Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

Security Council
4208th Meeting (AM & PM)
24 October 2000



Speakers Note Continued Under-Representation of Half of Mankind
In Key Security Positions within United Nations System and Beyond

As the Security Council met today in an open meeting to consider the issue of women, peace and security, an overwhelming number of speakers stressed the need to include women in every aspect of peace-building initiatives, specifically calling for their involvement in decision-making processes.


Council Work Programme

The Security Council this morning met to take up the issue of “Women and peace and security”.



ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that finally the voices of women had reached the Security Council, as it began today to openly address how conflicts shaped their lives and how women were coming together to shape peace and security. The Council should explore options for facilitating women’s involvement in United Nations peacemaking and peace operations. The women had spoken. The onus was now on the Council to act. Through today’s meeting and through the resolution to be adopted in a few days, members must send a powerful message that women needed peace and, more importantly, that peace needed women.

At the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration sites, the different needs of women and men combatants and accompanying family members had to be addressed, he said. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court had recognized war crimes against girls and women. The Security Council must add its voice in ensuring that there was no impunity for gender-based war crimes. From Burundi to Somalia to Northern Ireland to the Middle East and Cambodia, women had shown a great capacity as peacemakers. …


ALPHONS HAMER (Netherlands), subscribing to a statement to be made by the representative of France on behalf of the European Union, said his country had been working with key non-governmental organizations to increase the involvement of women in peace-building. In the Sudan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, the Netherlands had supported women's organizations attempting to take a more active part in conflict resolution and peace-building. It had also supported UNIFEM's work in that regard. The Netherlands would welcome joint efforts to increase women's involvement and was ready to share with others the lessons it had learned.


AHMED ABOULGHEIT (Egypt) said the protection of women came under the protection of all civilians. The Council must deal with those topics with respect for the delicate balance between the organs of the United Nations, as spelled out in the Charter. The pivotal principle was that implementation of international humanitarian law should not impede carrying out the provisions of the Charter. He recognized the need to respond to special situations such as those where humanitarian assistance was deliberately blocked. Where the Council failed to exercise its responsibility, one should consider the venue of the General Assembly for such matters.

He said that last June the largest political gathering in history met to recognize the role of women. They had pledged to leave no stone unturned to elevate the status of women and preserve their human rights. When women were denied the right to justice and participation in all aspects of life, development and prosperity were delayed, as was the chance for development and peace. Root causes had to be addressed in a comprehensive and just manner to avoid the displacement or eviction of people. Violence against women was an obstacle to equality, development and peace.

Women had an important role to play in peacemaking and peace-building, he said, and their participation in decision-making and negotiation was also important. Women were important to the preservation of social order and for their ability to foster peace and development. The achievements of women in all walks of life could not be ignored.

The deteriorating situation of Palestinian woman under occupation was of the highest importance, he said. They suffered violence and injustice, in addition to feeling bereaved because their husbands, brothers and children were wiped out by the bullets of the Israeli forces. While the Council was discussing the means of protecting women in armed conflicts, it could not ignore the appeals for dignity and succour made by the Palestinian women. He called on the Council to discuss the conditions of those women under occupation, specifying the Israeli agents who violated basic human rights with blatant unjustified violence against the Palestinian people. That would prove the Council’s seriousness in attacking the issue of violence against women. There should be no double standard in dealing with such matters in the future.


KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore), said that in the course of human history, women had been victims of direct and immediate physical injury in armed conflicts that ranged from rape, forced prostitution and sexual slavery to forced pregnancy, abduction and slaughter. Women also made up the majority of refugees and internally displaced persons that resulted from the beginning of conflicts. The consequences of sexual violations, loss of male family members and eviction from their homes imposed incalculable burdens on women, which may last years after the end of the conflict. One of the greatest contributions of the twentieth century, he continued, was to spell out the norms that should govern armed conflict. The tragedy we faced today was that these norms were written on the assumption that armed conflict would take place between well trained and well disciplined armies. Unfortunately, many combatants today were young and lacked the basic rudiments of education, and the international community could do little to try to educate such combatants. The only solution would be to deliver robust responses when major infractions took place. The death penalty would be an appropriate judicial response, as well as a key deterrent.

He said one major change between the second half of the twentieth century and earlier times was the growing recognition that women could play an important role in ending or resolving conflict. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) should be commended for highlighting the significant contributions women had made towards both achieving and consolidating peace. In South Africa, Northern Ireland, Georgia, Palestine, Cambodia, and Guatemala, women’s participation had led to positive outcomes. In Burundi, women were showing determined efforts to contribute to the peace process.


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