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Joint Nordic Statement: Security Council Open Debate on Women Peace and Security

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,

I am delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries – Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and my own country, Denmark.

The full implementation of the resolutions that constitute the WPS Agenda is a key priority for the Nordics. We thank successive presidencies of the UN Security Council for their commitment to ensuring a sustained focus on WPS in the Council’s work. We welcome today’s focus on addressing the protection gap that women peacebuilders, human rights defenders and civil society representatives face. Their insights and recommendations are essential and must feed into actions on how to ensure better their future protection.

The realization of women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in peace and political processes is at the heart of the WPS Agenda. A safe and enabling environment is a precondition for this. It is the duty of the international community and the UN Member States present here today to ensure an environment s that enables WHRDs to exercise their right to participate in all aspects of public life in line with UNSCR 2222, 2467 & 2493. This is first and foremost a rights issue, but also a crucial step towards building inclusive sustainable peace. The role of WHRDs is integral to all four pillars of the WPS Agenda: participation, protection, prevention, and relief.

The increasing number of reprisals against women peacebuilders and human rights defenders on a global scale is alarming as also highlighted by the SG’s latest annual report on reprisals covering the UN system as a whole. Further, intimidation and reprisals against women peacebuilders and human rights defenders have taken on new forms during the pandemic, both offline and online. Through Front Line Defenders, the Nordics support a fast, flexible and effective 24-hour emergency service that responds to the protection needs of WHRDs at immediate risk

In order to address the protection gap faced by women peacebuilders and human rights defenders, the Nordics want to put forward the following points and recommendations:

It is imperative to address the protection gap through consultations with women peacebuilders and human rights defenders themselves, factoring in their unique risk assessments and needs to ensure their protection in a gender-transformative way. This also pertains to the Security Council. We encourage Council Members to continue inviting women peacebuilders and human rights defenders to brief the Council whilst engaging in tailored due diligence measures to ensure a safe and enabling space for their participation. And most importantly to act upon their recommendations, not just listen and take note.

Where prevention and mitigation fail, robust accountability measures are key. We call on Member States to adopt a zero-tolerance policy to address reprisals and to follow up with robust and systematic accountability measures against all perpetrators.

Concrete follow-up measures to reprisals involve ensuring that all relevant actors are informed of such incidents, including the Secretary-General, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council. This entails that all UN representatives and mechanisms include references to credible allegations of intimidation, reprisals and of hampering of access to the UN in their reporting. We therefore welcome the HRC-resolution from last October (48/17) inviting the SG to submit his annual report on reprisals to the GA starting from its 77th session. We would like to encourage that this is also presented to the GA. This allows for information-sharing on matters of key importance for the UN system as a whole and thus the full UN membership to ensure adequate follow-up to reprisals.

The Nordics are committed to working together with the UN at HQ and field level to create a safe and enabling environment for women peacebuilders and human rights defenders. We appeal to Council Members to incorporate language on protection mechanisms into the mandates of UN peace operations. We fully support the important work of human rights components within peace operations. These have a vital role to play in ensuring monitoring, reporting and ensuring gender-transformative support to human rights defenders and peacebuilders at risk on the ground.

The Nordics encourage rapid, flexible and targeted funding for the effective protection of women peacebuilders, human rights defenders and civil society representatives. We welcome the funding window for WHRDs under the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund as an important new initiative. The threats against WHRDs in Afghanistan acted as a catalyst for this initiative. Similarly, it is our sincere aspiration that today’s debate will be a vital first step towards addressing more effectively violence targeting women’s participation in peace and security processes.

Thank you.

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