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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: We Must Fight Against Violence Against Women in Armed Conflicts

05.03.2013

No 80-E

At the meeting on women, peace and security organised at Estonia’s initiative and held at UN Headquarters in New York, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia feels it is very important to fight against violence against women both during armed conflicts and in the aftermath of conflicts. “It is very important to identify the potential perpetrators – they may not always be soldiers, they could also be other people in influential positions who feel that they cannot be punished,” he added. Over the past few years sexual violence and the threat of sexual violence have been used as war tactics in many conflicts. “This has happened in the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, and Mali,” Paet stated.

Paet stated that the fight against impunity is also a very important topic for Estonia – the president of the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court, Tiina Intelmann, has repeatedly brought up the issue of sexual violence against women and girls in the context of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. “The investigations of the Criminal Court could prevent the perpetration of future crimes. Another priority of the court is compensating damages to the victims of crimes related to sexual violence and gender inequality,” Paet said. “But justice from the International Criminal Court is not enough – the countries themselves must have the necessary legislation to administer justice over these kinds of crimes.”

Paet said that women should be involved more in peace-keeping activities. “Frequently peace-keeping activities lack the participation of women for reasons of tradition, culture, religion, or education. But it is necessary to include them,” he asserted. “Women are ready to act and take on leading roles. We see this in many countries following the Arab Spring – in Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Liberia, Nepal, and many other countries,” he added.

According to the Estonian foreign minister, Security Council Resolution 1325, which addresses improving the situation of women in armed conflicts, must be implemented more effectively. “UN Security Council Resolution 1325, approved in October 2000, recognised the disproportionately large effect of wars and conflicts on women and children. Now, 12 years later, we should evaluate what we have accomplished,” Paet noted. “Estonia feels that too much time has been spent on organisational issues and not enough on practical work,” he said.

According to Paet, Security Council Resolution 1325 combines security, development, and human rights. “But in addition to these fundamental elements, there are also many other topics that relate to this issue, for example the obligation to protect, humanitarian aid and development co-operation, the situation of children in armed conflicts, sexual violence, and education,” Paet stated. “Therefore taking a narrow approach to this topic is unthinkable,” he added.

The Estonian foreign minister also noted that although Resolution 1325 concerns women in military conflicts, this issue must also be addressed by societies that do not have these problems. “Preventative activities and ensuring the equality of women is very important,” he noted.
During the meeting, Foreign  Minister Paet also gave a thorough overview of Estonia’s national action plan for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, approved in 2010.

The meeting that took place at UN headquarters, entitled “UN Security Council Resolution 1325 – What lies ahead?”, was organised by the permanent representations of Estonia and Armenia to the UN in co-operation with the UN and many NGOs. The goal of the meeting was to talk about challenges related to the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 and encourage member states to work out action plans and accept obligations for addressing this issue.
 
Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry/sets/721576329165...

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