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Regional Consultation in Women, Peace and Security, Ouagadougou 29 May 2019

Statement by Audun Skei Fostvedt-Mills at the Regional Consultation in Women, Peace and Security in Ouagadogou, Burkina Faso.

| Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Her Excellency, Minister Hélène Marie Laurence Ilboudo Marchal

Her Excellency, Commissioner Minata Samate Cessouma

Her Excellency Special Envoy Bineta Diop

Her Excellency Ambassador Hadiza Mustapha


Dear colleagues, friends, leaders and activists, promoting the Women, Peace and Security Agenda,

It is an honor to be here with you today, representing the Government of Norway and giving these remarks on behalf of the Ambassador of Norway to the African Union.

You may notice that in several aspects I am a minority in the room today. To be frank, it is about time that white men are minorities in discussions on peace and security. We do not have a men, peace and security agenda, for the simple reason that men have dominated the peace and security agenda for too long.

The numbers confirm this: according to recent studies, in the main peace processes from 1990 to 2017, only 2 % of mediators were women. Only 8 % of negotiators and 5 % of witnesses and signatories. Very few peace processes have inclusion mechanisms. Of the 11 agreements signed in 2017, only three contained gender-sensitive provisions.

However, you and we still need to keep engaging men. Promoting women’s participation and a gender perspective should not be women’s responsibility alone. And it certainly benefits us men, as well as women, when more sustainable solutions are found to conflict and war.

Because it is clear that the inclusion of women in the peace and security agenda is a necessity for sustaining peace.

Conflicts and crises occur in every part of the world. Their causes differ, their dynamics are not the same. But everywhere where there is conflict, there are women.

Women who suffer and struggle. Women whose grievances are so profound, it is hard to grasp. Women who survive unbearable abuse, intolerable injustice. And, some women who are perpetrators.

Women are also often amongst the first responders in a crisis. Mobilizing to rebuild families, communities, villages, nations. Women are often the first to gather across differences, to seek common solutions, shared goals, reconciliation.

It is clear that women are not observers to war. It is also clear that they should not be observers to conflict resolution. Because women, like men, have the right to take part in decisions that concern their past and shape their future. And women, like men, have insights and experiences that we need.

This means that we must involve women and men alike in our security forces and mediation teams. We must consult and engage women in the populations we are set to support and safeguard.

Out of principle, yes, but also because it makes sense. It is a matter of building solidly, a lasting peace that is owned and implemented by the affected people. 

If Norway has learned anything through our mediation experience and dialogue initiatives, it is that inclusion is key.

It is key to our competence and capacity, to the process’ legitimacy and credibility. It starts with women, but it doesn’t end there. Those who live the conflict must guide the peace, whomever they are. Also if they are marginalised or belong to a minority. Especially then. Because chances are, that the majority might not know of their challenges, nor their needs or resources.

Inclusion is a matter of accessing available resources; understanding how the conflict affects various groups of people - and interacting with more stakeholders to learn from them what they hope for - and how they suggest we get there.


I know I am preaching to the converted. And you are not alone: Time and again the international community has agreed to these principles. We see it reflected in the UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security, and in the work of the AU Peace and Security Council.

We also see it reflected in this meeting. In the strength of your participation. And in the fact that during the course of the next couple of days, we will discuss real achievements: regional initiatives, national action plans, continental result frameworks, and the establishment of FEMWISE Africa.

Norway has for several years now actively supported the African Union’s women, peace and security agenda. We have been and remain strong supporters of the excellent work and leadership from Madame Diop, the AU Special Envoy. And we also supported the Gender, Peace and Security Programme of the AU, and the work of FEMWISE. We continue to work closely with organisations like IGAD and SADC in their efforts to promote the agenda, as well as many civil society organisations.

I look forward to attending the rest of these consultations, and I hope we will be able to reach our ambitious targets. By the time UNSCR 1325 turns 20 years next year, the deadline for Silencing the Guns in Africa will be fast approaching. Unless women are fully included, the ambitious goal will remain well out of sight. Because as we all know: more women means more peace.

Thank you for your attention!


Permanent Mission of Norway to the African Union

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia