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Statement on behalf of Estonia and Latvia delivered by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Mr. Urmas Paet at the Security Council Open Debate on WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY “DISPLACED WOMEN AND GIRLS: LEADERS AND SURVIVORS”

28.10.2014

Madam President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Estonia and Latvia. I thank the Assistant Secretary-General on Peacekeeping Operations Mr. Edmund Mulet, the Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka, the representative of the Non-Governmental Working Group on Women, Peace and Security Ms Suaad Lami and Mr Mr Chabka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internationally Displaced Persons for their statements. Let me also welcome the adoption of the presidential statement earlier today.

Estonia and Latvia align themselves with the statement to be delivered by the European Union.

 

Madam President,

 

As highlighted in the concept paper prepared by Argentina, throughout the development of the normative framework of  Women,  Peace and Security agenda - namely in a number of Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, the particular risk of women and girls refugees and internally displaced persons has been addressed. Despite this, the issue has been rather in the background than the specific focus of earlier Security Council open debates. Therefore we would especially like to thank Argentina for choosing this relevant theme for today`s debate.

 

Forced displacement of women and girls is not only a humanitarian issue – it is a long term development issue, a human rights issue,  a peace and security issue and a key challenge for the women, peace and security agenda. It is paramount that we tackle the discrimination, human rights abuses and obstacles to justice that refugee and internally displaced women and girls are facing day by day.

 

All through this year women and children, particularly girls, have been affected by newly emerging violence and conflicts associated with the proliferation of militias and armed groups linked to violent extremism. In Iraq, the terrorist movement ISIL has conducted abduction, enslavement, rape, forced marriage, and sale to slavery of several thousand Yezidi and other minority women and girls. The international community needs to respond to ISIL’s brutality. In Nigeria another extremist movement, Boko Haram, has abducted schoolgirls and is holding them captive for more than six months now. The international community must resolutely oppose such barbarity.

 

These are only a few examples but sadly the list is longer. Many protracted conflicts that deeply affect women and girls remain unresolved in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Unfortunately, this year we have also witnessed a military conflict in Europe, which has caused suffering to the people of Ukraine, including women and children. More than half of the registered IDP population in Ukraine (66%) are women and 31% are children. We welcome the steps taken by the Ukrainian government to address the IDPs situation. While many IDPs have been able to return to their homes in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, encouraged by the ceasefire, the overall situation of the IDPs in Ukraine needs a long-term solution for their economic and social integration in host communities or successful return home. The humanitarian needs will rise due to the harsh winter expected in the region. It is a duty of the international community and especially the United Nations Security Council to work towards solving the conflicts and to lessen human suffering.

 

Women and girls comprise unfortunately about half of any refugee or internally displaced population. Therefore we have to pay special attention to their needs.  The situation of refugee and internally displaced women and girls is often complicated by restricted access to resources, inequitable access to services such as education and health, including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services; as well as access to training and livelihoods initiatives.

 

Improving educational level of women and girls is crucial for their political and economic empowerment. Education is necessary for preventing abuse of women and girls’ vulnerable situation as refugees or displaced persons and for adjusting to the life after conflict and integrating them into their host society, if they don`t have the possibility to return to their home country.  Presently, only 12 percent of girl refugees attend secondary school.

 

Madam President,

We witness with concern that sexual violence remains an enduring part of most armed conflicts.

It is highly regrettable that sexual violence also occurs in refugee camps. We must take resolute steps for preventing situations where women seeking refuge from war and conflict, have to face new threats and fear in the camps instead.

 

Ensuring accountability of perpetrators of sexual violence crimes is crucial for deterring and ultimately eliminating sexual violence. It is equally important for bringing justice to victims of these crimes. As strong supporters of the 2013 Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, Estonia and Latvia will focus on the practical implementation of the commitments to end the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Sexual and gender based violence as a war crime or crime against humanity has been prosecuted primarily at the international level. The International Criminal Court therefore has an important role to play where states lack the capacity or political will to hold perpetrators to account. Estonia and Latvia are supporting victims of gender-based and sexual violence in countries affected by armed conflict through the Trust Fund for Victims set up by the International Criminal Court.

Unfortunately, even in the United Nations own peacekeeping missions, sexual violence has been an issue. We must continue with the training and raising awareness of all peacekeeping missions and also prioritize the fight against sexual violence when planning the missions. Despite progress achieved, continued cases of sexual exploitation threaten the credibility of the international peacekeeping system and individual missions. These cases may also discourage victims from coming forward. Best practices described in Secretary General’s Report should be more widely used to avoid recurrence of such situations.

 

Madame President,

It is self-evident that women’s empowerment is crucial for long lasting peace and stability.  Participation of women and women’s organisations in policymaking and in post-conflict reconstruction must be ensured from the outset and throughout the process. Similarly, it is necessary to support post-conflict countries in the rebuilding of judicial systems in order to ensure the rule of law and protection of human rights. Sufficient and effective training must be provided to government officials, especially law enforcement officials.

 

Next year we will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution 1325. Estonia has included protection of women in national strategies on conflict prevention and has adopted a National Action Plan to implement Security Council resolution 1325.

Protecting and promoting the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls is one of the principal priorities of Estonia's and Latvia’s humanitarian aid and development cooperation policies. We have supported the alleviation of the humanitarian situation of refugees and internally displaced persons, primarily women and children, in many conflict zones. For example, Estonia supports the activities aimed at improving the quality of women's health-related education in Afghanistan, raising knowledge about reproductive health in Kyrgyzstan and efforts to end child marriage in Yemen. As to the elimination of conflict related sexual violence, I am glad to say that Estonia has also been supporting financially the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the Team of Experts on Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict and we will continue to do so

 

 

Latvia has been focusing on the implementation of the Resolution 1325 primarily through its development cooperation policy and in close cooperation with civil society organizations have engaged in projects aimed at advancement of women's rights in different parts of the world, especially in Central Asia.

Over the years, both Estonia and Latvia have actively promoted women's rights and gender equality at international level. In our national capacity we have strongly supported the work of the UN-Women, including financially In view of the upcoming twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, we will be even more engaged in our activities on advancement of women’s rights and gender equality. We are convinced that the aims of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action are still very much relevant and should be also integrated in the new post-2015 agenda.

 

Madam President,

Since the adoption of resolution 1325, remarkable achievements have been made at the normative level and the international community has come a long way since the year 2000. However, the challenges lie at the level of implementation. We look forward to the Global Review next year and hope it will advance the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 as well as the follow-up resolutions.

 

Thank you for your attention, and I wish us a lively continuation of the discussion.

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