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Statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security to UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security

October 25, 2023

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Mr. President,

Canada has the honour to speak on behalf of 67 Members States of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, an informal network representing all five regional groups of the UN, and the European UnionFootnote 1.

We recognize the courage and determination of all women and girls, in diverse conditions and situations, who are essential to building peace and preventing conflict around the world. They deserve our unwavering support and urgent action.

The Group emphasizes five points:

First, we urge all Member States and the UN system to redouble their efforts to protect and promote women’s human rights and ensure their full, equal and meaningful and safe participation and leadership in all aspects of peace and security. We must collectively raise the level of ambition with regards to women’s meaningful participation and leadership in peace processes, at all stages, with the target of 50 percent. The UN should ensure that women’s participation is a standard requirement in all UN-supported peace processes. We affirm that women’s full, equal and meaningful participation as mediators, negotiators and signatories should be the norm, not the exception.

Second, we must take all concrete measures to dismantle the patriarchy and oppressive power structures which stand in the way of progress on gender equality and women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in political and public life, as called for in the Secretary General’s New Agenda for Peace.

Third, we must create safe, secure and enabling environments, both offline and online, for all peacebuilders, peacekeepers, human rights defenders, civil society leaders, environmental defenders, journalists, media workers, and advocates for gender equality to carry out their essential work, and to ensure that they can participate fully and safely in all aspects of peace and security. In addition to prevention, this includes strongly condemning gender-based violence that occurs through or is amplified by technology, and any attacks, intimidation, retaliation and reprisals against women peacebuilders and human rights defenders and advocates for gender equality in conflict-affected contexts, as well as those who cooperate with the UN. We must exercise zero tolerance for any such attacks and reinforce our efforts in the fight against impunity. Member States and the UN system must concretely support the work of women peacebuilders and human rights defenders, and take all necessary steps to prevent attacks and protect all those at risk. We must also promote more predictable, sustained and flexible funding for peacebuilding by local and women’s rights organizations and networks.

Fourth, we call for the full respect of international law and the effective prevention and response to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination, online and offline. This requires putting victims and survivors at the heart of all efforts and ensuring survivors’ non-discriminatory and comprehensive access to essential services, including sexual and reproductive healthcare services and mental health and psychosocial services, as well as to gender-responsive justice.

Prevention efforts must be equally as important as accountability. Where national institutions are not able or willing to take action against perpetrators of sexual violence, the international community should act to deter such crimes with all the tools at its disposal, including referring matters to the International Criminal Court. The UN Security Council has shown that it can use targeted sanctions against those who perpetrate and direct sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflict and we encourage it to take further such action.

Lastly, we encourage the continued development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national and regional action plans on Women, Peace and Security together with women peacebuilders at all levels.

Thank you.

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