UN: Excluding women from peace talks risks exacerbating conflicts | News from USA®


By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (PA) – Increasing military spending and the “extreme marginalization and exclusion” of women from peace negotiations risk resuming conflicts instead of promoting peace and stability, the chief warned on Thursday. the United Nations Agency for Gender Equality.

Sima Bahous told the UN Security Council that cutting military spending has been a strategic goal of the women’s peace movement for many decades. But even in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged and the global economy contracted, global military spending rose 2.6% to nearly $ 2 trillion, she said. declared.

“The evidence clearly shows that high levels of military spending in a post-conflict context increases the risk of a resumption of conflict,” Bahous said. “It also shows that investing in gender equality has a high return in peace dividends. “

“Yet we continue to overspend in the first and under-invest in the second,” said the executive director of UN Women.

Political cartoons about world leaders

Political cartoons

Bahous said that the resolution adopted by the Security Council 21 years ago demanding equal participation of women in peace processes had produced only “a glimmer of light.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also criticized the absence of women in decision-making rooms, saying: “We can no longer exclude half of humanity from international peace and security “.

He reiterated his warning to world leaders last month that the world faces “the greatest cascade of crises in generations,” including a return of military coups, a new arms race, the risk of use of nuclear weapons “at its highest level in nearly four decades” and the largest annual increase in military spending as a percentage of GDP last year since 2009.

“There is a direct relationship between increased investment in arms and greater insecurity and inequality for women,” Guterres said.

The UN chief called the power imbalance between men and women “the most stubborn and persistent of all inequalities”, highlighting the increasing rates of violence and misogyny that women and girls face in all societies and “the extreme under-representation of women in decision-making positions. . “

He cited the exclusion of women from the political process by belligerents in Yemen, the closure of the space for women’s rights after two coups d’état in nine months in Mali, the rapid turnaround in women’s rights in Afghanistan to after the Taliban seizure of power on August 15. frightening reports of sexual violence being used as a weapon of war ”in Ethiopia, and a large number of women’s organizations in Myanmar that have long been a force for peace have gone underground after the military takeover of the country. February 2.

The Bahous of UN Women noted that the rapid takeover by the Taliban “was preceded by a wave of killings of women civil society activists and journalists, and by the targeting of academics, vaccinators and women. judges.

“This is also happening in other countries,” she said, pointing to the UN verification of 35 murders of women human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists in just seven countries in 2020.

In Colombia, Bahous said, 10 of the 16 forum members monitoring the gender provisions of the 2016 peace agreement between the government and the country’s main rebel group “reported threats made directly against them, as did women who participated in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. in 2020. “

Colombian indigenous rights activist Celia Umenza Velasco told the Security Council that despite the peace deal, the country remains “one of the most dangerous in the world” for human rights defenders, especially women , as well as Afro-descendant, indigenous and homosexual leaders.

“On average, at least one indigenous defender is killed every week,” she said in a virtual briefing. “In my Cauca territory, three Indigenous women leaders I worked with were killed in 2020. Their brutal killings illustrate how women often pay a terrible price for their leadership.

Bahous urged the international community to promote the participation of women in decision-making on defense spending and to adopt quotas and other special measures to accelerate the increased representation of women in peace negotiations and related activities.

Guterres called for increased representation and leadership of women in all aspects of UN peace work.

He urged the Security Council to support the strengthening of partnerships with local women leaders, to help protect women human rights defenders and activists and to work with the United Nations to promote the equal participation of women “in peace talks. , peacebuilding and political systems as countries move towards peace. “

Colombian Velasco echoed the Security Council’s calls to action.

“I urge you not to allow this open debate to be a new opportunity to listen to women in civil society, but not to act in the face of our concerns,” she implored the members of the council. “The plight of Afghan women illustrates too clearly the cost of such an operation. Women around the world show you every day that they have the courage and the conviction to fight for peace. Today we call on you to fight for all of us.

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