Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today discussed security in Central Asia with regional leaders following recent unrest, and underscored the vital need to end gender-based violence and discrimination and empower women as essential building blocks in ensuring peace and stability.
Mr. Ban, who is in the Kazakh capital, Astana, for the summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), met with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and President Roza Otunbaeva of Kyrgyzstan, which was rocked by political unrest and deadly clashes earlier this year.
He told reporters he “highly commended” Mr. Nazarbayev for his “very able, active intervention” in ensuring peace and stability in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, his contribution to bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan and his visionary leadership in ensuring nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
In his talks with Ms. Otunbaeva, the Secretary-General hailed Kyrgyzstan's peaceful parliamentary elections in October and the important progress made in strengthening democratic institutions that should include the swift formation of a coalition government. The two discussed the importance of protecting the rights of refugees and reinforcing the rule of law for long-term stability, as well as the need for regional cooperation to fight terrorism.
Mr. Ban, who also met with OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, discussed the need to ensure access to transit and trade for the land-locked Central Asian countries and the mutually beneficial use of shared natural resources.
He told reporters he expected the OSCE leaders to discuss regional peace and stability, enhancing human rights, cross-border cooperation on issues like drug control, and how to work together to maintain a globally sustainable environment and development.
Both in his bilateral talks and an address to a regional women's group, stressed the central role of women in peace and security. “Your voice is so important because you have witnessed the suffering caused by violence, terrorism, human trafficking, and organized crime,” he told the Women of Central Asia on Women, Peace and Security.
“You have seen the suffering and fear imposed on women and girls by unconscionable abuse, suffering that is exacerbated by impunity, by a lack of accountability for perpetrators. You also know something else: how difficult it is to establish peace. For these reasons, and as a matter of fundamental human rights, you deserve a seat at the table,” he added, stressing that women's participation is an essential condition for sustainable peace and development.
“When we discuss how to prevent fighting, when we work to resolve conflicts, when we build peace, you should be there – not as observers but as decision-makers, not as victims but as agents of change.”