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Udenrigsministerens tale ved konference om kvinders rolle i global sikkerhed


Thank you for the kind words of introduction, Ambassador Fulton. And thank you for the close cooperation on today’s important conference, which has been realised by our two dedicated teams. The strong attendance this morning and the impressive line-up of speakers over the next two days bears testament to the enormous amount of work they have put into this conference. I am grateful for that and even more so because the role of women in global security is a complex, far-reaching and burning issue, which nonetheless often gets ignored by the media. Simply put, the issue needs more attention and more attentive care on the part of the international community.

Ladies and Gentlemen, “It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern conflict.”
These words are not my own, but belongs to the Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert, the UN’s force commander in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

What he wanted to highlight with this statement, was the fact that women often suffer the worst of the consequences of war. But there is more to women than their vulnerability. Women represent great potential and a huge resource that must be released. We have an obligation to ensure that women become full and equal partners in society – both in respect of the equal worth of women and men and as a way of ensuring sustainable peace and security in the world.

What we should do collectively over the next two days here in Copenhagen is to share best practices and discuss how to expand and strengthen women’s key roles in peacemaking and peacekeeping as well as other security-related activities.

By convening this conference, Denmark and the US have reaffirmed their commitment to put women higher-up on today’s peace and security agenda. I am confident that the discussions today and tomorrow will identify valuable recommendations for our future work. We must apply our best efforts in order to make maximum use of this opportunity.

We are in the fortunate position that the unique role of women as key contributors to peace and security is growing. And we already possess substantial knowledge about the critical importance of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in post-conflict reconciliation and reintegration.

So – Ladies and Gentlemen – there is no acceptable reason for not acting. Millions of women are taken hostage by conflict. Others are trapped in the chaos that often exists in post-conflict societies where the rule of law is not upheld or even non-existent.

10 years have passed since the adoption of Security Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

The resolution stresses the fact that the world needs a much better understanding of the impact of armed conflict on women and girls. Furthermore, the resolution calls for effective institutional arrangements to guarantee the protection and full participation of women in peace processes, and it also maps out the tremendous and untapped potential of women to contribute to international peace and security.

The resolution was the culmination of years of concerted appeals and efforts, especially by civil society and women’s organisations, to draw attention to the inhumane treatment of women and girls, the denial of their basic human rights and their exclusion from decision-making in situations of armed conflict.

But how much have been achieved in the past 10 years? What has been accomplished?

The short answer is not enough. That was the clear answer coming out of the report from the UN Secretary General on the resolution, which he presented three days ago to the Security Council.

The Secretary General’s report concludes that the United Nations system, Member States, Civil Society and other actors have made notable efforts in implementing a large number of activities in a broad range of areas. However, significant achievements are difficult to identify or quantify.

The report underlines that women and girls continue to face the most horrendous and appalling situations of armed conflict and post-conflict.

The rape in July of over two hundred women and girls in the Eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo is only one of many outrageous examples of the severity of abuse that women and girls encounter. It is estimated that more than 200,000 women and children have been raped since that conflict began over a decade ago. But the Democratic Republic of Congo is unfortunately not the only place where sexual violence is being used systematically as a weapon of war.

Sadly then, I am not surprised that the Secretary General’s report concludes that continued attention and support is required to ensure women’s meaningful participation at all stages of a peace process. Prevailing stereotypes that lead to the exclusion of women from peace-building efforts must be addressed. Because women often are not associated with “hard security”, they are left out from the negotiation tables, and not integrated in the governance institutions that emerge after conflict.

This is why Denmark is actively seeking to promote the rights and empowerment of women in a wide range of countries. Today, I will limit myself to talking about Afghanistan. You will shortly be hearing about experiences from Liberia and Uganda when Ellen Margrethe Løj and Minister Gabriel Opio will take the floor.

It is no secret that the international community faces enormous challenges in Afghanistan. I have witnessed how Afghan women’s access to justice and participation in the political process has been severely restricted. But there has also been some progress, for instance, in relation to the political representation of Afghan women. One example is the recent parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, where 68 seats out of a total of 249 parliamentary seats in the Parliament are now reserved for women. That is a pretty impressive achievement. But we must also keep in mind that there is a long way from political representation to actual influence. And in order to achieve true empowerment of women in a conflict or post-conflict environment, it is political influence that matters.

Denmark will continue to work for this in Afghanistan through our support to women’s networks and women organizations as well as in our dialogue with the Afghan authorities.

And this is actually the reason why the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and I recently launched a joint US-Danish initiative aimed at improving women’s access to justice in the Helmand Province. Our initiative will provide support for NGOs working on capacity-building of the justice sector in Helmand, including the Independent Commission for Women and Children’s Rights, and it will target three priority areas: Firstly, women’s right to justice. Secondly, strengthening of the broader rule of law in the province, and thirdly, the strengthening of civil society at the provincial level. In addition, our initiative will review the possibility of funding a safe house project to provide a place for women and girls who are victims of domestic violence.

And on top of this initiative, Denmark will of course continue our work already going on to ensure that the rights of women and girls are addressed in the peace, reconciliation and reintegration processes in Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the UN resolution 1325 explicitly recognizes the particular negative impacts that armed conflict have on women and the important contributions women can make to peace, security and reconciliation. But it is not legally binding. It depends entirely on the political will of various actors to bring it into action.

Let me assure you that Denmark has that will.

Denmark was the very first country to make an action plan for implementation of resolution 1325 and we have already developed a second plan of action for the period 2008 to 2013.

The plan was developed through a big and co-ordinated inter-ministerial approach. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Ministry of Defence and the National Police jointly developed the plan in consultation with civil society and other relevant actors. The plan is now being implemented and this conference is an important contribution to this.

I wish you a very successful and productive conference. I will personally be looking forward to hearing about the outcome of your discussions and what new approaches you will propose for enhancing and improving women’s vital role in global security.
We have an obligation to empower women and secure their rights in conflict situations, peacemaking and peacekeeping - for their sake as well as for the sake of the broader well-being of society.

I wish you a very successful conference.

Thank you