Clare Hutchinson, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, participated in a UN Security Council debate on women’s empowerment in New York on Thursday (25 October 2018). Ms. Hutchinson stressed NATO’s strong commitment to the Women, Peace and Security agenda, noting the adoption of a new Policy and Action Plan by Allied leaders in July. She said: “the Women, Peace and Security agenda needs collective action to ensure tangible progress. We must be courageous in our work together to achieve sustainable and lasting peace, not only for women, but for everyone.”

Below you can read the full text of the statement:

Mr. President,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address the Security Council as the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security. I am pleased to be able to contribute to this ongoing dialogue which is a priority for our Alliance.

The adoption of the Women, Peace and Security resolutions and the work by this Council has helped us reflect on the broader aspects of security, which address the essential, yet missing, influence women play in reshaping the agenda for peace.

We understand there is a strong correlation between gender equality and a country’s stability. Women’s empowerment leads to more peaceful and inclusive communities and is vital for conflict prevention. The treatment of women in any society is a barometer where we can detect other forms of oppression, and a rise in violence can be measured through the decrease of human rights and shrinking spaces for women’s voices.

As a military and political Alliance, we recognise that the security needs of women and men are different. However we have sometimes missed the opportunity to integrate their diverse perspectives of security. We are now making sure that all our work adequately reflects a whole of population approach.

Sustainable peace will not be achieved without women’s empowerment and participation.

Mr. President,

NATO is strongly committed to advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

This year our Heads of State and Government reinforced this commitment by endorsing a new Policy and Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security that enjoys the support of the 29 Allies and many of our partners. The new Policy builds on a framework of three guiding principles: Integration, Inclusiveness and Integrity.

These principles, aligned with global Women, Peace and Security commitments, draw from NATO’s common values of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and obligations under the Charter of the United Nations.

Our principles reinforce the goal that gender equality must be integral to all NATO-led activities, operations, and missions. We aim to implement this agenda by dismantling barriers standing in the way of the full participation of women in our Alliance and national forces. But more importantly, we will enhance accountability of the Women, Peace and Security mandate by ensuring we adopt the highest standards of professional and personal conduct – both within NATO civilian and military staff.

Our new Policy represents the next step in advancing the agenda within the Alliance and reaffirms the continuous commitment of NATO Allies and partners to the integration of gender perspectives and Women, Peace and Security priorities.

This Policy will become an integral part of everyday business and support our Alliance to address the complex challenges of the 21st century.

Mr. President,

Today’s global threats are complex and multifaceted, and complicate the security landscape in unprecedented ways. Therefore, we need to respond adequately through a holistic approach to security.

The link between security and economic stability has been well proven. Women’s economic fragility is reinforced by political instability. We must do better to support women to be agents of their own future.

NATO is actively promoting and enhancing engagement with women civil society organisations to strengthen the voices of those most affected by conflict.

We have established a Civil Society Advisory Panel on Women, Peace and Security, which is an independent coalition of women’s organisations, who represent a global constituency of those most affected by inequality and conflict. This Panel challenges us to broaden our understanding of security. To promote a more inclusive approach to address the challenges to defence and security.

The members of our Panel have raised concerns about the current threats to peace around the world and highlighted their frustration at the slow progress of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. We have listened. We have heard their voices. And we have responded by making sure that the integration of gender and inclusion of women’s voices is mainstreamed throughout NATO’s work. This is an essential factor in the success of peace and security.

Women everywhere highlight the need to understand and reinforce preventative measures, which include gender perspectives into early warning analysis. We must recognise that violations of women’s rights and women’s political and economic isolation are indicators of potential conflict.

Our Civil Society Advisory Panel urges us to make gender more visible within security responses and provide a clear vision for the future, one which relies on coordinated efforts with International Organisations and Civil Society.

Mr. President,

Consistency and coherence across the international system is critical if we are to advance this agenda. We must articulate our vision, coordinate our efforts, and demonstrate our collective support while holding accountable all those responsible for implementing this mandate.

Change requires courage and courage demands commitment. The Women, Peace and Security agenda needs collective action to ensure tangible progress. We must be courageous in our work together to achieve sustainable and lasting peace, not only for women, but for everyone.

Thank you.

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