Monday 21st October, 2019
I wish to start on behalf of Ambassador Fatima Mohammed, the AU Permanent Observer to the UN, who could not be with us today due to other commitments and on my personal behalf to thank the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) for holding today’s meeting on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) on the timely theme “Strengthening linkages between Women, Peace and Security and Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace.” Deliberations on the WPS agenda come at a time when Africa is working towards Silencing the Guns by 2020 through among other things the implementations of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Sustaining peace and building resilience is at the heart of the African Union’s efforts to implement the APS Agenda.
2019 is as an important year for the Women, Peace and Security Agenda as it is the prelude to the twentieth anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) which provided a clarion call for focused global action on women’s participation in peace and security processes. For Africa, 1325 provided a framework for the recognition and amplifying of the roles that had been played by women in some of the challenging situations of insecurity such as in the Mano River Union in the 1990s. UNSC 1325 shone a spotlight on the un-acclaimed efforts of women in peace and security and raised awareness on the need for collective action on the promotion of women’s participation in peace processes.
The African Union stands on the profound conviction that the international frameworks on Women, Peace and Security including continental ones such as the Maputo Protocol, the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa and the AU Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and relevant Communiqués of the Peace and Security Council to cite a few; as well as regional provisions at the level of the Regional Economic Communities, remain strong frameworks, which guide our efforts to build more peaceful and sustainable societies, through genuine inclusion and participation women at various levels.
In taking stock of the nineteen years of focused attention to accelerating women’s participation in peace processes by the African Union, I would like to focus my statement on four main points:
First, considerable efforts have been made to translate the policy and normative frameworks on Women Peace and Security into action on the continent. The AU has sought to lead by example and has ensured that the 50-50 representation enshrined in the AU Gender Parity Principle has been maintained in the election of Commissioners at the African Union Commission. To date, twenty-five (25) AU Member States have adopted a National Action Plan (NAPs) on WPS, representing 31% of countries with NAPs globally. Three regions have developed regional action plans against which member states can benchmark their action plans. At national level, member states have put in place concrete measures for the implementation of the WPS agenda including the legal and policy formulation, reform and adoption as appropriate; provision of special measures for the increased participation of women in decision making processes.
Second, the African Union, through the Office of the Special Envoy on Women Peace and Security has developed a mechanism – the AU Continental Results Framework - to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the WPS agenda by various stakeholders including the African Union Commission, relevant AU organs, the RECs, member states and civil society organisations. Further, the AU CRF ensures the monitoring and impact of women in peacebuilding decision-making processes, including increased participation in truth and justice commissions, peace commissions, security sector reform, disarmament programmes and reconciliation dialogues at national level. The objective of the CFR is to assist the various actors identify the areas in need of strengthening so that the African Union can provide such support.
Third, through support provided by its liaison offices, the AUC has supported countries especially those in conflict and/emerging from conflict to create awareness and develop capacities, including of civil society actors, to engage with the WPS agenda. The Femwise-Africa and the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), two initiatives by the AU and the AU-UN respectively continues to draw attention to the WPS agenda and provides a platform for increased information sharing and collaboration between regional and sub-regional organizations and with civil society, as well as, through increased engagement of women mediators and women peacebuilders in peace interventions. In addition to rostering and enhancing the capacity of women in mediation and conflict prevention, FemWise Africa, the first regional Network of Women Mediators, has broken ground as the first such network to undertake long term deployment to conflict contexts. In this regard, through a competitive process, FemWise has deployed three women to support the peace processes in Sudan and South Sudan. Several more long-term deployments are expected in the very near future.
Fourth, there has been an increase in gender sensitive reporting and the provision of sex disaggregated data at the AUC, which helps to present the state of the implementation of the WPS agenda. This allows for the design of targeted interventions and gender sensitive programming to address gaps in implementation and consolidate gains made not only in conflict affected countries but the continent in general. I must be quick to add however that this is still in its early phase.
Notwithstanding the successes recounted, a lot still remains to be done in the implementation of the WPS agenda. From the outset, the Peacebuilding Commission’s Gender Strategy envisages a certain degree of push back on its gender mainstreaming efforts by member states. The framing “…if so accepted by the host countries” is an indication of expectations of resistance; and this is where a closer interaction between the PBC and the African Union could help mediate such tensions. I believe that it is common knowledge that the AUC possess a degree of political influence over its member states that makes it possible for it to engage with them on certain issues. As a result, whilst acknowledging the PBC’s specific focus on support to countries, the WPS agenda on the African continent can be furthered through collaboration. The policies, norms, mechanisms and processes of the AUC and its regional bodies can be leveraged to encourage acceptance of the strategic actions in the strategy. Given that the AU and UN have joint frameworks for partnerships on peace, security and development with an additional one on human right to be concluded soon. These are already good anchors for enhanced collaboration.
The AU is therefore convinced that the 2020 Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture provide a unique opportunity to foster and enhance the WPS agenda. The AU and its member states stands ready to partner with the UN in the Review process, and would encourage the UN to consider consulting more closely with the AU and Regional Economic Communities so as to ensure regional ownership of the process and its outcome.
On a final note, I wish to reiterate that, the push for the inclusion of women in Peacebuilding Process should not be championed by women alone. I encourage each one of us, especially men to redouble our efforts to push against the push back, so that we can close the existing gaps when it comes to the implementation of the WPS agenda.
I thank you for your kind attention.