs, to ensure the rights of women and girls are protected.

The importance of the UN leading by example in the area of gender equality is essential. Australia is concerned at the significant decrease over the last 12 months in the share of women holding senior positions in UN peacekeeping, political and peacebuilding missions. We support the Secretary-General’s call for a review of this situation in consultation with UN Women.

Mr President

Women’s participation in post-conflict peace-building is also crucial. The international community must work to facilitate women’s full and equal political participation in post-conflict election processes, including by addressing the structural impediments that discourage women’s candidacies. Ensuring women’s safety during electoral processes and addressing their particular socioeconomic disadvantages are key factors in facilitating women’s participation in formal decision-making roles.

In our region, Australia was pleased to announce in August, our partnership with members of the Pacific Islands Forum, on a new 10-year Pacific Women’s Initiative. It aims at redressing the dramatic under-representation of women in decision-making settings, by bringing governments and civil society groups together to develop policy and to help change perceptions about women’s and men’s roles in communities.

Mr President

In March this year, Australia launched its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. Women’s organisations played a pivotal role in shaping the Plan, and we consider their ongoing role in monitoring compliance to be central to the Plan’s success. We encourage all States who have not implemented such plans to do so, and to engage women’s organisations in developing, implementing and evaluating these plans.

In recognition of the growing role of regional security organisations to international peace and security efforts, we urge them also to introduce strategies on implementing resolution 1325.

Australia supports the UN’s efforts to facilitate the sharing of best practices between States and women's organisations. We also recognise the leadership of UN Women in coordinating global efforts to promote and implement resolution 1325.

Mr President

Our actions to pursue the women, peace and security agenda do not occur in a vacuum. Work to promote the participation of women and girls in peace and security processes needs to take place within the broader context of work to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. The message is simple – women and girls need to be actively involved in decision-making, not only to ensure their human rights are adequately protected, but to prevent the outbreak of further conflict, and to ensure peace endures.