Joint statement on Women, Peace and Security

As delivered at the 1072nd Forum for Security Cooperation, Vienna, 6 March 2024

Mr. Chair,

Distinguished panellists,

Dear colleagues,

I have the honour of delivering a joint statement on the subject of Women, Peace
and Security. The following 45 participating States have aligned with this
statement: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France,
Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein,
Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the
Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino,
Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United
Kingdom, the United States, and my own country, Georgia.
We would like to commend Cyprus in its role as FSC Chair for keeping Women,
Peace, and Security where it belongs: at the top of our agenda.

Mr. Chair,

We thank the distinguished panellists for their valuable insights today,
particularly with respect to best practices for integrating and mainstreaming
gender perspectives into the politico-military dimension of security and for
assessing national progress in implementing our women, peace, and security

Achieving gender equality and integrating gender perspectives into politicomilitary affairs is not just a moral imperative, but it also is a strategic one that
benefits us all. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, women’s equal labour
force participation could increase global GDP by roughly 25 percent. Research
also has proven that increasing the number of women in decision-making roles
can increase the legitimacy of a government and its ability to effectively,
successfully and sustainably manage conflict.

The OSCE Secretariat bears no responsibility for the content of this document
and circulates it without altering its content. The distribution by OSCE
Conference Services of this document is without prejudice to OSCE decisions,
as set out in documents agreed by OSCE participating States.

Ensuring the full, equal, meaningful, and safe participation of women at all levels
of policy- and decision-making about peace and security is a constant endeavour,
which requires sustained engagement. There is no box to check to say that we
are done and that there is no more work to do. Even when we can close the gap
between our commitments and implementation, like the scientific principle of
entropy, without the application of continuous effort, the gap will widen again.
For example, 107 countries around the world have developed national action
plans since the year 2000, but almost 30 percent of these national action plans
are now outdated, having expired in 2022 or before.

The OSCE region, however, does much better than the world as a whole with
respect to its national action plans. Thirty-six out of 57 OSCE participating States
have one, and most of these are current. Why is this so? There are many factors
at play, but one thing isforsure, we regularly discuss and prioritize thistopic. We
are here today, doing just that.

Even in the midst of defending itself against Russia’s war of aggression, Ukraine
has made Women, Peace, and Security enough of a priority to develop and
implement an updated national action plan in the middle of a full-scale war. The
determination to meet their commitments to the WPS agenda in the face of
adversity is one worthy of both praise and emulation.

However, without effective implementation, national action plans are just words
on paper. Without understanding and buy-in from the implementers and
responsible agencies, national policies become “window dressing” at best and
so-called “pink-washing” at worst. Without constant vigilance, there will be
backsliding. And because women’s rights and democracy go hand in hand,
backsliding in one will inevitably lead to backsliding in the other.

How can we avoid these pitfalls and create the necessary buy-in and
understanding to achieve and maintain progress? Thanks to Finland’s work as
Chair of the Structured Dialogue, there is now an app for that. The OSCE’s very
extensive toolbox of documents, reports, decisions, best practices, and
guidelines can be easily searched and resourced. The OSCE WIN Project is
making significant progressin developing participating State capacity in the OSCE
region to implement their commitments in this field.

We also have each other. In this very room, there are at least 36 participating
States with different experiences in implementing our Women, Peace, and
Security commitments and in integrating and mainstreaming gender perspectives. Organizing meetings to share those experiences in a regional or
OSCE-wide context is relatively easy to do, and we should do it more often.
Furthermore, submitting information related to the indicative list of issues
pertaining to Women, Peace and Security in the Code of Conduct questionnaire
can help fill the significant gaps we have in the data needed for more effective
implementation. Thanks to the efforts of Belgium and the United Kingdom, we
now have a reference guide to help us all submit this questionnaire data more

Mr. Chair,

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the OSCE Action Plan for the Promotion
of Gender Equality. What better way for us to mark this anniversary than by
renewing our individual and collective commitments to implementing the
Women, Peace, and Security Agenda through a region-wide action plan. Working
together with a common purpose is the simplest and most effective way to
transform our commitmentsfrom words on a page into tangible, meaningful, and
measurable progress.

Thank you, Mr. Chair