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I am speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, 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.
Experience clearly shows that the full, effective and meaningful participation of women in peace operations is critical to help a country transition from conflict to sustainable peace. The United Nations has taken important steps in this regard. The European Union welcomes in particular the recently adopted UN Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy 2018-28, the DPKO and DFS Policy on Gender Responsive United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and the efforts taken in the context of the Action for Peacekeeping Initiative. A concrete example of these efforts is the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, which became the first UN peacekeeping operation to have a female Force Commander and now has all its components headed by women, as well as a woman SRSG.
Despite progress, almost 20 years since the adoption of the Security Council landmark resolution 1325 and the following resolutions on Women Peace and Security, we are still lagging behind. The 15 percent goal for military observers and staff officers – set at the London 2016 Peacekeeping Ministerial – was not met in 2018. Less than 5 percent of military contingents and less than 8 percent of the members of formed police units are women, while among individual police officers the numbers are slightly better at 20 percent. For corrections and justice government provided personnel the proportion of women stands at 25 percent. Only 28 percent of the civilians in peace operations are women.
We face very similar challenges at the EU level. Women compose around 30 % of all staff in EU civilian missions and around 5% of military missions and operations. The first female Head of Mission was appointed to an EU civilian mission in 2015, and five out of ten civilian missions have women in place as Head or Deputy Head of Mission. Despite these improvements, the growth we have witnessed has been too slow to achieve our ultimate goal: gender-equality in peacekeeping and peace resolution processes, which entails far more than increasing the number of female peacekeepers.
While the prime responsibility lies on Troop and Police-contributing countries to address barriers and improve procedures for deployment, the European Union is fully committed to take its part. When the EU and the UN last September, in the margins of the General Assembly, agreed to reinforce the EU-UN longstanding partnership on peacekeeping and crisis management, we made Women, Peace and Security the first, out of eight, joint priorities for our cooperation in the three coming years (2019-2021), as well as a cross-cutting priority across all areas of cooperation.
To ensure progress in the first year of implementation, our missions and operations, are already working together on the ground to enhance the integration of a gender perspective throughout their activities. We are mapping ongoing cooperation on the ground, on the basis of which, we will identify strategic areas for further cooperation. Also, as mentioned during the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial on 29 March, we have agreed to organise a joint UN-EU Workshop in Brussels, on enabling factors for engaging more women in all roles and areas of expertise, and at all levels of peacekeeping and crisis management. The aim of this joint effort is to build on already ongoing work and existing data in this area, and arrive at a set of practical recommendations that will be shared widely. We hope to encourage a practice of regular informed and practical exchanges on enabling factors for engaging more women in peacekeeping between EU Member States, other UN Troop and Police-contributing countries and experts in this area.
To make a real difference, if we are to fulfil the commitments we collectively made on Action for Peacekeeping in the Declaration on Shared Commitments, progress on the participation of women in peace operations needs to go hand and hand with progress on all other aspects of the WPS agenda. We would recall five key priorities in this context:
- first, we should ensure adequate financing for peacekeeping operations to deliver on their women, peace and security and human rights mandates;
- second, a minimum number of Gender Units and Gender Advisers should be set for all UN Missions and their deployment should be reinforced in settings where women's rights are particularly at stake and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence is widespread;
- third, gender-sensitive trainings should be encouraged for all UN Peacekeeping missions' components to create a non-hostile environment for women, mitigating therefore, the occurrence of gender-based violence incidents and acts of hatred against women across the contingents, as well as sexual exploitation and abuse incidents;
- fourth, all Member States should be encouraged to adopt National Action Plans, including adequate budgeting and detailed operative actions to ensure women's full participation in the security sector; and
- Fifth, the collection of data related to the composition of all the components of the missions should be ensured, along with a consistent procedure to strictly monitor the deployment of women and their effective participation in all the peacekeeping processes and at all levels.
The instruments, strategies and political commitments are there. Now is the time for implementation. We sincerely thank Germany and France for bringing the WPS agenda at the centre of their Presidencies and reiterate once again the EU's full commitment to engage in these common efforts.
* North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.