United Nations Security Council Open Arria Formula Meeting on Women, Peace, Security, and Mediation: “Increasing the Participation of Women in Global Conflict Prevention and Mediation: Towards the Creation of a Mediterranean Women Mediator’s Network”

Monday, March 27, 2017
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Peace Processes


General Information:  

  • Date: March 27, 2017, 3:00 to 5:30 hours.

  • Location: United Nations HeadQuarters ECOSOC Chambers



  • Hon. Benedetto Della Vedova Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Italy

  • The Rt Hon Baroness Anelay of St Johns DBE, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

  • Ms. Kyung-Wha Kang Senior Advisor on Policy for the UN Secretary-General;

  • Dr Specioza Naigaga Wandira Kazibwe member of the Panel of the Wise of the African Union and coordinator of the Network of African Women Mediators for Peace;

  • Ms. Sigrid Kaag Special Coordinator UNSCOL;

  • Ms. Irene Fellin President WIIS Italy - Women in International Security.



The United Nations Security Council Arria Formula Meeting entitled “Increasing the Participation of Women in Global Conflict Prevention and Mediation: Towards the Creation of a Mediterranean Women Mediator’s Network” was convened on 27 March 2017, by the Permanent Missions of Italy and the United Kingdom. The meeting was framed as an opportunity for Member State and Civil Society representatives to generate progress towards the normative goal of building a robust network of women mediators that will mitigate and overcome persisting gaps in the Mediterranean region. Briefers at the event highlighted best practices from the African context, implementation mechanisms such as National Action Plans, and barriers to women’s participation such as inadequate funding and poor coordination. Member State Representatives reaffirmed their commitments to the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, identified policy gaps, and applied pressure to the international community to achieve gender parity in mediation and the UN system at large. The sole civil society representative to deliver a statement at the meeting, speaking on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women Peace and Security, provided key recommendations otherwise absent from the day’s discussion, regarding resource allocation, localised self-selection, and coalition building.


Talking Points




Hon. Benedetto Della Vedova:

Mr. Vedova underscored that the world’s crises cannot be resolved, nor can peace be achieved without the inclusion and empowerment of women. He remarked that the international community unanimously recognises this fact yet women are still not considered essential to relevant agendas regarding in international peace and security. Vedova stressed that the implementation of UNSCR 1325 (2000) continues to lag, despite the added precedent of the 8 other resolutions in this agenda, particularly UNSCR 2242 (2015). Vedova emphasised that the establishment of networks of women mediators is a critical step to increasing the number of women involved in conflict prevention and resolution, as well as capacity building to ensure gender and inclusive perspectives to security, justice and governance.


The Rt Hon Baroness Anelay:

Baroness Anelay noted that mediation networks are pivotal tools for the promotion of the expertise and experiences of women in conflict situations. She states that it is vital crucial that women in these networks are deployed and supported oversees, especially given that the existing criteria for peacebuilding work is clearly and heavily weighted to male dominated careers paths. Anelay stressed that these criteria must be changed, and women’s capacity must be developed. Finally, the Baroness illustrated the United Kingdom’s commitment to the WPS Agenda and this initiative, recognising the appointment of the Foreign Secretary’s first ever Special Envoy on gender equality and senior women’s talent pipelines, as well as the state’s commitment to ensuring women mediators have a role in conflict resolution.


Ms. Kyung-Wha Kang:

Speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Ms. Kang emphasised that the prevention of violent conflicts is of the highest priority to the current administration. There is a significant body of evidence establishing gender equality as integral to effective prevention, mediation and the achievement of sustainable peace. Nonetheless, she noted, current norms and practices must progress if the barriers to women’s meaningful participation are to be overcome. In particular, Kang referenced the impact of women mediators in Myanmar, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where multiple women led initiatives have been launched but not sufficiently resourced or connected to early warning bodies. Kang celebrated the success of women’s situation rooms in Nigeria and the prominent role women’s organisations played in the Colombian peace process. Finally, Kang pushed for reform in political will, gender budgeting, and grassroots mobilisation.


Dr Specioza Naigaga Wandira Kazibwe:

Dr. Kazibwe related her experience with the Network of African Women Mediators for Peace, which plays a significant role in defining and refining the role of women in conflict prevention and development. The biggest challenge she addressed was the damaging patriarchal narrative defining women as weak, which additionally fuels misconceptions regarding women and their value in discussions of violence and conflict resolution.  To better support and empower women mediators, Kazibwe encouraged education, leadership development, local and regional engagement, and capacity building. Dr. Kazibwe underscored the varied levels of engagement available to women mediators, delineating three tracks of involvement in peace processes. Finally, Dr Kazibwe stressed the need to mainstream gender perspectives, strengthen WPS financing, train and implement gender frameworks at country levels.


Ms. Sigrid Kaag:

Ms. Kaag highlighted the differential perspectives and competencies of women mediators including the ability to mobilise communities and see beyond political solutions. She noted that peacebuilding requires far more inclusive approaches than currently exist, as traditional leadership in peace processes typically reinforce the power structures that led to the proliferation of conflict in the first place. Kaag advised that the international community consider issues of visibility and choose women role-models from outside of existing pools through external recruitment, training, and deployment. She proposed learning proactively to validate different styles and perspectives of leadership to counteract unconscious biases preventing the participation of women and enable inclusive work conditions.  Finally, Kaag noted that conflicts in the MENA region are particularly lacking engagement with women mediators, particularly in first track roles.


Ms. Irene Fellin:

Ms. Fellin introduced the Mediterranean Women Mediator’s Network in the framework of Italy’s term on the Security Council, highlighting the contributions of women to peacebuilding and reconstruction processes. She described the difficulty women face in having their skills and experience recognised,  which inevitably result in inadequate gender response mechanisms. Fellin enumerated Italy’s efforts to sponsor leadership training and networking  for women with the main objective of strengthening the nexus between gender and security in research and implementation. Fellin remarked that women’s civil society organisations played an integral role to the development of Italy’s 3rd NAP, which boasts a normative goal of building a robust network of women mediators that will mitigate and overcome persisting gaps in the Mediterranean region.  Finally, Fellin underscored that the stability of the Mediterranean region has impacts far beyond its borders and that data generation, good practice sharing, awareness raising, and capacity building were essential to the success of this new endeavor.


Security Council Members



The representative of France discussed women’s participation in peace processes as a main challenge to the success of the WPS Agenda, called upon the precedent of the WPS resolutions, and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to this issue. The representative called for an increase in the representation of women at decision making levels of peace negotiations to integrate their currently underrepresented perspectives. The representative stated that the UN system must set an example for the international community by ensuring gender parity in all positions within the secretariat, a responsibility is shared equally by all member states and which can be addressed by putting forward women candidates for peace and security related positions.



The Representative of Egypt noted the considerable achievements of the WPS Agenda, and emphasised the disconnect between conflict’s disproportionate impact on women and this population’s exclusion from conflict resolution efforts. The representative stated that the international community must strike a balance between the protection and participation pillars of the WPS Agenda and place particular emphasis on the situation of women living under foreign occupation, as is the case for those in Palestine. Finally, the representative warned that networks must be tailored to the particular regional contexts in which they will be active, be developed through ground up mechanisms, and be fostered by capacity building and strong leadership.  



The representative of the United States remarked on the progress of the WPS agenda over the years of its mandate and focused his statement on 3 major points. First, state nominations for senior positions at the UN, particularly Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and envoy positions, should include more women. Second, the Secretary-General should fully implement the gender parity policy to which he has committed. Finally, this gender parity goal should be matched across the entire UN system.



The representative of the Russian Federation emphasised advancing the status of women and girls in peace processes, peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery efforts. He noted that despite efforts the current levels of women’s participation remains low and stated that equal opportunity in peacekeeping is one of the most important goals of countries involved in conflict. The representative stated that gender parity within the UN system is vital, as is consideration for equitable geographic distribution. Finally, the representative cautioned that broadening rights of women and ensuring their participation is only relevant to the Security Council in the context of armed conflict, per the entity’s mandate.



The representative of Uruguay reaffirmed women’s role as agents of change, who must be involved in all processes to ensure sustainable peace and political re-stabilisation. As women are too often vulnerable in conflict situations, their participation in peace processes and negotiations help the parties involved to better understand the situation, as well as offer viable solutions for strengthening peace infrastructures. The representative highlighted the challenge of countering masculine narratives preventing women from engaging in conflict resolution when in fact women make peace and therefore must be involved in all relevant processes.  



The representative of Japan emphasised inclusivity and women's participation as key elements for peace. The international community stands to benefit greatly from the insights of women, however women’s participation in mediation and peace processes have not progressed significantly in Asia and the Pacific. To counter this reality, the representative of Japan highlighted the implementation impact of its NAP and encouraged education, training, and capacity training.  doing this.



The representative of Ukraine underscored the devastating impact of conflict on communities around the world, with particular concern for the widespread targeting of women and girls. The WPS agenda remains critical however few women fill senior positions in the UN system, making this discussion especially timely. The representative encouraged fulfilling institutional commitments to translate rhetoric into measurable action.



The representative of Sweden highlighted the role of the WPS Agenda in making the broad spectrum of Security Council work more effective. The representative named prejudice and glass ceilings among the obstacles to women’s participation in mediation processes. To overcome these challenges, member states were encouraged to nominate more women for senior decision-making positions and engage with civil society. The representative remarked that today’s conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and other critical regions, are rooted in inequality and require inclusive linkages in peace processes at local, national. and international levels. Finally the representative referred to the situation in Syria, advising that parties on both sides of the crisis must advise on open talks with women.



The representative of Senegal called for women to be involved in conflict prevention and resolution, enjoy parity as promoters of peace, and should reap the positive dividends of peace through meaningful participation. Their skills in peace process and peacebuilding efforts are underutilised, this dynamic must shift, particularly in the African context where early-warning systems would be extremely beneficial. The representative stated that efforts undertaken at the grassroots level are critical, as are NAPs built around conflict prevention, early warning, and violence against women. Finally, the representative of Senegal was one of the only speakers to include references to gender specific provisions in peace agreements and improving women’s access to justice.


Non-Security Council Members



The representative of Spain emphasised that peace processes and peacebuilding must integrate the perspectives of women at far higher levels. His statement delineated the statistical benefits of including women in peace processes and addressed issues of implementation related to the state’s NAP and prior initiatives.



The representative of Finland described mediation as a cost-effective tool for the peaceful resolution of disputes to which women’s participation is pivotal. The representative highlighted the precedents of the UN General Assembly resolutions on mediation as well as the WPS resolutions and encouraged their implementation.



The representative of Norway described the day’s discussion as a watershed moment in the implementation of the WPS Agenda, based on a growing body of research demonstrating the efficacy of effective peace processes. The representative highlighted the efforts of the Nordic Network of Women Mediators and stated that ensuring competency and capacity building on gender issues is integral to issues pertinent to security, displacement, and governance.



The representative of Brazil highlighted many many positive steps in the sustainable peace agenda but noted that women are still a minority in peacekeeping operations and peace processes. He noted that the Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security require the advancement of gender equality, protection, and women’s empowerment.



The representative of the European Union stated that the Women Peace and Security agenda comprises the embodiment and catalysation of an important paradigm shift in peacebuilding, protection, and women’s participation. She called for increased resources, expertise, coordination and attention to these issues and asked that member states ensure the inclusion of gender perspectives in all stages of conflict cycles.



The representative of the Netherlands states that women’s role in mediation are crucial to the success of peace processes and demanded a paradigm shift between victims and those in power. The representative called for diverse negotiating teams to facilitate better results and more sustainable peace.



The representative of Colombia underscored the example of the recent Colombian Peace Process, which was notable for the historically high rate of engagement with women’s civil society. The conflict was also notable for the considerable percentage of women combatants involved in the insurgency, which required a further cross-cutting and intersectional perspective in peace and reconciliation.  



The representative of Germany called on the international community to maintain its commitments to UNSCR 1325 (2000) and address issues including backlash and low participation levels of women in conflict prevention and resolution.



The representative of Estonia highlighted the primary responsibility of member states to include women in peace processes, and invest and collaborate consistently to ensure gender perspectives are included at all levels of national policies. The representative further noted that women’s civil society organisations have a unique ability to provide expertise and information which may otherwise be missed.



The representative of Belgium relayed the success of the February 14 International Conference on Mediation, which allowed various panelists and experts  to disseminate date on the importance of inclusive, gender sensitive peace processes. The representative states that the international community must redouble its efforts to recruit women, act quicker to identify potential women mediators, and facilitate research through efficient databases.  



The representative of Canada emphasised the positive impact of women on peace processes and stated that action is required at two levels: grassroots and community engagement and national leadership.



The representative of Ireland relayed the good practices developed in the Good Friday Agreement in Belfast, which would not have been possible without the participation of women. The representative called for further lessons sharings from contexts such as Liberia and Timor-Leste, and stressed the need for targeted victim assistance and community mobilisation.


NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security:

The representative of the NGO Working Group on Women Peace and Security welcomed efforts to increase and further institutionalise all efforts regarding women in mediation. She emphasised that too often traditional approaches which only engage parties to a given conflict dominate peace processes, the latest example of this phenomenon being Yemen. The representative remarked that when women are not actively consulted on issues of substance, resulting agreements will only serve those in power and reinforce the dynamics that led to the conflict in the first place.




  • Support local and regional women peacebuilding coalitions already in existence – such as the newly formed East African Women Solidarity Movement for Peace and Security – made of women from Burundi, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya;


  • Ensure women are meaningfully represented in conflict party and independent civil society delegations - which represent the diverse ethnic and religious populations;


  • Ensure civil society delegations are self -selected by the communities they represent;


  • Support women’s meaningful participation in donor conferences (including in their preparation and design) to ensure interventions appropriately target the needs of women affected by conflict;


  • Increase the protection of women’s rights activists and women human rights defenders from the personal risks and threats they may face as a consequence of their increased visibility;


  • Provide multi-year core funding and grants sufficient to sustain women’s organizations’ engagement in local-level peacebuilding.

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