Saturday, August 30, 2014

Security Council Debates Women, Peace and Security

On  23 February the Security Council held an open debate on Women, Peace and Security. Special Representative Margot Wallström presented the Secretary-General’s report on conflict-related sexual violence to the Council. The USG for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve Ladsous, and Amina Megheirbi from the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Working Group on Women, Peace and Stability also addressed the Council at the opening of the debate.

In his remarks to the Council, H.E. Ambassador Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the UN opened with a discussion about the new wave of wars, conflict, and atrocities from the end of World War in 1945 to the present day.  To this end, Ambassador Tanin detailed the transformation of wars and conflicts, stating that, “we increasingly faced a new form of wars with a decrease in the number of inter-state conflicts, and an increase in the prevalence of intra-state tension and violent non-state actors, which brought new waves of atrocious horrors to many parts of the world, including in my country, Afghanistan.” Ambassador Tanin touched upon a crucial point: the new wave of wars and conflicts posed new challenges to the international community and subsequently led to more application of international laws and norms to tackle the new set of issues with which they were faced.

As these issues cannot be viewed in isolation, H.E. Ambassador Tanin acknowledged that sexual violence is interconnected with other atrocities, noting that war and violence in Afghanistan led to a broken society and state, which in turn led to crimes against Afghan people, including human rights atrocities and violence against women.

Leaving aside the grim realities of the past, H.E. Ambassador Tanin then transitioned to the present and elaborated upon the strides Afghanistan has made in the last ten years.  He stated that, “the Government of Afghanistan with the support of the international community has worked to put an end to violence in the country, essential for security and protecting rights of women, men and children.” Ambassador Tanin also gave special attention to several imperative government initiatives and commissions that were established to combat sexual violence in Afghanistan.  For example, the Elimination of Violence Against Women law was adopted to provide the Government with stronger judicial means through which they can fight against sexual violence effectively.

Ambassador Tanin ended with a message on the future, stating that, “the Afghan Government will continue to dedicate itself to the elimination of sexual violence and to the advancement of women’s rights and empowerment.”

The debate drew a speakers list of more than 40 representatives, which resulted in a dynamic discussion. A range of ideas were presented, but the general consensus was clear, that there can be no global security without security for women.