Following is the message of Secretary-General
Kofi Annan to the Conference on 'Women for Peace, Dialogue for Action'
(Sharm El Sheikh, 20-23 September), delivered on his behalf by Mervat
Tallawy, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for West
Two years ago, in the Millennium Declaration,
the world's governments resolved to promote the empowerment and education
of women as effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease, and
to stimulate development that is truly sustainable.
That same year, the Security Council passed
resolution 1325, which recognizes the vital role of women in the realm
of peace and security. While it has long been understood that women
must be protected from the impact of armed conflict, the resolution
broke new ground in stating that they must also be recognized as key
actors in conflict resolution, and that we must work harder to include
them fully in all strategies and efforts for peacemaking,
peacekeeping, peace-building and reconstruction.
It is one of the tragic features of modern conflict
that women and girls suffer its impact disproportionately. They are
usually neither the initiators nor the perpetrators of conflicts, yet
they have been specifically targeted, often as a way to humiliate the
adversary and break the morale and resistance of whole societies. Steps
have been taken to end the culture of impunity surrounding this lamentable
practice -- both at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former
Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and in the adoption of the Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court. We must
build further on that work.
The resolution adopted by the Security Council
makes clear that we must strive to integrate women more effectively
in the work for peace worldwide. It is increasingly recognized that
women possess particular skills and experiences that enable them to
contribute to all stages of a peace process. In times of conflict, it
is often women who take over the running of homes, farms and villages.
Women understand the root causes of tension and
are more likely to know which groups within communities and countries
are likely to support peace initiatives. Women are able to work together
and communicate across barriers and divides. Yet while they are crucial
actors and advocates in civil society and in building local and regional
networks, they are often marginalized in official peace negotiations.
We must make greater use of women's potential
in this area, and bring more women to the negotiating table and into
decision-making positions. We must act on the understanding that women's
full participation in preventing and resolving conflicts is essential
for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security in the twenty-first
As requested in resolution 1325, I will soon
be submitting a report to the Security Council with concrete suggestions
on how we can enhance the role of women in peace and security and accelerate
implementation of the resolution. The report is expected to be considered
by the Council as it meets next month to review progress in implementation
so far, and to mark the second anniversary of the resolution's adoption.
With that in mind, I commend Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak
for her initiative in organizing this Conference on "Women For
Peace, Dialogue For Action". I send my warmest wishes and encouragement
to all participants, and add the hope that your message will be heard
far and wide.
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