I want to thank Albania for convening today’s timely debate. Protecting women’s rights and participation has certainly not become less important against a backdrop of violent takeovers and militarized responses.
I also want to thank Secretary-General Guterres, Under-Secretary-General Bahous, as well as the distinguished representatives of regional organizations, for sharing their insights and lessons learnt.
Norway sees three ways regional organizations can approach this subject:
First: leading by example.
The African Union has for decades demonstrated leadership in addressing military coups and takeovers through their quick and decisive responses. This is truly a best practice that reminds us all of the value of principled cooperation.
We also commend the creation of Regional Action Plans on WPS by organizations such as the AU and ECOWAS- and we encourage strengthened implementation of these plans.
Joint statements like the one by the OIC Group on Afghan girls’ right to education are also important political signals that should not be underestimated.
But the real test is translating our general policy commitments into concrete action when conflicts arise.
Regional organizations should insist on women’s full, equal, meaningful participation in all mediation efforts, in local and national conflict resolution, and in rebuilding from political crises.
But also through including women in regional organizations’ own mediation teams. The Regional Women Mediator Networks has a wealth of experience and expertise that can be drawn upon in this regard.
Second: partnering for change.
After a military coup or violent takeover, national WPS commitments and the work of civil society are often also interrupted. This contributes to further marginalization of women leaders from political spaces and formal processes, both at the national and local level.
In Afghanistan and Myanmar, we have heard repeated calls from women peacebuilders and civil society representatives, including those in exile, for formal and informal platforms to ensure their continued and direct engagement with those who have taken power.
In Sudan, the AU, IGAD and UNITAMS have supported the creation of a group of non-partisan women from across the country which will promote women’s participation in the political process- building upon the key role played by women in the revolution of 2019.
Third: accounting for justice.
Organizations like the AU, ASEAN and EU have long-standing commitments to promote gender equality. As institutions - and through their members - they have numerous levers at their disposal to reduce barriers to both women’s protection and participation.
This includes coordinating regional approaches, and joint messaging to revoke laws and policies that restrict the rights of women and girls. And equally: promoting policies tailored to protect, including against reprisals.
Regional support for investigations, information sharing, and capacity building of national institutions, are also ways to strengthen the prevention of, and response to, SGBV and other human rights violations and abuses.
And when all else fails: the rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have shown that there can also be regional tools for course correction and accountability.
Regional organizations carry the weight of many, and diverse voices. They are uniquely placed to facilitate dialogue, and re-build broken relations between those in power and their populations. Their engagement in peace diplomacy is critical; and they are key actors and partners to the UN in translating our WPS ambitions into actual impact.
The authority, advisory, and convening roles of regional organizations can also be entry points for dialogue on upholding the rights of women and girls; re-enabling an environment of engagement by women human rights defenders and civil society; and strengthening protection and accountability. All which we can, and should draw on, especially in contexts of violent takeovers.