Minister, Secretariat colleagues, Excellencies and dear civil society partners,
I am honoured to be with you here today, and to learn from your experiences and insights.
I would like to extend a special thanks to UN Women and UNDP for initiating this conversation. Although I have the closing remarks today, we clearly have quite a lot of work ahead of us before we can really conclude.
We are all acutely aware that our conversation takes place in a time of an unprecedented crisis, but this crisis does not lessen the need to focus on women’s participation and rights. Quite the contrary; it has brought into sharp relief the importance of the women, peace, and security agenda is to crisis prevention. It is imperative to ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in all aspects of peace and security – from the very start. Especially now.
As we have heard today the pandemic is changing our ways of working. It challenges the effectiveness and the inclusiveness of our platforms and meeting arenas. The digital divide broadens already existing inequalities and our resources, and focuses, are being diverted to address the most pressing issues, but women peacebuilders are doing what they always have done; they adapt. They continue their work on human rights, mediation and conflict resolution and now they work on addressing COVID-19 as well.
This new situation has the potential to bolster women’s participation and rights. Or to set us back. We must ensure that the latter does not happen.
In his report, the Secretary-General highlights six areas that persistently need accelerated action. These are duly noted from our side, and we are moving forward to strengthen our efforts in these particular areas. It is up to us, the Member States, to follow-up on our commitments. And to ensure that our responses are making a real contribution especially during this pandemic.
The Security Council has a key role to play – to ensure that mandates reflect these priorities, and that missions are following up accordingly, and we will do our part as Security Council members beginning our term on the Council next year.
We, as individual Member States, must follow up too, through: the people we deploy, the training we provide, the candidates we promote to key positions, and the strategies we adopt. We must- and we will- continue to push for the right of women to participate in all aspects of the UN’s peace and security efforts. Norway will also always engage with local peacebuilders in our work at country level – and in our discussions in New York, Geneva and elsewhere. Likewise, we will maintain our political and financial support to women peacebuilders and human rights defenders; and to first responders and mediators. We will prioritise efforts to help them gain access and influence and commit to remain flexible and innovative in our partnership. We’ve seen how crucial this has been to allow our partners to adapt to this pandemic and other crises.
And we must work more broadly to build a safe and enabling environment; both for them – and with them. When key players like women peacebuilders are unable to do their jobs, or restricted in their activities, this in turn undermines our efforts for peace.
Our engagement in the Compact for Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action, will help bolster these efforts and more. We look forward to working together with a broad range of actors and stakeholders, to bring together the existing normative frameworks and commitments, and to strengthen coordination across mechanisms, and networks, to help move forward the WPS agenda and address the persisting gaps. The good news is that we know now what to focus on; we just need to adapt our approaches to a new situation.
Although we face a novel challenge, the process is nothing new. Inclusion has always required both creativity and solid commitment. I have no doubt in our ability to move forward together.