Opening remarks by Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for the International Conference on Women, Peace and Security, Strengthening Women’s Role in Building and Sustaining Peace: From Commitments to Results, in Viet Nam


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H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, H.E. Madam Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Chairwoman of the National Assembly, Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for UN Women to co-organize this international conference on Women, Peace and Security.

We appreciate that Viet Nam has given us one more chance to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. And I am glad to see here such an impressive collection of high-level officials, distinguished experts, and activists of all ages and from all corners of the planet.

In 2009, when we were preparing for the 10th anniversary of 1325, Viet Nam proposed a resolution on women, peace and security that was meant to focus on women’s rights in post-conflict situations and peacebuilding, recovery and reconstruction. Their choice of focus was not random. Viet Nam had spent the previous three decades rising above the devastation caused by war, and they knew first-hand how hard that is and how important it is to get it right.

I suspect that Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, from whom we will hear shortly, will remember this day well because she was the sole woman Ambassador sitting at the table in the Security Council that day, representing the United States.

The resolution drafted and tabled by Viet Nam addressed many key elements: the unacceptable exclusion of women from peace tables and negotiations, the scourge of wartime rape, the need for countries to adopt National Action Plans on women, peace and security. Up to that day, only 16 countries had adopted such a plan. Now, that number is 91.

It also included many firsts. For example, it was the first resolution on women, peace and security to encourage Member States in post-conflict situations to address women’s needs and priorities, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It was focused on mobilizing the peacebuilding architecture – the Commission, the Fund and the Support Office – prioritizing gender issues in post-conflict needs assessments, and pushing for monitoring and tracking funds allocated to addressing women’s needs. But it also prompted important strands of policy development within the United Nations that would deeply change the way we work.

It mandated the Secretary-General to submit to the Security Council a set of indicators that could serve as the basis for common reporting, and a special report on women’s inclusion in peacebuilding and planning in the aftermath of conflict. Those indicators are still the tools with which we report yearly to the Security Council, and have they inspired similar monitoring frameworks. And that report on women and peacebuilding led to one of the most impactful and measurable changes in the UN’s work on women, peace and security: the significantly stronger integration of gender equality and women’s empowerment in peacebuilding work.

As part of many other measures, the Secretary-General asked that at least 15 per cent of post-conflict funding be dedicated for programmes whose main objective was advancing gender equality. One of the success stories of the last decade has been the increasingly greater investments of the Peacebuilding Fund on women’s empowerment. It translated into tens of millions of dollars of new resources that were re-oriented to women-led economic recovery and social cohesion in countries recovering from conflict, and had an important knock-on effect on other UN agencies and major donors. And it all started with Viet Nam’s initiative, and that resolution in the Security Council.

So, I wanted to open this high-level conference by thanking Viet Nam for their role in the history of women, peace and security. I also thank all of you who will give your time over the next three days to take stock of what has been achieved, point to where we are falling short, set us on the right path for Generation Equality and the next decade, and breathe new life into our common cause. Thank you.