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Ms President, Excellences, Distinguished Participants, ladies and gentlemen,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
I would like to thank South Africa for choosing this topic for this year's debate and for initiating an early start of stocktaking ahead of next year's 20th anniversary of the adoption of the landmark Security Council Resolution on women peace and security.
We already have a robust framework in place. More than words, what is needed now is decisive action.
Since the Secretary-General's last report, the European Union adopted a new Strategic Approach, as well as an Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security reaffirming our determination to pursue the implementation of the WPS agenda in a holistic fashion.
Our Strategic Approach supports actions by governments and civil society alike to engage, empower, protect, and support women and girls through concrete commitments, with particular emphasis on our aim to achieve sustainable and lasting peace and security through the promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment.
In the European Union, we endeavour to lead by example and our Action Plan on WPS has as its key objectives to increase women's leadership and full, equal and meaningful participation and to firmly emphasize the centrality of gender analysis and the mainstreaming of gender perspective. The other objectives are the prevention of conflict and conflict-related human rights violations and the promotion of full accountability policies and institutional reforms, the protection of women's and girls' rights, access to justice as well as the promotion of institutional mechanisms to help prevent all forms of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and to support effective relief and recovery.
We insist on the urgency of ensuring full access to comprehensive, coordinated and quality services, including sexual and reproductive health care, psychological support, legal counselling.
Our commitment to promote regional and global leadership and practice in the implementation of the WPS agenda cannot be achieved without close cooperation with multilateral and regional organisations, civil society, academia, think-tanks and the private sector. Tomorrow, we will take a step forward to scale up our cooperation on WPS at a regional level. Together with the UN, the African Union and NATO, and with OSCE as an observer, the Initiative on the Regional Acceleration of Resolution (RAR) 1325 will be launched. Together with our partners we aim to strengthen the connectivity and cooperation between practitioners at all levels. We believe that this unique initiative will, among other benefits, prove the advantages of multilateralism in moving the WPS agenda forward.
The EU is founded on the universal values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. We note with concern renewed efforts in many parts of the world to curtail the space for civil society. We appreciate the emphasis that the Secretary-General in his report places on women’s organisations, peacebuilders and women human rights defenders as key political constituents who play pivotal roles in efforts relating to conflict prevention, resolution and sustaining peace. We share the grave concern of the Secretary-General at the increase in attacks and threats on these actors. This is unacceptable and we will take further specific steps to protect them, including through sustainable funding, paying particular attention to those who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and thus are particularly at risk, for example, persons with disabilities.
We continue to engage proactively in the promotion of women's leadership. We continue to engage actively with women’s organisations and women human rights defenders working in conflict-related settings and/or in conflict prevention, preventing violent extremism/radicalisation, peace negotiations, mediation and peacebuilding, humanitarian action and development programmes, through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, as well as regular consultations with them in EU-led and -supported, processes.
In our civilian and military missions and operations we reiterate our commitment to a 'zero tolerance policy’ towards misconduct and abuse, and we aim to improve our response to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment through a new EU policy.
The instruments, strategies and political commitments are already there. The necessary policies are in place and the words have repeatedly been spoken. Our focus now should be on the implementation, more and better targeted action in order for us all to demonstrate significant progress that is long overdue ahead of next year's anniversaries. However, time is against us and we must step up our game collectively. This is no mission for women and girls alone, but men and boys also need to be fully engaged as positive agents for change.
Finally, in view of the upcoming 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 in 2020 the EU reiterates its commitment to help UN efforts for faster and more ambitious implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. In this regard, we look forward to tighten EU-UN cooperation, not the least in the field. Together we must work on better gender analysis, more sex-disaggregated data, gender expertise, leadership accountability and resources. The United Nations can always rely on our unwavering support not only in New York, but across the globe.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.