United Nations pledges to promote women in peace talks

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The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday renewing its commitment to promote women’s leadership and participation in all negotiations to resolve conflicts and bring peace to war-torn countries.

The council said it remains deeply concerned at the “exacerbated vulnerability” of women in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, and the abuses, threats and human rights violations they suffer. It noted that girls and women who become pregnant as a result of rape should have “access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services ... without discrimination.”

The resolution stressed the need to increase women’s participation “in all discussions pertinent to the prevention and resolution of armed conflicts, the maintenance of peace and security, and post-conflict peace-building.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council the resolution makes the point that “women’s participation in peace efforts is a matter of gender equality and universal human rights.”

The resolution was adopted 13 years after a landmark U.N. resolution calling for women to be included in decision-making positions at every level of peacemaking and peace building. It calls for a high-level review of the implementation of that resolution in 2015.

Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, the new head of U.N. Women, told the council that women must be invited to help mediate and negotiate cease-fires and peace accords to ensure that women’s issues are addressed.

“This resolution puts the onus on all of us - the Security Council, the United Nations, regional organizations and member states - to create the space and provide seats at the table for women,” she said. “I know for sure that there are women who are adequately trained for these roles.”

Mlambo Ngcuka said a report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shows that gains in women’s participation “are neither as consistent nor sustained as they should be.”

This year, she said, three out of 10 peace agreements in U.N.-supported efforts included provisions for women’s political participation or protection - but seven didn’t. The number of women at senior levels in U.N. field missions also remained relatively stagnant over the past year, she said.