Sustainable Peace Cannot Be Built Where Rights of Women Are Ignored

Peace is the core mission of the United Nations.  It is our raison d’être.  This mission is now under grave threat. People’s sense of safety and security is at a low in almost every country, with six in seven worldwide plagued by feelings of insecurity.  The world is facing the highest number of violent conflicts since the Second World War.

Two billion people, one quarter of humanity, live in places affected by conflict.  This is causing grave human suffering, both directly in conflict zones and indirectly by adding to poverty and food insecurity and reducing access to education and health care.  It is imposing severe constraints on people’s ability to fulfill their potential and contribute to society.

 The war in Ukraine is devastating the lives of millions of Ukrainians.  It has also compounded a food, energy and finance crisis worldwide, especially amongst the world’s most vulnerable people and countries. Recalling the words of the Secretary-General, the world is at a “key inflection point in history”.  Rethinking our efforts towards achieving sustainable peace is an absolute necessity.  There is only one route to durable peace.  To the peace that withstands the crises of our times.  It is the route of sustainable development.

 Inclusive, sustainable development that leaves no one behind is essential in its own rights.  It is also humanity’s ultimate prevention tool.  It is the only reliable tool that can break through cycles of instability to address the underlying drivers of fragility and humanitarian need. Investments in development, investments in people, investments in human security, investments in our shared prosperity, are also investments in peace.  And yet, our investments in recent years have fallen far short.

 The triple planetary crisis of biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution does not merely threaten our environment.  It also threatens to unleash destructive forces that drive wedges in our societies, erode social cohesion and ignite instability. The New Agenda for Peace will provide a unique opportunity to articulate a shared vision for how Member States can come together to address these challenges — and to honour the commitment they made in the UN75 Declaration:  “We will promote peace and prevent conflicts”.

The New Agenda for Peace will aim to identify additional ways to support national prevention and peace building priorities and to channel the international community’s support to nationally–owned violence reduction initiatives.

 Inclusion will also be at the centre of the New Agenda for Peace.  We know that inclusive processes are more likely to be effective and to bring about sustainable peace.

 Inclusion involves the meaningful participation of all constituencies and communities, particularly those traditionally underrepresented, in peace and security processes, but also in the social, economic and political life of a country.

 This adds up to recognizing and ensuring, in the broadest possible way, that human rights are pivotal in the New Agenda for Peace.

 My second point is that investing in inclusion is not only right; it is wise.

 Inclusion leads to more public support and greater legitimacy.  It strengthens societal resilience and addresses structural inequalities, which are major risk factors of violent conflict.

 Among other things, inclusion means addressing fundamental gender inequalities. A society based on exclusion and repression can never flourish.  A society where the rights of women and girls are trampled on is no society at all.  Women’s full participation in politics and the economy makes a society more likely to succeed.  Sustainable peace cannot be built where the rights of women are ignored. On the global stage, we have made some progress on inclusion.  But this progress is still far too slow. Women remain largely shut out of local, national, regional and international decision-making.

 The percentage of women represented in political fora and peace processes has decreased in recent years.  Military expenditures are growing, while funding for women human rights’ organizations is falling.

 Conflict prevention and conflict resolution efforts must be shaped through inclusive processes, involving the leadership of women and youth, and reflecting their priorities. My third point concerns the importance of the Peace building Architecture, and in particular the need to explore how the Security Council can further leverage the role and advice of the Peace-building Commission.

 Increasingly, it provides advice on important thematic and cross-cutting agendas.  And it highlights country-specific and regional peace building needs, in countries and regions including the Central African Republic, Colombia, the Great Lakes region, and West Africa and the Sahel.

 My fourth and final point is that the success of our collective efforts to advance sustainable peace worldwide will depend on adequate investment in peace building.

 I am heartened by the unanimous adoption of the resolution on financing for peace building by the General Assembly in September 2022.  The resolution emphasizes the need for greater political, operational and financial investment in prevention and peace building efforts in order to sustain peace.

 The resolution also underscores the need to invest in local initiatives and in stakeholders active at the local level.  This is essential for building societal resilience. I look forward to today’s debate.

Excerpts from UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the Security Council open debate on peace building and sustaining peace, in New York on 26 January, 2023