Speech by Michelle Bachelet at women’s training on mediation and conflict management at national, international and community level in Mali

Date: Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Speech by Michelle Bachelet at a women's training on mediation and conflict management at national, international and community level. Bamako International Conference Center, Mali. 9 January, 2013.

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I thank the organizers for hosting me today. And I praise the women and men of Mali for their courage and resilience under such difficult circumstances.

Twelve years ago, the UN Security Council recognized that the only sustainable peace - peace that lasts beyond the signing of an agreement- is one made with both women and men at the table.

Women's full engagement in peacemaking is essential to building peace that is sustainable. One of our core objectives at UN Women is promoting women's full participation in peacemaking and long-term peacebuilding.

The world has recognized that rape and sexual violence during conflict are considered a war crime. All war crimes must be prosecuted, perpetrators punished and victims must be protected and ensured justice.

I know the courageous steps that you are taking to protect women's rights, to support democracy and to encourage non-violent conflict resolution. And I know this work is not without risk.

I know the extent of your efforts to share your concerns and priorities at the highest levels. Let me assure you that your meetings with senior officials and political leaders - including with the UN Deputy Secretary-General - were instrumental in bringing the world's attention to the situation of the women of Mali.

Your voices have been heard. And I appreciate this opportunity to listen and learn from you today.

You have acted in solidarity beyond ethnic divisions and internal tensions. The women of Mali are charting the way towards peace.

Women in Mali have always been at the center of peacemaking. In the 1991 revolution, you were instrumental in the democratic transition in this country. Just this past April, Malian women were at the Ouagadougou discussions, making sure that women's needs and sexual and gender-based violence were included in the final declaration.

Last November, I drew the attention of all Security Council members to the work of women leaders and women's groups in Mali to contribute to a non-violent solution to the crisis. I called on the international community to adopt specific measures to protect women's rights and prevent violence against women and children. I also emphasized the importance of dedicating funding to reparations, care and the empowerment of survivors.

On 20 December, the Security Council strongly and unanimously condemned all abuses of human rights perpetrated in the north of Mali and expressed serious concerns about the continuous use of violence against women. I wish to commend the commitment of the Minister of Justice to ensure accountability for violations perpetrated against women in the North.

At the direction of the Secretary-General, the UN system has accelerated its efforts to support the Malian political process. UN Women is acting on the recognition that broad social engagement, and women's full participation, in conflict resolution is crucial to long-term stability and democracy.

A broad-based and inclusive political dialogue will be critical to forge national consensus around a roadmap for the transition in Mali.

There is now concrete evidence that more inclusive peace processes are more likely to hold. Women bring to peace processes an insistence that their own priorities be included in the peace agreement. And this makes for a more robust and sustainable peace that protects all human rights, secures justice, and establishes democracy.

As we all know, peace must be rooted in justice. And this can mean quotas for women in post-conflict elections, the extension of property rights to women, and an assertion that widespread and systematic sexual violence demands specific justice and reparation arrangements.

Your presence today testifies to your readiness and capacity to meaningfully contribute to the transition, including as voters and candidates in the future elections, and in building lasting peace and democracy.

It is my great pleasure to launch this important training programme today that aims to strengthen women's leadership in mediation and negotiation processes in Mali. I wish to thank the technical and financial partners who are making this endeavor possible: the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain and Canada.

UN Women was created to be an instrument of change. From global policymaking to country levels, our priority has been to facilitate women's realization of their human rights and promote women's leadership in conflict resolution. I deeply believe in a proactive approach to peacemaking, in which women play a central and crucial role. Official negotiations are only part of a conflict resolution continuum, that ranges from early warning to peacekeeping and longer term peacebuilding.

In two days, I will be meeting with ECOWAS leaders in Abuja. I will echo your demands and share your concerns with them. Like the UN Secretary-General, I will insist that any intervention in the north of Mali will have to take place within the broader framework of a political process and in full respect of international law.

Any solution to the crisis in Mali must address the crime of rape, and categorically prohibit amnesty for war crimes of sexual violence. In preparation of any military intervention, it is therefore of critical importance that credible and effective methods are in place to prevent and respond to violations of women's rights.

It is also essential that proper justice and support be provided to women victims of violations and survivors of violence. The violence and impunity must stop.

There is no single measure that will root out the challenges facing Mali. The situation requires a comprehensive response in which the political, security, humanitarian and human rights dimensions are well coordinated and mutually reinforcing.

UN Women will do all it can to support a broad-based and inclusive process. Women's voices must be an integral part of formulating the roadmap for the transition. The people of Mali—men women and young people—must be at the center of any efforts to restore democracy and fully recover their territory.

Let me then conclude with your own words: « Une paix négociée sans les femmes est vouée à l'échec ». Vive les femmes du Mali! Vive le Mali un et indivisible!