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Prevention, Development Must be Central in All Efforts Tackling Emerging Complex Threats to International Peace, Secretary‑General Tells Security Council

Prevention and development must be at the centre of all efforts to address both the quantitative and qualitative changes that were emerging in threats around the world, the Secretary‑General of the United Nations told the Security Council today, as some 60 Member States participated in an all‑day debate tackling complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.

António Guterres said the perils of nuclear weapons were once again front and centre, with tensions higher than those during the Cold War.  Climate change was a threat multiplier and technology advances had made it easier for extremists to communicate.  Conflicts were longer, with some lasting 20 years on average, and were more complex, with armed and extremist groups linked with each other and with the worldwide threat of terrorism.  Transnational drug smugglers and human traffickers were perpetuating the chaos and preying on refugees and migrants.

The changing nature of conflict meant rethinking approaches that included integrated action, he said, stressing that prevention must be at the centre of all efforts.  Development was one of the best instruments of prevention.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would help build peaceful societies.  Respect for human rights was also essential and there was a need to invest in social cohesion so that all felt they had a stake in society. 

He also emphasized that women’s participation was crucial to success, from conflict prevention to peacemaking and sustaining peace.  Where women were in power, societies flourished, he pointed out.  Sexual violence against women, therefore, must be addressed and justice pursued for perpetrators. 

Prevention also included preventive diplomacy, he said, noting that the newly established High-level Advisory Board on Mediation had met for the first time.  The concept of human security was a useful frame of reference for that work, as it was people‑centred and holistic and emphasized the need to act early and prioritize the most vulnerable.

“Let us work together to enhance the Council’s focus on emerging situations, expand the toolbox, increase resources for prevention, and be more systematic in avoiding conflict and sustaining peace,” he said, emphasizing the need for Council unity.  Without it, he said, the parties to conflict might take more inflexible and intransigent positions, and the drivers of conflict might push situations to the point of no return.

Japan’s representative, Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, noting that in the 25 years since the end of the Cold War, there had been a rise in complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.  That included the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the expansion of terrorism, and non‑traditional challenges such as non‑State actors and inter‑State criminal organizations. 

While the Council had been tackling those challenges, in most cases through a country or region‑specific context, he stressed that a human security approach was highly relevant when addressing complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.  Such an approach placed the individual at the centre, based on a cross‑sectoral understanding of insecurities.  It also entailed a broadened understanding of threats and challenges. 

In the ensuing debate, speakers emphasized the need to adjust to the changing challenges to international peace and security and welcomed the Secretary General’s reform of the Organization’s security pillar and other initiatives.  Many stressed the need to address root causes of instability and conflict, including climate change, non‑State armed groups, extremism and terrorism, as well as poverty and underdevelopment. 

Calling for creativity in the Council’s efforts, they underlined the importance of prevention, and stressed the responsibility of the 15‑member organ to address threats to international peace and security at an early stage.  Delegations also called for strengthen cooperation and coordination with other United Nations bodies and with regional and subregional organizations.  Ending impunity for serious international crimes was equally crucial, with some delegates stressing the importance of effective cooperation with the International Criminal Court.

Other speakers took issue with the way the Security Council was functioning, with Turkey’s representative pointing out that the Council had failed many times to show timely and adequate responses to emerging crises, often as the result of the use, or the threat, of veto, which disabled the Council’s effectiveness. 

India’s delegate said a non‑representative Council, designed long ago to maintain a balance of power between rival States, was unable to handle challenges which had changed beyond recognition over the decades.  “An instrument that is no longer considered legitimate and has lost its credibility cannot be our hope for salvation,” he said, adding that “speech acts”, such as the current open debate, would have little impact.

The Russian Federation’s representative said it would be useful for the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other organs of the United Nations to consider the links between peace and security and socioeconomic and environmental issues.  Integrating all factors should not come under the work of the Council, which did not have the capacity in those other areas and for which the basic responsibilities in peace and security must remain the focus. 

China’s representative stressed the importance of firmly upholding the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, saying that the Council must respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States as well as their right to choose their own social structures.  The major organs of the United Nations should stick to their mandates while coordinating their efforts. 

Some Member States addressed specific challenges to peace and security.  The representative of Tuvalu, speaking for the Pacific small island developing States, underscored that climate change was not going away and was the most pressing contemporary security challenge.  The Secretary‑General should appoint a special representative on climate and security who could produce a report, in cooperation with scientific bodies, that identified and analysed potentially dangerous tipping points at the nexus of climate and security, he said. 

Slovenia’s delegate drew attention to water scarcity as a threat to stability, recalling the work of the Global High‑level Panel on Water and Peace chaired by the former President of her country.  Regional cooperation was vital in preventing water from becoming a cause of conflict or an amplifying risk, she stressed, citing successful practices in the Western Balkans region, as seen in the Sava River basin, which could serve as a model for water‑related cooperation.

Addressing cyber threats, Lithuania’s representative, also speaking for Latvia and Estonia, said hybrid threats and cybersecurity were priority issues for the Baltic States, noting that concerns regarding the Russian Federation’s interference in national election processes were not limited to European countries.  Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had faced a politically motivated series of cyberattacks.  To cope with the strikes, the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, must cooperate. 

The Deputy Foreign Minister for Ukraine also spoke, as did representatives of Sweden, Egypt, Bolivia, United Kingdom, France, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, Senegal, United States, Ethiopia, Italy, Colombia, Liechtenstein, Pakistan, Hungary, Switzerland, Norway (for the Nordic countries), South Africa, Germany, Belgium, Indonesia, Peru, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Viet Nam, Mexico, Slovakia, Ghana, Chile, Guatemala, Botswana, Netherlands, Greece, Armenia, Australia, Morocco, Lebanon, Nepal, Maldives, Portugal and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union delegation.

Representatives of the Russian Federation and Ukraine took the floor for a second and third time.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 4:20 p.m.

Opening Remarks

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said there had not only been a quantitative but also a qualitative change in threats to international peace and security.  The perils of nuclear weapons were once again front and centre, with tensions higher than those during the Cold War.  Climate change was a threat multiplier.  Inequality and exclusion fed frustration and marginalization.  Threats to cybersecurity were escalating and technology advances had made it easier for extremists to communicate. 

While the number of armed conflicts had declined over the long‑term, they had surged in the Middle East and Africa, he continued, with many lasting on average more than 20 years.  Conflicts were also more complex as armed groups competed for control over State institutions, natural resources and territory.  Extremist groups left little room for diplomacy.  There was also an increased regionalization and internationalization of conflicts.  Clashes were more linked with each other and with the worldwide threat of terrorism.  Transnational drug smugglers and human traffickers perpetuated the chaos and preyed on refugees and migrants.

The changing nature of conflict meant rethinking approaches which must include integrated action, he underlined.  Such efforts must be coherent, coordinated and context‑specific, working across pillars.  Towards that aim, he had initiated three inter‑linked reform efforts focused at repositioning the United Nations development system, streamlining internal management and strengthening the Secretariat’s peace and security architecture.  He had also sought to forge closer links with regional partners. 

He stressed that prevention must be at the centre of everything, as it would avoid human suffering and even save money.  Prevention was a sound investment that brought ample and visible dividends, and development was one of the best instruments of prevention.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would help build peaceful societies.  Respect for human rights was also essential in prevention.  There was a need to invest in social cohesion so that all felt they had a stake in society. 

As well, gender equality was closely linked with resilience, he said, stressing that women’s participation was crucial to success, from conflict prevention to peacemaking and sustaining peace.  Where women were in power, societies flourished, he pointed out.  Therefore, it was critical that sexual violence against women be addressed and justice pursued for perpetrators.

Prevention also included preventive diplomacy, he said, noting that the newly established High‑level Advisory Board on Mediation had met for the first time.  The concept of human security was a useful frame of reference for that work.  Human security was people‑centred and holistic; it stressed the need to act early and prioritize the most vulnerable.

“Let us work together to enhance the Council’s focus on emerging situations, expand the toolbox, increase resources for prevention, and be more systematic in avoiding conflict and sustaining peace,” he said, emphasizing the need for unity in the 15‑member organ.  Without that unity, the parties to conflict might take more inflexible and intransigent positions, and the drivers of conflict might push situations to the point of no return.  “But with unity, we can advance security and well‑being for all,” he underscored.

Statements

KORO BESSHO (Japan), Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, noting that in the 25 years since the end of the Cold War, some parts of the world had been enjoying the benefits of improvements in science and technology, from groundbreaking medicines to new frontiers in outer space.  However, during the same period, there had been a rise in complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the expansion of terrorism.  Peace operations were also facing non‑traditional challenges such as non‑State actors and inter‑State criminal organizations.

The Security Council had been tackling those challenges, in most cases through a country or region‑specific context, he said.  It was important for the Council to discuss those complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security in a holistic and methodological manner.  However, it needed to increase its focus on effectiveness throughout the whole conflict cycle.  At the same time, close attention must be paid to the fact that peace and security, development and human rights were closely interlinked.  It was vital for the Council to enhance cooperation with other organs, both within the United Nations system and beyond.

A human security approach was highly relevant when addressing complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security, he continued, adding that such an approach placed the individual at the centre, based on a cross‑sectoral understanding of insecurities.  It also entailed a broadened understanding of threats and challenges.  Japan had consistently provided human‑centred and comprehensive assistance through cross‑sectoral efforts with a range of partners.  As for the Secretary‑General’s ongoing initiative for the reform of the United Nations, he said that the resolution on the restructuring of the Organization’s peace and security pillar was being tabled for adoption at the General Assembly.  Although the scope of that resolution did not include Security Council reform, no reform would be complete without the reform of that 15‑member organ.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for Ukraine, associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that while criticism of the Council’s work was mostly justified, there was currently no alternative entity to safeguard international peace and security.  The Council had achieved some positive results in recent years, including its role in implementing an agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC‑EP).  With the adoption of resolution 2349 (2017), the Council demonstrated an openness to addressing some of the underlying causes in the complex crisis in the Lake Chad Basin region.  It had also been active in addressing the threat of terrorism, engaging in a number of discussions and taking landmark decisions.  Because threats to international peace and security could not effectively be addressed in isolation, he welcomed the expansion of the Council’s agenda to include challenges such as human rights, development and climate change, to name a few.  Nonetheless, among the Council’s shortcomings or even outright failures were unresolved challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and tragic events in the Middle East, as well as blatant violations of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction that continued with impunity.  Further, he expressed regret at the erosion of the rule of law, which was most obviously manifested in the aggressive policy of the Russian Federation towards its neighbours.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), aligning himself with the statements to be made by the European Union and the Nordic countries, said that international peace and security was increasingly hampered by the negative impacts of multidimensional poverty, climate change, transnational organized crime, food insecurity, weak governance, human rights violations and growing inequality.  The Council’s preventive role was now more important than ever before.  However, prevention was not possible without a comprehensive and holistic strategy to address the root causes and the conflict amplifiers.  While ongoing reform efforts would better position the United Nations system to enhance its joint analysis and integrated strategic planning capacities, it was also crucial to consistently integrate a gender perspective into long‑terms strategies.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said that an innovative approach, coordinated through the United Nations and focused on root causes, was needed to meet current interrelated, complex challenges to international peace and security.  In its analysis of conflicts and potential conflicts, the Secretariat must take into account the nature of each situation on a case‑by‑case basis.  The effectiveness of the Peacebuilding Commission must also be strengthened so that it could work with the Council to lay the foundation for stability in countries at risk.  Transnational challenges must be met through close coordination with regional organizations.  National ownership must be ensured in all efforts with the support of the international community, so that institutions capable of confronting all current challenges could be built.  He stressed that each organ of the United Nations must respect the mandate of the others, so that they could each adequately take on their respective responsibilities and not duplicate efforts.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) said that the Council efforts were constantly endangered both by insufficient implementation of established mechanisms and the lack of coordination to prevent duplication of efforts.  Mediation, prevention and use of good offices, as well as use of Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter of the United Nations should be better used for peaceful settlement of disputes, with Chapter VII tools only used after other strategies had been well applied.  Unilateral actions were also imperilling the Council’s efforts to maintain peace and security.  Such action often resulted in negative consequences for entire regions by creating vacuums of authority, in which terrorist fighters could fill the void.  Robust actions must be taken to meet the terrorist threat.  Prohibition of nuclear weapons, in addition, was an important goal to meet to reduce the threat of devastating conflict.  As a pacifist country, his country would continue to advocate for the peaceful settlement of conflict to avoid the scourge of war and all its consequences, he said.

Matthew John Rycroft (United Kingdom) said that not only emerging threats but also conventional threats had been fuelled by developing transnational challenges, from internet incitement to enslavement of migrants.  All such factors must be confronted at home, in partnership, and multilaterally.  For example, at home, his country was tackling illicit financial flows that funded armed groups, terrorists and corruption, through new legislative acts.  The United Kingdom was also assisting 13 countries in meeting climate threats to reduce their vulnerability.  Multilaterally, it was supporting action of the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council to address the complex and diverse challenges.  For those organs to play their full role, the reforms proposed by the Secretary‑General must be supported.  That would enable the Organization to more effectively sustain peace, meet the Sustainable Development Goals and build respect for human rights.  He pointed out that, during the current open debate, millions of people were experiencing displacement, hunger and conflict as a single reality.  Those ills should all be addressed at the same time to achieve a safer world for all.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) affirmed that Council debates in 2017 had illustrated that the complex challenges facing international peace and security must, in the context of globalization, be met by a global response.  The United Nations must use all its tools to assist States in an integrated manner that addresses deep‑rooted causes.  Terrorism must be faced by addressing all factors — economic, political, cultural and social — along with multilateral security responses and regional arrangements supported by the international community such as the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) joint force.  Those responses must be accompanied by long‑term support for development.  Climate change, often exacerbating crises, must be met by technological and financial means, starting with the immediate implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  The Council should also be in close communication with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other mechanisms so that it could react quickly to grave violations.  All challenges, along with ever‑present threats such as nuclear proliferation and inter‑State tensions, must be addressed by every State collectively, along with the mechanisms of the United Nations.  Therefore, he voiced his country’s full support for the Secretary‑General’s efforts to increase the effectiveness of the Organization.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), expressing full support for the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals to make the United Nations more effective, called for a comprehensive, integrated strategy in which the priority of sustaining peace ran through all efforts.  His country had seen the importance of that approach since its independence and for that reason had been at the forefront of conflict prevention, including the establishment of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, among other efforts.  Reducing the threat of military confrontation was a priority for Kazakhstan, as shown by its hosting of conferences on Syria that had helped de‑escalate areas and promote political progress.  Peacekeeping operations had to become more viable and accountable, with adequate staff and equipment.  The Organization must comprehensively adopt a threefold strategy that addressed the peace and development nexus through a regional approach that involved the entire United Nations system working as one.  His country would continue to be fully engaged in strengthening international peace and security throughout its Council membership and beyond, he pledged.

LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay) said that the Council should consider all aspects that could worsen conflicts, such as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, legal and illegal trade in other weapons, terrorism, cyberattacks, and climate change.  The international community must show greater solidarity and global governance must be strengthened.  There was not only a need for prevention but also for creativity in which greater coordination between the organs of the United Nations was indispensable.  The nexus between security, development, human rights and the humanitarian spheres was clear, but factors such as climate change, pandemics and transnational organized crime could exacerbate crises in conflict or post‑conflict situations.  In such situations there was a need to strengthen the rule of law and promote sustainable economic growth, national reconciliation, access to justice, accountability, democracy, gender equality and protection of human rights.  The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was a violation of international law. 

GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said over the last years, the international community had increased initiatives to address threats to peace, including through the reform of the Organization’s peace architecture and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, among others.  Such factors as the circulation of small arms, sexual violence, recruitment of children, and illegal exploitation of natural resources required a holistic response.  Terrorism had suffered defeats but remained a threat as illustrated in numerous attacks.  Mandates of peacekeeping missions should be better adapted to the situation on the ground, he said, noting that African countries had used their troops to combat non‑State actors.  He welcomed the initiative to reinforce the security pillar.  Senegal’s water, peace and security initiative was aiming to facilitate access to transborder sources of water.

SHEN BO (China) said that, in the desire for peace and development, it was necessary to firmly uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter.  Although new challenges kept emerging, the Charter’s principles remained valid.  Maintaining peace and security was the primary responsibility of the Council and its authority should be defended by all Member States.  The United Nations and the Council should be subjective and impartial.  The 15‑member organ must also respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States and their right to choose their own social structures.  Noting that root causes of conflict such as poverty and under‑development had not been solved and that threats such as climate change were constantly expanding, he urged for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.  The major organs of the United Nations should follow the provisions of the Charter and stick to their mandates while coordinating their efforts. 

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said the Council had a responsibility to respond to crises too large for one nation to deal with.  One of the Council’s most effective tools — peacekeeping operations — was a powerful mechanism, she said, noting that the United Nations deployed over 100,000 troops and police all over the world.  The missions, however, must adapt to the reality of the situation on the ground.  The quality of troops deployed should also be analysed.  Giving examples of successful peacebuilding, including in Liberia, where the United Nations had devised a peacebuilding plan in coordination with the Government and participation of civil society, she said the Council had mostly used missions after conflict had broken out.  There was a need to look at underlying challenges, such as failure to develop or lack of protection of human rights, as those factors could directly lead to instability.  In Yemen, 22 million out of 29 million were in need of humanitarian assistance and there was a risk of famine.  Famine conditions had been caused by conflict and parties more interested in personal gain.  The United Nations had the power to develop solutions to transnational problems, she said, encouraging the Secretary‑General to raise issues early on to the Council.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said that a new way of thinking, along with innovative tools, were needed to meet emerging, complex challenges in international peace and security through a comprehensive and holistic approach.  Strengthened partnerships were needed between United Nations bodies and regional organizations for that purpose.  The Secretary‑General’s vision could allow the creation of integrated capabilities with improved planning and budgeting to support operations on the ground and longer‑term efforts.  While a cross‑pillar approach was critical to address driving factors of conflicts that did not mean that the mandates of existing operations should be changed.  The Security Council should not impinge on the responsibilities of other bodies.  The Council had many responsibilities of its own to deal with, for example, principles of international law governing inter‑State relations, which were not at this point being adequately addressed.

PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) stressed that a context‑specific approach must be highlighted, with all the particularities taken into account, and an over‑broad use of Chapter VII, as well as outside intervention, be avoided.  In that context, he rejected the blasphemous statement by the representative of Ukraine in relationship to international law, given that that representative’s Government had come into power illegitimately.  He called for full implementation of the Minsk agreements.  Factors, such as foreign intervention and economic compulsion, must be added to the list of drivers of current conflict that were being discussed.  In terms of an integrated strategy to international peace and security, it would be useful for the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other organs to consider the links between peace and security and socioeconomic and environmental issues.  However, each must focus on its own responsibilities.  Integrating all factors should not come under the work of the Council, which did not have the capacity in those other areas and for which the basic responsibilities in peace and security must remain the focus. 

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), aligning with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said that during its presidency, his country had begun to address challenges in an integrated way, including a focus on migration and the nexus that phenomenon was connected to.  Protection and empowerment of people was key to building resilient societies.  The Secretary‑General should provide early‑warning information to the Council.  In order to address all problems in a comprehensive manner, United Nations effectiveness must be improved through building synergy between all actors.  In peace and security, capacity should be built to fully realize the concept of a peace continuum, as well as the building of inclusive political processes and resilient institutions.  His country would continue to fully support reform to strengthen the Organization across the three pillars.  In the Council, the interventions today showed that members had sufficient common interest to be able to reach consensus.

The representative of Ukraine, taking the floor a second time, said that it had been reconfirmed just recently that the Russian Federation was an occupying Power and a party to the conflict in the east of Ukraine.  For that reason, the country could not discuss the conflict as an impartial actor.  It must, instead, withdraw from Crimea and Donbass and make reparations for the damage it had caused in his country.

The representative of the Russian Federation, responding to his counterpart, encouraged the representative of the Ukraine to respect the Council and common sense.  The conflict in the Ukraine was a consequence of the seizure of power that was not accepted by people in the east of Ukraine, and while there was no proof of intervention on the part of his country, there was proof of malfeasance by Ukraine, including bombardment of schools and hospitals that threatened a large-scale humanitarian disaster.  He called for the implementation of the road map that was written into the Minsk agreements to resolve the situation.

The representative of Ukraine cited the Secretary‑General who voiced his concern over Russian arms flowing into eastern Ukraine, as well as actions in Crimea.  That was adequate proof of Russian aggression against his country.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that the Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which regularly visited areas not controlled by the Government, had not noted massive troop movement in the areas under discussion.  In addition, he pointed out that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been notified that all facilities in Crimea were working in compliance with the Agency’s regulations.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia) said the maintenance of international peace and security was the fundamental mandate of the Council, which had the responsibility to ensure that decisions were coherent in light of changing needs.  An integrated approach required focus on the main causes and multipliers of conflict.  Nuclear proliferation, climate change, water scarcity and cyberspace attacks required flexible diplomacy.  Prevention and peacebuilding should be the Council’s priority in the maintenance of peace.  Expeditious and bold solutions were required to ensure that the Organization could prevent conflicts.  Reform of the peace and security pillar would make it possible to adapt the United Nations to present day crises.  The Organization’s activities in Colombia were a clear example of building peace, and the success of the peace process in his country was based on a comprehensive approach, including gender equality. 

GEORG HELMUT ERNST SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said that a comprehensive approach to peace and security included rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms as well as sustainable development.  Implementation gaps in development commitments and disregard of human rights obligations were important early warning signals, he said, adding that contemporary security challenges tended to be complex, requiring tailor‑made, context‑specific solutions.  Stressing the importance of accountability in ensuring lasting peace, he added that transitional justice contributed to deterrence and allowed traumatized communities to come back together and move forward.  Noting the Council’s “half‑hearted engagement” with the International Criminal Court, he welcomed the Court’s announcement of investigations into various crimes in Libya.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that conflicts continued to rage around the world and the longstanding internationally recognized disputes regarding Palestine, as well as Jammu and Kashmir, continued to fester.  The Palestinian and Kashmiri people continued to suffer horrific human rights violations at the hands of occupying forces, while the world continued to watch without responding to those egregious situations.  The drivers of such challenges, including political and economic injustice and terrorism and violent extremism, must be addressed.  What was needed was a shift from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention.  There was obviously no one‑size‑fits‑all solution to conflict prevention and mitigation.  Moving a country towards durable peace began with a clear understanding of the sources and nature of conflicts, she said.

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary) said that “comprehensive”, “integrated” and “holistic” were not just buzzwords, but real calls for action and anchors for the work of the United Nations.  The only way to achieve and preserve peace was through dialogue, she said, expressing appreciation for the Secretary‑General’s dedication to start a surge in diplomacy.  Preventive processes should include intercultural and interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, hand in hand with moderate religious and community leaders and faith‑based organizations.  Further, there was no sustainable peace without respecting human rights and international humanitarian law.

JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland) said the United Nations framework for conflict prevention was in the DNA of the 2030 Agenda and in resolutions on sustaining peace adopted by the Council and the General Assembly.  It was also anchored in the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda.  Further, the implementation of the Paris Agreement was a significant preventative step as it acknowledged the strong links between climate change and peace and security.  As respect for human rights was also key to conflict prevention, his country had launched the “Appeal of June 13” to enhance systematic cooperation within the United Nations system on human rights issues.  The appeal specifically called for intensified cooperation between the Council and human rights organs of the United Nations with a view to strengthen conflict prevention.  He also highlighted that many grievances started around issues of perceived or real exclusion and injustice; they deserved greater attention.

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said all pillars of the United Nations were facing tremendous challenges.   No single State possessed the capacity to take on the challenges alone.  The United Nations was in acute need of substantial reform to confront the challenges faced.  A primary objective was to increase the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations while prioritizing political solutions.  Crisis prevention was essential, as well as preventing the relapse of crises in post‑conflict situations.  The Secretary‑General’s “surge in peace diplomacy” initiative and his reform of the prevention pillar had underscored their importance, he said, noting that his country was a co‑chair of the Group of Friends of Mediation.  The Council had failed many times to show timely and adequate responses to emerging crises.  Often, inaction was the result of the use, or the threat, of veto.  That disabled the Council’s effectiveness.  He underlined the importance of more Council interaction with non‑Council members and other United Nations bodies.  More attention must be payed to tackling the root causes of the multiplier factors of conflicts, including terrorism, climate change, water, and human and drug trafficking. 

NIDA JAKUBONĖ (Lithuania), also speaking for Latvia and Estonia and associating herself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that the rise in military conflicts was outstripping the international community’s ability to cope.  Hybrid threats and cybersecurity were priority issues for the Baltic States, she emphasized, noting that concerns regarding the Russian Federation’s interference in national election processes were not limited to European countries alone.  Increased societal awareness, resilience building and media and information literacy could help tackle hybrid threats.  In 2007, Estonia had faced a series of cyberattacks, and Latvia and Lithuania had also experienced such politically motivated assaults.  To cope with the strikes, the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, must cooperate; regional and subregional cooperation was key to strengthening cybersecurity in critical infrastructure.  As hybrid and cyberthreats were here to stay, conventional security was not enough, she said, urging Member States to share best practices and lessons learned in tackling them.

TORE HATTREM (Norway), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said conflicts were increasingly being caused by environmental degradation due to climate change, adding that the international community must cooperate to implement major environmental agreements.  Backing the strengthened United Nations‑World Bank partnership, he added that the Nordic countries were supporters of the Green Climate Fund and initiatives focusing on African and small island developing States.  The Nordic countries promoted the women, peace and security agenda, he said, and inclusivity started with women.  The international community must make better use of the positive contributions of young people, however.  For every dollar invested in prevention, 17 dollars were saved in post‑conflict assistance, he said, urging States to place prevention at the core of the United Nations agenda.  Security Council reform should include seats for Africa; it was also crucial to ensure small States had the opportunity to serve as elected members.

STEPHEN MAHLABADISHAGO NTSOANE (South Africa) highlighted that the nature of conflict was not the one envisaged by the creators of the United Nations.  Indeed, present‑day conflicts largely centred on the internal strife of Member States and transnational threats.  Unfortunately, while the world had changed, the Council had largely remained the same.  Contemporary challenges had brought divisions within the Council to the forefront, especially among its permanent members.  At times, such paralysis had cost human lives, he said, citing the lack of meaningful action on the situation between Israel and Palestine, as well as divisions on Syria.  While incremental improvements had been made to the Council’s working methods, such advancements did not obviate the need for comprehensive reform.  A more representative Council would allow it to be more effective in dealing with complex, contemporary challenges.  He called for a Council with a stronger voice for those closest to crises, one marked by non‑discriminatory decision‑making and collective, rather than narrow, national security interests.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany) said that, in anticipating threats to international peace and security, the Council must have the security implications of climate change on its radar and firmly on its agenda.  In addition, it should also include a host of factors, such as the growing interconnectedness in the cyberworld.  Lasting peace in such a complex world could not be achieved through military means alone, but in combination with development policy and a strong focus on prevention.  For that purpose, resilience of societies must be strengthened; that often started with respect and promotion of human rights.  Given abhorrent violations, such as sexual violence used as a tactic of war, the Security Council must do more to integrate human rights into its deliberations.   Supporting the Secretary‑General’s reform to make the United Nations work better across institutional boundaries, he called for full use of existing arrangements, such as the advisory role of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Describing multisectoral assistance for integrated Sahel initiatives provided by his country, he stressed that in all areas, comprehensive action was needed to respond to current security challenges.  His country stood ready to assume its responsibilities in that regard, he pledged.

JEROEN STEFAN G. COOREMAN (Belgium) said that the challenges for international peace and security had to be looked at through an integrated approach.  A focus on environmental security should be an integral part of a global approach to security.  Environmental challenges had led to migratory pressures and had provoked conflicts.  For that reason, climate change and ecosystem change should be analysed within the context of security.  He voiced his support for the appointing of a special representative for environmental security.  Such a person could become part of the broader reform of the peace and security pillar.  Belgium would continue to actively participate in the discussion and would anchor the global approach in its national policies.  It had accorded priority to funding the general budget of the United Nations agencies so that they could pursue a global approach.  His country had also funded a number of humanitarian funds to help in cases of natural disasters, such as the hurricanes that recently hit the Caribbean region.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) pointed out that conflicts had increased threefold in recent years with an unprecedented number of people forcibly displaced.  In that regard, he strongly supported the Secretary‑General’s call for a surge in political diplomacy and conflict prevention.  Because an inability to tackle the root causes of disputes could cause and sustain conflict, it was encouraging that the United Nations was increasingly examining conflicts in a comprehensive manner.  It was vital that the Secretary‑General’s proposals to restructure the Organization’s peace and security pillar succeed so that its engagement with the peace continuum was more effective and nimble.  Furthermore, the Council must fully uphold the principles of international law, human rights law and humanitarian law.  It must be judicious and not dictated by any particular national perspectives.  That commitment was tested by the question of Palestine.  The Council’s inaction had had devastating consequences on the ground, making solutions more complex.  Moreover, the Council could not solve international peace and security challenges singlehandedly.  Better cooperation was needed with troop‑ and police‑contributing countries in that regard.

SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said that a basic reordering of perspectives was needed, emphasizing the need to address sustainable development for all and reduce gross disparities.  The Council must put a greater focus on the globalization of terror networks.  Even on an issue as serious as designating terrorist individuals and entities, Council‑mandated sanctions committees had failed to make concrete progress.  A non‑representative Council, designed long ago to maintain a balance of power between rival States, was unable to handle challenges which had changed beyond recognition over the decades.  “An instrument that is no longer considered legitimate and has lost its credibility cannot be our hope for salvation,” he said, adding that “speech acts”, such as the current open debate, would have little impact on billions of people striving to live in peace, safety and security.

FRANCISCO TENYA (Peru), stressing the importance of the reform drive at the United Nations, said that the traditional threats to international peace and security had been compounded by new complex global challenges.  Foremost among the latter was the impact of climate change.  Migration, food and security could be affected by that, in turn breeding more transnational crimes and illicit trade.  Strengthening the international community’s commitment to multilateralism was key and broad consensus was necessary on sustaining peace through rule of law.  Instead of “burying our head in sand”, the international community must tackle the problems through a multidimensional and inclusive approach.  Expressing support for the reforms of the Secretary‑General, he said that those reforms would shape the United Nations into a coordinated and flexible body.

JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union delegation, expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s reform efforts and underscored the need to engage other stakeholders, including the private sector, in peacebuilding and sustainable development.  To break the conflict cycle, increasingly complex challenges required changing approaches.  That was not only a moral obligation, but a pragmatic imperative with huge economic advantages.  Last year, the European Union adopted a global strategy reiterating its commitment to a global order based on international law, which translated into an aspiration to address the root causes of conflict.  While addressing conflict early was necessary, staying the course was an even bigger challenge, she said, as relapsing back into conflict was common. 

Meanwhile, the Council should not shy away from examining new and emerging challenges to peace and security, including climate change, she said.  The Council must also use its unique role within the United Nations system to prevent climate change‑induced unrest.  Overall, she said its working methods must evolve.  By addressing situations earlier and in a more integrated manner, Member States could transform their approach to conflict and further empower the Council in fulfilling its core mandate.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) said that the interlinkage between security and development was complex and nuanced.  Poverty and inequality might exacerbate tensions in some scenarios, but did not necessarily endanger international peace and security.  Geopolitical rivalries, militaristic approaches and the unilateral use of force were more serious sources of regional and global insecurity.  While discussing the complex dynamics that affect contemporary conflicts, care should be taken to avoid misinterpretations and generalizations.  Successful peacekeeping operations demonstrated the potential for a constructive relationship between security and development.  The recent experience of the United Nations in Haiti was a positive example, where, for thirteen years, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) contributed to a more secure and stable environment and assisted in the implementation of hundreds of initiatives that fostered peace and development at the local level.

MANAL HASSAN RADWAN (Saudi Arabia) said that contemporary challenges were complicated and interlinked.  Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian land and the violence perpetrated by the terrorist settlers were clear violations of international law and one of the main reasons for the armed conflicts in that region.  The international community must work tirelessly to help the Palestinian people regain their rights.  As well, approximately twenty‑four hours ago, the capital of her country, Riyadh, had become a victim of an attempted attack by a ballistic missile randomly fired from Yemeni territory.  What the rebel militias were doing with the backing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was a blatant violation of the United Nations Charter.  Rivers of blood were flowing in Yemen, she said, and the Council must take deterrent measures to resolve the threat posed to peace and security by the militia and Iran.

HELENA DEL CARMEN YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador), recalling that the United Nations was established to prevent the scourge of war, said that its founding document emphasized the glaringly obvious relationship between disarmament and development.  The 2030 Agenda had served to further highlight that link.  Calling on all relevant stakeholders to work together in a coordinated way, she said that there were a myriad of factors affecting peace and security, including climate change.  Also stressing the imperative need for the Council to refrain from mandate creep, she recalled that Article 99 of the Charter conferred on the Secretary‑General the role of alerting the Council to any threats to international peace and security.  The Secretary‑General must make use of the powers under that Article, she said, adding that gender‑mainstreaming had multiple benefits in peacebuilding.

MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan), highlighting the Council’s important role in peacekeeping and humanitarian action, said increasing its effectiveness was only possible if members were unanimous in responding to emerging threats.  Also expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s reform initiatives, she added that those reforms would strengthen the international community’s ability to prevent and resolve conflicts.  It was necessary to improve the effectiveness of the United Nations and its bodies in order to confront the challenges to development, peace and security.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said that her country had adopted a global approach to international peace and security.  Challenges to peace and security required a positive approach, with dialogue not confrontation.  There was a need to strengthen a collective prevention of conflicts to achieve international peace and security.  Qatar had always participated in resolving conflicts peacefully, she said, welcoming the Secretary‑General’s aim to make conflict prevention into a priority.  She also welcomed regional consultations in sustaining peace in the Middle East.  The major complex challenges in that region represented a threat to international peace and security, and cooperation between countries in the Middle East and the international community was needed to eradicate those challenges.

TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the objective of ensuring a peaceful and prosperous world was hardly achievable if universally recognized fundamental values, norms, and principles were overtly disregarded or misinterpreted.  At a time of brutal armed conflicts and high levels of forced displacement, more concerted action was required at all levels to end conflicts and direct greater attention to preventing future conflicts.  Welcoming the General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution on restructuring the United Nations peace and security architecture, he said that States must comply with their international obligations, particularly those relating to respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and the inviolability of their borders.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) renewed his country’s deep conviction that development and human rights were linked to peace and security, and noted the vision of the Secretary‑General to work towards enhancing the main pillars of security, human rights and development.  Peace required complete harmony and a coordinated effort, and there was a need to enhance the relationships between the United Nations and regional organizations.  The problems faced were extremely complex, and the cooperation of others was needed to help solve them.  Underscoring the importance to hold regional dialogues in order to exchange expertise, he said that would lead to the continued involvement of regional organizations in the peaceful settlements of conflicts.

NGUYEN PHOUNG NGA (Viet Nam) said a human‑centred and whole‑pillar approach was urgently needed to implement a comprehensive and long‑term strategy on conflict prevention and sustaining peace.  Full use must be made of existing preventative diplomacy and mediation tools, and the United Nations should coordinate enhanced partnership with regional and subregional organizations.  Peacekeeping must be coupled with peacebuilding, she continued, emphasizing the need for Security Council unity in taking decisions and collective action.  As for the situation in the East Sea, or South China Sea, she called on all parties concerned to exercise self‑restraint and settle disputes peacefully in line with international law.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said the world was at a critical crossroad in the maintenance of peace and security.  Praising the priority the United Nations was giving to conflict prevention, he said it was necessary to find political solutions to disputes.  To do so, it was necessary to fix the fragmentation in the United Nations and enable it to wield its tools more effectively.  Supporting the Secretary‑General’s initiatives in that regard, he said the Organization must invest in peace and security “for every person in every country”.  Peacekeeping should be pursued in harmony with the other agendas of the United Nations, including the ones enshrined in “the holy triumvirate of peace and security, development and human rights”.  The threat or use of force was even more serious when it accompanied the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons, he said, calling for a robust system of global governance.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said the Security Council should, in a more systematic and targeted manner, deal with challenges in the areas of non‑traditional and cross‑border threats, including those concerning public health, exploitation of natural resources, climate change, poverty and forced displacement.  Both the Council and the General Assembly should take greater advantage of the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Preventing conflict was one of the Council’s most significant responsibilities; it should enhance its preventive and mitigating role.  Security sector reform, a priority area for Slovakia, should focus on genuine national ownership and effective partnerships, among other targets.

MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE (Ghana), emphasizing the need to work across the United Nations system and noting efforts to reform the Organization’s peace and security architecture, said the Council’s capacity to play a preventative and mitigating role would be enhanced by a structured dialogue on the security implications of development‑related issues.  Much could also be gained through increased collaboration between the Council and regional and subregional organizations, such as the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  Noting that peacebuilding and sustaining peace went hand in hand with Sustainable Development Goal 16 [promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies], she said effective strategies across the United Nations system to support that objective would ultimately lead to the effective maintenance of global peace and security.

BELEN SAPAG MUÑOZ DE LA PEÑA (Chile) said a multidimensional approach was necessary to respond to threats, including non‑State and non‑military ones.  Recalling that in January 2015, her country had convened an open debate in the Council on inclusive development, she said there was widespread agreement that security and development were mutually reinforcing.  Underscoring the importance of inclusion, she noted that the design of the transition from MINUSTAH had contained a strong element of national ownership.  Further, it was important to raise awareness regarding the Arria Formula meetings and integrate subsidiary bodies and groups of experts in the work of the Council when designing missions and transitions.  The Council must also improve interaction with regional and subregional bodies.

OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala) said that the United Nations had striven to resolve conflict since its founding through a series of measures, including the maintenance of peace and peacebuilding, as well as promoting recovery and rebuilding.  In all of the aforementioned activities, the Council had played a critical role whenever called upon to respond to various conflicts.  His country had experienced that directly through the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala.  The exit of peacekeeping or special political missions did not mean an end to the peace process.  In response to various collective appeals for an urgent change in the way in which peace instruments available to the United Nations were used, Guatemala was optimistic about the Secretary‑General’s plan to conduct an overhaul and review of those tools.  He remained convinced that prevention and mediation should be at the forefront of the Organization’s efforts on peace and security.

CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said the Council must deploy all the tools at its disposal to effectively deal with emerging threats, and the Organization must act as a whole, coordinated entity.  However, the burden for maintaining international peace and security could not be solely placed on the United Nations; regional bodies should play a critical role.  Because of their presence on the ground, such bodies were better placed to appreciate and address security challenges.  He welcomed the development of partnerships, including African Union‑European Union and African Union‑United Nations joint efforts.  He also highlighted the role of subregional entities, citing Botswana’s experience with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which included structures tasked with addressing peace and security challenges and played a key role in preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution and management, among others.  He also noted States’ collective accountability for effective border management, which could help to reduce crime and insecurity.

LISE HUBERTA JOHANNA GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands), stressing the importance of an integrated approach and early action, said that the challenges of the twenty‑first century transcended borders.  Her country had learned, sometimes the hard way, of the connection between root causes and ensuing conflict.  However, it was not enough to formulate an integrated response to conflict; the Council should also devote attention to preventing conflicts.  While the Council’s involvement with the situation in Gambia earlier in 2017 had proved timely and successful, a clear focal point was still lacking on the issue of climate and security.  Given the growing risk of climate change increasing tensions within and between nations, he underscored that it was important that there be an institutional home for the issue.

ONDINA BLOKAR DROBIČ (Slovenia) said the Council must better integrate peacekeeping with development and humanitarian efforts.  The United Nations and its Member States, regional organizations, non‑governmental organizations (NGOs), and civil society must all support fragile countries, especially by enhancing their societal resilience and security architecture.  Ending impunity for serious international crimes was equally crucial, she said, stressing the importance of effective cooperation with the International Criminal Court and calling upon States that had not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute.  Turning to water scarcity, she recalled the work of the Global High‑level Panel on Water and Peace chaired by the former President of Slovenia.  Regional cooperation was also vital to avoid water becoming a cause of conflict or amplifying risk, she pointed out, citing successful practices in the Western Balkans region, for example, in the Sava River basin, which could serve as a model for water‑related cooperation.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said that a priority in tackling growing global insecurity should be taking a holistic approach to address the drivers of conflict and to focus on both prevention and long‑term stability.  Greece, considering itself a pillar of stability in a region that bordered on the Middle East and North Africa, had hosted international conferences that had aimed at promoting tolerance, pluralism and dialogue among civilizations.  It also engaged in bilateral programmes that utilized country synergies and joint activities in culture and other constructive areas, such as trade and research.  Greece had also established mechanisms of cooperation with countries in the Balkans.  As it was on the front line of migration issues, it advocated for the streamlining of migration governance that made use of existing forums and promoting global partnership.  Affirming the importance of addressing climate change as well, she pledged her country’s support to the Organization’s efforts to address all factors involved with international peace and security to shape a more peaceful world for the future.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) said that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization, but at the same time, called for the acknowledgement of evidence of extremists and terrorists targeting specific communities based on religion or ethnicity.  He called for addressing the suffering of Yazidis, Christians and other minorities, and the indiscriminate attacks and forced displacement of ethnic Armenians from certain Syrian cities.  Armenia had been providing humanitarian aid to the Syrian population, sheltering approximately 22,000 refugees and implementing policies to facilitate housing, education, health care and other integration measures.  Turning to regional issues, he said the OSCE Minsk group co‑chair countries had in October reiterated a commitment to mediating a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno‑Karabakh conflict.  They had also welcomed the resumption of high‑level dialogue between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva on 16 October and a meeting of their foreign ministers on 6 December.  Armenia remained fully committed to negotiations in that regard.

DAVID GREGORY YARDLEY (Australia) said addressing increasingly complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security required a change of approach.  Of particular importance was conflict prevention, sustainable peace, women’s participation in peacebuilding and United Nations reform.  All staff within the Organization must show leadership in embedding prevention approaches across all operations and programmes.  Furthermore, efforts to support peaceful societies must be inclusive, he said, citing evidence that meaningful participation of women in peace processes led to more durable outcomes.  In that regard, he acknowledged the practical steps taken in 2017 by the Department of Political Affairs, Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Peacebuilding Support Office.  Expressing strong support for the Secretary‑General’s ambitious reform efforts, he called for the Organization to prioritize prevention and inclusive peacebuilding.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said the growing number of conflicts and the resulting fallout required a review of the Organization’s response.  Indeed, the international community had not made great use of mediation and conflict tools, which were needed to achieve lasting peace.  He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda, which he hoped would result in a more transparent and cooperative approach.  For its part, Morocco was active in addressing the impact of climate change on peace, and the world was already witnessing its effects, including migration and the erosion of coasts.  Concerning the threat of terrorism to international peace and security, he said peacekeepers could not react robustly to threats if they remained “shackled” in their current mandates.  In that vein, he expressed support for the G5 Sahel joint force and called for its full logistical and financial support, noting that multidimensional missions often lacked needed resources to support their mandate.  At the same time, resolving conflict required partnership, he said, calling for the United Nations to take the lead in coordinating efforts.

HASSAN ABBAS (Lebanon) said the notion that conflicts had become more complex should not distract from addressing root causes, including foreign occupation and aggression.  Lebanon faced many challenges, including almost daily Israeli violations of its sovereignty and the presence of more than 1.2 million refugees from Syria.  Such challenges had contributed to a significant decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) growth, higher unemployment and poverty levels and an overstretched infrastructure.  The pioneering United Nations strategic framework, signed by the United Nations system and the Government in October 2016, recognized Lebanon’s multidimensional challenges, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations must follow a “whole of Lebanon” approach which leveraged and integrated the Organization’s diverse expertise, capacities and resources while supporting Lebanon along the path to sustainable development, as per the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal) said that studies had established the hazardous consequences of climate change on people as well as on the existence of small islands.  The security and economic implications of climate change could not be ignored.  That and other natural disasters would increase the number of environmental migrants in the coming decades.  It was the common responsibility of the United Nations membership to ensure secure futures for island‑dwellers and environmental migrants.  In Nepal, snowcaps were increasingly receding in the Himalayas.  As well, his country was experiencing pressure on food security and witnessing the extinction of some rare flora and fauna.  The Council could play an important role in addressing climate change simply by sending a message of its collective commitment.  The Council members that were also major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions must lead others by example, he said.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) recalled that, with resolution 2349 (2017), the Council had recognized that climate change had an adverse impact on security.  Now, the Council and the General Assembly must clearly articulate practical measures the Organization could take in response to climate change and other non‑traditional security threats.  Measures could include the Secretary‑General preparing regular periodic assessment reports to serve as an early warning mechanism.  Moreover, the Council and Assembly could also consider examining the feasibility of establishing a regular coordination mechanism through which all of the Organization’s principal bodies and relevant agencies could contribute to designing conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacekeeping operations.  Small States were the most vulnerable to non‑traditional and emerging security threats and it was necessary that small island developing States in particular had a seat at the Council.  However, over 72 years, only eight such States had served in that body, he recalled, expressing hope that his country would be elected for the 2019‑2020 term in order to represent those States and contribute to shaping decisions affecting the smallest members of the international system.

SAMUELU LALONIU (Tuvalu), on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, said that climate change was the most important security challenge facing the world today, as affirmed in a seminal report by the previous Secretary‑General.  The growing attention paid to the issue in this chamber gave hope, but dangerous impacts were already occurring, with the most vulnerable bearing the largest burdens.  On the small islands, there were record‑breaking droughts and storms and extreme heat and floods had displaced more people than many conflicts.

Climate change was not going away and the situation would continue to deteriorate even if the goals of the Paris Agreement were met, he said.  The changes could be abrupt and could severely affect many systems that were currently relied on for modern life.  For those reasons, the Secretary‑General should appoint a special representative on climate and security, who could produce a report, in cooperation with scientific bodies, that identified and analysed potentially dangerous tipping points at the nexus of climate and security and address concerns that the securitization of climate change would lead to more militarization.

JOSÉ ATAÍDE AMARAL (Portugal) said addressing both the new and old threats to global peace and security required, more than ever before, a multilateral approach that also involved tackling the root causes of conflict.  Complex contemporary challenges required continuous adaptation of mechanisms, better coordination and early action to address threats at all levels.  Affirming the importance of conflict prevention, he supported the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals in that context.  The integration of a gender‑balance perspective was also a priority, as was an ever‑strengthening relationship between the General Assembly, Security Council and the rest of the United Nations system, including through the Peacebuilding Commission.  Early Council consultations on situations of imminent risk and collective action were important to break the conflict cycle.  Portugal stood ready to fully contribute to those efforts.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said emerging challenges had the potential to further exacerbate protracted conflicts and create multiplier effects across borders.  Conflict prevention was, first and foremost, a national responsibility and the active participation of all segments of society was fundamental to mitigating the potential drivers of conflict.  Meanwhile, the United Nations had a critical role in facilitating and monitoring the implementation of internationally agreed commitments to support Member States.  However, the range of tools at its disposal needed to be deployed with sensitivity to the realities on the ground and in consultation with relevant national, civil society and humanitarian actors.  The failure to do so was evident in the “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” witnessed in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August, he said.  Furthermore, while the Council did not need to remain confined to a strict definition of its mandate, it should find ways to enhance its interface with other principal organs.

News

Despite Growing Awareness of Urgent Need to End Sexual Violence, Empower Women in Conflict Zones, Real Progress Seriously Lagging, Security Council Told

Speakers Urge More Funding for Gender Expertise in Peacebuilding, Prosecution

Normative frameworks had been established and global awareness of the urgency of ending sexual atrocities and empowering women in conflict situations was growing, but progress on the ground must be accelerated, speakers told the Security Council in an all-day debate today.

“The chorus of voices that are appalled by the persistent political marginalization of women in decision-making is speaking louder; the number of people who are determined to find new solutions to the human suffering caused by conflict is growing,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), said in a briefing, ahead of over 85 speakers in the Council’s annual examination of progress and gaps in implementing resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.  “But, that is just the beginning,” she declared, calling for redoubled efforts to empower and protect women throughout the United Nations system.

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General; Michaëlle Jean, Secretary-General of the International Organisation of la Francophonie; and Charo Mina Rojas, a civil society representative from Colombia also briefed the Council.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said that the women, peace and security agenda was now an essential pillar of global affairs.  However, all indicators showed a decline in women’s participation in peace processes around the world and in leadership positions in conflict zones, with some heartening exceptions, such as in the Colombia peace process.  Similarly, awareness and documentation of sexual violence in conflict zones had soared, while actual prevention of such violence and prosecution of perpetrators sorely lagged.  She urged greater funding for gender expertise and projects in conflict zones.

Ms. Viotti, introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report on the subject (document S/2017/861), affirmed that women’s underrepresentation in the security sector increased their exposure to harm and undermined their potential in conflict prevention.  When the Council had visited the Lake Chad Basin, local leaders had emphasized the weak position of women as a root cause for the current crisis. 

She described plans of the Secretary-General to achieve gender parity in the United Nations, noting that only 3 per cent of peacekeepers were women.  Reform of the peace and security architecture would emphasize gender expertise, along with monitoring mechanisms targeting women marginalization.  Council and other Member States would also be encouraged to share best practices.

Ms. Rojas described provisions of the Colombian peace agreement that she said had become a new source of hope for women’s empowerment, inclusiveness and conflict settlement.  Ms. Jean, affirming a woefully low level of women’s participation in peacekeeping, described initiatives undertaken by la Francophonie to redress that situation and to ensure that women sat at negotiating tables in several African settings.  She called for increased support to women’s grass-roots organizations and other instruments that could increase women’s participation.

Following those briefings, Member States’ representatives at the ministerial and diplomatic levels agreed that while normative frameworks to empower and protect women in conflict situations had made steady progress since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), real progress in women’s meaningful engagement in all phases of peacebuilding and their protection from abuse and exploitation were seriously lagging.  Many speakers called for better ways to keep track of gender data to better monitor such progress.

Many countries described their national efforts to close the gap in their domestic policies, their international cooperation and their contributions to United Nations peacekeeping.  The representative of the United Kingdom stressed the importance of sharing specific actions and best practices undertaken by countries, after 17 years of slow progress.  In that vein, Senegal’s representative described regional efforts in West Africa, while Uruguay’s representative attested to the increased effectiveness of peacekeeping contingents deploying women.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, noting that women in her country had been seriously affected by years of conflict, said that efforts to increase women’s participation in local levels of Government was paying out in the form of more effective peaceful conflict resolution in some provinces.  Kazakhstan’s representative said that women, along with youth, must be seen as a critical link in the security/development nexus.

Ending violence against women, ensuring accountability for perpetrators and ensuring zero tolerance for sexual exploitation by peacekeepers were seen as urgent priorities by all speakers.  In many situations, speakers said it was time to move past words and to action on the issue.  In that vein, the representative of Bangladesh said rape and sexual abuse of Rohingya women was being used as a tactic of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, and called for stronger action from the Council and the international community.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden recounted her recent trip to Afghanistan, as well as her experience as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.  She said it was a mistake to view such violence as inevitable or impossible to prosecute and ensure that impunity was ended.  And to implement the full 1325 agenda, Member States must utilize the policy frameworks that have been put in place to actually empower women.  “The frameworks and tools are in place,” she said.  “It is up to us to make it happen.”

Also speaking today were the representatives of Ukraine, Bolivia, Italy, United States, Egypt, Ethiopia, Russian Federation, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, France, Colombia, Germany, Guatemala, Panama (on behalf of the Human Security Network), Liechtenstein, Tunisia, Turkey (also on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia), Nepal, Slovenia, Canada (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security), Iran, Czech Republic, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, Mexico, Namibia, Belgium, Indonesia, Spain, Slovakia, Peru, Argentina, Morocco, Switzerland, Qatar, Lithuania, Israel, South Africa, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Albania, Hungary, Pakistan, Maldives, Netherlands, El Salvador, Chile, Jamaica, Iraq, Austria, Georgia, Botswana, India, Costa Rica, Romania, Philippines, Viet Nam, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Armenia, Trinidad and Tobago, Rwanda, Portugal, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Ecuador, Nigeria, Djibouti and Azerbaijan, as well as the Holy See, State of Palestine, European Union and the African Union.

Also speaking were representatives of the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The meeting began at 10:19 a.m. and ended at 8:19 p.m.

Briefings

MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary‑General, said there was a pressing need for more action to implement the women, peace and security agenda, with prevention as a core pillar.  Women were affected in negative ways by armed conflict and violence and comprised most of the victims of rape and human trafficking.  In urban warfare, they were at risk in houses and checkpoints.

She said women’s underrepresentation in the security sector increased their exposure to harm and undermined their potential in conflict prevention.  When the Council had visited the Lake Chad Basin, local leaders had emphasized the situation of women as a root cause for the current crisis.  Mentioning other examples, she said the Secretary‑General was committed to promoting gender equality and to fully integrating the voice of women in conflict prevention.  He had put forward a plan to achieve gender parity in the United Nations.

Noting that only 3 per cent of peacekeepers were women, the Secretary-General was working with troop- and police‑contributing countries to increase the number of female uniformed personnel.  The new Office of Counter‑Terrorism was integrating a gender perspective.  Reform of the peace and security architecture would emphasize gender expertise.  Monitoring mechanisms should include a focus on women marginalization.

Tackling the root causes of crises included tackling gender inequality, she said.  Gender indicators should therefore be strengthened.  Seventeen years after its adoption, implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) was too often ad hoc.  She invited Council members and other Member States to share evidence and examples in order to examine gaps and successes.  She looked forward to working with Member States to ensure that women’s participation would strengthen the Organization’s peace efforts.

PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women), welcoming the Secretary‑General’s latest report on women, peace and security, said that that report celebrated progress and development of good practices, but also brought into the spotlight several alarming trends and setbacks.  “The chorus of voices that are appalled by the persistent political marginalization of women in decision-making is speaking louder; the number of people who are determined to find new solutions to the human suffering caused by conflict is growing,” she stated.

Regarding progress, she noted the presence in the chamber of a Colombian activist who helped ensure that the peace agreement in that country mainstreamed gender equality, with more than 100 provisions for women’s participation.  Unfortunately, the Colombian situation was an exception, she said.  Indicators tracked by UN‑Women showed an overall decline in women’s participation in United Nations-led peace processes, inclusion of gender-sensitive provisions in peace agreements and consultation with women’s civil society organizations, in comparison with one year ago.  Recent peace talks on the Central African Republic did not include a single woman, she lamented.

Political marginalization, she added, was not limited to peace talks.  Only 17 countries had an elected woman head of State or Government, and the proportion of women parliamentarians in conflict and post‑conflict countries had stagnated at 16 per cent.  The use of quotas and temporary special measures would help, she stressed, pointing to Somalia and Mali, where representation of women surged when such measures were instituted.

Turning to sexual violence, she said that atrocities against women and girls in armed conflict were now the focus of attention and documentation, with extensive evidence of such crimes in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.  What was missing was consequences for perpetrators and justice, dignity and support for the survivors.  “This impunity cannot be allowed to continue,” she stated.

Noting the work of her organization and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) among many others, she said the international community was assisting hundreds of thousands of survivors of sexual crimes, but many more could not be reached due to lack of resources, access and security.  Conflict had also exacerbated extreme poverty, women’s responsibility for households, illiteracy, maternal mortality and child marriage in many areas.

Recalling testimony to the Council by one of the escaped Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria, she said there was still much to learn about the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees and their children.  Regarding the work of the Council itself, she regretted that the participation of women in peacekeeping was still low and sexual exploitation by peacekeepers had not yet been stamped out.  It was encouraging to see, however, the reduction in allegations of such abuse in the Central African Republic, improvements in victims support and assistance and a culture of accountability taking hold. 

At the same time, she said it was dispiriting to see gender advisory expertise being lost due to budget cuts, while it was heartening to see that the Peacebuilding Fund exceeded its goals in funding targeted to women’s empowerment.  She called on donors to continue supporting that vital instrument, with its 15 per cent standard for gender funding adopted by all post-conflict actors.  With more resources, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, in addition, would be able to support women’s organizations in many more places.

She noted, in that regard, that women’s rights defenders were under attack and there was still not enough being done to protect them.  She applauded the Council for regularly inviting women from civil society organizations to brief on specific countries and called on all Member States to support that new practice.  She also welcomed the adoption of resolutions devoted solely to sexual exploitation, human trafficking and their intersection with violent extremism, as well as the work of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security.  “But this Council could do so much more to put its full political weight behind implementation of this agenda,” she stressed.

In order to build on progress, she urged the continued forming of alliances and coalitions, noting that regional rosters of women mediators had been established.  The African Women Leaders Network was an example of growing cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union on the issue. National focus points and action plans on women, peace and security had proliferated and projects aimed at preventing violent extremism had been spread over several regions.  There were also encouraging signs for gender justice in the international courts.

The women, peace and security agenda was now an essential pillar of global affairs, she said, adding “This is only the beginning.  The chorus of voices that are appalled by the persistent political marginalization of women in decision‑making is speaking louder,” along with those who are calling for an end to conflict‑related suffering, she stated.  “This agenda unites us because people from all over the world, every day, look up to the United Nations for peace, equality and inclusion”, she concluded.

CHARO MINA‑ROJAS, NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, said that Colombia had become a new source of hope thanks to the comprehensive peace agreement that had been reached.  Two provisions of that agreement were particularly progressive and could bring radical changes to future peace processes around the world.  The first was the explicit inclusion of a gender perspective as an international principle, while the second was the inclusion of the “Ethnic Chapter”, which provided important safeguards to ensure the protection and promotion of Indigenous and Afro‑descendant People’s rights from a gender, family and generational perspective.  The inclusion of those two specific principles was a historic advancement on peace and security that the United Nations and other countries experiencing violence and armed conflicts could learn from.  The peace accord was also important for civil society, and in that regard, the engagement and active participation of women, ethnic groups and their communities was anticipated.

She emphasized that Colombia risked wasting an opportunity for peace if it did not completely disarm itself and if the communities most impacted during the internal armed conflict, including women human rights leaders and activists, continued to be ignored in the implementation of the peace accord.  “I am here today to make visible their urgent calls and want to stress that for my people, it is actually a matter of life or death,” she warned.  Ensuring the ongoing participation of women, especially from diverse communities, in all areas related to the implementation of the peace accord, was of critical importance.  There was an urgent need for local women’s organizations and community leaders to be consulted and participate in the design of local protection strategies to keep communities safe.

There was also a need to guarantee women’s integral and collective security, she said, noting that the proliferation of weapons was fuelling increased fear and forced displacement among largely Indigenous and Afro‑descendent communities.  It was also negatively impacting women’s participation and mobility, and resulting in increased sexual and gender‑based violence.  Sexual and gender‑based violence and the stigmatization it caused, especially for Indigenous and Afro‑descendent women and their children, was a matter of integral and collective security.  “The silence around these crimes is as appalling as the crimes themselves,” she stressed.  It was also crucial that the framework put in place for the implementation of the peace accord include specific goals and indicators designed to measure the progress and outcomes of policies, programmes and reforms in a matter that corresponded to the needs, values and rights of Indigenous and Afro‑descendant Peoples.

MICHAELLE JEAN, Secretary‑General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, said 17 years ago it was agreed to underline the importance of women’s participation, on equal footing with men, in crisis prevention, mediation, peacebuilding, and maintenance and consolidation of peace and security.  Women had not waited for the adoption of the resolution, however.  In Liberia, for instance, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had stood up to the war lords and had mediated between the fighting parties.  In Bosnia and Herzegovina, women had always been among the first to seek reconciliation.  Turning to women’s activities in Rwanda and Mali, she said the Ouagadougou Agreement of April 2012 had been drafted by four women who initially had not been allowed to speak, but were finally allowed to sit at the negotiating table.  Women contributed to peace and security and it was a mistake to underestimate their ability.

“How many more resolutions, studies, high‑level meetings of independent groups and expert advisory groups are necessary to end this unacceptable figure of only 9 per cent women’s participation in some 30 major peace negotiations over the last 25 years?” she asked.  Participation of women had led to a 20 per cent greater chance of achieving a peace lasting two years and 35 per cent chance of a peace lasting 15 years.  More than lip service should be paid to ensuring that women were invited to participate in national dialogues.  Why wait to address the fact that only 3 per cent of women were in peacekeeping missions, she asked.  It was proven that the presence of women there would contribute to a better understanding of security forces and improve their credibility among the populations they served, she said, stressing that “Women inspire confidence”.  

She said the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie had invested in women as peacekeepers and had been active in encouraging participation of women in missions and training them.  The organisation underscored the importance of women’s participation to its member States.  The climate of impunity and the trampling of human rights also affected women.  Peace, stability and security furthermore depended on economic development.  More must be done to increase financing for women’s participation in peace and security.  Funding of grassroots women organisations should also be addressed.

More must be done to end impunity, she said.  Years and resolutions had gone by but had not been put into action in that regard.  Women were the first targets when the decision was made to annihilate a population.  The rape of women and girls had become a weapon of mass destruction.  Describing the horrors women had to undergo in several area, she underlined it was not only an African problem.  The horrors took place everywhere in the world.

Statements

IVANNA KLYANPUSH‑TSINTSADZE (Ukraine) said the meaningful inclusion of women was perhaps the greatest, but most under‑utilized tool for building peace.  Women played a prominent role in peacebuilding in Ukraine, with the President having appointed a woman to a position in charge of the peace process in the Donbas region and two women participating in Minsk working groups dealing with humanitarian and political issues.  However, so long as foreign aggression continued, peace and security for most women in occupied parts of Ukraine would remain almost unattainable.  They would continue to lack protection and live in fear, with almost no recourse to justice, remaining economically disadvantaged and living with limited freedoms.  The Security Council must give priority to the protection and participation pillars of women, peace and security agenda, she said, expressing regret that impunity for human rights violations and abuses committed in the context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, not least regarding sexual violence, still prevailed.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, noted that she had travelled to today’s open debate directly from Afghanistan, where she met women and girls living amid conflict, struggling to make ends meet and keep their families safe whilst facing a constant risk of sexual violence.  “Oppression of women is a global disease,” she said, with the use of sexual violence as a weapon being the ultimate manifestation of that oppression.  Recalling her experience as the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, she said it was a mistake to view such violence as inevitable, unspeakable and a lesser crime.  A gender perspective must be incorporated in all aspects of peacebuilding, she said, underscoring the value of data and support for women’s organizations, but expressing concern that budget cuts and mainstreamed mandates could result in reduced gender expertise in United Nations missions.  Member States must seize the current momentum for women’s participation in peace processes and put women’s full enjoyment of their rights at the core of international peace and security.  “The frameworks and tools are in place,” she said. “It is up to us to make it happen.”

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said that despite active annual discussions since 2000, year after year the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda fell short.  He encouraged all speakers to be specific, therefore, about what their countries were doing to advance it.  His country had worked in Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan to increase women’s participation in all sectors.  It had also directly addressed sexual violence and the resulting stigmas through a number of projects and was providing training on such issues for peacekeepers.  He urged a reversal in the decrease in gender expertise in the United Nations.  Women leadership had greatly expanded in the United Kingdom, but as more could be done an action plan had been launched, as well as a “gender compact” for missions.  He urged all to institute such a compact and mainstream the issues involved into all conflict‑related initiatives.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) also noted the challenges in implementing the agenda, which he said required international and regional cooperation, even though, he stressed, each country had unique challenges.  Those particularities should be studied closely so the right capacities could be built for all United Nations initiatives.  Empowerment of women must be built in both conflict countries and all societies.  His country had put in place legislation in favour of women’s empowerment, most notably requiring equal representation in elected assemblies.  The right to property and other economic empowerment of women had also been strengthened.  As severe inequality was a driver of conflict, his State was playing a strong role in distributing wealth.  He praised several countries that had also taken steps to strengthen women’s empowerment, along with reforms instituted by the Secretary-General.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) welcomed the international solidarity being exhibited on the issue.  He affirmed the necessity of empowering women in ensuring peaceful societies.  Unfortunately, inequality in all areas remained on the rise and women continued to suffer from it.  He expressed hope, however, that progress could be made both in policy and consciousness in advancing women’s empowerment.  Expertise and financing for that purpose was critical.  New international mechanisms were developing and that showed signs for hope.  In his region, there were more women officials in the African Union and the creation of a network of African women leaders.  He described several regional initiatives to empower women, including a framework within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  Adding that all international instruments had been integrated into his country’s policy frameworks, he stated that more than 100 Senegalese women were now deployed in peacekeeping operations.  Many challenges remained, however, and new kinds of gender‑based violence were emerging, particularly in the Sahel region.  Cooperation must therefore be strengthened to face them.

INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy), noting that centrality of the women, peace and security agenda was increasingly recognized, said that nevertheless the voices of women at the grassroots level were still rarely heard and they continued to be exploited and abused in many situations.  He urged the United Nations to lead as an example and encourage Member States to share best practices.  He announced that a women’s mediation network, just founded on 26 October in Rome with Government backing, as a way for women to build regional capacity to address a host of issues that were causes of violence and inequality.  Describing other Italian projects, he encouraged further cooperation between the United Nations with regional organizations.  Women’s meaningful participation must be promoted, he stressed:  women’s participation was not just a matter of numbers.

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said that as the role of women in maintaining peace and security was critical, one should move from rhetoric to action.  More women were needed in government and at the negotiating table.  Her country was fully committed to advance full implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) she said, describing legal processes in that regard.  Noting that when women participated in peace processes, success was more sustainable, she said their full participation in the economy also bolstered prosperity for all, which was why her country supported women entrepreneurs.  She was disheartened to learn that the number of women participating in United Nations peace process had gone down.  Women were an under‑used resource in combating extremist violence, as they were a first line of defence against radicalization.  Women could play more vital roles in preventing terrorist ideologies taking root.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said the experience of the Council did prove that participation of women in peace processes made a difference in achieving peace.  He stressed the importance of women’s effective participation and providing funding for them in peace and security.  He stressed, however, that the scope of the agenda should be limited to countries in conflict and post conflict situations.  Concrete actions should be developed to increase the number of female “Blue Helmets”.  The suffering of women was exacerbated in conflict zones and areas under occupation.  He said his country had introduced an intensive training module on sexual and gender-based violence for the training of its peacekeepers.  The manual on the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation, translated in English and French, was available to all troop‑contributing countries, he said.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) welcomed positive developments in advancing the women, peace and security agenda, particularly the focus on their participation in peace processes.  She was concerned, however, at the challenges posed by sexual and gender-based violence.  More needed to be done about sexual exploitation and abuse.  She said Africa had registered considerable progress in advancing the women, peace and security agenda, with national action plans adopted in many countries.  Gender policies adopted by the African Union and subregional organizations could provide a basis for facilitating the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda in Africa.  It was important to strengthen support for initiatives aimed at ensuring the participation of women in peace processes, mediation and election monitoring, she said, and encouraged a regional approach in advancing the agenda.

EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) said that while progress had been achieved in advancing the role of women, their protection was lagging.  Women continued to be victim to violence, especially by terrorist groups.  It was important to focus on issues related to establishing national peace and security.  There were specialized agencies and organizations to address issues such as gender equality.  The way the topic was discussed in the Chamber strayed from the established criteria, he said, noting that it was inappropriate to use the Council to promote controversial approaches that did not have broad global support.  The primary role in defending women rested with Governments, while measures of the United Nations system and civil society should be aimed at supporting the efforts of States.  Turning to Ukraine’s statement, he noted, among other things, that responsibility of the suffering of women as described by that country’s representative lay with the authorities.  Terrible crimes against women had been committed by Ukrainian forces, he said.

SHEN BO (China) said that since adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), the international community had built a sound framework for fostering a greater role for women in peace and security, but protection of their rights in times of conflict should be strengthened.  It was therefore important to prevent conflict, he said, and the Council should encourage States to settle their disputes peacefully.  The international community should embrace the notion of peace for development and heed the voices and participation of women in all stages of peace processes.  Special intention should be paid to women as a vulnerable group and protect them from terrorists.  Protection of women in post conflict situations should be intensified by support for gender equality measures as well as by development support.  As the Council had adopted consensus resolutions, United Nations agencies and bodies should strengthen their coordination and cooperation within their competencies with other bodies and regional and subregional organizations.

KORO BESSHO (Japan) said that, 17 years after the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), the normative framework had still not been fully put into practice.  Some 100 countries had announced their commitment to promote the women, peace and security agenda in 2015, at which time Japan had pledged to steadily implement and monitor its related national action plan, increase its financial support to UN‑Women, as well as the Office of the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and invest in human resource development and the education of women in displacement.  Noting that his country had faithfully fulfilled those promises, he pointed out that it had recently become UN‑Women’s second‑largest contributor and was one of the top donors to the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict.  As 90 per cent of conflicts from 2000 to 2009 were relapses, women’s meaningful participation and leadership were critical, including in peace negotiations and peacekeeping missions.  Outlining Japan’s technical training efforts in those areas, he added that the United Nations system‑wide strategy on gender parity was also critical and its implementation must be ensured.

KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) said that the 1325 agenda should be seen as a valuable tool for making the entire peacekeeping architecture of the United Nations more effective.  The gap between the framework and women’s progress must be closed, with stronger collaboration between Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UN‑Women to increase women’s parity in peacekeeping and to build gender expertise for all operations.  Gender expertise in preventing violent extremism must also be utilized.  Each Member State and region must play its role, in addition.  His country had promoted strong pro‑women policies in its legislative framework and all areas of security and peacebuilding.  Prevention of gender-based violence was central.  Women, along with youth, must be seen as a critical link in the security/development nexus.  His country was working to meet the 15 per cent target in its funding for gender mainstreaming and was working internationally to promote the agenda.  He underlined, in addition, the importance of women’s civil society groups and the collection of clear data on the issue.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said that the women, peace and security agenda should be a priority of the Council on a permanent basis.  He welcomed a range of initiatives to advance that agenda, which was critical for the success of peacekeeping.  The issue was women’s ability to enjoy all their inalienable rights and hold their own futures in their own hands.  It was the responsibility of all nations to uphold those rights and the responsibility of civil society to hold States to account in that regard.  His country had been increasing women’s participation in its peacekeeping contingents, and it had accordingly seen the effectiveness of its contributions increase.  He called for strengthened efforts to end impunity for sexual violence, calling on the Council to refer cases to the courts and for augmented efforts to enforce zero tolerance for abuse by peacekeepers.  His country would work with all others to continue to advance the entire agenda.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), Council President for October, speaking in his national capacity, said conflicts could not be resolved by leaving half of humanity on the margins.  Women must not only be protected, but also fully involved in conflict prevention and resolution.  Their participation in political processes and conflict resolution and prevention remained insufficient, he said, noting that between 1992 and 2011, 4 per cent of peace agreement signatories and less than 10 per cent of peace negotiators were women.  Member States must take responsibility, elaborate national and regional plans and put them in place.  Gender‑based conflict analysis should be strengthened, including through an exchange of best practices.  He went on to review his country’s own efforts, noting that its 2015‑2018 national action plan for women, peace and security was built on five pillars:  participation, protection, fighting impunity, prevention and promotion of the women, peace and security agenda.  He also noted that women now accounted for 15 per cent of all French troops, a twofold increase since 1998.

Taking the floor for the second time, YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said it seemed like his Minister’s statement had been taken out of context.  Women made up almost one million internally displaced persons in his country, a direct consequence of Russian aggression.  If the Russian Federation wanted to help women in Ukraine, it should stop sending troops, weapons and ammunitions to Eastern Ukraine.  “Until that happens, Russia is in no position to lecture others,” he emphasized.  There were hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners in Russian captivity as well, and once out of captivity some of them carried on with life, sometimes even holding seats in Ukraine’s Parliament.

MARIA ANGELA HOLGUIN (Colombia) said her country remained committed to ensuring the full participation of women, despite facing major challenges to do so.  It had taken the necessary steps to implement resolution 1325 (2000), including by establishing a body that dealt with victims of armed conflict.  That group focused on offering women, especially those in rural communities, economic autonomy and decent working conditions.  The group was also working to break the violent cycle many women faced.  Women’s participation in peacebuilding was as critical as in achieving peace, she continued, noting women’s participation in her country’s judicial sector and other areas of Government.  She stressed the need to ensure accountability for sexual violence.  Lessons learned must be used to achieve advantage in other sectors as well.  Peace was not only about putting an end to war and violence.  Peace also required the unwavering support of States and the United Nations in working together to ensure the real participation of women.

CHANTAL SAFOU (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that her country had been afflicted with years of conflict that produced nefarious consequences, particularly for women and children.  She outlined efforts by her Government, which had adopted an action plan to collect statistic data from provinces on the living conditions of women.  The plan sought to achieve the participation of women at local levels of government.  Women were already contributing to the peaceful resolution of conflict in provinces. In addition to the action plan, her Government also signed a Joint Communiqué with the United Nations to fight sexual violence in conflict.  It had also adopted initiatives to prosecute perpetrators.  She also commended her Government’s decision to appoint women to high‑level positions in the army.

BÄRBEL KOFLER, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid of Germany, associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said rhetoric about women’s participation in peace processes must be turned into action through practical initiatives.  In that regard, Germany was supporting the African Union in developing a network that would enable women leaders to exchange experiences, she said, adding that her country hoped to see more women‑led African Union‑United Nations solidarity missions.  International discussion on implementing the women, peace and security agenda must continue between the Council’s annual open debates, she added, noting the work of the Council’s informal expert group on the issue.  Better efforts could be made as well to connect implementation of the women, peace and security agenda with other initiatives, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

SANDRA ERICA JOVEL POLANCO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said a significant participation of women in peace processes strengthened protection efforts, accelerated economic recovery and led to sustainable peace.  Lasting peace could not be achieved without security for women and girls, she said, expressing particular concern over the use of sexual violence as an instrument of war.  National action plans to implement resolution 1325 (2000) were powerful tools for progress, she said, noting that her country adopted such a plan in July this year.  She went on underscore the important role of women in peacekeeping operations, adding that joint efforts must continue between Member States and the United Nations to support measures that increased women’s participation in peace processes.  “Inclusive processes should be the rule, not the exception,” she said.

LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, comprising of Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, Mali, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Thailand, South Africa, and her own country, called on Member States, the United Nations, regional and subregional organizations to support efforts to implement resolution 1325 (2000).  There was a need for greater recognition and support of women’s full and effective participation in all stages of conflict resolution and post‑conflict reconciliation processes, so that peace agreements could be more effective.  Women must play a key role in conflict prevention and resolution as well as in the construction and decision-making of sustainable peace processes.  She noted several developments since the 2016 debate on the same topic, including the Secretary‑General’s commitment to gender parity and the high‑level political forum’s review of the goal on gender equality.

She expressed concern about the impact of forced displacement on women and girls, emphasizing that addressing the matter called for the involvement of women in the design and implementation of humanitarian action and early recovery.  Greater efforts were needed to promote and respect the human rights of women and girls, as well as to strengthen all efforts to address gender‑based violence.  For too long sexual violence had been committed on a systematic and widespread scale as crimes against humanity.  “At an alarming rate women and girls are today targets of sexual and gender‑based violence,” she said, stressing the need to fight impunity and ensure accountability under national and international jurisdictions.  “We need to ensure that women’s and girl’s interests are fully respected and systematically integrated into peace processes,” she added.

Ms. OEHRI (Liechtenstein) said that despite some progress, “we are still very far from achieving the goals we have set ourselves”.  The data in the latest report of the Secretary‑General pointed to significant barriers in women’s meaningful participation in mediation processes.  “Root causes of conflicts cannot be fully addressed and societal traumas cannot be overcome when half of the population is excluded from peace processes,” she stressed.  Women often shouldered a large share of responsibility in communities during conflict and recovery, which made their participation even more important.  Their inclusion in mediation processes also contributed to their empowerment in line with the 2030 Agenda.  Noting that structural inequalities, poverty and discrimination often hindered women’s access to justice, she said that gender‑responsive legal systems were fundamental to building resilient societies.  While women and girls were particularly vulnerable to conflict‑related sexual violence, men and boys were also targeted.  A prevailing culture of silence often prevented male victims from speaking out.  “The most efficient protection against conflict‑related sexual violence is ensuring that it does not happen in the first place,” she stressed.

MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia) said the devastating impact of conflict on the most vulnerable citizens, including women and children was evident.  Despite the progress that had been achieved, women remained virtually absent in peace negotiations and institutions for peacebuilding, which hindered the process of conflict resolution.  He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s initiative to assess the quality of the participation of women in peace processes as part of the overall reform process.  He also underscored that a gender perspective was important for the implementation of measures aimed at combatting extremism and for the rehabilitation of women returning from conflict zones.  He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s efforts to achieve gender parity within the United Nations and recalled that Tunisia had adopted legislation in 1966 that served as a mechanism for the emancipation of women and the promotion of a society rooted in citizenship.  He pointed to Tunisia’s new Constitution and its provisions that guaranteed and preserved the rights of women, and acknowledged their key role in democracy‑building in the country.

FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), also speaking on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia, said that despite progress since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), daunting challenges remained, with women and girls still disproportionately affected by the impact of conflict.  Gender responsive humanitarian policies must be developed to ensure access to health, education and other basic services for women and girls.  Redoubled efforts must also be made to prevent women and girls from becoming victims of human trafficking in conflict and post‑conflict situations.  Meaningful progress on that front could only come through coordinated and consolidated measures, he said, emphasizing the importance of regional and international coordination and cooperation in a time when the causes and effects of conflicts easily spilled across borders.

SHANKER DAS BAIRAGI (Nepal) said that his country had made explicit efforts to localize its national action plan, including through the mandatory provision of 33 per cent women’s representation in “Local Peace Committees”.  Gender parity also helped ensure that peacekeeping missions were more compassionate and better at protecting the civilian population from sexual abuse.  In that context, Nepal was committed to attaining the goal of 15 per cent females in peacekeeping operations.  It had employed policies to encourage more females to join the national security forces.  In Nepal’s cases, women’s increased representation in legislative and Government bodies and State institutions since 2007 had directly contributed to fostering good governance and inclusive societies.  Nepal’s National Women’s Commission was now an independent and powerful constitutional body with a mandate to monitor and safeguard the rights and interests of women.  In recent local elections, women had secured nearly half of the leadership positions, he said.  Moreover, Nepal’s Constitution required that the President and Vice‑President must represent different sexes or communities.

DARJA BAVDAŽ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union and the Human Security Network, said that her country’s first national action plan had demonstrated its implementation of the Council’s resolutions on women, peace and security, including through more than 20 projects carried out in collaboration with civil society.  She drew attention to several specific projects aimed at empowering women in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.  Further, Slovenia supported additional projects, including through the provision of funding.  On the national level, her country had pursued initiatives geared towards the systematic education and training of women serving in the Slovene armed forces.  She was pleased to note that Slovenia also contributed the first female Force Commander to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  The political participation of women in Slovenia was excellent, she highlighted, noting that half of the Government leadership was female, including the Minister of Defence and the Minister of the Interior.

MICHAEL GRANT (Canada), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that women’s participation had a positive impact on the credibility and durability of peace agreements.  It was essential to include gender considerations and the meaningful participation of women in early warning, mediation, and conflict-resolution effort, and a greater role for women in post‑conflict peacebuilding and economic recovery. He called for further implementation of the women, peace, and security agenda in United Nations peacekeeping, both in terms of women’s participation and gender expertise and mainstreaming into doctrine and all planning documents.  Women played an indispensable role in peacekeeping and their participation at all levels was key to the effectiveness of missions.

He expressed concern that cutting, downgrading, and under‑resourcing gender advisors and women protection advisors positions could cripple the ability of peace operations to fulfil critical tasks.  United Nations peacekeepers must not be part of the problem, he added, condemning cases of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations.  Despite progress much more needed to be done to tackle the scourge and ensure accountability.  To end impunity, perpetrators of sexual violence must be brought to justice, and victims and survivors must be assisted in a comprehensive manner to fully recover from those violations.  A gendered approach was essential to facing new and emerging challenges such as violent extremism.

Speaking in his national capacity, Mr. Grant said that Canada remained committed to finding opportunities to create and support gender transformative solutions to conflict.  “We will challenge narratives undermining women’s ability to contribute, lead and shape solutions,” he stressed.  Canada was taking concrete actions to advance the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.  It dedicated funds to local organizations that advanced women’s rights in both developing and fragile States.  Working to increase the proportion of Canadian women police officers deployed to peace operations, Canada had also been at the forefront of United Nations training initiatives aimed at increasing the number of female police officers deployed to peace operations.  Canada was also a strong advocate for the full implementation of the United Nations zero‑tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said that because of foreign intervention and occupation, as well the surge of violent extremism and terrorism, women and girls in many parts of the Middle East had witnessed the collapse of their hopes for a better future.  In many conflicts, women were the primary victims of large‑scale, often systematic sexual violence.  There were thousands of confirmed instances of sexual violence having been used as a tactic of terror in countries around the world, as terrorists sought to advance their military and ideological ends.  It would be foolish to assume that by physically removing Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Da’esh (ISIL), their atrocities against civilians, including women and children, would cease.  The international community must redouble its fight against such a vicious ideology, and those who harboured it.  The world also could not fail to acknowledge that interventionist policies, occupation and regime‑change attempts served as a breeding ground for terrorist groups to grow and flourish.

JANA PŘIKRYLOVÁ (Czech Republic), associating herself with the European Union, expressed concern that national action plans to implement the women, peace and security agenda had only been adopted 68 Member States, and that most projects were small, short‑term and financed through limited resources.  Lack of financing was a key obstacle to implementation.  She expressed concern about the slow pace of integrating the agenda into relevant resolutions on peacekeeping activities.  Her country had adopted in January 2017 a national action plan which included concrete and measurable tasks.  In 2015, the Ministry of Defence adopted an action plan to implement Council resolution 1325 (2000) and the Czech Republic became the “lead nation” of a programme focused on training Jordanian female soldiers in explosive ordnance disposal.  Gender mainstreaming remained one of the main principles of the national transition promotion programme which supported democratic principles in transition countries.  Regarding development cooperation and aid, the Czech Republic implemented projects worth CZK 130 million in 2016 with a strong focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Despite that progress, women were underrepresented in decision-making positions and diplomatic posts.  In response, his Government adopted the Action Plan for Balanced Representation of Women and Men in Decision-making Positions for 2016 to 2018.  His country also supported several global gender activities through regular voluntary financial contributions.

TORE HATTREM (Norway), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, expressed concern about the decrease in women’s participation in mediation, requests for and inclusion of gender expertise and gender‑sensitivity in peace agreements.  He noted Thursday’s launch of the Global Women, Peace and Security Index, while calling for greater strategic and consistent implementation of targets.  He said women had become more influential in peace processes, including in Colombia, Syria, Yemen and the Philippines.  In that regard, he commended the efforts of UN‑Women, the Department for Political Affairs and special envoys.  He also noted the work of the Different Group of Friends, the Women Mediators Networks, the National Focal Points Initiative, national action plans of Nordic countries, as well as the NGO Working Group and the Global Solutions Exchange platform.  The international community’s approach to women, peace and security was often too generic, and lacked contextual analyses and points of action, however, the Security Council’s Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security was a step in the right direction.  On stereotyping, he stressed that men could be victims of sexual violence and that women could play a destructive role in conflict.  In terms of leadership, women were often ignored in mediation processes at the national and international level.  He welcomed the new handbook on the prevention and handling of sexual violence in conflict that was being developed for use in peace operations and the new gender parity strategy.  Noting the many best practices and positive developments currently under way in the United Nations system, he stated “our job is to ensure that best practices become mainstream practice”.

SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan), noting that her country would soon ratify its draft national plan on women, peace and security, emphasized its contribution of women police personnel to the former United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and its intention to also do so for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  She emphasized Jordan’s provision of basic services to Syrian refugees on its territory, 50 per cent of whom were female, as well as the need for the international community to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian women and girls living under the yoke of Israeli occupation, especially those in prison.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) said complex humanitarian crises shed light on the distress suffered by women and girls.  Attention must be paid to those belonging to the most vulnerable groups, he said, underscoring also the importance of raising the presence of women in peacekeeping operations.  It was unthinkable to deploy a peacekeeping mission without gender advisers or training Blue Helmets on prevention sexual exploitation and abuse.  Welcoming the Secretary‑General’s victim‑centred approach on sexual exploitation and abuse, he said Brazil hoped its national action plan would generate encouraging results and that the women, peace and security agenda would continue to prosper within the United Nations system.

Ms. JAQUEZ (Mexico), associating herself with the statement made by Turkey, said that when it came to sustainable peace, women were key to creating inclusive societies with a healthy social fabric.  Mexico supported the Secretary‑General’s findings in his report and applauded his commitment to integrating gender equality into conflict prevention, as well as his initiative to reform the United Nations.  Mexico fully supported the participation of women in all areas of public life given that gender equality and the empowerment of women were necessary for the achievement of peaceful, fair and equitable societies.  Her Government promoted the equitable representation of women in all sectors, and at all levels.  The Council’s resolution on women, peace and security had strengthened norms in that area although the resolution’s effective implementation remained a challenge.  The Secretary‑General must continue efforts to make the agenda a truly cross‑cutting one, particularly in relation to its other thematic work, she said, adding:  “Sustainable peace has a woman’s face”.

MARA MARINAKI, European Union, said promoting the women, peace and security agenda was essential in realizing the bloc’s shared ambitions of conflict prevention as well as sustainable peace and development.  The European Union had remained committed to substantially increasing women’s participation in all aspects of peace and security, including political participation and leadership.  It had progressed towards better gender balance in diplomatic services and field missions.  In external action, the European Union had continued to work for women’s full participation in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding.  In Afghanistan, it had helped female members of the High Peace Council play an active, critical role in the peace agreement between the Government and Hizb‑e‑Islami.  The European Union had been supporting the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board of Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.  In Uganda, it had closely engaged with the Women Situation Room, a mechanism fully operated by and for women to contain elections‑related violence and enable women’s political participation.  More recently, the European Union had supported the training of Libyan women peace activists in negotiation and mediation skills.

NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), noting that the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) in his country fell under the national gender policy framework, said that it included the emerging issue of national disaster management — which resolution 1325 (2000) had overlooked.  Along with other measures, the national gender policy had ensured that Namibia deployed women to all peacekeeping missions.  It had, to date, one of the largest female police contingents in UNAMID, as well as another such contingent in Liberia.  The significant presence of women peacekeepers in conflict and post‑conflict areas had the added advantage of creating safer spaces for girls and women who had suffered sexual violence, he said, highlighting the ability of women peacekeepers to gain the trust of local populations.  Many challenges nevertheless remained in implementing resolution 1325 (2000), including lack of awareness, lack of political will, entrenched biases and cultural and traditional norms.  “We must encourage a culture in which both men and women believe it is vital to support the rise to positions of leadership by women,” he stressed.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) said that concrete initiatives, including the promotion of the role of women within the Peacebuilding Commission and the incorporation of the gender perspective in new peacebuilding strategies was of critical importance.  The Secretary‑General’s report rightly mentioned the importance of technical capacity-building in gender equality.  That technical skill was also of great importance in peacebuilding operations, and in that context, when mandates were reviewed, contingent levels were adjusted or when a mission’s financial resources were reduced, it was essential that gender adviser posts were not affected.  The role of women in security sector reform was often underestimated, he said, emphasizing:  “Women are a force for peace”.

INA H. KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), associating herself with the statement made by Turkey, said that notwithstanding resolution 1325 (2000) it would be unfortunate if the bravery and vision of women went unrealized.  The crucial role of women and family in preventing conflicts that might lead to radicalism and extremism must be acknowledged and fostered, she said, adding the enabling women’s participation in the economy supported peacebuilding.  It was important as well for the United Nations peacebuilding and peacekeeping mechanisms to be strengthened continuously.  Going forward, Indonesia aimed to increase the number of women it deployed on peacekeeping missions.  It was also sharing its best practices and experiences in empowering women in leadership through South-South and triangular cooperation.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) emphasized the need for leadership, a stronger institutional architecture and moving from the general to the specific in addressing women, peace and security.  Members of civil society should be invited to speak to the Council more often to describe the situation on the ground, and those responsible for sexual violence in conflict should be the potential subjects of Council sanctions.  He added that he would like to see a Latin American or Asian country host the 2020 meeting of capital‑level focal points on women, peace and security.  He went on to express his fear that, in the context of United Nations reform, the women, peace and security agenda would not be given the level of importance it deserved.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s vision of peacekeeping, as well as practical steps such as the convening of the Informal Experts Group and new initiatives on gender parity and conflict prevention.  Despite such efforts, critical challenges remained, from increasing the number of women at the highest levels of decision-making to ending impunity for gender-based violence.  Gender‑responsive and protective environments for women were still lacking and related efforts remained undervalued and underfunded.  The women, peace and security agenda needed accelerated attention, as did the critical areas of disarmament, creating greater space for women’s civil society organizations and stronger information and analysis on women, peace and security.  Describing a range of relevant national actions, he recalled that Slovakia was a Co‑Chair of the Group of Friends on Security Sector Reform — essential to post‑conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction — and underscored the importance of women’s equal and effective participation in all stages of those processes.

GUSTAVO MEZA‑CUADRA (Peru) said that despite some progress, there were still barriers to the effective implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.  Improving the access of women to significant leadership roles in peace efforts required the active participation of civil society organizations, particularly those led by women.  Peru had increased the number of women it contributed to the six peacekeeping missions it participated in and believed that the women, peace and security agenda must play a central role in the reform efforts currently underway, particularly with regard to gender equality in peacekeeping operations.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that his country shared the vision for the reform of the United Nations, with particular emphasis on prevention.  Achieving sustainable peace would be facilitated by increasing the presence of women in all stages of peace and reconciliation, not only as a question of equality, but as a question of effectiveness.  He underscored that resolution 1325 (2000) recognized the important role that women played in peace processes and that it was crucial to include gender provisions in peace and ceasefire agreements.  More equitable societies that respected women’s rights were more peaceful societies, he said.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco), emphasizing that women’s participation in peace processes improved prospects for conflict resolution and sustainability, recalled that Morocco had hosted an international conference on women, peace and security in 2016 that focused on the role of women vis‑à‑vis mediation, de‑radicalization and best practices in addressing sexual violence in conflict.  Morocco was also home to a think tank dedicated to women, peace and security.  Women and girls had specific needs in post‑conflict stages in such areas as health care, land rights and employment, but they were frequently under‑represented in decision‑making, if not sidelined altogether.  Incorporating a gender approach was therefore imperative to ensure fair and sustainable development with both men and women sharing resources, opportunities and power, he said.

ALEXANDRA BAUMANN (Switzerland) said human security, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls were cornerstones of his country’s foreign policy.  The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs recently launched its first comprehensive strategy on gender equality and women’s rights.  Gender equality was key to the prevention of conflict and violence, including violent extremism.  Respecting women’s equal rights and inclusion in peace processes was “simply a must”.  In that regard, he called for States to fully promote the equality and effective participation of women in peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution, including through the engagement of civil society.  The women, peace and security agenda contributed to better results for sustainable peace.  To that end, he highlighted existing frameworks including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Universal Periodic Review and special mandates.  Switzerland supported an initiative to focus on implementing the Women’s Convention.  In closing, he stated that the engagement of men and boys in all transformative action was crucial and that women’s economic empowerment must receive greater attention in post-conflict recovery and State‑building.

ANNA FATA, Holy See, said that women were proven agents of change, although sadly, most of today’s conflicts resulted in them too often becoming targets and victims, rather than peacemakers and peacebuilders.  Women and girls disproportionately suffered the impact of violent conflicts, including being specifically targeted as objects of violence and abuse as a strategy of war.  Violent extremism and terrorism continued to use sexual violence as a terror tactic, although acts of violence against women and girls were not only perpetrated in conflict situations.  Member States had a fundamental responsibility to prosecute the perpetrators of human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including those related to sexual violence against women and girls.

AMARSANAA DARISUREN, Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE), said it was essential to include a gender perspective in all phases of conflict prevention, resolution and post‑conflict rehabilitation.  Unfortunately, formal political processes provided little access and space for women.  There was a clear need to increase the meaningful inclusion of women in all phases of the conflict cycle, particularly at the grass‑roots level.  She reviewed some examples of progress reached in the last year by OSCE, including the adoption of national action plans by 31 countries in its region and efforts to reinforce women’s leadership at national and local levels through mentoring, support networks and capacity development.  The OSCE was also working on gender‑inclusive mediation processes, while its politico-military bodies were incorporating a gender perspective in their respective agendas.  Its new “Leaders against Intolerance and Violent Extremism” project specifically included women’s community leaders and young women and men.  Emphasizing that “strong leadership is essential to achieve progress”, she said OSCE recognized that it had more to do to implement a sustained, systematic approach to improve women’s participation in peace processes.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000) had recognized the significant role women in conflict prevention and post conflict mediation.  It was unfortunate that women and girls paid the highest price in conflicts because States and parties to conflict did not respect their obligations under international law.  As women needed to be empowered, there was also a need to facilitate their access to transitional justice mechanisms.  Underlining the importance of the role of females in combating against violent extremism, she said her country had taken several initiatives on the national and international level to strengthen the role of women.  The participation of women in decision making within the United Nations would allow for the further implementation of resolution 1325 2000), she said. 

AUDRA PLEPYTĖ (Lithuania), speaking also on behalf of Estonia and Latvia and aligning herself with the European Union, said empowerment of women and gender equality were fundamental to sustaining peace.  As the critical role of women in negotiations was often overlooked, she emphasized the importance of their participation in all negotiations and in peacebuilding, and urged for the gender perspective to be incorporated in all aspects of peace processes.  Implementation of the women, peace and security agenda required comprehensive measures, including recognizing the role of civil society.  Justice still faced inequalities, she said, emphasizing that the perpetrators of crimes against women and girls needed to be prosecuted and that victims received compensation.

NELLY SHILOH (Israel) said that women’s participation in peace processes was not just good for women, it was critical for the success and sustainability of resulting agreements.  She cited the experience of Colombia and Liberia in that regard.  A conducive environment to increase the number of women peacekeepers must be established, she added, pointing to the necessity for zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and harassment in peacekeeping missions.  Israel had introduced the first resolution on prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, in the Commission on the Status of Women, and was one of the first to include resolution 1325 in its national legislation.  Much still remained to be done, both nationally and internationally, and all efforts for further progress should be modelled on best practices that have already been proven successful.

JERRY MATJILA (South Africa) said the contribution of women and girls to peacebuilding processes remained undervalued and under‑resourced, leaving a vital tool for sustainable peace and transformative change underutilized.  Women in South Africa had been at the forefront of driving reform, as well as in developing and advancing legislation and policies which advanced the role of women in society.  He said his country provided training for African women mediators, while the South African Defence Force — 30 per cent of whose members were women — provided training to female peacekeepers.  He paid tribute to women’s organizations campaigning to abolish nuclear weapons, adding that South Africa continued to engage with civil society and academia to find ways to further empower women and remove obstacles to their participation in peacekeeping missions and mediation efforts.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said that her country had increased the number of women officers serving as staff officers and military observers in United Nations missions to 25 per cent.  She also commended the United Nations Department of Political Affairs for overseeing the substantial increase in gender expertise with the deployment of 25 gender advisers across 11 field missions.  Such efforts demonstrated that with dedicated funding and specific targets, it was possible to improve women’s participation.  All key actors must play a role in the implementation of the women in peace and security agenda.  That included civil society groups, which remained the greatest source of expertise on the ground.  She noted that Australia had founded the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund which supported women’s civil society organizations to contribute to conflict prevention, crisis response and peacebuilding.

CHO TAE‑YUL (Republic of Korea), associating himself with the statement made by Turkey, and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that despite progress achieved, there remained a wide gap between goals and the reality on the ground.  Civilians, particularly women and girls, continued to be caught up in armed conflicts in many parts of the world.  He stressed the need to continue in a more coordinated manner to prevent women from falling victim to violence.  “We should not tolerate any sexual exploitation or abuse committed by United Nations peacekeepers,” he stressed.  The goal of increasing women’s participation in peace efforts must be translated into concrete action.  It was important to ensure that the ongoing efforts to reform the United Nations peace and security architecture contributed to the women, peace and security agenda.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), convinced of the importance of participation of women in peace processes, said there was a need for broad‑based coherence on the international, regional and national level to implement the women, peace and security agenda.  There was also an absolute need for full partnership with civil society.  Ireland would embed the women, peace and security agenda in everything it did, in cooperation with UN‑Women.  The participation of women in peace processes had proved to be the smart way.  Her country funded non‑governmental organization who could make a difference, such as the Women at the Table in Nigeria.  Describing other support efforts, she said her country was drafting a second national action plan on the women, peace and security agenda.  She underlined the importance of synergies between the youth, peace and security agenda and the women, peace and security agenda.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said his country’s long, drawn‑out conflict had resulted in many victims — orphans, war widows, single mothers and women‑headed households.  Addressing their immediate concerns and making them participants in all areas of peacebuilding had remained a priority in post‑conflict efforts.  Successful peacebuilding required gender equality and women’s empowerment, including economic empowerment, human security, human rights and development to mesh together.  It was also vital to engage domestic actors from the grass roots to the highest echelons of Government to ensure ownership of peacebuilding processes and guarantee long-term sustainability.  As Sri Lanka moved down the path of reconciliation and transformative justice, the Government had appointed an 11‑member task force of eminent persons to hold nationwide consultation on reconciliation measures.  The members of the task force were drawn entirely from civil society, including six women.

MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya) associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said last year his country launched its national action plan for the implementation of  Council resolution 1325 (2000).  Kenya was the top contributor of female officers to United Nations peacekeeping operations, providing 19 per cent of the total.  The national gender policy guided the integration of gender into all military operations, including for early warning and response systems to conflict.  His Government had established an international peace support training centre, launched a national campaign to address gender based violence, reviewed its national information and communications technology policy to include a gender dimension and established a toll‑free gender “helpline”.  Such efforts were complimented by various non‑state actors, including through training workshops to build gender and conflict sensitive reporting in the media.  Regarding relief and recovery, his Government had set guidelines in medical facilities, developed guidelines and standard operating procedures for psychological and forensic management, and built recovery centres.  In September 2016, Kenya also launched a national strategy to counter violent extremism which incorporated women into security and intelligence committees.  He noted several priority areas for national action, including gender issues relating to climate change, disarmament, radicalization and cybercrime, among others.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), aligning with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security , said that it was important to speak in the context of the women, peace and security agenda of what has been called ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar because rape and sexual violence had been used as a main tactic.  He cited the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to convey the horror that women were going through there.  All the right statements had already been made on the issue and it was time to move past words into action, he stressed.  The Security Council had condemned the violence, but must show its resolve through a strong and detailed resolution on what must be done next, and support for proposals submitted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the General Assembly.  His country would continue to pursue bilateral efforts with Myanmar, but the international community must accompany it in the process.

BESIANA KADARE (Albania), associating herself with the European Union, said that despite the international community’s commitments, the meaningful inclusion of women in conflict prevention and peace processes remained negligible.  Women continued to be sidelined during peace negotiations, and even when they were present, it was always the men who led and decided when and how to make peace.  Member States should strengthen their resolve in fully implementing the women, peace and security agenda.  While Albania had yet to adopt a national action plan on women, peace and security, it had mainstreamed gender across its security sector, with women making up 17 per cent of all military personnel and the State Police launching a women‑only recruitment campaign.  It also supported an Italian initiative to create a Mediterranean women mediators’ network, aimed at preventing and mitigating conflicts through the increased participation of women in peace processes, she said.

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary), associating herself with the statement on behalf of the European Union, said that in conflict‑affected areas, women played a key role in ensuring family livelihoods and were active at the grass-roots level in peace movements.  They were also essential for countering extremist violence.  For effective implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, comprehensive cooperation was needed between Governments and civil society organizations.  Her country was deeply concerned about the use of violence against women human rights defenders.  Youth engagement was important as well.  Women’s increased participation in peacekeeping missions was highly important for the protection of civilians.  Her country was increasing the number of female experts and police officers in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) said conflicts and violence affecting women and girls disproportionally.  Exploitation of women and girls was an instrument employed to terrorize civilians. It was a tactic of war with mass rapes committed by parties to armed conflict.  Council resolution 1325 (2000) had institutionalized a new focus on women in conflict, moving them to the center of the political debate.  The Council should focus on root causes of conflict and the United Nations should play its role in enhancing cooperation to help secure women’s place at the negotiating table.  The international community should support countries to defend women’s rights and gender perspectives should be fully integrated into the peacebuilding paradigm.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said that women could change the world for the better, although for that to happen, Governments and international organizations such as the United Nations must provide the space for women to shape key decisions concerning national security.  The Maldives recognized women’s role in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding as part of the larger, holistic agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment.  In that connection, he highlighted that the principles of equality and non-discrimination were at the heart of the Maldives’ Constitution and noted that his country had achieved gender parity in education and that women comprised over 60 per cent of the civil staff and 40 per cent of the judiciary.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) noted that, eight resolutions down the road, women were still not actively engaged in many peace processes and unrecognized as the powerful agents of peace they were.  If the United Nations truly wanted to practise what it preached, it must pressure parties to a peace process to include women and not allow it to become an afterthought.  It must integrate a women’s perspective and let the voice of women’s organizations on the ground be heard at mediation tables through their substantive participation.  If the Organization did that, there was a 35 per cent increase in probability of a peace agreement lasting more than 15 years.  To be implemented, resolution 1325 (2000) needed to be operationalized and funded.  The Netherlands was sadly one of just a handful that had financed its national action plan for implementing the resolution.  More funds should be available if the global community was serious in making gender equality a practical reality.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) said that his country believed that women’s empowerment was important for both peace and development and had taken important steps forward in that regard.  It recently launched a national action plan on women, peace and security, accompanied by a national implementation committee.  He reiterated absolute commitment to ending violence against women and ending sexual exploitation and abuse in the context of peacekeeping.  He also highlighted the need to care for the victims of sexual violence.  Noting that El Salvador’s peacekeeping contingents included increasingly more women, he pledged his country’s continued efforts to empower and protect women, and to share lessons it had learned on the topic.

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security and the Human Security Network, said his country’s current national action plan on women, peace and security put a strong emphasis on education and training of personnel.  Equal opportunities and women’s autonomy were key pillars of the President’s gender agenda, he said, adding that, at the international level, women were part of Chile’s contribution to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the United Nations Mission in Colombia.  He went on to emphasize that the presence of women in peace operations helped prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.

E. COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, expressed concern that the implementation of the agenda continued to fall short and therefore called for preventative measures to address the structural and root causes of gender inequality.  For its part, Jamaica had developed a national policy on gender quality, which was aligned with its development policy.  To that end, his country launched the HeForShe campaign created by UN‑Women and a national strategic action plan in 2017 to eliminate gender‑based violence by 2026.  He urged for effective mechanisms to ensure meaningful measurement of results, and said such devices should account for the cooperation and support needed to attain requisite results, including through predictable and sustainable financing.  Noting the role of young women in peacebuilding, he expressed support to the work being done pursuant to resolution 2250 (2015) on youth, peace and security.  He also endorsed efforts to ensure women’s economic empowerment, their promotion in governance structures and access to justice and security.  Similarly, he expressed interest in addressing gender-specific effects of armed violence and gender responsive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq) said his country sought to increase the participation of women in public life.  The new Constitution upheld the rights of women, guaranteeing their right to health insurance and living in freedom.  All were equal before the law regardless of gender or religion.  Noting that the number of women in leadership positions had increased, he described measures his Government had taken to support that, including a quota that women hold 25 per cent of all seats in the Chamber of Representatives.  Iraq’s capital had a female mayor.  His Government worked with the gender unit of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) to enhance the role of women in national reconciliation.  He said Iraq had suffered from attacks of the terrorist group ISIL, noting the crimes against Yazidi women and other women who had been sold as slaves.  The international community must double efforts to assist Iraq in freeing and rehabilitating those women.  Members of ISIL must be held accountable for their crimes in Iraq including crimes against humanity. 

PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria) associated himself with the European Union, the Human Security Network and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security.  Regarding the implementation of the agenda, regional organizations had a crucial role to play in translating political commitments into concrete action on the ground, he said.  Based on findings of one such regional body, OSCE, it was clear that sustainable solutions to conflict were not possible without the participation of women.  Also, gender‑responsive journalism and the protection of female journalists could transform gender stereotypes, promote women’s empowerment and raise positive awareness.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia), associating herself with the European Union, welcomed the Secretary‑General’s recent report that underlined the crucial role of women in peace and decision-making processes and said it was evident that the sustainability of peace depended directly on women’s engagement in peace processes, politics, governance, institution-building, the rule of law, the security sector and economic recovery.  As an illustration of its commitment to gender equality, Georgia had ratified the Istanbul Convention and created an Inter‑Agency Commission for Gender Equality and Ending Violence against Women and Girls.  Strengthening protection measures on violence against women and women’s empowerment was particularly concerning to her country as such measures related to the occupied regions of Georgia, where women continued to suffer from grave violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms.

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, highlighted its efforts with regard to women, peace and security, including the adoption of a 2017‑2019 national action plan that aimed to ensure protection for women and girls, both domestically and in the face of the Israeli occupation; ensuring accountability through national and international mechanisms, with a particular focus on crimes and violations committed by the occupation, and further women’s political participation.  However, much work remained to be done, he said, noting that women’s organizations had been unfairly absent from national reconciliation talks despite being among the strongest advocates of reconciliation.  Palestine was ready to do its part to advance women’s rights and their role in peace and security, he said, but enjoyment of those rights necessitated ending the Israeli occupation.

CHARLES THEMBANI NTWAAGAE (Botswana) noted that the United Nations had made great strides in the promotion of the women, peace and security agenda through the establishment of UN-Women, which amplified women’s voices and created momentum for their leadership on peace and security.  Through such initiatives, thousands of women and girls had been helped in various countries around the world, although, regrettably, they continued to bear the brunt of armed conflicts, domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape and humanitarian crises.  The international community must address the social norms that perpetuated sexual violence and abuse against women, and promote respect for international human rights and humanitarian law.  He called for States to take practical steps to address obstacles in women’s access to justice, including by creating an enabling environment where women could easily report incidents of violence without fear or intimidation.

TANMAYA LAL (India) said that the world had seen extreme brutality being inflicted upon women, with sexual violence increasingly used a tool of war.  The heinous crimes against humanity perpetrated by terror networks, especially against women and girls, were a stark reminder of the serious challenges that needed to be overcome.  The increased institutionalized involvement of women in peacekeeping and conflict resolution was important to address that challenge.  He highlighted the work done by the Commission on the Status on Women in pushing ahead the gender empowerment agenda.  India, as a lead troop contributor over the past seven decades, was committed to fulfilling the pledge to have women comprise 15 per cent of military observers by the end of the year.  India was also committed to providing another all‑female formed police unit.  Prosecution was essential for prevention, he said, adding that the international community had a key role in helping build adequate resources and capacities.

VERONICA GARCIA GUTIERREZ (Costa Rica), welcoming the importance that had been acquired by the women, peace and security agenda, said that it was also essential, however, to work for parity in gender representation among the leadership of peacekeeping missions.  It was vital to broaden the gender perspective in many areas of peacebuilding.  Condemning all sexual violence, she supported initiatives to ensure zero tolerance of sexual exploitation in peacekeeping and assistance for victims.  Addressing development issues and empowering women economically were also critical, as was ensuring that women were adequately represented in forums such as those for disarmament.

ION JINGA (Romania), aligning himself with the statement made by the European Union, said that it was clear that women were key in promoting peace and he welcomed United Nations initiatives in that regard.  However, there was much more to be done.  There was a need, notably, to increase the number of women in command posts.  Enumerating the Romanian women who had attained important positions in United Nations missions, he stated that scores more had participated in several peacekeeping contingents.  He also described events promoting women’s greater participation in peace processes that were sponsored and attended by his country.  Women’s enormous potential must be utilized.  His country would continue to work for their meaningful participation in all phases of peacemaking.

LOUISE SHARENE BAILEY, African Union, said the African Union Peace and Security Council had endorsed the creation of a Network of African women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise‑Africa) on 13 March.  FemWise‑Africa would be a potent tool to strengthen the role of women in conflict prevention and mediation efforts, and would provide a platform for advocacy, capacity-building and networking to further enhance the implementation of women’s inclusion in peacemaking in Africa.  The initiative would catalyse and mainstream the engagement of women in mediation in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.  The African Union Commission and UN‑Women, with the support of Germany, had launched the African Women Leaders Network.  The recently signed “Joint United Nations-African Union Framework on enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security” provided a new window of opportunity to strengthen the women, peace and security agenda.  She welcomed the establishment of the Secretary‑General’s High‑Level Advisory Board on Mediation and the appointment of three prominent African women leaders to it.  The African Union also cooperated with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict with an emphasis on ensuring women participation and of accountability for crimes of sexual violence.  She announced that on 31 October, the African Union Peace and Security Council would hold an open session on “The role of women in preventing and countering violent extremism in Africa”.

KRISZTIAN MESZAROS, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), said empowering women led to more peaceful, just and inclusive societies, was essential for conflict prevention and made peace more sustainable.  His organizations supported empowering women within the United Nations, armed forces, civilian structures and societies of allies and partners.  Within NATO, however, there had only been a small increase in female representation in armed forces of Member States — an average of 20 per cent in 2016, compared to 10.8 per cent in 2015.  Stressing that those figures needed improvement, he urged Member States to do their part.  On the leadership side, women held only 21 per cent of NATO civilian staff leadership positions, and 2 of its 3 female four‑star officers had left over the past year.  Adding that Member States should redress that imbalance, he said gender was a tool that contributed and added value to all of NATO’s objectives and core tasks.

DIOSITA T. ANDOT (Philippines) said that after the liberation of Marawi City from terrorist forces, her Government had been observing conflict‑sensitivity and peace promoting approaches with a particular focus on mainstreaming gender and observing cultural sensitivities.  In pursuit of the peace process with rebel groups, actions were taken to ensure the meaningful participation of women, especially the Moro and indigenous women.  The Philippine armed forces and police had formed an all‑female Civil Relations Company in Marawi to assist in rehabilitation of internally displaced persons.  Filipino women were included in peace panels that were negotiating and implementing peace agreements.  Women would play a pro‑active role in the rebuilding of relationships in their respective communities and eventually of Marawi as a whole.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam) said that, despite efforts and progress in implementing the women, peace and security agenda, women’s under-representation, gender inequality and discrimination persisted.  She called for the gender perspective to be mainstreamed in a consistent and comprehensive manner in all areas of peacebuilding and conflict prevention, adding that impunity must be ended to effectively combat and eliminate human rights violations, including conflict‑related sexual violence and abuse.  Together with women’s economic empowerment, education was crucial toward equipping women and girls with knowledge to better protect them from conflict‑related risks as well as to build their resilience against economic shocks, climate change and natural disasters.  Women were an essential driving force of her country’s economic and social development, making significant contributions to promoting and maintaining the environment of peace, security and stability.  As such, Viet Nam’s twelfth National Women’s Congress had set out objectives for the term 2017‑2022, including promoting women’s potential and creativity, improving their material and spiritual life and status, striving for equality and advancement and contributing to national construction and defence.

BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) said that fulfilling the 1325 agenda helped attain several goals of the 2030 Agenda.  Women’s empowerment was crucial for sustaining peace and promoting development.  His country was committed to encouraging women’s participation in all national endeavours and held posts at all levels.  Calling for further efforts for women’s empowerment and inclusion in society around the world, he said that his country had enacted legislation to ensure an end to all forms of discrimination.  Women had been protected against violence both in domestic and public settings.  In order for the agenda to be comprehensively implemented, however, he pledged his country’s persistent efforts.  “Women’s participation must be at the top of our priorities,” he said.

SAOD RASHID AL MAZROUI (United Arab Emirates) said his country’s foreign assistance strategy included women’s protection and empowerment as one of its three key pillars.  In terms of global response, he said the United Arab Emirates recently announced a contribution of $15 million to support UN-Women’s critical work over the next three years, and in 2016, the Government had set up a Liaison Office in Abu Dhabi to advance gender quality and the empowerment of women and girls regionally.  His Government contributed to the Global Programme on Women, Peace and Security which furthered gender-sensitive research and data collection in relation to extremism.  Additionally, his country supported the Team of Experts in the development and implementation of an action plan on conflict-related sexual violence in Somalia, as well as the establishment of prevention and response mechanisms.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) said his country was committed to the reformative women, peace and security agenda.  National laws provided for equal rights for women.  The quota for women’s representation in Parliament had been raised to 25 per cent.  The number of female judges had reached 25 per cent.  Domestic procedures had been launched to combat violence against women and domestic violence.  Armenia’s national action plan for implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) would be launched in 2018.  The empowerment of women, and the women, peace and security agenda should not been seen as a separate agenda, but as a part of addressing root causes of conflict and violence.  Emphasis on protection of human rights remained a significant objective at the national and international levels.  Dialogue and confidence-building in conflict areas was an important aspect for his country, but endeavours in that regard were undermined by hate crimes and xenophobia against Armenians, instigated by a neighbouring State.

PENNELOPE BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago), emphasizing that the rule of law was a fundamental safeguard in the advancement and protection of women’s rights, said the vulnerability of women and girls in situations of armed conflict — and in the case of her country, armed violence — continued to engage attention.  In that regard, the Arms Trade Treaty could contribute to reducing if not ending untold suffering, particularly among women and girls.  She recalled Trinidad and Tobago’s introduction in 2010 of the first-ever General Assembly resolution on women, disarmament, non‑proliferation and arms control, which complemented Council resolution 1325 (2000).  She added that, as a current member of the Executive Board of UN-Women, her country would continue to work with Member States towards the universal achievement of gender equality.

URUJENI BAKURAMUTSA (Rwanda) said unity and reconciliation, peacebuilding and sustainable outcomes were realized when women participated in peace and security.  Their contribution brought added value to the most critical issues, including protecting children’s rights, combating gender-based violence and promoting human rights.  When women’s rights and empowerment were impeded, collective society suffered, she said, recalling that during the genocide against the Tutsi in her country, rape and other forms of violence had been directed against women to degrade them and strip humanity from the larger community.  With armed conflicts and violent extremism continuing to prevail in many parts of the world — and with women and children bearing the brunt — the international community must empower women and promote their participation in the entire spectrum of peace processes, promotion of the rule of law, good governance and mediation, she said.

CRISTINA MARIA CERQUEIRA PUCARINHO (Portugal), associating herself with the European Union, noted that more women were participating in peace talks nowadays, more peace agreements included provisions on their human rights, and more security sector personnel were being trained to prevent and properly respond to sexual and gender-based violence.  However, given the evolution of peace and security, and the nature of conflict since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), it was essential to build on progress already made and to demonstrate greater commitment to the women, peace and security agenda, she emphasized.  It contributed not only to peace, but also to the strengthening of protection efforts by United Nations peacekeepers, she said.  Portugal had adopted a national action plan, pledged to continue training programmes on gender equality and violence against women and girls for peacekeeping personnel, and supported the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.

VIRACHI PLASAI (Thailand) said that, despite the importance of the women, peace and security agenda, the participation of women in all capacities remained quite low.  Noting the positive measures being taken to address that discrepancy, he said Thailand had adopted the National Measures and Guidelines on Women, Peace and Security in 2016.  It re-emphasized the significant role of women in addressing political and social conflicts, he said, adding that they could also play an important role in peacekeeping operations.  The Government was making efforts to increase their participation, he said, encouraging other Member States also to do more in that area.  The women, peace and security agenda must be mainstreamed across the spectrum of United Nations activities, he said, stressing that women should be regarded as agents of change.  The rhetoric used around their role in conflict situations must be more nuanced, he said, adding that women should also have an increased role in national and local politics.

MANAL HASSAN RADWAN (Saudi Arabia) affirmed that the 1325 agenda had become a major pillar of peacekeeping and development.  There was still much to be done to fully implement it, however.  Challenges to progress included occupation, particularly the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and the growing violence against civilians in conflict zones by non-State groups, as well as other actors in Syria.  Discrimination against women also played an adverse role.  In order to address such challenges, comprehensive efforts must be made to end occupation, sectarian discrimination and extreme discourse against Islam.  Her country was committed to the education and advancement of women.  Women had participated in politics and several leadership positions, and were key to development efforts.  Their achievements had been many.  That was based on women’s important role in Islam over history and addressing the root causes of women’s marginalization was a religious duty.  Based on current action plans, women would be able to participate in all walks of life in conformity with moderate Islam.

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) thanked all speakers who had noted his country’s progress in improving the lives of women.  There was still a lot of work to be done, however.  The full participation of women was not only desirable, but important for settling and preventing conflict in the country.  Terrorism and violent extremism had left the social fabric in shambles and women had borne the brunt of the damage and had been deprived of many rights.  At present, however, the Government was consolidating the gains of the past several years.  There was a firm resolve to fulfil international obligations, including those of treaties that Afghanistan was party to.  The country’s action plan on women, peace and security put women front and centre of national peacebuilding efforts across the country.   The plan committed women’s participation in civil service by significant numbers; thousands of women were serving in national security services right now.  Women were being supported to make progress in agriculture, health services and many other areas.  Describing institutional structures to ensure women’s rights, he said that the country had reached a new stage in empowering women.  The assistance of the international community was still crucial, however, and he looked forward to further collaboration in lifting Afghanistan’s women to new heights.

HELENA YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador) said women were at the same time victims of violence and builders of peace.  Reality underscored the need to work for gender equality, protection of the rights of women, and combatting all forms of sexual violence. Lasting peace could only be achieved if those issues were taken into account, she said.  Gender-based violence in conflict continued to be an unacceptable reality, which underscored the importance of ending impunity.  All efforts should be made to end sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping missions, as it undermined trust in the missions.  For changes to be become permanent, the process of inclusion must be continuous, which was a slow road.  In that regard, she underlined the importance of desegregation of statistical data to measure progress.  In conclusion, she noted that three Ecuadorian women were observers in peacekeeping operations.

EMMANUEL ADEMOLA OGUNNAIKE (Nigeria) said that filling the gaps in implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) required a multi-stakeholder approach involving actors at the global, regional, sub-regional and national levels.  Communities, civil society and individuals also had a crucial role to play, along with the United Nations.  Since national Governments had a primary responsibility to protect women’s safety and rights, the international community should support countries by providing constructive assistance, consistent with national priorities and focused on capacity-building.  Regional organizations played an important role, as well.  Consistent with subregional efforts, Nigeria launched a national action plan to fully implement resolution 1325 (2000), along with plans to combat violent extremism and improve the security sector.  It also was collaborating with countries in the region to fight the terrorist group known as Boko Haram, and had taken steps to address the humanitarian needs of the 2 million displaced persons in the north-east of the country, 80 per cent of whom were women.  The Government was working around the clock to ensure release of the remaining Chibok girls and other persons in Boko Haram captivity.

SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti) welcomed the important place that the empowerment of women occupied in the agenda of the Security Council and other bodies of the United Nations, helping to strengthen the link between peace and security, development and human rights.  Describing the harsh toll that conflict took on the lives of women, she said that much remained to be done to redress the situation, despite the progress that had been made.  Women’s participation in all areas of peacemaking was crucial in order to increase the effectiveness of all international and national efforts.  She commended the African Union for its efforts to integrate gender issues in its architecture and increase women’s participation in many areas.  Her country had carried out several national policies to empower women; the Constitution enshrined equal rights for women and women participated in many spheres.  The establishment of a gender observatory was currently under way to analyse women’s situation and to provide advice on policies for improving it.

LALA MEHDIYEVA (Azerbaijan) said that, while gender gains had been made in the international framework, more must be done to address violations and crimes against women, among other things, in mass forced displacements.  Combating impunity was of critical importance in that regard.  She said it was curious that Armenia, which was responsible for the war against Azerbaijan and had carried out ethnic cleansing, had taken the floor to attack other States.  She said Armenian forces had attacked a town in Nagorno-Karabakh, killing many, including women and children, among other aggressions.  Atrocities committed by the Armenians included bayonetting pregnant women, scalping and beheadings.  The impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of those crimes aggravated the situation on the ground.  She assured the Council that her country would continue to achieve a settlement to the conflict based on international law.

News

Despite Growing Awareness of Urgent Need to End Sexual Violence, Empower Women in Conflict Zones, Real Progress Seriously Lagging, Security Council Told

Speakers Urge More Funding for Gender Expertise in Peacebuilding, Prosecution

Normative frameworks had been established and global awareness of the urgency of ending sexual atrocities and empowering women in conflict situations was growing, but progress on the ground must be accelerated, speakers told the Security Council in an all-day debate today.

“The chorus of voices that are appalled by the persistent political marginalization of women in decision-making is speaking louder; the number of people who are determined to find new solutions to the human suffering caused by conflict is growing,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), said in a briefing, ahead of over 85 speakers in the Council’s annual examination of progress and gaps in implementing resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.  “But, that is just the beginning,” she declared, calling for redoubled efforts to empower and protect women throughout the United Nations system.

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General; Michaëlle Jean, Secretary-General of the International Organisation of la Francophonie; and Charo Mina Rojas, a civil society representative from Colombia also briefed the Council.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said that the women, peace and security agenda was now an essential pillar of global affairs.  However, all indicators showed a decline in women’s participation in peace processes around the world and in leadership positions in conflict zones, with some heartening exceptions, such as in the Colombia peace process.  Similarly, awareness and documentation of sexual violence in conflict zones had soared, while actual prevention of such violence and prosecution of perpetrators sorely lagged.  She urged greater funding for gender expertise and projects in conflict zones.

Ms. Viotti, introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report on the subject (document S/2017/861), affirmed that women’s underrepresentation in the security sector increased their exposure to harm and undermined their potential in conflict prevention.  When the Council had visited the Lake Chad Basin, local leaders had emphasized the weak position of women as a root cause for the current crisis. 

She described plans of the Secretary-General to achieve gender parity in the United Nations, noting that only 3 per cent of peacekeepers were women.  Reform of the peace and security architecture would emphasize gender expertise, along with monitoring mechanisms targeting women marginalization.  Council and other Member States would also be encouraged to share best practices.

Ms. Rojas described provisions of the Colombian peace agreement that she said had become a new source of hope for women’s empowerment, inclusiveness and conflict settlement.  Ms. Jean, affirming a woefully low level of women’s participation in peacekeeping, described initiatives undertaken by la Francophonie to redress that situation and to ensure that women sat at negotiating tables in several African settings.  She called for increased support to women’s grass-roots organizations and other instruments that could increase women’s participation.

Following those briefings, Member States’ representatives at the ministerial and diplomatic levels agreed that while normative frameworks to empower and protect women in conflict situations had made steady progress since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), real progress in women’s meaningful engagement in all phases of peacebuilding and their protection from abuse and exploitation were seriously lagging.  Many speakers called for better ways to keep track of gender data to better monitor such progress.

Many countries described their national efforts to close the gap in their domestic policies, their international cooperation and their contributions to United Nations peacekeeping.  The representative of the United Kingdom stressed the importance of sharing specific actions and best practices undertaken by countries, after 17 years of slow progress.  In that vein, Senegal’s representative described regional efforts in West Africa, while Uruguay’s representative attested to the increased effectiveness of peacekeeping contingents deploying women.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, noting that women in her country had been seriously affected by years of conflict, said that efforts to increase women’s participation in local levels of Government was paying out in the form of more effective peaceful conflict resolution in some provinces.  Kazakhstan’s representative said that women, along with youth, must be seen as a critical link in the security/development nexus.

Ending violence against women, ensuring accountability for perpetrators and ensuring zero tolerance for sexual exploitation by peacekeepers were seen as urgent priorities by all speakers.  In many situations, speakers said it was time to move past words and to action on the issue.  In that vein, the representative of Bangladesh said rape and sexual abuse of Rohingya women was being used as a tactic of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, and called for stronger action from the Council and the international community.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden recounted her recent trip to Afghanistan, as well as her experience as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.  She said it was a mistake to view such violence as inevitable or impossible to prosecute and ensure that impunity was ended.  And to implement the full 1325 agenda, Member States must utilize the policy frameworks that have been put in place to actually empower women.  “The frameworks and tools are in place,” she said.  “It is up to us to make it happen.”

Also speaking today were the representatives of Ukraine, Bolivia, Italy, United States, Egypt, Ethiopia, Russian Federation, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, France, Colombia, Germany, Guatemala, Panama (on behalf of the Human Security Network), Liechtenstein, Tunisia, Turkey (also on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia), Nepal, Slovenia, Canada (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security), Iran, Czech Republic, Norway, Jordan, Brazil, Mexico, Namibia, Belgium, Indonesia, Spain, Slovakia, Peru, Argentina, Morocco, Switzerland, Qatar, Lithuania, Israel, South Africa, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Albania, Hungary, Pakistan, Maldives, Netherlands, El Salvador, Chile, Jamaica, Iraq, Austria, Georgia, Botswana, India, Costa Rica, Romania, Philippines, Viet Nam, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Armenia, Trinidad and Tobago, Rwanda, Portugal, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Ecuador, Nigeria, Djibouti and Azerbaijan, as well as the Holy See, State of Palestine, European Union and the African Union.

Also speaking were representatives of the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The meeting began at 10:19 a.m. and ended at 8:19 p.m.

Briefings

MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary‑General, said there was a pressing need for more action to implement the women, peace and security agenda, with prevention as a core pillar.  Women were affected in negative ways by armed conflict and violence and comprised most of the victims of rape and human trafficking.  In urban warfare, they were at risk in houses and checkpoints.

She said women’s underrepresentation in the security sector increased their exposure to harm and undermined their potential in conflict prevention.  When the Council had visited the Lake Chad Basin, local leaders had emphasized the situation of women as a root cause for the current crisis.  Mentioning other examples, she said the Secretary‑General was committed to promoting gender equality and to fully integrating the voice of women in conflict prevention.  He had put forward a plan to achieve gender parity in the United Nations.

Noting that only 3 per cent of peacekeepers were women, the Secretary-General was working with troop- and police‑contributing countries to increase the number of female uniformed personnel.  The new Office of Counter‑Terrorism was integrating a gender perspective.  Reform of the peace and security architecture would emphasize gender expertise.  Monitoring mechanisms should include a focus on women marginalization.

Tackling the root causes of crises included tackling gender inequality, she said.  Gender indicators should therefore be strengthened.  Seventeen years after its adoption, implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) was too often ad hoc.  She invited Council members and other Member States to share evidence and examples in order to examine gaps and successes.  She looked forward to working with Member States to ensure that women’s participation would strengthen the Organization’s peace efforts.

PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women), welcoming the Secretary‑General’s latest report on women, peace and security, said that that report celebrated progress and development of good practices, but also brought into the spotlight several alarming trends and setbacks.  “The chorus of voices that are appalled by the persistent political marginalization of women in decision-making is speaking louder; the number of people who are determined to find new solutions to the human suffering caused by conflict is growing,” she stated.

Regarding progress, she noted the presence in the chamber of a Colombian activist who helped ensure that the peace agreement in that country mainstreamed gender equality, with more than 100 provisions for women’s participation.  Unfortunately, the Colombian situation was an exception, she said.  Indicators tracked by UN‑Women showed an overall decline in women’s participation in United Nations-led peace processes, inclusion of gender-sensitive provisions in peace agreements and consultation with women’s civil society organizations, in comparison with one year ago.  Recent peace talks on the Central African Republic did not include a single woman, she lamented.

Political marginalization, she added, was not limited to peace talks.  Only 17 countries had an elected woman head of State or Government, and the proportion of women parliamentarians in conflict and post‑conflict countries had stagnated at 16 per cent.  The use of quotas and temporary special measures would help, she stressed, pointing to Somalia and Mali, where representation of women surged when such measures were instituted.

Turning to sexual violence, she said that atrocities against women and girls in armed conflict were now the focus of attention and documentation, with extensive evidence of such crimes in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.  What was missing was consequences for perpetrators and justice, dignity and support for the survivors.  “This impunity cannot be allowed to continue,” she stated.

Noting the work of her organization and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) among many others, she said the international community was assisting hundreds of thousands of survivors of sexual crimes, but many more could not be reached due to lack of resources, access and security.  Conflict had also exacerbated extreme poverty, women’s responsibility for households, illiteracy, maternal mortality and child marriage in many areas.

Recalling testimony to the Council by one of the escaped Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria, she said there was still much to learn about the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees and their children.  Regarding the work of the Council itself, she regretted that the participation of women in peacekeeping was still low and sexual exploitation by peacekeepers had not yet been stamped out.  It was encouraging to see, however, the reduction in allegations of such abuse in the Central African Republic, improvements in victims support and assistance and a culture of accountability taking hold. 

At the same time, she said it was dispiriting to see gender advisory expertise being lost due to budget cuts, while it was heartening to see that the Peacebuilding Fund exceeded its goals in funding targeted to women’s empowerment.  She called on donors to continue supporting that vital instrument, with its 15 per cent standard for gender funding adopted by all post-conflict actors.  With more resources, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, in addition, would be able to support women’s organizations in many more places.

She noted, in that regard, that women’s rights defenders were under attack and there was still not enough being done to protect them.  She applauded the Council for regularly inviting women from civil society organizations to brief on specific countries and called on all Member States to support that new practice.  She also welcomed the adoption of resolutions devoted solely to sexual exploitation, human trafficking and their intersection with violent extremism, as well as the work of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security.  “But this Council could do so much more to put its full political weight behind implementation of this agenda,” she stressed.

In order to build on progress, she urged the continued forming of alliances and coalitions, noting that regional rosters of women mediators had been established.  The African Women Leaders Network was an example of growing cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union on the issue. National focus points and action plans on women, peace and security had proliferated and projects aimed at preventing violent extremism had been spread over several regions.  There were also encouraging signs for gender justice in the international courts.

The women, peace and security agenda was now an essential pillar of global affairs, she said, adding “This is only the beginning.  The chorus of voices that are appalled by the persistent political marginalization of women in decision‑making is speaking louder,” along with those who are calling for an end to conflict‑related suffering, she stated.  “This agenda unites us because people from all over the world, every day, look up to the United Nations for peace, equality and inclusion”, she concluded.

CHARO MINA‑ROJAS, NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, said that Colombia had become a new source of hope thanks to the comprehensive peace agreement that had been reached.  Two provisions of that agreement were particularly progressive and could bring radical changes to future peace processes around the world.  The first was the explicit inclusion of a gender perspective as an international principle, while the second was the inclusion of the “Ethnic Chapter”, which provided important safeguards to ensure the protection and promotion of Indigenous and Afro‑descendant People’s rights from a gender, family and generational perspective.  The inclusion of those two specific principles was a historic advancement on peace and security that the United Nations and other countries experiencing violence and armed conflicts could learn from.  The peace accord was also important for civil society, and in that regard, the engagement and active participation of women, ethnic groups and their communities was anticipated.

She emphasized that Colombia risked wasting an opportunity for peace if it did not completely disarm itself and if the communities most impacted during the internal armed conflict, including women human rights leaders and activists, continued to be ignored in the implementation of the peace accord.  “I am here today to make visible their urgent calls and want to stress that for my people, it is actually a matter of life or death,” she warned.  Ensuring the ongoing participation of women, especially from diverse communities, in all areas related to the implementation of the peace accord, was of critical importance.  There was an urgent need for local women’s organizations and community leaders to be consulted and participate in the design of local protection strategies to keep communities safe.

There was also a need to guarantee women’s integral and collective security, she said, noting that the proliferation of weapons was fuelling increased fear and forced displacement among largely Indigenous and Afro‑descendent communities.  It was also negatively impacting women’s participation and mobility, and resulting in increased sexual and gender‑based violence.  Sexual and gender‑based violence and the stigmatization it caused, especially for Indigenous and Afro‑descendent women and their children, was a matter of integral and collective security.  “The silence around these crimes is as appalling as the crimes themselves,” she stressed.  It was also crucial that the framework put in place for the implementation of the peace accord include specific goals and indicators designed to measure the progress and outcomes of policies, programmes and reforms in a matter that corresponded to the needs, values and rights of Indigenous and Afro‑descendant Peoples.

MICHAELLE JEAN, Secretary‑General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, said 17 years ago it was agreed to underline the importance of women’s participation, on equal footing with men, in crisis prevention, mediation, peacebuilding, and maintenance and consolidation of peace and security.  Women had not waited for the adoption of the resolution, however.  In Liberia, for instance, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had stood up to the war lords and had mediated between the fighting parties.  In Bosnia and Herzegovina, women had always been among the first to seek reconciliation.  Turning to women’s activities in Rwanda and Mali, she said the Ouagadougou Agreement of April 2012 had been drafted by four women who initially had not been allowed to speak, but were finally allowed to sit at the negotiating table.  Women contributed to peace and security and it was a mistake to underestimate their ability.

“How many more resolutions, studies, high‑level meetings of independent groups and expert advisory groups are necessary to end this unacceptable figure of only 9 per cent women’s participation in some 30 major peace negotiations over the last 25 years?” she asked.  Participation of women had led to a 20 per cent greater chance of achieving a peace lasting two years and 35 per cent chance of a peace lasting 15 years.  More than lip service should be paid to ensuring that women were invited to participate in national dialogues.  Why wait to address the fact that only 3 per cent of women were in peacekeeping missions, she asked.  It was proven that the presence of women there would contribute to a better understanding of security forces and improve their credibility among the populations they served, she said, stressing that “Women inspire confidence”.  

She said the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie had invested in women as peacekeepers and had been active in encouraging participation of women in missions and training them.  The organisation underscored the importance of women’s participation to its member States.  The climate of impunity and the trampling of human rights also affected women.  Peace, stability and security furthermore depended on economic development.  More must be done to increase financing for women’s participation in peace and security.  Funding of grassroots women organisations should also be addressed.

More must be done to end impunity, she said.  Years and resolutions had gone by but had not been put into action in that regard.  Women were the first targets when the decision was made to annihilate a population.  The rape of women and girls had become a weapon of mass destruction.  Describing the horrors women had to undergo in several area, she underlined it was not only an African problem.  The horrors took place everywhere in the world.

Statements

IVANNA KLYANPUSH‑TSINTSADZE (Ukraine) said the meaningful inclusion of women was perhaps the greatest, but most under‑utilized tool for building peace.  Women played a prominent role in peacebuilding in Ukraine, with the President having appointed a woman to a position in charge of the peace process in the Donbas region and two women participating in Minsk working groups dealing with humanitarian and political issues.  However, so long as foreign aggression continued, peace and security for most women in occupied parts of Ukraine would remain almost unattainable.  They would continue to lack protection and live in fear, with almost no recourse to justice, remaining economically disadvantaged and living with limited freedoms.  The Security Council must give priority to the protection and participation pillars of women, peace and security agenda, she said, expressing regret that impunity for human rights violations and abuses committed in the context of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, not least regarding sexual violence, still prevailed.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, noted that she had travelled to today’s open debate directly from Afghanistan, where she met women and girls living amid conflict, struggling to make ends meet and keep their families safe whilst facing a constant risk of sexual violence.  “Oppression of women is a global disease,” she said, with the use of sexual violence as a weapon being the ultimate manifestation of that oppression.  Recalling her experience as the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, she said it was a mistake to view such violence as inevitable, unspeakable and a lesser crime.  A gender perspective must be incorporated in all aspects of peacebuilding, she said, underscoring the value of data and support for women’s organizations, but expressing concern that budget cuts and mainstreamed mandates could result in reduced gender expertise in United Nations missions.  Member States must seize the current momentum for women’s participation in peace processes and put women’s full enjoyment of their rights at the core of international peace and security.  “The frameworks and tools are in place,” she said. “It is up to us to make it happen.”

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said that despite active annual discussions since 2000, year after year the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda fell short.  He encouraged all speakers to be specific, therefore, about what their countries were doing to advance it.  His country had worked in Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan to increase women’s participation in all sectors.  It had also directly addressed sexual violence and the resulting stigmas through a number of projects and was providing training on such issues for peacekeepers.  He urged a reversal in the decrease in gender expertise in the United Nations.  Women leadership had greatly expanded in the United Kingdom, but as more could be done an action plan had been launched, as well as a “gender compact” for missions.  He urged all to institute such a compact and mainstream the issues involved into all conflict‑related initiatives.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) also noted the challenges in implementing the agenda, which he said required international and regional cooperation, even though, he stressed, each country had unique challenges.  Those particularities should be studied closely so the right capacities could be built for all United Nations initiatives.  Empowerment of women must be built in both conflict countries and all societies.  His country had put in place legislation in favour of women’s empowerment, most notably requiring equal representation in elected assemblies.  The right to property and other economic empowerment of women had also been strengthened.  As severe inequality was a driver of conflict, his State was playing a strong role in distributing wealth.  He praised several countries that had also taken steps to strengthen women’s empowerment, along with reforms instituted by the Secretary-General.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) welcomed the international solidarity being exhibited on the issue.  He affirmed the necessity of empowering women in ensuring peaceful societies.  Unfortunately, inequality in all areas remained on the rise and women continued to suffer from it.  He expressed hope, however, that progress could be made both in policy and consciousness in advancing women’s empowerment.  Expertise and financing for that purpose was critical.  New international mechanisms were developing and that showed signs for hope.  In his region, there were more women officials in the African Union and the creation of a network of African women leaders.  He described several regional initiatives to empower women, including a framework within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  Adding that all international instruments had been integrated into his country’s policy frameworks, he stated that more than 100 Senegalese women were now deployed in peacekeeping operations.  Many challenges remained, however, and new kinds of gender‑based violence were emerging, particularly in the Sahel region.  Cooperation must therefore be strengthened to face them.

INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy), noting that centrality of the women, peace and security agenda was increasingly recognized, said that nevertheless the voices of women at the grassroots level were still rarely heard and they continued to be exploited and abused in many situations.  He urged the United Nations to lead as an example and encourage Member States to share best practices.  He announced that a women’s mediation network, just founded on 26 October in Rome with Government backing, as a way for women to build regional capacity to address a host of issues that were causes of violence and inequality.  Describing other Italian projects, he encouraged further cooperation between the United Nations with regional organizations.  Women’s meaningful participation must be promoted, he stressed:  women’s participation was not just a matter of numbers.

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said that as the role of women in maintaining peace and security was critical, one should move from rhetoric to action.  More women were needed in government and at the negotiating table.  Her country was fully committed to advance full implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) she said, describing legal processes in that regard.  Noting that when women participated in peace processes, success was more sustainable, she said their full participation in the economy also bolstered prosperity for all, which was why her country supported women entrepreneurs.  She was disheartened to learn that the number of women participating in United Nations peace process had gone down.  Women were an under‑used resource in combating extremist violence, as they were a first line of defence against radicalization.  Women could play more vital roles in preventing terrorist ideologies taking root.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said the experience of the Council did prove that participation of women in peace processes made a difference in achieving peace.  He stressed the importance of women’s effective participation and providing funding for them in peace and security.  He stressed, however, that the scope of the agenda should be limited to countries in conflict and post conflict situations.  Concrete actions should be developed to increase the number of female “Blue Helmets”.  The suffering of women was exacerbated in conflict zones and areas under occupation.  He said his country had introduced an intensive training module on sexual and gender-based violence for the training of its peacekeepers.  The manual on the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation, translated in English and French, was available to all troop‑contributing countries, he said.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) welcomed positive developments in advancing the women, peace and security agenda, particularly the focus on their participation in peace processes.  She was concerned, however, at the challenges posed by sexual and gender-based violence.  More needed to be done about sexual exploitation and abuse.  She said Africa had registered considerable progress in advancing the women, peace and security agenda, with national action plans adopted in many countries.  Gender policies adopted by the African Union and subregional organizations could provide a basis for facilitating the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda in Africa.  It was important to strengthen support for initiatives aimed at ensuring the participation of women in peace processes, mediation and election monitoring, she said, and encouraged a regional approach in advancing the agenda.

EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) said that while progress had been achieved in advancing the role of women, their protection was lagging.  Women continued to be victim to violence, especially by terrorist groups.  It was important to focus on issues related to establishing national peace and security.  There were specialized agencies and organizations to address issues such as gender equality.  The way the topic was discussed in the Chamber strayed from the established criteria, he said, noting that it was inappropriate to use the Council to promote controversial approaches that did not have broad global support.  The primary role in defending women rested with Governments, while measures of the United Nations system and civil society should be aimed at supporting the efforts of States.  Turning to Ukraine’s statement, he noted, among other things, that responsibility of the suffering of women as described by that country’s representative lay with the authorities.  Terrible crimes against women had been committed by Ukrainian forces, he said.

SHEN BO (China) said that since adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), the international community had built a sound framework for fostering a greater role for women in peace and security, but protection of their rights in times of conflict should be strengthened.  It was therefore important to prevent conflict, he said, and the Council should encourage States to settle their disputes peacefully.  The international community should embrace the notion of peace for development and heed the voices and participation of women in all stages of peace processes.  Special intention should be paid to women as a vulnerable group and protect them from terrorists.  Protection of women in post conflict situations should be intensified by support for gender equality measures as well as by development support.  As the Council had adopted consensus resolutions, United Nations agencies and bodies should strengthen their coordination and cooperation within their competencies with other bodies and regional and subregional organizations.

KORO BESSHO (Japan) said that, 17 years after the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), the normative framework had still not been fully put into practice.  Some 100 countries had announced their commitment to promote the women, peace and security agenda in 2015, at which time Japan had pledged to steadily implement and monitor its related national action plan, increase its financial support to UN‑Women, as well as the Office of the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and invest in human resource development and the education of women in displacement.  Noting that his country had faithfully fulfilled those promises, he pointed out that it had recently become UN‑Women’s second‑largest contributor and was one of the top donors to the Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict.  As 90 per cent of conflicts from 2000 to 2009 were relapses, women’s meaningful participation and leadership were critical, including in peace negotiations and peacekeeping missions.  Outlining Japan’s technical training efforts in those areas, he added that the United Nations system‑wide strategy on gender parity was also critical and its implementation must be ensured.

KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) said that the 1325 agenda should be seen as a valuable tool for making the entire peacekeeping architecture of the United Nations more effective.  The gap between the framework and women’s progress must be closed, with stronger collaboration between Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UN‑Women to increase women’s parity in peacekeeping and to build gender expertise for all operations.  Gender expertise in preventing violent extremism must also be utilized.  Each Member State and region must play its role, in addition.  His country had promoted strong pro‑women policies in its legislative framework and all areas of security and peacebuilding.  Prevention of gender-based violence was central.  Women, along with youth, must be seen as a critical link in the security/development nexus.  His country was working to meet the 15 per cent target in its funding for gender mainstreaming and was working internationally to promote the agenda.  He underlined, in addition, the importance of women’s civil society groups and the collection of clear data on the issue.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said that the women, peace and security agenda should be a priority of the Council on a permanent basis.  He welcomed a range of initiatives to advance that agenda, which was critical for the success of peacekeeping.  The issue was women’s ability to enjoy all their inalienable rights and hold their own futures in their own hands.  It was the responsibility of all nations to uphold those rights and the responsibility of civil society to hold States to account in that regard.  His country had been increasing women’s participation in its peacekeeping contingents, and it had accordingly seen the effectiveness of its contributions increase.  He called for strengthened efforts to end impunity for sexual violence, calling on the Council to refer cases to the courts and for augmented efforts to enforce zero tolerance for abuse by peacekeepers.  His country would work with all others to continue to advance the entire agenda.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), Council President for October, speaking in his national capacity, said conflicts could not be resolved by leaving half of humanity on the margins.  Women must not only be protected, but also fully involved in conflict prevention and resolution.  Their participation in political processes and conflict resolution and prevention remained insufficient, he said, noting that between 1992 and 2011, 4 per cent of peace agreement signatories and less than 10 per cent of peace negotiators were women.  Member States must take responsibility, elaborate national and regional plans and put them in place.  Gender‑based conflict analysis should be strengthened, including through an exchange of best practices.  He went on to review his country’s own efforts, noting that its 2015‑2018 national action plan for women, peace and security was built on five pillars:  participation, protection, fighting impunity, prevention and promotion of the women, peace and security agenda.  He also noted that women now accounted for 15 per cent of all French troops, a twofold increase since 1998.

Taking the floor for the second time, YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said it seemed like his Minister’s statement had been taken out of context.  Women made up almost one million internally displaced persons in his country, a direct consequence of Russian aggression.  If the Russian Federation wanted to help women in Ukraine, it should stop sending troops, weapons and ammunitions to Eastern Ukraine.  “Until that happens, Russia is in no position to lecture others,” he emphasized.  There were hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners in Russian captivity as well, and once out of captivity some of them carried on with life, sometimes even holding seats in Ukraine’s Parliament.

MARIA ANGELA HOLGUIN (Colombia) said her country remained committed to ensuring the full participation of women, despite facing major challenges to do so.  It had taken the necessary steps to implement resolution 1325 (2000), including by establishing a body that dealt with victims of armed conflict.  That group focused on offering women, especially those in rural communities, economic autonomy and decent working conditions.  The group was also working to break the violent cycle many women faced.  Women’s participation in peacebuilding was as critical as in achieving peace, she continued, noting women’s participation in her country’s judicial sector and other areas of Government.  She stressed the need to ensure accountability for sexual violence.  Lessons learned must be used to achieve advantage in other sectors as well.  Peace was not only about putting an end to war and violence.  Peace also required the unwavering support of States and the United Nations in working together to ensure the real participation of women.

CHANTAL SAFOU (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that her country had been afflicted with years of conflict that produced nefarious consequences, particularly for women and children.  She outlined efforts by her Government, which had adopted an action plan to collect statistic data from provinces on the living conditions of women.  The plan sought to achieve the participation of women at local levels of government.  Women were already contributing to the peaceful resolution of conflict in provinces. In addition to the action plan, her Government also signed a Joint Communiqué with the United Nations to fight sexual violence in conflict.  It had also adopted initiatives to prosecute perpetrators.  She also commended her Government’s decision to appoint women to high‑level positions in the army.

BÄRBEL KOFLER, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid of Germany, associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said rhetoric about women’s participation in peace processes must be turned into action through practical initiatives.  In that regard, Germany was supporting the African Union in developing a network that would enable women leaders to exchange experiences, she said, adding that her country hoped to see more women‑led African Union‑United Nations solidarity missions.  International discussion on implementing the women, peace and security agenda must continue between the Council’s annual open debates, she added, noting the work of the Council’s informal expert group on the issue.  Better efforts could be made as well to connect implementation of the women, peace and security agenda with other initiatives, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

SANDRA ERICA JOVEL POLANCO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said a significant participation of women in peace processes strengthened protection efforts, accelerated economic recovery and led to sustainable peace.  Lasting peace could not be achieved without security for women and girls, she said, expressing particular concern over the use of sexual violence as an instrument of war.  National action plans to implement resolution 1325 (2000) were powerful tools for progress, she said, noting that her country adopted such a plan in July this year.  She went on underscore the important role of women in peacekeeping operations, adding that joint efforts must continue between Member States and the United Nations to support measures that increased women’s participation in peace processes.  “Inclusive processes should be the rule, not the exception,” she said.

LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, comprising of Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, Mali, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Thailand, South Africa, and her own country, called on Member States, the United Nations, regional and subregional organizations to support efforts to implement resolution 1325 (2000).  There was a need for greater recognition and support of women’s full and effective participation in all stages of conflict resolution and post‑conflict reconciliation processes, so that peace agreements could be more effective.  Women must play a key role in conflict prevention and resolution as well as in the construction and decision-making of sustainable peace processes.  She noted several developments since the 2016 debate on the same topic, including the Secretary‑General’s commitment to gender parity and the high‑level political forum’s review of the goal on gender equality.

She expressed concern about the impact of forced displacement on women and girls, emphasizing that addressing the matter called for the involvement of women in the design and implementation of humanitarian action and early recovery.  Greater efforts were needed to promote and respect the human rights of women and girls, as well as to strengthen all efforts to address gender‑based violence.  For too long sexual violence had been committed on a systematic and widespread scale as crimes against humanity.  “At an alarming rate women and girls are today targets of sexual and gender‑based violence,” she said, stressing the need to fight impunity and ensure accountability under national and international jurisdictions.  “We need to ensure that women’s and girl’s interests are fully respected and systematically integrated into peace processes,” she added.

Ms. OEHRI (Liechtenstein) said that despite some progress, “we are still very far from achieving the goals we have set ourselves”.  The data in the latest report of the Secretary‑General pointed to significant barriers in women’s meaningful participation in mediation processes.  “Root causes of conflicts cannot be fully addressed and societal traumas cannot be overcome when half of the population is excluded from peace processes,” she stressed.  Women often shouldered a large share of responsibility in communities during conflict and recovery, which made their participation even more important.  Their inclusion in mediation processes also contributed to their empowerment in line with the 2030 Agenda.  Noting that structural inequalities, poverty and discrimination often hindered women’s access to justice, she said that gender‑responsive legal systems were fundamental to building resilient societies.  While women and girls were particularly vulnerable to conflict‑related sexual violence, men and boys were also targeted.  A prevailing culture of silence often prevented male victims from speaking out.  “The most efficient protection against conflict‑related sexual violence is ensuring that it does not happen in the first place,” she stressed.

MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia) said the devastating impact of conflict on the most vulnerable citizens, including women and children was evident.  Despite the progress that had been achieved, women remained virtually absent in peace negotiations and institutions for peacebuilding, which hindered the process of conflict resolution.  He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s initiative to assess the quality of the participation of women in peace processes as part of the overall reform process.  He also underscored that a gender perspective was important for the implementation of measures aimed at combatting extremism and for the rehabilitation of women returning from conflict zones.  He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s efforts to achieve gender parity within the United Nations and recalled that Tunisia had adopted legislation in 1966 that served as a mechanism for the emancipation of women and the promotion of a society rooted in citizenship.  He pointed to Tunisia’s new Constitution and its provisions that guaranteed and preserved the rights of women, and acknowledged their key role in democracy‑building in the country.

FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), also speaking on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia, said that despite progress since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), daunting challenges remained, with women and girls still disproportionately affected by the impact of conflict.  Gender responsive humanitarian policies must be developed to ensure access to health, education and other basic services for women and girls.  Redoubled efforts must also be made to prevent women and girls from becoming victims of human trafficking in conflict and post‑conflict situations.  Meaningful progress on that front could only come through coordinated and consolidated measures, he said, emphasizing the importance of regional and international coordination and cooperation in a time when the causes and effects of conflicts easily spilled across borders.

SHANKER DAS BAIRAGI (Nepal) said that his country had made explicit efforts to localize its national action plan, including through the mandatory provision of 33 per cent women’s representation in “Local Peace Committees”.  Gender parity also helped ensure that peacekeeping missions were more compassionate and better at protecting the civilian population from sexual abuse.  In that context, Nepal was committed to attaining the goal of 15 per cent females in peacekeeping operations.  It had employed policies to encourage more females to join the national security forces.  In Nepal’s cases, women’s increased representation in legislative and Government bodies and State institutions since 2007 had directly contributed to fostering good governance and inclusive societies.  Nepal’s National Women’s Commission was now an independent and powerful constitutional body with a mandate to monitor and safeguard the rights and interests of women.  In recent local elections, women had secured nearly half of the leadership positions, he said.  Moreover, Nepal’s Constitution required that the President and Vice‑President must represent different sexes or communities.

DARJA BAVDAŽ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union and the Human Security Network, said that her country’s first national action plan had demonstrated its implementation of the Council’s resolutions on women, peace and security, including through more than 20 projects carried out in collaboration with civil society.  She drew attention to several specific projects aimed at empowering women in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.  Further, Slovenia supported additional projects, including through the provision of funding.  On the national level, her country had pursued initiatives geared towards the systematic education and training of women serving in the Slovene armed forces.  She was pleased to note that Slovenia also contributed the first female Force Commander to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  The political participation of women in Slovenia was excellent, she highlighted, noting that half of the Government leadership was female, including the Minister of Defence and the Minister of the Interior.

MICHAEL GRANT (Canada), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that women’s participation had a positive impact on the credibility and durability of peace agreements.  It was essential to include gender considerations and the meaningful participation of women in early warning, mediation, and conflict-resolution effort, and a greater role for women in post‑conflict peacebuilding and economic recovery. He called for further implementation of the women, peace, and security agenda in United Nations peacekeeping, both in terms of women’s participation and gender expertise and mainstreaming into doctrine and all planning documents.  Women played an indispensable role in peacekeeping and their participation at all levels was key to the effectiveness of missions.

He expressed concern that cutting, downgrading, and under‑resourcing gender advisors and women protection advisors positions could cripple the ability of peace operations to fulfil critical tasks.  United Nations peacekeepers must not be part of the problem, he added, condemning cases of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations.  Despite progress much more needed to be done to tackle the scourge and ensure accountability.  To end impunity, perpetrators of sexual violence must be brought to justice, and victims and survivors must be assisted in a comprehensive manner to fully recover from those violations.  A gendered approach was essential to facing new and emerging challenges such as violent extremism.

Speaking in his national capacity, Mr. Grant said that Canada remained committed to finding opportunities to create and support gender transformative solutions to conflict.  “We will challenge narratives undermining women’s ability to contribute, lead and shape solutions,” he stressed.  Canada was taking concrete actions to advance the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.  It dedicated funds to local organizations that advanced women’s rights in both developing and fragile States.  Working to increase the proportion of Canadian women police officers deployed to peace operations, Canada had also been at the forefront of United Nations training initiatives aimed at increasing the number of female police officers deployed to peace operations.  Canada was also a strong advocate for the full implementation of the United Nations zero‑tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said that because of foreign intervention and occupation, as well the surge of violent extremism and terrorism, women and girls in many parts of the Middle East had witnessed the collapse of their hopes for a better future.  In many conflicts, women were the primary victims of large‑scale, often systematic sexual violence.  There were thousands of confirmed instances of sexual violence having been used as a tactic of terror in countries around the world, as terrorists sought to advance their military and ideological ends.  It would be foolish to assume that by physically removing Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Da’esh (ISIL), their atrocities against civilians, including women and children, would cease.  The international community must redouble its fight against such a vicious ideology, and those who harboured it.  The world also could not fail to acknowledge that interventionist policies, occupation and regime‑change attempts served as a breeding ground for terrorist groups to grow and flourish.

JANA PŘIKRYLOVÁ (Czech Republic), associating herself with the European Union, expressed concern that national action plans to implement the women, peace and security agenda had only been adopted 68 Member States, and that most projects were small, short‑term and financed through limited resources.  Lack of financing was a key obstacle to implementation.  She expressed concern about the slow pace of integrating the agenda into relevant resolutions on peacekeeping activities.  Her country had adopted in January 2017 a national action plan which included concrete and measurable tasks.  In 2015, the Ministry of Defence adopted an action plan to implement Council resolution 1325 (2000) and the Czech Republic became the “lead nation” of a programme focused on training Jordanian female soldiers in explosive ordnance disposal.  Gender mainstreaming remained one of the main principles of the national transition promotion programme which supported democratic principles in transition countries.  Regarding development cooperation and aid, the Czech Republic implemented projects worth CZK 130 million in 2016 with a strong focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Despite that progress, women were underrepresented in decision-making positions and diplomatic posts.  In response, his Government adopted the Action Plan for Balanced Representation of Women and Men in Decision-making Positions for 2016 to 2018.  His country also supported several global gender activities through regular voluntary financial contributions.

TORE HATTREM (Norway), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, expressed concern about the decrease in women’s participation in mediation, requests for and inclusion of gender expertise and gender‑sensitivity in peace agreements.  He noted Thursday’s launch of the Global Women, Peace and Security Index, while calling for greater strategic and consistent implementation of targets.  He said women had become more influential in peace processes, including in Colombia, Syria, Yemen and the Philippines.  In that regard, he commended the efforts of UN‑Women, the Department for Political Affairs and special envoys.  He also noted the work of the Different Group of Friends, the Women Mediators Networks, the National Focal Points Initiative, national action plans of Nordic countries, as well as the NGO Working Group and the Global Solutions Exchange platform.  The international community’s approach to women, peace and security was often too generic, and lacked contextual analyses and points of action, however, the Security Council’s Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security was a step in the right direction.  On stereotyping, he stressed that men could be victims of sexual violence and that women could play a destructive role in conflict.  In terms of leadership, women were often ignored in mediation processes at the national and international level.  He welcomed the new handbook on the prevention and handling of sexual violence in conflict that was being developed for use in peace operations and the new gender parity strategy.  Noting the many best practices and positive developments currently under way in the United Nations system, he stated “our job is to ensure that best practices become mainstream practice”.

SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan), noting that her country would soon ratify its draft national plan on women, peace and security, emphasized its contribution of women police personnel to the former United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) and its intention to also do so for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  She emphasized Jordan’s provision of basic services to Syrian refugees on its territory, 50 per cent of whom were female, as well as the need for the international community to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian women and girls living under the yoke of Israeli occupation, especially those in prison.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) said complex humanitarian crises shed light on the distress suffered by women and girls.  Attention must be paid to those belonging to the most vulnerable groups, he said, underscoring also the importance of raising the presence of women in peacekeeping operations.  It was unthinkable to deploy a peacekeeping mission without gender advisers or training Blue Helmets on prevention sexual exploitation and abuse.  Welcoming the Secretary‑General’s victim‑centred approach on sexual exploitation and abuse, he said Brazil hoped its national action plan would generate encouraging results and that the women, peace and security agenda would continue to prosper within the United Nations system.

Ms. JAQUEZ (Mexico), associating herself with the statement made by Turkey, said that when it came to sustainable peace, women were key to creating inclusive societies with a healthy social fabric.  Mexico supported the Secretary‑General’s findings in his report and applauded his commitment to integrating gender equality into conflict prevention, as well as his initiative to reform the United Nations.  Mexico fully supported the participation of women in all areas of public life given that gender equality and the empowerment of women were necessary for the achievement of peaceful, fair and equitable societies.  Her Government promoted the equitable representation of women in all sectors, and at all levels.  The Council’s resolution on women, peace and security had strengthened norms in that area although the resolution’s effective implementation remained a challenge.  The Secretary‑General must continue efforts to make the agenda a truly cross‑cutting one, particularly in relation to its other thematic work, she said, adding:  “Sustainable peace has a woman’s face”.

MARA MARINAKI, European Union, said promoting the women, peace and security agenda was essential in realizing the bloc’s shared ambitions of conflict prevention as well as sustainable peace and development.  The European Union had remained committed to substantially increasing women’s participation in all aspects of peace and security, including political participation and leadership.  It had progressed towards better gender balance in diplomatic services and field missions.  In external action, the European Union had continued to work for women’s full participation in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding.  In Afghanistan, it had helped female members of the High Peace Council play an active, critical role in the peace agreement between the Government and Hizb‑e‑Islami.  The European Union had been supporting the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board of Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.  In Uganda, it had closely engaged with the Women Situation Room, a mechanism fully operated by and for women to contain elections‑related violence and enable women’s political participation.  More recently, the European Union had supported the training of Libyan women peace activists in negotiation and mediation skills.

NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), noting that the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) in his country fell under the national gender policy framework, said that it included the emerging issue of national disaster management — which resolution 1325 (2000) had overlooked.  Along with other measures, the national gender policy had ensured that Namibia deployed women to all peacekeeping missions.  It had, to date, one of the largest female police contingents in UNAMID, as well as another such contingent in Liberia.  The significant presence of women peacekeepers in conflict and post‑conflict areas had the added advantage of creating safer spaces for girls and women who had suffered sexual violence, he said, highlighting the ability of women peacekeepers to gain the trust of local populations.  Many challenges nevertheless remained in implementing resolution 1325 (2000), including lack of awareness, lack of political will, entrenched biases and cultural and traditional norms.  “We must encourage a culture in which both men and women believe it is vital to support the rise to positions of leadership by women,” he stressed.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) said that concrete initiatives, including the promotion of the role of women within the Peacebuilding Commission and the incorporation of the gender perspective in new peacebuilding strategies was of critical importance.  The Secretary‑General’s report rightly mentioned the importance of technical capacity-building in gender equality.  That technical skill was also of great importance in peacebuilding operations, and in that context, when mandates were reviewed, contingent levels were adjusted or when a mission’s financial resources were reduced, it was essential that gender adviser posts were not affected.  The role of women in security sector reform was often underestimated, he said, emphasizing:  “Women are a force for peace”.

INA H. KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), associating herself with the statement made by Turkey, said that notwithstanding resolution 1325 (2000) it would be unfortunate if the bravery and vision of women went unrealized.  The crucial role of women and family in preventing conflicts that might lead to radicalism and extremism must be acknowledged and fostered, she said, adding the enabling women’s participation in the economy supported peacebuilding.  It was important as well for the United Nations peacebuilding and peacekeeping mechanisms to be strengthened continuously.  Going forward, Indonesia aimed to increase the number of women it deployed on peacekeeping missions.  It was also sharing its best practices and experiences in empowering women in leadership through South-South and triangular cooperation.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) emphasized the need for leadership, a stronger institutional architecture and moving from the general to the specific in addressing women, peace and security.  Members of civil society should be invited to speak to the Council more often to describe the situation on the ground, and those responsible for sexual violence in conflict should be the potential subjects of Council sanctions.  He added that he would like to see a Latin American or Asian country host the 2020 meeting of capital‑level focal points on women, peace and security.  He went on to express his fear that, in the context of United Nations reform, the women, peace and security agenda would not be given the level of importance it deserved.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s vision of peacekeeping, as well as practical steps such as the convening of the Informal Experts Group and new initiatives on gender parity and conflict prevention.  Despite such efforts, critical challenges remained, from increasing the number of women at the highest levels of decision-making to ending impunity for gender-based violence.  Gender‑responsive and protective environments for women were still lacking and related efforts remained undervalued and underfunded.  The women, peace and security agenda needed accelerated attention, as did the critical areas of disarmament, creating greater space for women’s civil society organizations and stronger information and analysis on women, peace and security.  Describing a range of relevant national actions, he recalled that Slovakia was a Co‑Chair of the Group of Friends on Security Sector Reform — essential to post‑conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction — and underscored the importance of women’s equal and effective participation in all stages of those processes.

GUSTAVO MEZA‑CUADRA (Peru) said that despite some progress, there were still barriers to the effective implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.  Improving the access of women to significant leadership roles in peace efforts required the active participation of civil society organizations, particularly those led by women.  Peru had increased the number of women it contributed to the six peacekeeping missions it participated in and believed that the women, peace and security agenda must play a central role in the reform efforts currently underway, particularly with regard to gender equality in peacekeeping operations.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that his country shared the vision for the reform of the United Nations, with particular emphasis on prevention.  Achieving sustainable peace would be facilitated by increasing the presence of women in all stages of peace and reconciliation, not only as a question of equality, but as a question of effectiveness.  He underscored that resolution 1325 (2000) recognized the important role that women played in peace processes and that it was crucial to include gender provisions in peace and ceasefire agreements.  More equitable societies that respected women’s rights were more peaceful societies, he said.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco), emphasizing that women’s participation in peace processes improved prospects for conflict resolution and sustainability, recalled that Morocco had hosted an international conference on women, peace and security in 2016 that focused on the role of women vis‑à‑vis mediation, de‑radicalization and best practices in addressing sexual violence in conflict.  Morocco was also home to a think tank dedicated to women, peace and security.  Women and girls had specific needs in post‑conflict stages in such areas as health care, land rights and employment, but they were frequently under‑represented in decision‑making, if not sidelined altogether.  Incorporating a gender approach was therefore imperative to ensure fair and sustainable development with both men and women sharing resources, opportunities and power, he said.

ALEXANDRA BAUMANN (Switzerland) said human security, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls were cornerstones of his country’s foreign policy.  The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs recently launched its first comprehensive strategy on gender equality and women’s rights.  Gender equality was key to the prevention of conflict and violence, including violent extremism.  Respecting women’s equal rights and inclusion in peace processes was “simply a must”.  In that regard, he called for States to fully promote the equality and effective participation of women in peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution, including through the engagement of civil society.  The women, peace and security agenda contributed to better results for sustainable peace.  To that end, he highlighted existing frameworks including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Universal Periodic Review and special mandates.  Switzerland supported an initiative to focus on implementing the Women’s Convention.  In closing, he stated that the engagement of men and boys in all transformative action was crucial and that women’s economic empowerment must receive greater attention in post-conflict recovery and State‑building.

ANNA FATA, Holy See, said that women were proven agents of change, although sadly, most of today’s conflicts resulted in them too often becoming targets and victims, rather than peacemakers and peacebuilders.  Women and girls disproportionately suffered the impact of violent conflicts, including being specifically targeted as objects of violence and abuse as a strategy of war.  Violent extremism and terrorism continued to use sexual violence as a terror tactic, although acts of violence against women and girls were not only perpetrated in conflict situations.  Member States had a fundamental responsibility to prosecute the perpetrators of human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including those related to sexual violence against women and girls.

AMARSANAA DARISUREN, Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE), said it was essential to include a gender perspective in all phases of conflict prevention, resolution and post‑conflict rehabilitation.  Unfortunately, formal political processes provided little access and space for women.  There was a clear need to increase the meaningful inclusion of women in all phases of the conflict cycle, particularly at the grass‑roots level.  She reviewed some examples of progress reached in the last year by OSCE, including the adoption of national action plans by 31 countries in its region and efforts to reinforce women’s leadership at national and local levels through mentoring, support networks and capacity development.  The OSCE was also working on gender‑inclusive mediation processes, while its politico-military bodies were incorporating a gender perspective in their respective agendas.  Its new “Leaders against Intolerance and Violent Extremism” project specifically included women’s community leaders and young women and men.  Emphasizing that “strong leadership is essential to achieve progress”, she said OSCE recognized that it had more to do to implement a sustained, systematic approach to improve women’s participation in peace processes.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000) had recognized the significant role women in conflict prevention and post conflict mediation.  It was unfortunate that women and girls paid the highest price in conflicts because States and parties to conflict did not respect their obligations under international law.  As women needed to be empowered, there was also a need to facilitate their access to transitional justice mechanisms.  Underlining the importance of the role of females in combating against violent extremism, she said her country had taken several initiatives on the national and international level to strengthen the role of women.  The participation of women in decision making within the United Nations would allow for the further implementation of resolution 1325 2000), she said. 

AUDRA PLEPYTĖ (Lithuania), speaking also on behalf of Estonia and Latvia and aligning herself with the European Union, said empowerment of women and gender equality were fundamental to sustaining peace.  As the critical role of women in negotiations was often overlooked, she emphasized the importance of their participation in all negotiations and in peacebuilding, and urged for the gender perspective to be incorporated in all aspects of peace processes.  Implementation of the women, peace and security agenda required comprehensive measures, including recognizing the role of civil society.  Justice still faced inequalities, she said, emphasizing that the perpetrators of crimes against women and girls needed to be prosecuted and that victims received compensation.

NELLY SHILOH (Israel) said that women’s participation in peace processes was not just good for women, it was critical for the success and sustainability of resulting agreements.  She cited the experience of Colombia and Liberia in that regard.  A conducive environment to increase the number of women peacekeepers must be established, she added, pointing to the necessity for zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and harassment in peacekeeping missions.  Israel had introduced the first resolution on prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, in the Commission on the Status of Women, and was one of the first to include resolution 1325 in its national legislation.  Much still remained to be done, both nationally and internationally, and all efforts for further progress should be modelled on best practices that have already been proven successful.

JERRY MATJILA (South Africa) said the contribution of women and girls to peacebuilding processes remained undervalued and under‑resourced, leaving a vital tool for sustainable peace and transformative change underutilized.  Women in South Africa had been at the forefront of driving reform, as well as in developing and advancing legislation and policies which advanced the role of women in society.  He said his country provided training for African women mediators, while the South African Defence Force — 30 per cent of whose members were women — provided training to female peacekeepers.  He paid tribute to women’s organizations campaigning to abolish nuclear weapons, adding that South Africa continued to engage with civil society and academia to find ways to further empower women and remove obstacles to their participation in peacekeeping missions and mediation efforts.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said that her country had increased the number of women officers serving as staff officers and military observers in United Nations missions to 25 per cent.  She also commended the United Nations Department of Political Affairs for overseeing the substantial increase in gender expertise with the deployment of 25 gender advisers across 11 field missions.  Such efforts demonstrated that with dedicated funding and specific targets, it was possible to improve women’s participation.  All key actors must play a role in the implementation of the women in peace and security agenda.  That included civil society groups, which remained the greatest source of expertise on the ground.  She noted that Australia had founded the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund which supported women’s civil society organizations to contribute to conflict prevention, crisis response and peacebuilding.

CHO TAE‑YUL (Republic of Korea), associating himself with the statement made by Turkey, and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that despite progress achieved, there remained a wide gap between goals and the reality on the ground.  Civilians, particularly women and girls, continued to be caught up in armed conflicts in many parts of the world.  He stressed the need to continue in a more coordinated manner to prevent women from falling victim to violence.  “We should not tolerate any sexual exploitation or abuse committed by United Nations peacekeepers,” he stressed.  The goal of increasing women’s participation in peace efforts must be translated into concrete action.  It was important to ensure that the ongoing efforts to reform the United Nations peace and security architecture contributed to the women, peace and security agenda.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), convinced of the importance of participation of women in peace processes, said there was a need for broad‑based coherence on the international, regional and national level to implement the women, peace and security agenda.  There was also an absolute need for full partnership with civil society.  Ireland would embed the women, peace and security agenda in everything it did, in cooperation with UN‑Women.  The participation of women in peace processes had proved to be the smart way.  Her country funded non‑governmental organization who could make a difference, such as the Women at the Table in Nigeria.  Describing other support efforts, she said her country was drafting a second national action plan on the women, peace and security agenda.  She underlined the importance of synergies between the youth, peace and security agenda and the women, peace and security agenda.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said his country’s long, drawn‑out conflict had resulted in many victims — orphans, war widows, single mothers and women‑headed households.  Addressing their immediate concerns and making them participants in all areas of peacebuilding had remained a priority in post‑conflict efforts.  Successful peacebuilding required gender equality and women’s empowerment, including economic empowerment, human security, human rights and development to mesh together.  It was also vital to engage domestic actors from the grass roots to the highest echelons of Government to ensure ownership of peacebuilding processes and guarantee long-term sustainability.  As Sri Lanka moved down the path of reconciliation and transformative justice, the Government had appointed an 11‑member task force of eminent persons to hold nationwide consultation on reconciliation measures.  The members of the task force were drawn entirely from civil society, including six women.

MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya) associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said last year his country launched its national action plan for the implementation of  Council resolution 1325 (2000).  Kenya was the top contributor of female officers to United Nations peacekeeping operations, providing 19 per cent of the total.  The national gender policy guided the integration of gender into all military operations, including for early warning and response systems to conflict.  His Government had established an international peace support training centre, launched a national campaign to address gender based violence, reviewed its national information and communications technology policy to include a gender dimension and established a toll‑free gender “helpline”.  Such efforts were complimented by various non‑state actors, including through training workshops to build gender and conflict sensitive reporting in the media.  Regarding relief and recovery, his Government had set guidelines in medical facilities, developed guidelines and standard operating procedures for psychological and forensic management, and built recovery centres.  In September 2016, Kenya also launched a national strategy to counter violent extremism which incorporated women into security and intelligence committees.  He noted several priority areas for national action, including gender issues relating to climate change, disarmament, radicalization and cybercrime, among others.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), aligning with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security , said that it was important to speak in the context of the women, peace and security agenda of what has been called ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar because rape and sexual violence had been used as a main tactic.  He cited the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to convey the horror that women were going through there.  All the right statements had already been made on the issue and it was time to move past words into action, he stressed.  The Security Council had condemned the violence, but must show its resolve through a strong and detailed resolution on what must be done next, and support for proposals submitted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the General Assembly.  His country would continue to pursue bilateral efforts with Myanmar, but the international community must accompany it in the process.

BESIANA KADARE (Albania), associating herself with the European Union, said that despite the international community’s commitments, the meaningful inclusion of women in conflict prevention and peace processes remained negligible.  Women continued to be sidelined during peace negotiations, and even when they were present, it was always the men who led and decided when and how to make peace.  Member States should strengthen their resolve in fully implementing the women, peace and security agenda.  While Albania had yet to adopt a national action plan on women, peace and security, it had mainstreamed gender across its security sector, with women making up 17 per cent of all military personnel and the State Police launching a women‑only recruitment campaign.  It also supported an Italian initiative to create a Mediterranean women mediators’ network, aimed at preventing and mitigating conflicts through the increased participation of women in peace processes, she said.

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary), associating herself with the statement on behalf of the European Union, said that in conflict‑affected areas, women played a key role in ensuring family livelihoods and were active at the grass-roots level in peace movements.  They were also essential for countering extremist violence.  For effective implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, comprehensive cooperation was needed between Governments and civil society organizations.  Her country was deeply concerned about the use of violence against women human rights defenders.  Youth engagement was important as well.  Women’s increased participation in peacekeeping missions was highly important for the protection of civilians.  Her country was increasing the number of female experts and police officers in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) said conflicts and violence affecting women and girls disproportionally.  Exploitation of women and girls was an instrument employed to terrorize civilians. It was a tactic of war with mass rapes committed by parties to armed conflict.  Council resolution 1325 (2000) had institutionalized a new focus on women in conflict, moving them to the center of the political debate.  The Council should focus on root causes of conflict and the United Nations should play its role in enhancing cooperation to help secure women’s place at the negotiating table.  The international community should support countries to defend women’s rights and gender perspectives should be fully integrated into the peacebuilding paradigm.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said that women could change the world for the better, although for that to happen, Governments and international organizations such as the United Nations must provide the space for women to shape key decisions concerning national security.  The Maldives recognized women’s role in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding as part of the larger, holistic agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment.  In that connection, he highlighted that the principles of equality and non-discrimination were at the heart of the Maldives’ Constitution and noted that his country had achieved gender parity in education and that women comprised over 60 per cent of the civil staff and 40 per cent of the judiciary.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) noted that, eight resolutions down the road, women were still not actively engaged in many peace processes and unrecognized as the powerful agents of peace they were.  If the United Nations truly wanted to practise what it preached, it must pressure parties to a peace process to include women and not allow it to become an afterthought.  It must integrate a women’s perspective and let the voice of women’s organizations on the ground be heard at mediation tables through their substantive participation.  If the Organization did that, there was a 35 per cent increase in probability of a peace agreement lasting more than 15 years.  To be implemented, resolution 1325 (2000) needed to be operationalized and funded.  The Netherlands was sadly one of just a handful that had financed its national action plan for implementing the resolution.  More funds should be available if the global community was serious in making gender equality a practical reality.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) said that his country believed that women’s empowerment was important for both peace and development and had taken important steps forward in that regard.  It recently launched a national action plan on women, peace and security, accompanied by a national implementation committee.  He reiterated absolute commitment to ending violence against women and ending sexual exploitation and abuse in the context of peacekeeping.  He also highlighted the need to care for the victims of sexual violence.  Noting that El Salvador’s peacekeeping contingents included increasingly more women, he pledged his country’s continued efforts to empower and protect women, and to share lessons it had learned on the topic.

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security and the Human Security Network, said his country’s current national action plan on women, peace and security put a strong emphasis on education and training of personnel.  Equal opportunities and women’s autonomy were key pillars of the President’s gender agenda, he said, adding that, at the international level, women were part of Chile’s contribution to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the United Nations Mission in Colombia.  He went on to emphasize that the presence of women in peace operations helped prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.

E. COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, expressed concern that the implementation of the agenda continued to fall short and therefore called for preventative measures to address the structural and root causes of gender inequality.  For its part, Jamaica had developed a national policy on gender quality, which was aligned with its development policy.  To that end, his country launched the HeForShe campaign created by UN‑Women and a national strategic action plan in 2017 to eliminate gender‑based violence by 2026.  He urged for effective mechanisms to ensure meaningful measurement of results, and said such devices should account for the cooperation and support needed to attain requisite results, including through predictable and sustainable financing.  Noting the role of young women in peacebuilding, he expressed support to the work being done pursuant to resolution 2250 (2015) on youth, peace and security.  He also endorsed efforts to ensure women’s economic empowerment, their promotion in governance structures and access to justice and security.  Similarly, he expressed interest in addressing gender-specific effects of armed violence and gender responsive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq) said his country sought to increase the participation of women in public life.  The new Constitution upheld the rights of women, guaranteeing their right to health insurance and living in freedom.  All were equal before the law regardless of gender or religion.  Noting that the number of women in leadership positions had increased, he described measures his Government had taken to support that, including a quota that women hold 25 per cent of all seats in the Chamber of Representatives.  Iraq’s capital had a female mayor.  His Government worked with the gender unit of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) to enhance the role of women in national reconciliation.  He said Iraq had suffered from attacks of the terrorist group ISIL, noting the crimes against Yazidi women and other women who had been sold as slaves.  The international community must double efforts to assist Iraq in freeing and rehabilitating those women.  Members of ISIL must be held accountable for their crimes in Iraq including crimes against humanity. 

PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria) associated himself with the European Union, the Human Security Network and the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security.  Regarding the implementation of the agenda, regional organizations had a crucial role to play in translating political commitments into concrete action on the ground, he said.  Based on findings of one such regional body, OSCE, it was clear that sustainable solutions to conflict were not possible without the participation of women.  Also, gender‑responsive journalism and the protection of female journalists could transform gender stereotypes, promote women’s empowerment and raise positive awareness.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia), associating herself with the European Union, welcomed the Secretary‑General’s recent report that underlined the crucial role of women in peace and decision-making processes and said it was evident that the sustainability of peace depended directly on women’s engagement in peace processes, politics, governance, institution-building, the rule of law, the security sector and economic recovery.  As an illustration of its commitment to gender equality, Georgia had ratified the Istanbul Convention and created an Inter‑Agency Commission for Gender Equality and Ending Violence against Women and Girls.  Strengthening protection measures on violence against women and women’s empowerment was particularly concerning to her country as such measures related to the occupied regions of Georgia, where women continued to suffer from grave violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms.

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, highlighted its efforts with regard to women, peace and security, including the adoption of a 2017‑2019 national action plan that aimed to ensure protection for women and girls, both domestically and in the face of the Israeli occupation; ensuring accountability through national and international mechanisms, with a particular focus on crimes and violations committed by the occupation, and further women’s political participation.  However, much work remained to be done, he said, noting that women’s organizations had been unfairly absent from national reconciliation talks despite being among the strongest advocates of reconciliation.  Palestine was ready to do its part to advance women’s rights and their role in peace and security, he said, but enjoyment of those rights necessitated ending the Israeli occupation.

CHARLES THEMBANI NTWAAGAE (Botswana) noted that the United Nations had made great strides in the promotion of the women, peace and security agenda through the establishment of UN-Women, which amplified women’s voices and created momentum for their leadership on peace and security.  Through such initiatives, thousands of women and girls had been helped in various countries around the world, although, regrettably, they continued to bear the brunt of armed conflicts, domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape and humanitarian crises.  The international community must address the social norms that perpetuated sexual violence and abuse against women, and promote respect for international human rights and humanitarian law.  He called for States to take practical steps to address obstacles in women’s access to justice, including by creating an enabling environment where women could easily report incidents of violence without fear or intimidation.

TANMAYA LAL (India) said that the world had seen extreme brutality being inflicted upon women, with sexual violence increasingly used a tool of war.  The heinous crimes against humanity perpetrated by terror networks, especially against women and girls, were a stark reminder of the serious challenges that needed to be overcome.  The increased institutionalized involvement of women in peacekeeping and conflict resolution was important to address that challenge.  He highlighted the work done by the Commission on the Status on Women in pushing ahead the gender empowerment agenda.  India, as a lead troop contributor over the past seven decades, was committed to fulfilling the pledge to have women comprise 15 per cent of military observers by the end of the year.  India was also committed to providing another all‑female formed police unit.  Prosecution was essential for prevention, he said, adding that the international community had a key role in helping build adequate resources and capacities.

VERONICA GARCIA GUTIERREZ (Costa Rica), welcoming the importance that had been acquired by the women, peace and security agenda, said that it was also essential, however, to work for parity in gender representation among the leadership of peacekeeping missions.  It was vital to broaden the gender perspective in many areas of peacebuilding.  Condemning all sexual violence, she supported initiatives to ensure zero tolerance of sexual exploitation in peacekeeping and assistance for victims.  Addressing development issues and empowering women economically were also critical, as was ensuring that women were adequately represented in forums such as those for disarmament.

ION JINGA (Romania), aligning himself with the statement made by the European Union, said that it was clear that women were key in promoting peace and he welcomed United Nations initiatives in that regard.  However, there was much more to be done.  There was a need, notably, to increase the number of women in command posts.  Enumerating the Romanian women who had attained important positions in United Nations missions, he stated that scores more had participated in several peacekeeping contingents.  He also described events promoting women’s greater participation in peace processes that were sponsored and attended by his country.  Women’s enormous potential must be utilized.  His country would continue to work for their meaningful participation in all phases of peacemaking.

LOUISE SHARENE BAILEY, African Union, said the African Union Peace and Security Council had endorsed the creation of a Network of African women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise‑Africa) on 13 March.  FemWise‑Africa would be a potent tool to strengthen the role of women in conflict prevention and mediation efforts, and would provide a platform for advocacy, capacity-building and networking to further enhance the implementation of women’s inclusion in peacemaking in Africa.  The initiative would catalyse and mainstream the engagement of women in mediation in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.  The African Union Commission and UN‑Women, with the support of Germany, had launched the African Women Leaders Network.  The recently signed “Joint United Nations-African Union Framework on enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security” provided a new window of opportunity to strengthen the women, peace and security agenda.  She welcomed the establishment of the Secretary‑General’s High‑Level Advisory Board on Mediation and the appointment of three prominent African women leaders to it.  The African Union also cooperated with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict with an emphasis on ensuring women participation and of accountability for crimes of sexual violence.  She announced that on 31 October, the African Union Peace and Security Council would hold an open session on “The role of women in preventing and countering violent extremism in Africa”.

KRISZTIAN MESZAROS, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), said empowering women led to more peaceful, just and inclusive societies, was essential for conflict prevention and made peace more sustainable.  His organizations supported empowering women within the United Nations, armed forces, civilian structures and societies of allies and partners.  Within NATO, however, there had only been a small increase in female representation in armed forces of Member States — an average of 20 per cent in 2016, compared to 10.8 per cent in 2015.  Stressing that those figures needed improvement, he urged Member States to do their part.  On the leadership side, women held only 21 per cent of NATO civilian staff leadership positions, and 2 of its 3 female four‑star officers had left over the past year.  Adding that Member States should redress that imbalance, he said gender was a tool that contributed and added value to all of NATO’s objectives and core tasks.

DIOSITA T. ANDOT (Philippines) said that after the liberation of Marawi City from terrorist forces, her Government had been observing conflict‑sensitivity and peace promoting approaches with a particular focus on mainstreaming gender and observing cultural sensitivities.  In pursuit of the peace process with rebel groups, actions were taken to ensure the meaningful participation of women, especially the Moro and indigenous women.  The Philippine armed forces and police had formed an all‑female Civil Relations Company in Marawi to assist in rehabilitation of internally displaced persons.  Filipino women were included in peace panels that were negotiating and implementing peace agreements.  Women would play a pro‑active role in the rebuilding of relationships in their respective communities and eventually of Marawi as a whole.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam) said that, despite efforts and progress in implementing the women, peace and security agenda, women’s under-representation, gender inequality and discrimination persisted.  She called for the gender perspective to be mainstreamed in a consistent and comprehensive manner in all areas of peacebuilding and conflict prevention, adding that impunity must be ended to effectively combat and eliminate human rights violations, including conflict‑related sexual violence and abuse.  Together with women’s economic empowerment, education was crucial toward equipping women and girls with knowledge to better protect them from conflict‑related risks as well as to build their resilience against economic shocks, climate change and natural disasters.  Women were an essential driving force of her country’s economic and social development, making significant contributions to promoting and maintaining the environment of peace, security and stability.  As such, Viet Nam’s twelfth National Women’s Congress had set out objectives for the term 2017‑2022, including promoting women’s potential and creativity, improving their material and spiritual life and status, striving for equality and advancement and contributing to national construction and defence.

BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) said that fulfilling the 1325 agenda helped attain several goals of the 2030 Agenda.  Women’s empowerment was crucial for sustaining peace and promoting development.  His country was committed to encouraging women’s participation in all national endeavours and held posts at all levels.  Calling for further efforts for women’s empowerment and inclusion in society around the world, he said that his country had enacted legislation to ensure an end to all forms of discrimination.  Women had been protected against violence both in domestic and public settings.  In order for the agenda to be comprehensively implemented, however, he pledged his country’s persistent efforts.  “Women’s participation must be at the top of our priorities,” he said.

SAOD RASHID AL MAZROUI (United Arab Emirates) said his country’s foreign assistance strategy included women’s protection and empowerment as one of its three key pillars.  In terms of global response, he said the United Arab Emirates recently announced a contribution of $15 million to support UN-Women’s critical work over the next three years, and in 2016, the Government had set up a Liaison Office in Abu Dhabi to advance gender quality and the empowerment of women and girls regionally.  His Government contributed to the Global Programme on Women, Peace and Security which furthered gender-sensitive research and data collection in relation to extremism.  Additionally, his country supported the Team of Experts in the development and implementation of an action plan on conflict-related sexual violence in Somalia, as well as the establishment of prevention and response mechanisms.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) said his country was committed to the reformative women, peace and security agenda.  National laws provided for equal rights for women.  The quota for women’s representation in Parliament had been raised to 25 per cent.  The number of female judges had reached 25 per cent.  Domestic procedures had been launched to combat violence against women and domestic violence.  Armenia’s national action plan for implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) would be launched in 2018.  The empowerment of women, and the women, peace and security agenda should not been seen as a separate agenda, but as a part of addressing root causes of conflict and violence.  Emphasis on protection of human rights remained a significant objective at the national and international levels.  Dialogue and confidence-building in conflict areas was an important aspect for his country, but endeavours in that regard were undermined by hate crimes and xenophobia against Armenians, instigated by a neighbouring State.

PENNELOPE BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago), emphasizing that the rule of law was a fundamental safeguard in the advancement and protection of women’s rights, said the vulnerability of women and girls in situations of armed conflict — and in the case of her country, armed violence — continued to engage attention.  In that regard, the Arms Trade Treaty could contribute to reducing if not ending untold suffering, particularly among women and girls.  She recalled Trinidad and Tobago’s introduction in 2010 of the first-ever General Assembly resolution on women, disarmament, non‑proliferation and arms control, which complemented Council resolution 1325 (2000).  She added that, as a current member of the Executive Board of UN-Women, her country would continue to work with Member States towards the universal achievement of gender equality.

URUJENI BAKURAMUTSA (Rwanda) said unity and reconciliation, peacebuilding and sustainable outcomes were realized when women participated in peace and security.  Their contribution brought added value to the most critical issues, including protecting children’s rights, combating gender-based violence and promoting human rights.  When women’s rights and empowerment were impeded, collective society suffered, she said, recalling that during the genocide against the Tutsi in her country, rape and other forms of violence had been directed against women to degrade them and strip humanity from the larger community.  With armed conflicts and violent extremism continuing to prevail in many parts of the world — and with women and children bearing the brunt — the international community must empower women and promote their participation in the entire spectrum of peace processes, promotion of the rule of law, good governance and mediation, she said.

CRISTINA MARIA CERQUEIRA PUCARINHO (Portugal), associating herself with the European Union, noted that more women were participating in peace talks nowadays, more peace agreements included provisions on their human rights, and more security sector personnel were being trained to prevent and properly respond to sexual and gender-based violence.  However, given the evolution of peace and security, and the nature of conflict since the adoption of resolution 1325 (2000), it was essential to build on progress already made and to demonstrate greater commitment to the women, peace and security agenda, she emphasized.  It contributed not only to peace, but also to the strengthening of protection efforts by United Nations peacekeepers, she said.  Portugal had adopted a national action plan, pledged to continue training programmes on gender equality and violence against women and girls for peacekeeping personnel, and supported the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.

VIRACHI PLASAI (Thailand) said that, despite the importance of the women, peace and security agenda, the participation of women in all capacities remained quite low.  Noting the positive measures being taken to address that discrepancy, he said Thailand had adopted the National Measures and Guidelines on Women, Peace and Security in 2016.  It re-emphasized the significant role of women in addressing political and social conflicts, he said, adding that they could also play an important role in peacekeeping operations.  The Government was making efforts to increase their participation, he said, encouraging other Member States also to do more in that area.  The women, peace and security agenda must be mainstreamed across the spectrum of United Nations activities, he said, stressing that women should be regarded as agents of change.  The rhetoric used around their role in conflict situations must be more nuanced, he said, adding that women should also have an increased role in national and local politics.

MANAL HASSAN RADWAN (Saudi Arabia) affirmed that the 1325 agenda had become a major pillar of peacekeeping and development.  There was still much to be done to fully implement it, however.  Challenges to progress included occupation, particularly the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and the growing violence against civilians in conflict zones by non-State groups, as well as other actors in Syria.  Discrimination against women also played an adverse role.  In order to address such challenges, comprehensive efforts must be made to end occupation, sectarian discrimination and extreme discourse against Islam.  Her country was committed to the education and advancement of women.  Women had participated in politics and several leadership positions, and were key to development efforts.  Their achievements had been many.  That was based on women’s important role in Islam over history and addressing the root causes of women’s marginalization was a religious duty.  Based on current action plans, women would be able to participate in all walks of life in conformity with moderate Islam.

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) thanked all speakers who had noted his country’s progress in improving the lives of women.  There was still a lot of work to be done, however.  The full participation of women was not only desirable, but important for settling and preventing conflict in the country.  Terrorism and violent extremism had left the social fabric in shambles and women had borne the brunt of the damage and had been deprived of many rights.  At present, however, the Government was consolidating the gains of the past several years.  There was a firm resolve to fulfil international obligations, including those of treaties that Afghanistan was party to.  The country’s action plan on women, peace and security put women front and centre of national peacebuilding efforts across the country.   The plan committed women’s participation in civil service by significant numbers; thousands of women were serving in national security services right now.  Women were being supported to make progress in agriculture, health services and many other areas.  Describing institutional structures to ensure women’s rights, he said that the country had reached a new stage in empowering women.  The assistance of the international community was still crucial, however, and he looked forward to further collaboration in lifting Afghanistan’s women to new heights.

HELENA YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador) said women were at the same time victims of violence and builders of peace.  Reality underscored the need to work for gender equality, protection of the rights of women, and combatting all forms of sexual violence. Lasting peace could only be achieved if those issues were taken into account, she said.  Gender-based violence in conflict continued to be an unacceptable reality, which underscored the importance of ending impunity.  All efforts should be made to end sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping missions, as it undermined trust in the missions.  For changes to be become permanent, the process of inclusion must be continuous, which was a slow road.  In that regard, she underlined the importance of desegregation of statistical data to measure progress.  In conclusion, she noted that three Ecuadorian women were observers in peacekeeping operations.

EMMANUEL ADEMOLA OGUNNAIKE (Nigeria) said that filling the gaps in implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) required a multi-stakeholder approach involving actors at the global, regional, sub-regional and national levels.  Communities, civil society and individuals also had a crucial role to play, along with the United Nations.  Since national Governments had a primary responsibility to protect women’s safety and rights, the international community should support countries by providing constructive assistance, consistent with national priorities and focused on capacity-building.  Regional organizations played an important role, as well.  Consistent with subregional efforts, Nigeria launched a national action plan to fully implement resolution 1325 (2000), along with plans to combat violent extremism and improve the security sector.  It also was collaborating with countries in the region to fight the terrorist group known as Boko Haram, and had taken steps to address the humanitarian needs of the 2 million displaced persons in the north-east of the country, 80 per cent of whom were women.  The Government was working around the clock to ensure release of the remaining Chibok girls and other persons in Boko Haram captivity.

SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti) welcomed the important place that the empowerment of women occupied in the agenda of the Security Council and other bodies of the United Nations, helping to strengthen the link between peace and security, development and human rights.  Describing the harsh toll that conflict took on the lives of women, she said that much remained to be done to redress the situation, despite the progress that had been made.  Women’s participation in all areas of peacemaking was crucial in order to increase the effectiveness of all international and national efforts.  She commended the African Union for its efforts to integrate gender issues in its architecture and increase women’s participation in many areas.  Her country had carried out several national policies to empower women; the Constitution enshrined equal rights for women and women participated in many spheres.  The establishment of a gender observatory was currently under way to analyse women’s situation and to provide advice on policies for improving it.

LALA MEHDIYEVA (Azerbaijan) said that, while gender gains had been made in the international framework, more must be done to address violations and crimes against women, among other things, in mass forced displacements.  Combating impunity was of critical importance in that regard.  She said it was curious that Armenia, which was responsible for the war against Azerbaijan and had carried out ethnic cleansing, had taken the floor to attack other States.  She said Armenian forces had attacked a town in Nagorno-Karabakh, killing many, including women and children, among other aggressions.  Atrocities committed by the Armenians included bayonetting pregnant women, scalping and beheadings.  The impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of those crimes aggravated the situation on the ground.  She assured the Council that her country would continue to achieve a settlement to the conflict based on international law.

News

With ‘Dark Side of Innovation’ on Horizon, First Committee Delegates Call for Joint Action in Combating Cyberattacks

New Text Calls for Creation of United Nations Panel to Investigate Potential Role of Science, Technology in Disarmament

States must join forces to combat the rising threat of non-State actors maliciously using information and communications technology to destabilize socioeconomic development, delegates told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today as they discussed ways to prevent cyberattacks.

Introducing a new draft resolution on the role of science in that regard, India’s representative emphasized that as “the dark side of innovation is moving from the frontier to the front door”, it was critical to ensure a correct understanding of the latest developments in science and technology to allow work in multilateral forums to adjust accordingly.

Asking the Committee to support the draft text, he said it would have the General Assembly request that the Secretary-General create a panel of experts in diverse fields of science and technology to assess current developments and their potential impact on international security and disarmament efforts.

Echoing a common concern, Brazil’s representative warned against the militarization of information and communications technology and the emergence of new systems of related weapons that might trigger a new arms race.  Pakistan’s representative highlighted the growing threat of lethal autonomous weapon systems, calling for a pre-emptive prohibition on further developing such arms.  He also supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts to discuss those issues in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Yemen’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, welcomed the United Nations establishment of regulatory principles to address concerns about the possibility of information and communications technology being used to damage the political, economic and scientific efforts of States.

Elaborating on that point, the delegate of the Netherlands highlighted the usefulness of recommendations made in the 2013 and 2015 reports of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.  Those “landmark achievements” had acknowledged that international law and particularly the United Nations Charter was applicable and essential in maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology environment, she said.

Delegates, including Indonesia’s representative, called for an international legal framework to address malicious acts.  Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, he underscored the importance of developing such a framework within the United Nations and in full accordance with the principles of sovereignty, non-interference and peaceful coexistence among States as fundamental in preventing and mitigating such threats.

Likewise, Paraguay’s delegate urged delegates to adopt norms which regulated information and communications technology processes in the context of international peace and security.  Such guidance would help to bridge the technological divide between developing and developed countries, he said.

Expressing concerns about access to technology, Algeria’s representative said that even though new information and communications technology products offered many opportunities to boost socioeconomic development, their use by terrorist groups posed a real danger.  As such, dual-use information and communications technology should not thwart the transfer of those technologies to States that needed them, especially developing countries, he emphasized.

Other delegates, including the representative of Switzerland, stressed the importance of an open, free, accessible and secure cyberspace.  The delegate of the United States underlined creating a climate in which all States could enjoy the benefits of cyberspace was a fundamental goal of her country.  She also introduced a draft resolution on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments.

Briefing the Committee at the outset of the meeting, Karsten Diethelm Geier, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, highlighted the need to continue discussions on information and communications technology.

He emphasized that because each State had a stake in cybersecurity, a global understanding of threats and the ways to mitigate them was needed and must be pursued through the United Nations.  He also highlighted the importance of involving the private sector, civil society and others in developing capacity and confidence-building measures.

The Committee also held a panel discussion on “Regional disarmament and security”.

During the debate on conventional weapons, the representatives of Botswana, Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Iraq, Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, Niger, Ethiopia, and Mali and Brazil delivered statements.

The debate on other disarmament measures and international security featured the representatives from Singapore (also for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Antigua and Barbuda (for the Caribbean Community), Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia, Cuba, Greece, China, France, Germany, Zambia, Russian Federation, Austria, Mexico, Australia, Iran and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union.

Delivering statements during the discussion on regional disarmament and security were representatives of Indonesia (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Yemen (for the Arab Group), Belize (for the Caribbean Community), Malaysia (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), United States and Paraguay, as well as the European Union.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Israel, Iran, United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 October, to begin its thematic debate on the disarmament machinery.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to continue its thematic discussion on conventional weapons and hear a briefing by the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.  It also began its thematic debate on other disarmament measures and international security.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Briefing

KARSTEN DIETHELM GEIER, Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, highlighted its work, noting its inability to reach consensus during its previous two cycles.  During the 2015‑2016 cycle, it had failed doing so, but not for lack of trying.  Still, efforts had helped to increase transparency around the Group and obtain outside input.  Experts based their deliberations on trying to formulate concrete guidance on how to help States to implement recommendations contained in previous reports.  Under discussion on information and communications technology were its increasingly malicious use by non-State actors and how that could impair global information and communications technology systems, and its use to interfere in the affairs of other States and to conduct criminal activities.

He said that in discussing how to take forward responsible norms of behaviours by States and how to respond to attacks on critical infrastructure, members had made suggestions on how to prevent non-State actors from conducting malicious information and communications technology activities.  They also made concrete suggestions related to confidence building, including guidance on points of contact and procedures to request information from other States.  The importance of involving private sector, civil society and others in capacity building was also raised.

Despite convergence on these points, significant differences remained, he said.  During the 2016‑2017 cycle, members had been unable to agree on a consensus report on its last day of discussions, he said, regretting to note that many good points had not been carried forward by a generally accepted document, which would have been useful to Member States.  Pointing out that information and communications technology had been discussed at the United Nations since 1998 and that tremendous progress had been made, he emphasized that previous reports stood unaffected by the current lack of consensus.  Highlighting remaining differences, he said “we do ourselves no favour to paper over divisions”.

Each State had a stake in cybersecurity, he said.  As such, there was a need to continue discussions and increase transparency and inclusivity.  A global understanding of threats and the ways to mitigate them was needed and must be pursued through the United Nations.  In terms of holding another Group of Governmental Experts meeting, alternatives should be explored to identify the best format.  Meanwhile, a consensual approach allowing for further progress must be found prior to the General Assembly’s seventy‑third session.

Conventional Weapons

LORATO LUCKY MOTSUMI (Botswana), associating herself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said peace was elusive in a world where armed conflicts were on the rise.  Control measures for conventional weapons must limit their illicit trafficking, particularly because they caused the greatest civilian casualties.  Welcoming the adoption of a declaration on improvised explosive devices, she reiterated Botswana’s support for the fifth Review Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.  Guided by the Maputo Action Plan 2014‑2019, Botswana was committed to efforts to eliminate anti-personnel mines around the world and to working with partners in areas such as arms control and money laundering.

RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN and Non-Aligned Movement, his country had, after experiencing civil war, famine and starvation, turned to United Nations rehabilitation programmes, adopting confidence-building measures, especially in the fields of conventional arms, anti-personnel mine clearance and the reintegration of mine victims.  Subregional and regional cooperation, information-sharing mechanisms and trans-border customs cooperation and networks must be established or strengthened.  In that vein, Cambodia would host in December a regional seminar for ASEAN members and Timor‑Leste on the illicit trafficking and the diversion of small arms, light weapons and other conventional arms and ammunition.  It was with collaboration and support from the international community and donors that most of Cambodia’s agricultural lands were now mine-free, even though some rural areas remained to be cleared, he said, noting that because of Cambodia’s experiences, ASEAN had established a regional mine action centre in Phnom Penh.

WENDBIGDA HONORINE BONKOUNGOU (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons threatened international peace, security and stability, fuelling transnational crime and terrorism in many regions and preventing the socioeconomic development of some States.  Noting that more than 877 million such weapons were in circulation, she welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, which would complement the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials, as would the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and the Register of Conventional Arms.  Implementing such instruments would allow Burkina Faso to thwart trafficking.  Turning to concerns about anti-personnel mines, she called for the universalization of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.  She also called on all States to pool efforts to provide assistance to countries affected by such weapons.  Cluster bombs also hampered access to large fertile land, she said, calling for the universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Mr. AL-RIKABI (Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the challenges posed by the development of conventional weapons was no different from those posed by weapons of mass destruction.  Having recently acceded to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Iraq was committed to implementing all of its provisions.  Noting that the indiscriminate spread and trade of small arms and light weapons presented a serious threat to security, he said concerted efforts must continue to reactivate the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  Iraq had been deeply affected by anti-personnel mines, with terrorists having deployed such weapons across large swaths of territory, resulting in destructive effects on the environment and economy.  In that context, he called on donor countries to coordinate with Iraq to provide assistance to help address that grave concern.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said the international community should spare no effort in dealing with the proliferation of conventional weapons.  For its part, Argentina had complied with many international legal instruments, co-authored the Arms Trade Treaty and had created a mechanism for keeping weapon-related materials safe.  Argentina had also joined the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which should be used as a framework to negotiate the prohibition of other arms, including lethal autonomous weapons systems and anti-personnel mines.  The humanitarian consequences of the use of those weapons called for a concerted effort by the international community, he said, adding that Argentina promoted confidence-building measures.

KINGSLEY WEINOH (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said illicit trafficking and the use of small arms and light weapons had undermined peace and security and caused the displacement of people.  Demanding renewed efforts to prevent and combat the illicit conventional weapons trade, he welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty, which must be robustly implemented, and urged States to join without delay.  Nigeria had redoubled efforts in strengthening its national borders and had signed and ratified related international legal instruments.  Nigeria was ready to work with other delegations in transforming the vision of international peace and security into reality for the future generations.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with Non-Aligned Movement, said his country’s missile programme was a basic defence requirement that should be viewed in the context of living in a volatile region rather than being assessed in a vacuum.  Iran’s military expenditure had decreased since 2007, indicating a restraint, given the skyrocketing security challenges in the region.  Through that lens, its missile programme had a purely defensive character and would continue with full force, he said, objecting to arguments that considered Iran’s missile launches to be inconsistent with Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).  That resolution only called upon Iran not to undertake activity related to missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, which Iran’s were not, he emphasized.

Mr. ISSA (Niger), said the international community’s efforts to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction and address concerns about conventional weapons had been demonstrated, including through in the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Programme of Action on Small Arms, Arms Trade Treaty and the establishment of practical confidence-building measures through the Disarmament Commission.  For its part, Niger had good relations with its neighbours and had ratified all legal international and regional instruments on disarmament and international security.  He emphasized that firearms control was crucial in West Africa and the Sahel, areas that had been greatly affected by the uncontrolled circulation and proliferation of firearms due to armed conflicts, terrorism and drug trafficking.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said her country continued to suffer from the spread of small arms and light weapons because of porous borders, the presence of refugee camps and vast arid areas.  Domestic terrorist groups had been using the weapons to provoke and instigate unemployed youth to carry out violent activities.  To address those concerns, Ethiopia was raising public awareness and enhancing efforts to boost inter-agency coordination between law enforcement institutions, he said, noting that her delegation looked forward to the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument to be held in 2018.  Emphasizing the importance of the Mine Ban Convention, she said Ethiopia was committed to destroying its stockpiles.  However, the shortage and obsolete condition of related equipment had hampered that goal, she said, emphasizing that the main responsibility of completing the destruction of mines lay with States parties and that the full implementation of all Mine Ban Convention provisions depended largely on the availability of resources and technical support.

NOËL DIARRA (Mali) said that while small arms and light weapons did not appear to be as sophisticated as weapons of mass destruction, they were more deadly in terms of casualties.  In Mali, terrorist groups had used small arms and light weapons, attacking women and children and undermining development efforts.  Mali was committed to combating conventional weapons trafficking in West Africa and the Sahel region.  Yet, the activities of terrorist groups and traffickers represented a real challenge when it came to combating the arms proliferation and porous borders that needed to be strengthened to stop illegal weapons transfers.  Highlighting  the link between development and security, as demonstrated in Sustainable Development Goal 16.4., he said Mali had submitted a draft resolution on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil), noting that his country hoped to join the Arms Trade Treaty soon, said a national export control system currently in place was already operating largely in compliance with the instrument.  To avoid the detrimental effects of unregulated international arms transfers, major weapons exporters must join the Arms Trade Treaty.  He also expressed support for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which provided a useful framework to address current and future humanitarian challenges in armed conflicts.  Acknowledging the humanitarian challenge posed by improvised explosive devices, he condemned that those devices had been increasingly used against civilians.  On that issue, Brazil had undertaken efforts to prevent the diversion of relevant controlled materials that could be used to produce such weapons, he said, noting the important connection linking the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the Arms Trade Treaty and the Programme of Action on Small Arms.

Other Disarmament Measures and International Security

DANNY RAHDIANSYAH (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the important socioeconomic opportunities provided by information and communications technology and expressed concern over the cases of its illegal use that were detrimental to States.  Developing a legal framework to address such violations should be pursued within the United Nations and in full accordance with the principles of sovereignty, non-interference and peaceful coexistence among States.

Turning to the work of the related Group of Governmental Experts, he called for transparency and the strict application of the principle of equitable geographical representation in its membership.  In that context, he regretted to note that a request by developing countries for participation in the recently constituted Group of Governmental Experts had not been considered.

MARWAN ALI NOMAN AL-DOBHANY (Yemen), on behalf of the Arab Group, associated himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, saying that solutions approved within a multilateral framework and the Charter of the United Nations were the only way to deal with disarmament and international security issues.  He also underlined the fact that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction threatened sustainable development for all.

Turning to the preparation and implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements, he stressed the importance of observing environmental norms.  Concerned about the possibility of information and communications technology being used to damage the political, economic and scientific efforts of States, he welcomed the United Nations establishment of regulatory principles.  He also emphasized the need for international cooperation and for the United Nations to play a central role in related initiatives.

JOSEPH TEO CHOON HENG (Singapore), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, said members had secured regional peace and strengthened national resilience.  As cyberthreats and attacks undermined trust in the digital future, ASEAN had adopted the Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy in March and had taken several other steps to foster regional cooperation, including support for ongoing work to promote international voluntary cybernorms of responsible State behaviour and the development of a rules-based cyberspace.  He also supported discussions on the adoption of basic, operational and voluntary norms of behaviour to guide information and communications technology use based on the norms set out in the 2015 report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.

Capacity building was an important aspect to enhancing the region’s ability to respond to threats, he said, welcoming the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations (2016‑2020).  Cybersecurity required coordinated expertise from stakeholders across different domains, as Governments did not have all the answers.  A large percentage of cyberinfrastructure, resources and expertise was in the hands of the private sector, thus necessitating that sector’s involvement.

Mr. HENG, speaking in his national capacity, said the annual Singapore International Cyber Week had facilitated conversations on key issues such as norms or responsible State behaviour in cyberspace and cybersecurity capacity building.  Singapore had also launched a $10 million ASEAN cybercapacity programme, which was a modular, multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary initiative to build capacity across policy and technical areas.  Partnering with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, Singapore had helped to develop a flagship United Nations online training course on the use of information and communications technologies and international security.

CARMEN GONSALVES (Netherlands) said the Internet — increasingly regarded as a “global public good” — must remain open, safe and free for all.  Expressing regret that, despite efforts, the related Group of Governmental Experts had failed to arrive at a consensus on views and recommendations regarding norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour of States, she said its 2013 and 2015 reports were “landmark achievements” and a cause for optimism.  The 2013 report had acknowledged that international law and particularly the United Nations Charter was applicable and essential in maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology environment.  Important progress on the operationalization of the application of international law had been made in the 2015 consensus report.  Both reports had agreed on common norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour, confidence-building measures and understandings on capacity building that would serve as the building blocks for more stable and predictable interaction among States, she said, urging States to implement the recommendations during the present period of reflection.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union delegation, expressed regret that the Group of Governmental experts had not reached an agreement on an additional report beyond its 2015 consensus recommendations.  The European Union would continue to implement the consensual views articulated in previous reports and invited other international actors to do the same.  The bloc would continue to promote the establishment of strategic frameworks for conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace, which must be based on the application of existing international law, especially the United Nations Charter in its entirety.  It also supported the development and implementation of universal norms of responsible State behaviour, bolstered by targeted regional confidence-building measures between States.

She said States’ information and communications technology use should be guided by principles such as sovereign equality, non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States, the obligation to settle international disputes by peaceful means, the right to respond to internationally wrongful acts, the obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the right to self-defence.  The European Union was committed to addressing cyberthreats globally by assisting third countries in responding to such challenges and increasing law enforcement capabilities to investigate and prosecute cybercrime perpetrators.  In addition, member States had adopted a framework for a joint European Union diplomatic response to malicious cyberactivities, which contributed to conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace.

WALTON WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of CARICOM, underlined the importance of considering gender perspectives in advancing effort to achieve disarmament goals.  Citing Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and a similar CARICOM-sponsored draft resolution for addressing the vital links between women and disarmament, she said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons recognized the importance of equal, full and effective participation of both men and women in achieving sustainable peace and security.  Additionally, delegates at the sixth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, had agreed to ensure the participation of women in implementation processes and encourage the collection of disaggregated data on gender and illicit small arms and light weapons.

Recognizing those links was particularly relevant and important to her region, she said.  While men were most often the victims of gun crimes, women were left to become the sole bread-winner for families and risked falling into poverty.  For that reason, women must be included in the disarmament discussion at all levels.   While her region was not affected by armed conflict, it faced tremendous challenges in relation to armed violence.  Approximately 70 per cent of homicides in the region involved the use of firearms, and as a result, resources had to be diverted away from development.  A diverse range of perspectives was needed to ensure that decisions reflected global concerns.  She also emphasized that the underrepresentation of lower-income countries at disarmament forums must be addressed in a holistic manner.

SABRINA DALLAFIOR MATTER (Switzerland) stressed the importance of an open, free, accessible and secure cyberspace.  Switzerland, having participated in the recent Group of Governmental Experts meetings, deeply regretted that it had not adopted a consensus report that would have submitted substantive recommendations to the General Assembly.  Despite significant progress on recommendations for confidence-building measures and capacity-building, it had failed to fulfil its mandate with regard to the application of international law and information and communications technology use.  Expressing concern about the hesitation of certain States to recognize the crucial role of international law in promoting a peaceful and cooperative approach to cybersecurity, she said the United Nations should play an active role in that field and provide practical guidance to States on steps they could take to operationalize and implement the recommendations of the 2015 Group of Governmental Experts report, including norms, rules and principles of responsible State behaviour.

VISHAL KAPUR (Canada) noted that small arms proliferation had facilitated and perpetuated violence against women and girls, including acts of sexual violence and domestic abuse.  Due to entrenched gender roles in many societies, women had to bear the primary responsibility of caring for survivors and were often indirect victims.  In times of conflict, women played a variety of roles, including protectors, combatants, arms dealers, smugglers and providers of support to armed actors.  Given those gender dimensions, the international community must strive to increase the meaningful inclusion of women as full partners in security, disarmament and arms control discussions, including in the tracking and analysis of illicit trafficking networks and trends, in all aspects of the destruction of small arms and light weapons and in international negotiations and peace processes.

RACHEL HICKS (United States), noting that creating a climate in which all States could enjoy the benefits of cyberspace was a fundamental goal of her country, introduced a draft resolution on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments.  There was broad consensus that compliance with international treaties to prevent further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a central element of the international security architecture.  Without the confidence that countries would honour their commitments, the deals made would not be “worth the paper on which they were printed”.  In that sense, she said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had demonstrated unlawful and dangerous behaviour, including its failure to comply with disarmament and non-proliferation obligations.  She then urged the First Committee to make clear that compliance was essential to peace and security, by supporting the draft resolution on the issue.

AMANDEEP SINGH GILL (India), introducing a new draft resolution on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament (document A/C.1/72/L.52), said the potential of science and technology for resolving the world’s most intractable problems could help the United Nations system progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  However, “the dark side of innovation is moving from the frontier to the front door”, he said, emphasizing that it was critical to ensure a correct understanding of the latest developments in science and technology to allow work in multilateral forums to adjust accordingly.

Asking the Committee to support the draft text, he said provisions would have the General Assembly call for a comprehensive study of such developments, which would be conducted through a science and security panel established by the United Nations Secretary-General.  The panel would be composed of 18 independent experts drawn from relevant areas including scientific research, industry, disarmament and international law and ethics.  By the draft, the General Assembly would request that Under-Secretary-General to submit a final report containing the panel’s assessments for the General Assembly’s consideration at its seventy-fifth session.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said access to information and communications technology should contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and be protected against criminal or terrorist use.  Paraguay had adopted a national cybersecurity programme, which would act as a tool for bolstering the security of critical assets and ensuring a reliable and secure cyberspace.  However, national efforts could only be sustainable with cooperation, he said, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation for the effective implementation of a mechanism to prevent cyberattacks.  Urging delegates to adopt norms that regulated information and communications technology processes in the context of international peace and security, he said that doing so would help to bridge the technological divide between developing and developed countries.

LARISSA SCHNEIDER CALZA (Brazil) said the militarization of information and communications technology and emergence of new systems of related weapons might lead to a new type of arms race.  To ensure the peaceful use of those technologies, Brazil favoured strengthening multilateral norms and principles applicable to the conduct of States.  Those norms should respect to the free flow of information and human rights, she said, urging the international community to examine the need to develop a specific legal framework to address proscribed behaviours, including offensive first use, tampering with the supply chain, intentionally introducing vulnerabilities into systems and networks and compromising information security of other States.  She encouraged all States to consider the adoption of a “no-first-use” norm with regards to offensive operations using information and communications technology.  Confidence-building measures and increased international assistance and cooperation must also aim at achieving an open and secure information and communications technology environment.  Having been active in the Groups of Governmental Experts, she said its format must evolve to be more inclusive and allow for the adequate participation of all countries, including developing countries.

MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said new information and communications technology products offered many opportunities to bolster socioeconomic development of countries.  However, their use by terrorist groups represented a threat to international peace and security.  Dual-use information and communications technology should not thwart the transfer of those technologies to States that needed them, especially developing countries.  Algeria had adopted a comprehensive approach for cyber- and general disarmament, establishing relevant tools and an entity to stop cybercrime and protect national security.  Having ratified African and Arab agreements on fighting information-related cybercrime and promoting collaboration among countries, Algeria promoted prosperity and human development in many fields.  Yet, using artificial intelligence could pose great humanitarian, ethical and legal challenges.  For that reason, the international community should adopt clear legislation, he said, emphasizing the importance of compliance with environmental standards when preparing and implementing disarmament agreements.

JEHAZEB KHAN (Pakistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said lethal autonomous weapon systems were unethical, unable to comply with international law, lowered the threshold for war and would negatively affect progress on arms control and disarmament.  Calling for a pre-emptive prohibition on further developing those weapons, he supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts to discuss those issues in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  Raising other concerns, he said the transborder unauthorized use of armed drones constituted a violation of international law, he said, citing the Human Rights Council’s opposition to targeting civilians with drones, which amounted to extrajudicial killings.  The threat of non-State actors and terrorists acquiring such weapons was additionally worrisome.  The misuse and unregulated use of information and communications technology also had grave implications for international peace and security, especially as the hostile activities involving cybertechnologies advanced.

Panel Discussion

The Committee held a panel discussion on “Regional disarmament and security”.  The panellists included Mary Soliman, Chief of the Regional Disarmament Branch of the Department of Disarmament Affairs; Anselme Yabouri, the Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa; Melanie Rigimbal, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; and Yuriy Kryvonos, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.

Ms. SOLIMAN said the centres would continue to foster cooperation with United Nations partners, regional organizations and other stakeholders to prevent the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, in particular their diversion to non-State armed groups.  With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the centres would work with Member States towards realizing the 2030 Agenda, especially Goal 16.4, she said.  In that vein, they would continue to apply a synergistic approach and cooperate with relevant partners and stakeholders, building on comparative advantages and complementarities.  That would ensure the effective delivery of their mandate with maximum benefit to Member States in their respective regions.  Looking ahead, they would continue to work with Member States to identify strategic priority areas for their respective regions, taking into consideration global trends, developments, challenges and opportunities.  As they depended on extra-budgetary resources, she encouraged all Member States to support them through voluntary contributions.

Mr. YABOURI said work had been done with the African Union Commission to support the implementation of its initiative to “silence the guns by 2020” and of the 2030 Agenda.  In the Sahel, efforts included the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the region through its participation in inter-agency discussions.  In Central Africa, substantive support was provided for the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa at its forty-third and forty-fourth ministerial meetings.  The regional centre had also participated in the annual meeting of heads of United Nations field presences in the Central African region in March 2017.  It had held several joint consultations with ECOWAS and had provided assistance for implementing regional and national action plans to African Member States and relevant civil society organizations related to global and regional instruments to combat the illicit trade and proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  While the sustained number of requests for assistance from Member States demonstrated the importance of its work, more was needed to advance peace and control in Africa given its gloomy peace and security situation.

Ms. RIGIMBAL said activities in 19 different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean had reached more than 2,100 national authorities, security sector agents, and young people, with the highest ever participation of females.  Efforts included stockpile management and weapons destruction, with activities geared toward quantitatively measuring progress and advances made toward the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16.  Initiatives with Colombia had included the provision of technical assistance to the United Nations Verification Mission in the surrendering of arms.  Collaboration with the private sector was also key to ensuring sustainable security measures were adopted.  Meanwhile, the bulk of efforts focused on developing and imparting specialized trainings to combat illicit arms trafficking and provide tools to strengthen conventional arms control.  To use technology to its advantage, the regional centre created a new tool to facilitate the tracing of weapons trafficked through the postal system.  That preventive tool would aid security sector personnel in their fight against illicit arms trafficking, she said.

Mr. KRYVONOS said 10 projects and three collaborative programmes were among a range of activities undertaken in Asia and the Pacific.  The regional centre had also heavily engaged in the preparation for its relocation back to Nepal, which had concluded in February 2017.  Other activities included co-organizing two conferences on issues and challenges facing disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.  With respect to national capacity-building, several projects assisted Member States to implement their commitments relating to conventional arms control, particularly regarding the Programme of Action on Small Arms, Arms Trade Treaty and the Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  The main outcome of the project implementation was the development, approval and submission of three national action plans by Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004).  In addition, outreach activities engaged regional stakeholders.  Thanks to support from sponsors, the centre had again managed to reach its highest annual project implementation rate.

The Chair of the Committee opened the floor to invite delegates to ask questions to the panellists; no questions were posed.

SIMON CLEOBURY (United Kingdom) emphasized his country’s commitment to promoting international stability frameworks for cyberspace based on the application of existing international law, agreed voluntary norms of responsible State behaviour and confidence-building measures, supported by coordinated capacity-building programmes.  The United Nations Charter applied in its entirety to State actions in cyberspace, he said, adding that the law of State responsibility applied to cyberoperations in peacetime, including the availability of the doctrine of countermeasures in response to internationally wrongful acts.  The United Kingdom would promote the operationalization of agreed norms of responsible State behaviour, focusing on practical measures States could take to put voluntary norms into practice, he said.  It would also support efforts in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other forums to implement confidence-building measures that would contribute to transparency and trust between States in cyberspace.

MARJA LEHTO (Finland) expressed regret that the Group of Governmental Experts had failed to reach an agreement.  International discussions on specific aspects of international law in relation to the use of information and communications technology should continue.  The Group’s recommendations on responsible State behaviour constituted a practical contribution to clarifying the steps States should take in the information and communications technology domain to comply with their obligations to not knowingly allow their territories to be used for activities that might cause significant harm to other States.  “It is necessary to be cybersmart in order to keep up with the changes of the global security environment”, she said, adding that developing resilience was essential worldwide and should be supported by appropriate capacity-building efforts.  OSCE had adopted a set of dedicated confidence-building measures in the area, she noted, calling for its implementation.

MINNA–LIINA LIND (Estonia), associating herself with the European Union, said discussions on the Internet should afford the same attention to security as to the freedom of expression.  She regretted that the Governmental Group for Experts had not achieved a consensus report in 2017 and could not make further progress in analysing how international law applied to the use of information and communications technology, particularly the principle of due diligence, the potential application of the right to self-defence and international humanitarian law.  Estonia supported the establishment of a strategic framework for conflict prevention and stability in cyberspace that was based on international law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations.

ANAYANSI RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) said the international community should adopt tangible measures to ensure the resources spent on military costs were refocused to promote sustainable development.  Member States should strictly comply with the environmental standards, with multilateralism being used in all disarmament negotiations.  Strict compliance with the United Nations Charter and international law was the only effective means to safeguard international peace and security while establishing a legally binding regulatory framework applicable to information and communications technology.  Denouncing the hostile use of those technologies for subverting legal and political orders of States, she said Cuba was constantly facing attacks from abroad as its communication spectrum had been targeted by the United States.  She called for an immediate end to such aggressive policies that were incompatible with international peace and security.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said safety and security were of the utmost importance as the intertwined foundations of a country’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear material.  Transparent national efforts and strengthened regional cooperation in nuclear power production were critical.  Detailing the international instruments her country had acceded to and the work it had done during its European presidency, she called the Environmental Impact Convention the sine qua non of absolute transparency.  Underlining the centrality of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), she called upon all States to implement the Agency’s nuclear security guidance documents, to use its advisory services and to host peer review and follow-up missions.  As current political developments had created a volatile environment, she called for additional precautions to be taken to enhance the safety of nuclear installations, noting that more and more countries in her region were expressing a strong interest in nuclear power even though such energy had not been an option for the national energy grid of Greece itself.

WANG QUN (China) said that maintaining a peaceful cyberspace was crucial and all should faithfully observe the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, particularly the principles of sovereignty and non-interference of internal affairs.  Countries should discuss the application of international law in a manner conducive to maintaining peace so as to prevent an arms race in cyberspace and reduce the risk of conflict.  Cooperation was a win‑win concept, he continued.  No one country was immune from the threats of cyberspace and there was no such thing as absolute security.  Countries should reject the cold war mentality and develop a new security concept featuring coordination and sustainability.  The United Nations should play a leading role on the issue and discussion in the last Group of Governmental Experts had reflected the differences among the international community and further highlighted the need to build a broad consensus.  An open, inclusive process that allowed more countries to participate in global Internet governance should be established, he said.  At the same time, efforts should be made to assist developing countries with capacity‑building to bridge the digital divide.

LOUIS RIQUET (France) said existing international law, including the United Nations Charter, applied to cyberspace.  Should a cyberattack constitute a threat to international peace and security, the case might be referred to the Security Council under Chapters VI or VII of the Charter.  As a major cyberattack could constitute an armed attack under Article 51 of the Charter, States could invoke the right to legitimate self-defence in anticipation of a Security Council decision.  He said that in order to guarantee international stability and security in cyberspace, it was essential to have one standard that encouraged the control of exports of offensive cybertools and techniques and another that aimed at preventing non-State actors, including private companies, from carrying out offensive activities in cyberspace on their own behalf and that of other State or non-State actors.

THOMAS FITSCHEN (Germany), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that there were reservations as to whether certain aspect of traditional international law in response to a malicious cyberoperation were really applicable in “cyberspace”.  If a State agent or someone else carried out a cyberoperation in another State to stop an electricity plan, that plan did not happen somewhere in cyberspace, but rather on the territory and in the jurisdiction of that country.  Those relations were governed by international law, he said, adding that some delegations were reluctant to touch upon the lawful counter-measures in cyberoperations.  According to international law, States could be held accountable.  The issue of attributing a certain conduct to a State was not new, he said.  Cyberoperations against territorial integrity of another State could in itself constitute use of force and thus be unlawful.

Ms. LINYAMA (Zambia) said that the increased use of information and communications technology had resulted in increased crimes, such as attacks on computer systems of institutions and terrorism-related activities.  It had also allowed criminal and terrorist syndicates to cross barriers of States to commit crimes, making it difficult to identify the offenders and locate the crime scenes with traditional investigation tools.  The Zambian Government was facing myriad challenges in fighting cybercrime and other criminal activities related to technology.  It had taken various measures to combat cyber- and other technological crime, including through harnessing opportunities offered by information and communications technology for law enforcement, such as electronic surveillance.  Investigation and prosecuting such crimes remained a challenge; it required new skills and procedural tools, including the capacity to collect and analyse digital evidence and to use that evidence in criminal proceedings.  Noting the positive contributions of science and technology, he called for international cooperation in assisting the physical security and monitoring of nuclear facilities and materials.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation), recalling that his country had been the first to raise concerns about emerging threats in the global information space, had tabled a related draft resolution to the General Assembly.  It was clear that such threats had become one of the most serious challenges to international peace and security.  That was compounded by the fact that recent discussions on international information security had stalled.  He was vigorously opposed to any attempts to unleash the information arms race, he said.  Together with like-minded countries, his country had repeatedly suggested the that the Group of Governmental Experts develop and submit to the General Assembly universal rules in the information space.  Instead, the Group’s discussion had been emasculated and side-lined for secondary aspects.  Certain countries sought to impose unilateral rules that only served their own interests.  Those rules were designed to ensure the chosen ones had a technological advantage and imposed a very dangerous decision to recognize the digital sphere as a theatre of military action.  He expressed concerns at attempts to discredit the role of the United Nations in tackling cybersecurity.  All Member States should participate in the discussion on an equal basis.  To ensure sustainability in negotiations in international information security, the Russian Federation had introduced a draft procedural decision to keep the item “developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” on its agenda for the seventy-third session.

Mr. HAJNOCZI (Austria), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, expressed regret that the Group of Governmental Experts had failed to agree on a consensus report this year.  Nonetheless, its previous reports would continue to be the basis for efforts to strengthen stability and security in an open and peaceful Internet where human rights and fundamental freedoms were respected.  Confidence-building measures could enhance trust and assurance among States and help reduce the risk of conflict, he said, noting that OSCE had undertaken significant work in that area in recent years.  Outlining some of those efforts, he said that, under the Austrian chairmanship, OSCE had made rebuilding trust and confidence among its three top priorities for 2017.  In February, his delegation had organized a conference on cybersecurity, and a second chairmanship conference would be held on 3 November in Vienna, offering an opportunity to discuss intensifying cooperation on several key areas.  Calling for a steadfast commitment to applying existing international law to the cyber context, he added that the Budapest Convention was an important tool in combating the criminal use of information and communications technology.

ISAAC MORALES (Mexico) said that the international system had a fundamental role to play in cyberspace to make it “open, safe and accessible”.  That should be enforced by regional and other multilateral forums.  The efforts of the Organization’s international security system should achieve balance in encouraging access and peaceful use of cyberspace as a catalyst for development.  Furthermore, the use of cyberspace as a safe place should be ensured by the private sector and Governments.

VANESSA WOOD (Australia) said the foundation for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace was a mutual commitment to existing international law, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The United Nations Charter could be applied in its entirety to State actions in cyberspace, including the prohibition of the use of force, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and the right of States to act in self-defence in response to an armed attack.  To enable agile responses, existing international law was complemented by norms, as established through the Groups of Governmental Experts, among others, of responsible State behaviour, which promote predictability, stability and security.  The international community must now ensure that there were effective and proportionate consequences for those who acted contrary to the consensus on norms.

Mr. AZADI (Iran), associating himself with the statement to be made by the Non-Aligned Movement, said information communication technology played a crucial role in socioeconomic and cultural development.  There was a need to strengthen security and prevent the use of such technology for illegal purposes.  National measures were not sufficient.  Due to both the complex nature and rapid advances in the field, international cooperation was essential.  While it was important there was a common understanding of issues, such an understanding could not adequately emerge through the work of the Group of Governmental Experts.  In that regard, all States must be engaged in an inclusive, interactive debate in a broad-based setting.  Establishing an open-ended working group was an appropriate method to help build upon the work and to discuss issues related to information communication security.

FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern about the potential misuse of information and communications technology to the detriment of international peace and security.  While it was a key vehicle to further growth and development, normative behaviours and cooperation were needed to ensure information security.  The work of the Group of Governmental Experts was useful, he said, adding he looked forward to it moving forward after its setback during its last session.  He also voiced support for the draft decision tabled by the Russian Federation on the field’s developments in international security.  With threats by terrorists using information and communications technology to compromise security and cause harm, there was a need to strengthen the existing legal regime pertinent to that domain and address the weakest links in the cybersphere.  As well, he expressed support for the draft resolution tabled by India on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament, co-sponsored by his delegation.

ANGGI SAZIKA JENIE (Indonesia), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated her serious concern over the two decades delay in the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Recalling the opposition expressed by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada at the concluding session of the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East had not been achieved.  She emphasised the special responsibility of the co-sponsors of that resolution for its implementation.  Its persistent lack could undermine the effectiveness and credibility of the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a whole.  The Non-Aligned Movement demanded that Israel renounce any possession of nuclear weapons and accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty without any precondition or delay.

MARWAN ALDOBHANY (Yemen), speaking for the Arab Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of agreements to establish nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He emphasized the need to take effective and immediate measures as outlined by the Arab Group resolution addressing the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.  He called upon the three co-sponsors of the Middle East resolution adopted in 1995 to bear the responsibility of the text’s implementation and establish that zone.  The Arab States were concerned for the security and humanitarian and environmental impact due to Israel’s rejection to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  He underlined that the continued delay of the implementation of the 1995 resolution was a serious setback to global nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

LOIS M. YOUNG (Belize), speaking for CARICOM, said that bloc’s member States remained committed to confronting the illicit trade in firearms.  They had benefitted from the memorandum of understanding between the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as from the implementation of the UNODC Regional Programme 2014‑16.  The United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean was one of several important partners for the Community in implementing its arms control and non-proliferation obligations.  That partnership had resulted in the successful implementation of the Operational Forensic Ballistic Project, she said, also highlighting six sub-regional training sessions completed in August on the topic of “double casting”, which increased national authorities’ capabilities to establish connections between crimes nationally, regionally and internationally.

She went on to emphasize CARICOM’s support for strengthening the role of women in disarmament, noting Trinidad and Tobago’s leadership of the biennial resolution titled “Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control”.  The Community was also committed to the CARICOM-Security Council Resolution 1540 Implementation Programme to prevent the transit, trans-shipment, import, export, re-export or brokering of dual-use materials that could be used in the development of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons and related materials.  It had strengthened its partnership with the United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean in implementing various project activities related to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, recently launching a Guide on the Development of National Control Lists for the region.  That had assisted CARICOM in reinforcing national export and import regulatory structures for dual use goods, she noted.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union delegation, said the illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed a grave threat to regional and international peace and security.  That country should refrain from further reckless provocations and abandon its programmes.  Addressing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, she emphasized the importance of its continued, full and effective implementation.  Facilitated by the European Union, the Plan of Action was the result of 12 years of diplomatic effort.  It had become a key element of the nuclear non-proliferation architecture and was crucial for the security of the region.  She encouraged the United States to maintain its commitment to the Plan of Action and consider the implications for the security of the United States, its partners and the region before taking further steps.

She went on to say that, despite de-escalation efforts, this year had seen the highest number of civilian casualties in Syria.  She condemned the indiscriminate attacks and atrocities perpetrated by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) and other terrorist groups and the systematic violations of human rights by all parties, particularly the Syrian regime.   The use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs and incendiary weapons in Syria might amount to war crimes.  It was deeply shocking and deplorable that chemical weapons had been used in several cases in Syria.  The findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission, the Joint Investigative Mechanism and the testimonies gathered by the Commission of Inquiry for Syria required strong action by the Security Council.  At the same time, it was also deeply concerning that Syria had not engaged substantively regarding gaps and discrepancies in its chemical weapons declaration with the ongoing investigations of the OPCW Technical Secretariat.

DELFINA JANE ALOYSIUS DRIS (Malaysia), speaking for ASEAN, said she believed that the value of regionalism lay in its inclusivity, rules-based nature, with an emphasis on mutual benefit and respect.  Transparency, confidence-building measures and progress in regional disarmament were indispensable in improving the security environment of the Asia-Pacific region, and in that connection, the Group reaffirmed its commitment to the disarmament treaties to which it was a signatory.  The United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament had worked tirelessly to collaborate on various initiatives, she said, reiterating the commitment to preserving the region, not only as a nuclear-weapons-free zone, but a zone free of all other weapons of mass destruction as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone.

ASEAN continued to undertake various activities on nuclear safety, security and safeguards, including with respect to capacity building, she continued.  The Group was also working towards the establishment of a formal relationship between the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy and IAEA and was committed to the full operationalization of the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre Permanent Secretariat.  Such developing concrete initiatives, building capacity and ensuring continuity through regional cooperation were crucial in making progress on global disarmament commitments.

ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) said regional approaches provided important avenues to disarmament, security and non-proliferation objectives.  In East Asia, the regional architecture had steadily evolved in the face of growing threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  He reiterated President Donald Trump’s commitment to deny Iran all paths to nuclear weapons.  The United States would work with its international partners to explore options for addressing the flaws in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.  In closing, he noted that South Asia was a home to two nuclear-weapon States and to the highest concentration of foreign terrorist groups in any region.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) denounced the use of force in international relations.  Honouring commitments to transparency and accountability, Paraguay provided its military expenditure information.  He called States to cooperate with the United Nations and supported the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development.  Latin America and the Caribbean was a region free of nuclear weapons, he said, noting the valuable contributions of civil society in disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.

Right of Reply

The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the representative of Iran represented a regime that was one of the world’s biggest sponsors of terror and had committed atrocities against the people of Syria.  As such, it was hard to see how he had any standing to make accusations against his country.

The representative of the United States said Iran supported terrorism and was complicit in the Assad regime’s crimes against its people, had threatened to wipe Israel off the map, had launched cyberattacks against the United States, had committed human rights abuses and continued its ballistic missile programme.  The United States had sanctioned Iranian entities involved in the country’s ballistic missile programme and remained concerned about its military support for Houthis in Yemen.

The representative of Iran categorically rejected remarks made by his counterpart from Israel.  Chronic threats plaguing the Middle East stemmed from the offensive and brutal practices of the Israeli regime.  Israel was the only country in the region possessing nuclear weapons and facilities that were under no safeguards and had refused to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, blocking the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Israel was one of the world’s biggest military spenders in 2016 and was a huge beneficiary of aid from the United States.  He called on Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty for the sake of peace and stability in the region.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country had suffered from natural disasters, including an unprecedented drought, which was why countries such as the United States had voluntarily sent it food.  His delegation did not support the draft resolution presented by the United States on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments because of its pure political purpose.  Concerning his country’s nuclear deterrence policy, he said if the United States was afraid of such weapons, then it should get rid of all its nuclear bombs and enter the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State.

The representative of the United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been isolated and had lost billions of dollars because it was developing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes instead of taking care of its own people’s needs.  Furthermore, he was not shocked by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s plan not to vote for United States compliance resolution.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected what the United States delegate had said.

News

With ‘Dark Side of Innovation’ on Horizon, First Committee Delegates Call for Joint Action in Combating Cyberattacks

New Text Calls for Creation of United Nations Panel to Investigate Potential Role of Science, Technology in Disarmament

States must join forces to combat the rising threat of non-State actors maliciously using information and communications technology to destabilize socioeconomic development, delegates told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today as they discussed ways to prevent cyberattacks.

Introducing a new draft resolution on the role of science in that regard, India’s representative emphasized that as “the dark side of innovation is moving from the frontier to the front door”, it was critical to ensure a correct understanding of the latest developments in science and technology to allow work in multilateral forums to adjust accordingly.

Asking the Committee to support the draft text, he said it would have the General Assembly request that the Secretary-General create a panel of experts in diverse fields of science and technology to assess current developments and their potential impact on international security and disarmament efforts.

Echoing a common concern, Brazil’s representative warned against the militarization of information and communications technology and the emergence of new systems of related weapons that might trigger a new arms race.  Pakistan’s representative highlighted the growing threat of lethal autonomous weapon systems, calling for a pre-emptive prohibition on further developing such arms.  He also supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts to discuss those issues in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Yemen’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, welcomed the United Nations establishment of regulatory principles to address concerns about the possibility of information and communications technology being used to damage the political, economic and scientific efforts of States.

Elaborating on that point, the delegate of the Netherlands highlighted the usefulness of recommendations made in the 2013 and 2015 reports of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.  Those “landmark achievements” had acknowledged that international law and particularly the United Nations Charter was applicable and essential in maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology environment, she said.

Delegates, including Indonesia’s representative, called for an international legal framework to address malicious acts.  Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, he underscored the importance of developing such a framework within the United Nations and in full accordance with the principles of sovereignty, non-interference and peaceful coexistence among States as fundamental in preventing and mitigating such threats.

Likewise, Paraguay’s delegate urged delegates to adopt norms which regulated information and communications technology processes in the context of international peace and security.  Such guidance would help to bridge the technological divide between developing and developed countries, he said.

Expressing concerns about access to technology, Algeria’s representative said that even though new information and communications technology products offered many opportunities to boost socioeconomic development, their use by terrorist groups posed a real danger.  As such, dual-use information and communications technology should not thwart the transfer of those technologies to States that needed them, especially developing countries, he emphasized.

Other delegates, including the representative of Switzerland, stressed the importance of an open, free, accessible and secure cyberspace.  The delegate of the United States underlined creating a climate in which all States could enjoy the benefits of cyberspace was a fundamental goal of her country.  She also introduced a draft resolution on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments.

Briefing the Committee at the outset of the meeting, Karsten Diethelm Geier, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, highlighted the need to continue discussions on information and communications technology.

He emphasized that because each State had a stake in cybersecurity, a global understanding of threats and the ways to mitigate them was needed and must be pursued through the United Nations.  He also highlighted the importance of involving the private sector, civil society and others in developing capacity and confidence-building measures.

The Committee also held a panel discussion on “Regional disarmament and security”.

During the debate on conventional weapons, the representatives of Botswana, Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Iraq, Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, Niger, Ethiopia, and Mali and Brazil delivered statements.

The debate on other disarmament measures and international security featured the representatives from Singapore (also for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Antigua and Barbuda (for the Caribbean Community), Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia, Cuba, Greece, China, France, Germany, Zambia, Russian Federation, Austria, Mexico, Australia, Iran and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union.

Delivering statements during the discussion on regional disarmament and security were representatives of Indonesia (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Yemen (for the Arab Group), Belize (for the Caribbean Community), Malaysia (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), United States and Paraguay, as well as the European Union.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Israel, Iran, United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 October, to begin its thematic debate on the disarmament machinery.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to continue its thematic discussion on conventional weapons and hear a briefing by the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.  It also began its thematic debate on other disarmament measures and international security.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Briefing

KARSTEN DIETHELM GEIER, Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, highlighted its work, noting its inability to reach consensus during its previous two cycles.  During the 2015‑2016 cycle, it had failed doing so, but not for lack of trying.  Still, efforts had helped to increase transparency around the Group and obtain outside input.  Experts based their deliberations on trying to formulate concrete guidance on how to help States to implement recommendations contained in previous reports.  Under discussion on information and communications technology were its increasingly malicious use by non-State actors and how that could impair global information and communications technology systems, and its use to interfere in the affairs of other States and to conduct criminal activities.

He said that in discussing how to take forward responsible norms of behaviours by States and how to respond to attacks on critical infrastructure, members had made suggestions on how to prevent non-State actors from conducting malicious information and communications technology activities.  They also made concrete suggestions related to confidence building, including guidance on points of contact and procedures to request information from other States.  The importance of involving private sector, civil society and others in capacity building was also raised.

Despite convergence on these points, significant differences remained, he said.  During the 2016‑2017 cycle, members had been unable to agree on a consensus report on its last day of discussions, he said, regretting to note that many good points had not been carried forward by a generally accepted document, which would have been useful to Member States.  Pointing out that information and communications technology had been discussed at the United Nations since 1998 and that tremendous progress had been made, he emphasized that previous reports stood unaffected by the current lack of consensus.  Highlighting remaining differences, he said “we do ourselves no favour to paper over divisions”.

Each State had a stake in cybersecurity, he said.  As such, there was a need to continue discussions and increase transparency and inclusivity.  A global understanding of threats and the ways to mitigate them was needed and must be pursued through the United Nations.  In terms of holding another Group of Governmental Experts meeting, alternatives should be explored to identify the best format.  Meanwhile, a consensual approach allowing for further progress must be found prior to the General Assembly’s seventy‑third session.

Conventional Weapons

LORATO LUCKY MOTSUMI (Botswana), associating herself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said peace was elusive in a world where armed conflicts were on the rise.  Control measures for conventional weapons must limit their illicit trafficking, particularly because they caused the greatest civilian casualties.  Welcoming the adoption of a declaration on improvised explosive devices, she reiterated Botswana’s support for the fifth Review Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.  Guided by the Maputo Action Plan 2014‑2019, Botswana was committed to efforts to eliminate anti-personnel mines around the world and to working with partners in areas such as arms control and money laundering.

RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN and Non-Aligned Movement, his country had, after experiencing civil war, famine and starvation, turned to United Nations rehabilitation programmes, adopting confidence-building measures, especially in the fields of conventional arms, anti-personnel mine clearance and the reintegration of mine victims.  Subregional and regional cooperation, information-sharing mechanisms and trans-border customs cooperation and networks must be established or strengthened.  In that vein, Cambodia would host in December a regional seminar for ASEAN members and Timor‑Leste on the illicit trafficking and the diversion of small arms, light weapons and other conventional arms and ammunition.  It was with collaboration and support from the international community and donors that most of Cambodia’s agricultural lands were now mine-free, even though some rural areas remained to be cleared, he said, noting that because of Cambodia’s experiences, ASEAN had established a regional mine action centre in Phnom Penh.

WENDBIGDA HONORINE BONKOUNGOU (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons threatened international peace, security and stability, fuelling transnational crime and terrorism in many regions and preventing the socioeconomic development of some States.  Noting that more than 877 million such weapons were in circulation, she welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, which would complement the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials, as would the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, and the Register of Conventional Arms.  Implementing such instruments would allow Burkina Faso to thwart trafficking.  Turning to concerns about anti-personnel mines, she called for the universalization of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.  She also called on all States to pool efforts to provide assistance to countries affected by such weapons.  Cluster bombs also hampered access to large fertile land, she said, calling for the universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Mr. AL-RIKABI (Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the challenges posed by the development of conventional weapons was no different from those posed by weapons of mass destruction.  Having recently acceded to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Iraq was committed to implementing all of its provisions.  Noting that the indiscriminate spread and trade of small arms and light weapons presented a serious threat to security, he said concerted efforts must continue to reactivate the Programme of Action on Small Arms.  Iraq had been deeply affected by anti-personnel mines, with terrorists having deployed such weapons across large swaths of territory, resulting in destructive effects on the environment and economy.  In that context, he called on donor countries to coordinate with Iraq to provide assistance to help address that grave concern.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said the international community should spare no effort in dealing with the proliferation of conventional weapons.  For its part, Argentina had complied with many international legal instruments, co-authored the Arms Trade Treaty and had created a mechanism for keeping weapon-related materials safe.  Argentina had also joined the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which should be used as a framework to negotiate the prohibition of other arms, including lethal autonomous weapons systems and anti-personnel mines.  The humanitarian consequences of the use of those weapons called for a concerted effort by the international community, he said, adding that Argentina promoted confidence-building measures.

KINGSLEY WEINOH (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said illicit trafficking and the use of small arms and light weapons had undermined peace and security and caused the displacement of people.  Demanding renewed efforts to prevent and combat the illicit conventional weapons trade, he welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty, which must be robustly implemented, and urged States to join without delay.  Nigeria had redoubled efforts in strengthening its national borders and had signed and ratified related international legal instruments.  Nigeria was ready to work with other delegations in transforming the vision of international peace and security into reality for the future generations.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with Non-Aligned Movement, said his country’s missile programme was a basic defence requirement that should be viewed in the context of living in a volatile region rather than being assessed in a vacuum.  Iran’s military expenditure had decreased since 2007, indicating a restraint, given the skyrocketing security challenges in the region.  Through that lens, its missile programme had a purely defensive character and would continue with full force, he said, objecting to arguments that considered Iran’s missile launches to be inconsistent with Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).  That resolution only called upon Iran not to undertake activity related to missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, which Iran’s were not, he emphasized.

Mr. ISSA (Niger), said the international community’s efforts to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction and address concerns about conventional weapons had been demonstrated, including through in the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, Programme of Action on Small Arms, Arms Trade Treaty and the establishment of practical confidence-building measures through the Disarmament Commission.  For its part, Niger had good relations with its neighbours and had ratified all legal international and regional instruments on disarmament and international security.  He emphasized that firearms control was crucial in West Africa and the Sahel, areas that had been greatly affected by the uncontrolled circulation and proliferation of firearms due to armed conflicts, terrorism and drug trafficking.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), associating herself with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said her country continued to suffer from the spread of small arms and light weapons because of porous borders, the presence of refugee camps and vast arid areas.  Domestic terrorist groups had been using the weapons to provoke and instigate unemployed youth to carry out violent activities.  To address those concerns, Ethiopia was raising public awareness and enhancing efforts to boost inter-agency coordination between law enforcement institutions, he said, noting that her delegation looked forward to the third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument to be held in 2018.  Emphasizing the importance of the Mine Ban Convention, she said Ethiopia was committed to destroying its stockpiles.  However, the shortage and obsolete condition of related equipment had hampered that goal, she said, emphasizing that the main responsibility of completing the destruction of mines lay with States parties and that the full implementation of all Mine Ban Convention provisions depended largely on the availability of resources and technical support.

NOËL DIARRA (Mali) said that while small arms and light weapons did not appear to be as sophisticated as weapons of mass destruction, they were more deadly in terms of casualties.  In Mali, terrorist groups had used small arms and light weapons, attacking women and children and undermining development efforts.  Mali was committed to combating conventional weapons trafficking in West Africa and the Sahel region.  Yet, the activities of terrorist groups and traffickers represented a real challenge when it came to combating the arms proliferation and porous borders that needed to be strengthened to stop illegal weapons transfers.  Highlighting  the link between development and security, as demonstrated in Sustainable Development Goal 16.4., he said Mali had submitted a draft resolution on assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil), noting that his country hoped to join the Arms Trade Treaty soon, said a national export control system currently in place was already operating largely in compliance with the instrument.  To avoid the detrimental effects of unregulated international arms transfers, major weapons exporters must join the Arms Trade Treaty.  He also expressed support for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which provided a useful framework to address current and future humanitarian challenges in armed conflicts.  Acknowledging the humanitarian challenge posed by improvised explosive devices, he condemned that those devices had been increasingly used against civilians.  On that issue, Brazil had undertaken efforts to prevent the diversion of relevant controlled materials that could be used to produce such weapons, he said, noting the important connection linking the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the Arms Trade Treaty and the Programme of Action on Small Arms.

Other Disarmament Measures and International Security

DANNY RAHDIANSYAH (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the important socioeconomic opportunities provided by information and communications technology and expressed concern over the cases of its illegal use that were detrimental to States.  Developing a legal framework to address such violations should be pursued within the United Nations and in full accordance with the principles of sovereignty, non-interference and peaceful coexistence among States.

Turning to the work of the related Group of Governmental Experts, he called for transparency and the strict application of the principle of equitable geographical representation in its membership.  In that context, he regretted to note that a request by developing countries for participation in the recently constituted Group of Governmental Experts had not been considered.

MARWAN ALI NOMAN AL-DOBHANY (Yemen), on behalf of the Arab Group, associated himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, saying that solutions approved within a multilateral framework and the Charter of the United Nations were the only way to deal with disarmament and international security issues.  He also underlined the fact that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction threatened sustainable development for all.

Turning to the preparation and implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements, he stressed the importance of observing environmental norms.  Concerned about the possibility of information and communications technology being used to damage the political, economic and scientific efforts of States, he welcomed the United Nations establishment of regulatory principles.  He also emphasized the need for international cooperation and for the United Nations to play a central role in related initiatives.

JOSEPH TEO CHOON HENG (Singapore), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, said members had secured regional peace and strengthened national resilience.  As cyberthreats and attacks undermined trust in the digital future, ASEAN had adopted the Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy in March and had taken several other steps to foster regional cooperation, including support for ongoing work to promote international voluntary cybernorms of responsible State behaviour and the development of a rules-based cyberspace.  He also supported discussions on the adoption of basic, operational and voluntary norms of behaviour to guide information and communications technology use based on the norms set out in the 2015 report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.

Capacity building was an important aspect to enhancing the region’s ability to respond to threats, he said, welcoming the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations (2016‑2020).  Cybersecurity required coordinated expertise from stakeholders across different domains, as Governments did not have all the answers.  A large percentage of cyberinfrastructure, resources and expertise was in the hands of the private sector, thus necessitating that sector’s involvement.

Mr. HENG, speaking in his national capacity, said the annual Singapore International Cyber Week had facilitated conversations on key issues such as norms or responsible State behaviour in cyberspace and cybersecurity capacity building.  Singapore had also launched a $10 million ASEAN cybercapacity programme, which was a modular, multi-stakeholder and multidisciplinary initiative to build capacity across policy and technical areas.  Partnering with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, Singapore had helped to develop a flagship United Nations online training course on the use of information and communications technologies and international security.

CARMEN GONSALVES (Netherlands) said the Internet — increasingly regarded as a “global public good” — must remain open, safe and free for all.  Expressing regret that, despite efforts, the related Group of Governmental Experts had failed to arrive at a consensus on views and recommendations regarding norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour of States, she said its 2013 and 2015 reports were “landmark achievements” and a cause for optimism.  The 2013 report had acknowledged that international law and particularly the United Nations Charter was applicable and essential in maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful information and communications technology environment.  Important progress on the operationalization of the application of international law had been made in the 2015 consensus report.  Both reports had agreed on common norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour, confidence-building measures and understandings on capacity building that would serve as the building blocks for more stable and predictable interaction among States, she said, urging States to implement the recommendations during the present period of reflection.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union delegation, expressed regret that the Group of Governmental experts had not reached an agreement on an additional report beyond its 2015 consensus recommendations.  The European Union would continue to implement the consensual views articulated in previous reports and invited other international actors to do the same.  The bloc would continue to promote the establishment of strategic frameworks for conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace, which must be based on the application of existing international law, especially the United Nations Charter in its entirety.  It also supported the development and implementation of universal norms of responsible State behaviour, bolstered by targeted regional confidence-building measures between States.

She said States’ information and communications technology use should be guided by principles such as sovereign equality, non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States, the obligation to settle international disputes by peaceful means, the right to respond to internationally wrongful acts, the obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the right to self-defence.  The European Union was committed to addressing cyberthreats globally by assisting third countries in responding to such challenges and increasing law enforcement capabilities to investigate and prosecute cybercrime perpetrators.  In addition, member States had adopted a framework for a joint European Union diplomatic response to malicious cyberactivities, which contributed to conflict prevention, cooperation and stability in cyberspace.

WALTON WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of CARICOM, underlined the importance of considering gender perspectives in advancing effort to achieve disarmament goals.  Citing Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and a similar CARICOM-sponsored draft resolution for addressing the vital links between women and disarmament, she said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons recognized the importance of equal, full and effective participation of both men and women in achieving sustainable peace and security.  Additionally, delegates at the sixth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, had agreed to ensure the participation of women in implementation processes and encourage the collection of disaggregated data on gender and illicit small arms and light weapons.

Recognizing those links was particularly relevant and important to her region, she said.  While men were most often the victims of gun crimes, women were left to become the sole bread-winner for families and risked falling into poverty.  For that reason, women must be included in the disarmament discussion at all levels.   While her region was not affected by armed conflict, it faced tremendous challenges in relation to armed violence.  Approximately 70 per cent of homicides in the region involved the use of firearms, and as a result, resources had to be diverted away from development.  A diverse range of perspectives was needed to ensure that decisions reflected global concerns.  She also emphasized that the underrepresentation of lower-income countries at disarmament forums must be addressed in a holistic manner.

SABRINA DALLAFIOR MATTER (Switzerland) stressed the importance of an open, free, accessible and secure cyberspace.  Switzerland, having participated in the recent Group of Governmental Experts meetings, deeply regretted that it had not adopted a consensus report that would have submitted substantive recommendations to the General Assembly.  Despite significant progress on recommendations for confidence-building measures and capacity-building, it had failed to fulfil its mandate with regard to the application of international law and information and communications technology use.  Expressing concern about the hesitation of certain States to recognize the crucial role of international law in promoting a peaceful and cooperative approach to cybersecurity, she said the United Nations should play an active role in that field and provide practical guidance to States on steps they could take to operationalize and implement the recommendations of the 2015 Group of Governmental Experts report, including norms, rules and principles of responsible State behaviour.

VISHAL KAPUR (Canada) noted that small arms proliferation had facilitated and perpetuated violence against women and girls, including acts of sexual violence and domestic abuse.  Due to entrenched gender roles in many societies, women had to bear the primary responsibility of caring for survivors and were often indirect victims.  In times of conflict, women played a variety of roles, including protectors, combatants, arms dealers, smugglers and providers of support to armed actors.  Given those gender dimensions, the international community must strive to increase the meaningful inclusion of women as full partners in security, disarmament and arms control discussions, including in the tracking and analysis of illicit trafficking networks and trends, in all aspects of the destruction of small arms and light weapons and in international negotiations and peace processes.

RACHEL HICKS (United States), noting that creating a climate in which all States could enjoy the benefits of cyberspace was a fundamental goal of her country, introduced a draft resolution on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments.  There was broad consensus that compliance with international treaties to prevent further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a central element of the international security architecture.  Without the confidence that countries would honour their commitments, the deals made would not be “worth the paper on which they were printed”.  In that sense, she said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had demonstrated unlawful and dangerous behaviour, including its failure to comply with disarmament and non-proliferation obligations.  She then urged the First Committee to make clear that compliance was essential to peace and security, by supporting the draft resolution on the issue.

AMANDEEP SINGH GILL (India), introducing a new draft resolution on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament (document A/C.1/72/L.52), said the potential of science and technology for resolving the world’s most intractable problems could help the United Nations system progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  However, “the dark side of innovation is moving from the frontier to the front door”, he said, emphasizing that it was critical to ensure a correct understanding of the latest developments in science and technology to allow work in multilateral forums to adjust accordingly.

Asking the Committee to support the draft text, he said provisions would have the General Assembly call for a comprehensive study of such developments, which would be conducted through a science and security panel established by the United Nations Secretary-General.  The panel would be composed of 18 independent experts drawn from relevant areas including scientific research, industry, disarmament and international law and ethics.  By the draft, the General Assembly would request that Under-Secretary-General to submit a final report containing the panel’s assessments for the General Assembly’s consideration at its seventy-fifth session.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said access to information and communications technology should contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security and be protected against criminal or terrorist use.  Paraguay had adopted a national cybersecurity programme, which would act as a tool for bolstering the security of critical assets and ensuring a reliable and secure cyberspace.  However, national efforts could only be sustainable with cooperation, he said, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation for the effective implementation of a mechanism to prevent cyberattacks.  Urging delegates to adopt norms that regulated information and communications technology processes in the context of international peace and security, he said that doing so would help to bridge the technological divide between developing and developed countries.

LARISSA SCHNEIDER CALZA (Brazil) said the militarization of information and communications technology and emergence of new systems of related weapons might lead to a new type of arms race.  To ensure the peaceful use of those technologies, Brazil favoured strengthening multilateral norms and principles applicable to the conduct of States.  Those norms should respect to the free flow of information and human rights, she said, urging the international community to examine the need to develop a specific legal framework to address proscribed behaviours, including offensive first use, tampering with the supply chain, intentionally introducing vulnerabilities into systems and networks and compromising information security of other States.  She encouraged all States to consider the adoption of a “no-first-use” norm with regards to offensive operations using information and communications technology.  Confidence-building measures and increased international assistance and cooperation must also aim at achieving an open and secure information and communications technology environment.  Having been active in the Groups of Governmental Experts, she said its format must evolve to be more inclusive and allow for the adequate participation of all countries, including developing countries.

MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said new information and communications technology products offered many opportunities to bolster socioeconomic development of countries.  However, their use by terrorist groups represented a threat to international peace and security.  Dual-use information and communications technology should not thwart the transfer of those technologies to States that needed them, especially developing countries.  Algeria had adopted a comprehensive approach for cyber- and general disarmament, establishing relevant tools and an entity to stop cybercrime and protect national security.  Having ratified African and Arab agreements on fighting information-related cybercrime and promoting collaboration among countries, Algeria promoted prosperity and human development in many fields.  Yet, using artificial intelligence could pose great humanitarian, ethical and legal challenges.  For that reason, the international community should adopt clear legislation, he said, emphasizing the importance of compliance with environmental standards when preparing and implementing disarmament agreements.

JEHAZEB KHAN (Pakistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said lethal autonomous weapon systems were unethical, unable to comply with international law, lowered the threshold for war and would negatively affect progress on arms control and disarmament.  Calling for a pre-emptive prohibition on further developing those weapons, he supported the establishment of a group of governmental experts to discuss those issues in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  Raising other concerns, he said the transborder unauthorized use of armed drones constituted a violation of international law, he said, citing the Human Rights Council’s opposition to targeting civilians with drones, which amounted to extrajudicial killings.  The threat of non-State actors and terrorists acquiring such weapons was additionally worrisome.  The misuse and unregulated use of information and communications technology also had grave implications for international peace and security, especially as the hostile activities involving cybertechnologies advanced.

Panel Discussion

The Committee held a panel discussion on “Regional disarmament and security”.  The panellists included Mary Soliman, Chief of the Regional Disarmament Branch of the Department of Disarmament Affairs; Anselme Yabouri, the Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa; Melanie Rigimbal, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean; and Yuriy Kryvonos, Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.

Ms. SOLIMAN said the centres would continue to foster cooperation with United Nations partners, regional organizations and other stakeholders to prevent the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, in particular their diversion to non-State armed groups.  With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the centres would work with Member States towards realizing the 2030 Agenda, especially Goal 16.4, she said.  In that vein, they would continue to apply a synergistic approach and cooperate with relevant partners and stakeholders, building on comparative advantages and complementarities.  That would ensure the effective delivery of their mandate with maximum benefit to Member States in their respective regions.  Looking ahead, they would continue to work with Member States to identify strategic priority areas for their respective regions, taking into consideration global trends, developments, challenges and opportunities.  As they depended on extra-budgetary resources, she encouraged all Member States to support them through voluntary contributions.

Mr. YABOURI said work had been done with the African Union Commission to support the implementation of its initiative to “silence the guns by 2020” and of the 2030 Agenda.  In the Sahel, efforts included the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the region through its participation in inter-agency discussions.  In Central Africa, substantive support was provided for the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa at its forty-third and forty-fourth ministerial meetings.  The regional centre had also participated in the annual meeting of heads of United Nations field presences in the Central African region in March 2017.  It had held several joint consultations with ECOWAS and had provided assistance for implementing regional and national action plans to African Member States and relevant civil society organizations related to global and regional instruments to combat the illicit trade and proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  While the sustained number of requests for assistance from Member States demonstrated the importance of its work, more was needed to advance peace and control in Africa given its gloomy peace and security situation.

Ms. RIGIMBAL said activities in 19 different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean had reached more than 2,100 national authorities, security sector agents, and young people, with the highest ever participation of females.  Efforts included stockpile management and weapons destruction, with activities geared toward quantitatively measuring progress and advances made toward the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16.  Initiatives with Colombia had included the provision of technical assistance to the United Nations Verification Mission in the surrendering of arms.  Collaboration with the private sector was also key to ensuring sustainable security measures were adopted.  Meanwhile, the bulk of efforts focused on developing and imparting specialized trainings to combat illicit arms trafficking and provide tools to strengthen conventional arms control.  To use technology to its advantage, the regional centre created a new tool to facilitate the tracing of weapons trafficked through the postal system.  That preventive tool would aid security sector personnel in their fight against illicit arms trafficking, she said.

Mr. KRYVONOS said 10 projects and three collaborative programmes were among a range of activities undertaken in Asia and the Pacific.  The regional centre had also heavily engaged in the preparation for its relocation back to Nepal, which had concluded in February 2017.  Other activities included co-organizing two conferences on issues and challenges facing disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.  With respect to national capacity-building, several projects assisted Member States to implement their commitments relating to conventional arms control, particularly regarding the Programme of Action on Small Arms, Arms Trade Treaty and the Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  The main outcome of the project implementation was the development, approval and submission of three national action plans by Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004).  In addition, outreach activities engaged regional stakeholders.  Thanks to support from sponsors, the centre had again managed to reach its highest annual project implementation rate.

The Chair of the Committee opened the floor to invite delegates to ask questions to the panellists; no questions were posed.

SIMON CLEOBURY (United Kingdom) emphasized his country’s commitment to promoting international stability frameworks for cyberspace based on the application of existing international law, agreed voluntary norms of responsible State behaviour and confidence-building measures, supported by coordinated capacity-building programmes.  The United Nations Charter applied in its entirety to State actions in cyberspace, he said, adding that the law of State responsibility applied to cyberoperations in peacetime, including the availability of the doctrine of countermeasures in response to internationally wrongful acts.  The United Kingdom would promote the operationalization of agreed norms of responsible State behaviour, focusing on practical measures States could take to put voluntary norms into practice, he said.  It would also support efforts in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other forums to implement confidence-building measures that would contribute to transparency and trust between States in cyberspace.

MARJA LEHTO (Finland) expressed regret that the Group of Governmental Experts had failed to reach an agreement.  International discussions on specific aspects of international law in relation to the use of information and communications technology should continue.  The Group’s recommendations on responsible State behaviour constituted a practical contribution to clarifying the steps States should take in the information and communications technology domain to comply with their obligations to not knowingly allow their territories to be used for activities that might cause significant harm to other States.  “It is necessary to be cybersmart in order to keep up with the changes of the global security environment”, she said, adding that developing resilience was essential worldwide and should be supported by appropriate capacity-building efforts.  OSCE had adopted a set of dedicated confidence-building measures in the area, she noted, calling for its implementation.

MINNA–LIINA LIND (Estonia), associating herself with the European Union, said discussions on the Internet should afford the same attention to security as to the freedom of expression.  She regretted that the Governmental Group for Experts had not achieved a consensus report in 2017 and could not make further progress in analysing how international law applied to the use of information and communications technology, particularly the principle of due diligence, the potential application of the right to self-defence and international humanitarian law.  Estonia supported the establishment of a strategic framework for conflict prevention and stability in cyberspace that was based on international law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations.

ANAYANSI RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) said the international community should adopt tangible measures to ensure the resources spent on military costs were refocused to promote sustainable development.  Member States should strictly comply with the environmental standards, with multilateralism being used in all disarmament negotiations.  Strict compliance with the United Nations Charter and international law was the only effective means to safeguard international peace and security while establishing a legally binding regulatory framework applicable to information and communications technology.  Denouncing the hostile use of those technologies for subverting legal and political orders of States, she said Cuba was constantly facing attacks from abroad as its communication spectrum had been targeted by the United States.  She called for an immediate end to such aggressive policies that were incompatible with international peace and security.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said safety and security were of the utmost importance as the intertwined foundations of a country’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear material.  Transparent national efforts and strengthened regional cooperation in nuclear power production were critical.  Detailing the international instruments her country had acceded to and the work it had done during its European presidency, she called the Environmental Impact Convention the sine qua non of absolute transparency.  Underlining the centrality of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), she called upon all States to implement the Agency’s nuclear security guidance documents, to use its advisory services and to host peer review and follow-up missions.  As current political developments had created a volatile environment, she called for additional precautions to be taken to enhance the safety of nuclear installations, noting that more and more countries in her region were expressing a strong interest in nuclear power even though such energy had not been an option for the national energy grid of Greece itself.

WANG QUN (China) said that maintaining a peaceful cyberspace was crucial and all should faithfully observe the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, particularly the principles of sovereignty and non-interference of internal affairs.  Countries should discuss the application of international law in a manner conducive to maintaining peace so as to prevent an arms race in cyberspace and reduce the risk of conflict.  Cooperation was a win‑win concept, he continued.  No one country was immune from the threats of cyberspace and there was no such thing as absolute security.  Countries should reject the cold war mentality and develop a new security concept featuring coordination and sustainability.  The United Nations should play a leading role on the issue and discussion in the last Group of Governmental Experts had reflected the differences among the international community and further highlighted the need to build a broad consensus.  An open, inclusive process that allowed more countries to participate in global Internet governance should be established, he said.  At the same time, efforts should be made to assist developing countries with capacity‑building to bridge the digital divide.

LOUIS RIQUET (France) said existing international law, including the United Nations Charter, applied to cyberspace.  Should a cyberattack constitute a threat to international peace and security, the case might be referred to the Security Council under Chapters VI or VII of the Charter.  As a major cyberattack could constitute an armed attack under Article 51 of the Charter, States could invoke the right to legitimate self-defence in anticipation of a Security Council decision.  He said that in order to guarantee international stability and security in cyberspace, it was essential to have one standard that encouraged the control of exports of offensive cybertools and techniques and another that aimed at preventing non-State actors, including private companies, from carrying out offensive activities in cyberspace on their own behalf and that of other State or non-State actors.

THOMAS FITSCHEN (Germany), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that there were reservations as to whether certain aspect of traditional international law in response to a malicious cyberoperation were really applicable in “cyberspace”.  If a State agent or someone else carried out a cyberoperation in another State to stop an electricity plan, that plan did not happen somewhere in cyberspace, but rather on the territory and in the jurisdiction of that country.  Those relations were governed by international law, he said, adding that some delegations were reluctant to touch upon the lawful counter-measures in cyberoperations.  According to international law, States could be held accountable.  The issue of attributing a certain conduct to a State was not new, he said.  Cyberoperations against territorial integrity of another State could in itself constitute use of force and thus be unlawful.

Ms. LINYAMA (Zambia) said that the increased use of information and communications technology had resulted in increased crimes, such as attacks on computer systems of institutions and terrorism-related activities.  It had also allowed criminal and terrorist syndicates to cross barriers of States to commit crimes, making it difficult to identify the offenders and locate the crime scenes with traditional investigation tools.  The Zambian Government was facing myriad challenges in fighting cybercrime and other criminal activities related to technology.  It had taken various measures to combat cyber- and other technological crime, including through harnessing opportunities offered by information and communications technology for law enforcement, such as electronic surveillance.  Investigation and prosecuting such crimes remained a challenge; it required new skills and procedural tools, including the capacity to collect and analyse digital evidence and to use that evidence in criminal proceedings.  Noting the positive contributions of science and technology, he called for international cooperation in assisting the physical security and monitoring of nuclear facilities and materials.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation), recalling that his country had been the first to raise concerns about emerging threats in the global information space, had tabled a related draft resolution to the General Assembly.  It was clear that such threats had become one of the most serious challenges to international peace and security.  That was compounded by the fact that recent discussions on international information security had stalled.  He was vigorously opposed to any attempts to unleash the information arms race, he said.  Together with like-minded countries, his country had repeatedly suggested the that the Group of Governmental Experts develop and submit to the General Assembly universal rules in the information space.  Instead, the Group’s discussion had been emasculated and side-lined for secondary aspects.  Certain countries sought to impose unilateral rules that only served their own interests.  Those rules were designed to ensure the chosen ones had a technological advantage and imposed a very dangerous decision to recognize the digital sphere as a theatre of military action.  He expressed concerns at attempts to discredit the role of the United Nations in tackling cybersecurity.  All Member States should participate in the discussion on an equal basis.  To ensure sustainability in negotiations in international information security, the Russian Federation had introduced a draft procedural decision to keep the item “developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” on its agenda for the seventy-third session.

Mr. HAJNOCZI (Austria), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, expressed regret that the Group of Governmental Experts had failed to agree on a consensus report this year.  Nonetheless, its previous reports would continue to be the basis for efforts to strengthen stability and security in an open and peaceful Internet where human rights and fundamental freedoms were respected.  Confidence-building measures could enhance trust and assurance among States and help reduce the risk of conflict, he said, noting that OSCE had undertaken significant work in that area in recent years.  Outlining some of those efforts, he said that, under the Austrian chairmanship, OSCE had made rebuilding trust and confidence among its three top priorities for 2017.  In February, his delegation had organized a conference on cybersecurity, and a second chairmanship conference would be held on 3 November in Vienna, offering an opportunity to discuss intensifying cooperation on several key areas.  Calling for a steadfast commitment to applying existing international law to the cyber context, he added that the Budapest Convention was an important tool in combating the criminal use of information and communications technology.

ISAAC MORALES (Mexico) said that the international system had a fundamental role to play in cyberspace to make it “open, safe and accessible”.  That should be enforced by regional and other multilateral forums.  The efforts of the Organization’s international security system should achieve balance in encouraging access and peaceful use of cyberspace as a catalyst for development.  Furthermore, the use of cyberspace as a safe place should be ensured by the private sector and Governments.

VANESSA WOOD (Australia) said the foundation for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace was a mutual commitment to existing international law, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The United Nations Charter could be applied in its entirety to State actions in cyberspace, including the prohibition of the use of force, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and the right of States to act in self-defence in response to an armed attack.  To enable agile responses, existing international law was complemented by norms, as established through the Groups of Governmental Experts, among others, of responsible State behaviour, which promote predictability, stability and security.  The international community must now ensure that there were effective and proportionate consequences for those who acted contrary to the consensus on norms.

Mr. AZADI (Iran), associating himself with the statement to be made by the Non-Aligned Movement, said information communication technology played a crucial role in socioeconomic and cultural development.  There was a need to strengthen security and prevent the use of such technology for illegal purposes.  National measures were not sufficient.  Due to both the complex nature and rapid advances in the field, international cooperation was essential.  While it was important there was a common understanding of issues, such an understanding could not adequately emerge through the work of the Group of Governmental Experts.  In that regard, all States must be engaged in an inclusive, interactive debate in a broad-based setting.  Establishing an open-ended working group was an appropriate method to help build upon the work and to discuss issues related to information communication security.

FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern about the potential misuse of information and communications technology to the detriment of international peace and security.  While it was a key vehicle to further growth and development, normative behaviours and cooperation were needed to ensure information security.  The work of the Group of Governmental Experts was useful, he said, adding he looked forward to it moving forward after its setback during its last session.  He also voiced support for the draft decision tabled by the Russian Federation on the field’s developments in international security.  With threats by terrorists using information and communications technology to compromise security and cause harm, there was a need to strengthen the existing legal regime pertinent to that domain and address the weakest links in the cybersphere.  As well, he expressed support for the draft resolution tabled by India on the role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament, co-sponsored by his delegation.

ANGGI SAZIKA JENIE (Indonesia), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated her serious concern over the two decades delay in the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Recalling the opposition expressed by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada at the concluding session of the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East had not been achieved.  She emphasised the special responsibility of the co-sponsors of that resolution for its implementation.  Its persistent lack could undermine the effectiveness and credibility of the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a whole.  The Non-Aligned Movement demanded that Israel renounce any possession of nuclear weapons and accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty without any precondition or delay.

MARWAN ALDOBHANY (Yemen), speaking for the Arab Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of agreements to establish nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He emphasized the need to take effective and immediate measures as outlined by the Arab Group resolution addressing the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.  He called upon the three co-sponsors of the Middle East resolution adopted in 1995 to bear the responsibility of the text’s implementation and establish that zone.  The Arab States were concerned for the security and humanitarian and environmental impact due to Israel’s rejection to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  He underlined that the continued delay of the implementation of the 1995 resolution was a serious setback to global nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

LOIS M. YOUNG (Belize), speaking for CARICOM, said that bloc’s member States remained committed to confronting the illicit trade in firearms.  They had benefitted from the memorandum of understanding between the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as from the implementation of the UNODC Regional Programme 2014‑16.  The United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean was one of several important partners for the Community in implementing its arms control and non-proliferation obligations.  That partnership had resulted in the successful implementation of the Operational Forensic Ballistic Project, she said, also highlighting six sub-regional training sessions completed in August on the topic of “double casting”, which increased national authorities’ capabilities to establish connections between crimes nationally, regionally and internationally.

She went on to emphasize CARICOM’s support for strengthening the role of women in disarmament, noting Trinidad and Tobago’s leadership of the biennial resolution titled “Women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control”.  The Community was also committed to the CARICOM-Security Council Resolution 1540 Implementation Programme to prevent the transit, trans-shipment, import, export, re-export or brokering of dual-use materials that could be used in the development of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons and related materials.  It had strengthened its partnership with the United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean in implementing various project activities related to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, recently launching a Guide on the Development of National Control Lists for the region.  That had assisted CARICOM in reinforcing national export and import regulatory structures for dual use goods, she noted.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union delegation, said the illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed a grave threat to regional and international peace and security.  That country should refrain from further reckless provocations and abandon its programmes.  Addressing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, she emphasized the importance of its continued, full and effective implementation.  Facilitated by the European Union, the Plan of Action was the result of 12 years of diplomatic effort.  It had become a key element of the nuclear non-proliferation architecture and was crucial for the security of the region.  She encouraged the United States to maintain its commitment to the Plan of Action and consider the implications for the security of the United States, its partners and the region before taking further steps.

She went on to say that, despite de-escalation efforts, this year had seen the highest number of civilian casualties in Syria.  She condemned the indiscriminate attacks and atrocities perpetrated by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) and other terrorist groups and the systematic violations of human rights by all parties, particularly the Syrian regime.   The use of barrel bombs, cluster bombs and incendiary weapons in Syria might amount to war crimes.  It was deeply shocking and deplorable that chemical weapons had been used in several cases in Syria.  The findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission, the Joint Investigative Mechanism and the testimonies gathered by the Commission of Inquiry for Syria required strong action by the Security Council.  At the same time, it was also deeply concerning that Syria had not engaged substantively regarding gaps and discrepancies in its chemical weapons declaration with the ongoing investigations of the OPCW Technical Secretariat.

DELFINA JANE ALOYSIUS DRIS (Malaysia), speaking for ASEAN, said she believed that the value of regionalism lay in its inclusivity, rules-based nature, with an emphasis on mutual benefit and respect.  Transparency, confidence-building measures and progress in regional disarmament were indispensable in improving the security environment of the Asia-Pacific region, and in that connection, the Group reaffirmed its commitment to the disarmament treaties to which it was a signatory.  The United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament had worked tirelessly to collaborate on various initiatives, she said, reiterating the commitment to preserving the region, not only as a nuclear-weapons-free zone, but a zone free of all other weapons of mass destruction as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone.

ASEAN continued to undertake various activities on nuclear safety, security and safeguards, including with respect to capacity building, she continued.  The Group was also working towards the establishment of a formal relationship between the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy and IAEA and was committed to the full operationalization of the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre Permanent Secretariat.  Such developing concrete initiatives, building capacity and ensuring continuity through regional cooperation were crucial in making progress on global disarmament commitments.

ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) said regional approaches provided important avenues to disarmament, security and non-proliferation objectives.  In East Asia, the regional architecture had steadily evolved in the face of growing threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  He reiterated President Donald Trump’s commitment to deny Iran all paths to nuclear weapons.  The United States would work with its international partners to explore options for addressing the flaws in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.  In closing, he noted that South Asia was a home to two nuclear-weapon States and to the highest concentration of foreign terrorist groups in any region.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) denounced the use of force in international relations.  Honouring commitments to transparency and accountability, Paraguay provided its military expenditure information.  He called States to cooperate with the United Nations and supported the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development.  Latin America and the Caribbean was a region free of nuclear weapons, he said, noting the valuable contributions of civil society in disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.

Right of Reply

The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the representative of Iran represented a regime that was one of the world’s biggest sponsors of terror and had committed atrocities against the people of Syria.  As such, it was hard to see how he had any standing to make accusations against his country.

The representative of the United States said Iran supported terrorism and was complicit in the Assad regime’s crimes against its people, had threatened to wipe Israel off the map, had launched cyberattacks against the United States, had committed human rights abuses and continued its ballistic missile programme.  The United States had sanctioned Iranian entities involved in the country’s ballistic missile programme and remained concerned about its military support for Houthis in Yemen.

The representative of Iran categorically rejected remarks made by his counterpart from Israel.  Chronic threats plaguing the Middle East stemmed from the offensive and brutal practices of the Israeli regime.  Israel was the only country in the region possessing nuclear weapons and facilities that were under no safeguards and had refused to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, blocking the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Israel was one of the world’s biggest military spenders in 2016 and was a huge beneficiary of aid from the United States.  He called on Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty for the sake of peace and stability in the region.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country had suffered from natural disasters, including an unprecedented drought, which was why countries such as the United States had voluntarily sent it food.  His delegation did not support the draft resolution presented by the United States on compliance with non-proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments because of its pure political purpose.  Concerning his country’s nuclear deterrence policy, he said if the United States was afraid of such weapons, then it should get rid of all its nuclear bombs and enter the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State.

The representative of the United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been isolated and had lost billions of dollars because it was developing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes instead of taking care of its own people’s needs.  Furthermore, he was not shocked by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s plan not to vote for United States compliance resolution.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected what the United States delegate had said.

News

Entrepreneur Urges Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Benefit of All in Second Committee, Economic and Social Council Joint Meeting

Delegates Debate Eradication of Poverty, Development Issues in Afternoon Meeting

New technology would be central to achieving development goals, with artificial intelligence (AI) leveraged to process data on health, commerce, communications and transportation, entrepreneur Stephen Ibaraki told a joint session of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) and the Economic and Social Council today.

In that regard, stakeholders needed to work together to gauge opportunities and ensure technology would benefit all, he emphasized, addressing a panel discussion on “the future of everything — sustainable development in the age of rapid technological change”.

Machine learning and AI had already replaced human cognition through algorithms, assistance, augmentation, automation and autonomous intelligence, he noted.  Those advancements would mean a $16 trillion increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.  Similarly, gains from AI would boost GDP by 55 per cent from 2017 to 2030 and, in 2030 alone, 58 per cent of GDP would come from consumer attitudes, he said.  Every region could benefit from AI, with the largest predicted to be China and the United States.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed concurred that technology could enhance food security, reduce waste and help local economies grow.  However, she warned that many nations would need more than just those benefits, urging the international community to form partnerships in ensuring equal technological access.

Addressing the plight of less developed countries, FarmDrive co-founder Rita Kimani stressed the need to examine root problems and tools available in assessing the best technology to use.  Her organization had learned that access to finance was among the biggest challenges for small farmers, who had no smart phones.  They used tools they already had — basic mobile phones — to send messages to the FarmDrive platform.

Presentations were also made by Hanson Robotics Chief Executive Officer David Hanson, Harvard University’s metalLAB Faculty Director Jeffrey Schnapp and Columbia University Professor Emeritus of Public and Environmental Health Dickson Despommier.

During an ensuing discussion, speakers emphasized the importance of universal technology access and its ensuing benefits, as well as the risk of negative robotic “values” and cultural personalities.

The International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) representative asked the panel how the global community could achieve its goal of universal and affordable access to the Internet by 2020.  Mr. Ibaraki said public-private partnerships must be strengthened through outreach from all multi-stakeholders, especially in least developed countries.

In a similar vein, Mauritius’ representative asked how economic gains would “trickle down”, reducing poverty and ensuring technological accessibility.  Mr. Ibaraki responded that technology would continue to evolve and eventually the challenge would solve itself, as AI would likely appear in all devices.

The representative from Global Pulse underscored the urgency of addressing risks, as AI had “as much potential for good or harm as nuclear energy”.  Mr. Hanson said the international community must continue to use all available tools without waiting for regulation, but Ms. Kimani stressed that human needs must be at the centre of conversations.

Likewise, the representative of Sierra Leone asked how producers would prevent them from acquiring the “worst of human values”, while ensuring culturally relative personalities.  Mr. Hanson replied that technological producers would include abstract reasoning in artificial intelligence, and empower machines to understand consequences of their actions.

“It comes down to love,” he said, adding that technology producers would create algorithms to move artificial intelligence and computing towards wisdom and “super benevolence”.  Culturally, his robotics had a wide diversity characterized by different skin tones and cultural values.

In an afternoon session, the Second Committee took up poverty eradication, stressing the need for increased employment, resource mobilization, investments in education as well as health and global financing.

Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said good economic performance in African countries over the last two decades had failed to reduce poverty or create jobs.  Some 22 per cent of Africans lived on $.70 to $1.25 per day, while 25 per cent lived on less than $.70 per day.  Expressing concern over the lack of employment, he noted that 203.8 million people would be unemployed by 2018.  More economic opportunities were needed, along with increased mobilization of resources and adequate means for developing countries to implement policies and programmes.

Cambodia’s representative stressed the need to expand economies and invest in education and health, noting that his country had diversified exports to curb its reliance on the garment, tourism and agricultural industries.  Cambodia’s achievements in poverty reduction had been driven by robust and equitable macroeconomic growth, with strong checks on inflation, increases in agricultural production, and improved infrastructure.

Speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, Bangladesh’s representative said poverty in his group of States had fallen from 43.6 per cent in 2008 to 36.3 per cent in 2013.  However, levels of extreme poverty remained high in the group, with countries growing at the slowest pace of economic expansion since 2000.  Inequality in income, wealth and opportunities plagued those States, he said, while conflicts, climate change, diseases and economic “shocks” continued to thwart them.  Stressing that global support through financing was vital, he said he looked forward to improvements in official development assistance (ODA), trade and foreign direct investment (FDI).

At the onset of the meeting, Secretary-General’s reports were presented by Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), on women in development (document A/72/282); Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty 2008 to 2017 (document A/72/283); and Navid Hanif, Director of the Office for Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on human resource development for the twenty-first century (document A/72/292).

Also speaking were the representatives of Belize, Maldives, El Salvador, Israel, China, Philippines, Singapore, Iran, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Cambodia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Tonga, Iraq, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Cuba and Malawi.

The Committee will meet again on Thursday, 12 October, to conclude its debate on poverty eradication.

Opening Remarks

MARIE CHATARDOVÁ (Czech Republic), President of the Economic and Social Council, said artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of things changed the way the international community worked, obtained information, made bank transactions and networked.  She said AI was at the heart of online search and translation services, e‑commerce recommendations, real traffic prediction and self‑driving cars.  However, the international community did not yet know its global impact.  The long‑term consequences of deep technological changes were unknown, she stated.  AI could accelerate progress, but also would pose a range of complex challenges, including ethical questions, human rights issues and security risks.  “These questions will need to be addressed if we want our fellow citizens to embrace technological change rather than perceive it as a threat,” she said.  Public response, at national and global levels, was lagging technological progress, thus she urged for better understanding of science and technology for development.  “Let us not forget that many places around the globe still lack basic access to electricity and to a networked infrastructure,” she said.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), Chair of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), noted that his country was a small nation with few natural resources and a limited internal market.  Yet the size of the country and enterprising spirit of the people had been a huge advantage in building up an information society with high quality services.  When Estonia started building its information society about two decades ago, many in his country had no access to the Internet or the devices to use it.  It required vision and strong leadership to invest in and adopt the information technology route.  Both the public and private sectors understood the need to invest in positioning Estonia as an information society and integrate e‑governance solutions as they were created.  Turning to the use of technology in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said it would be vital to address security concerns and privacy.  People would only use e‑solutions if they were safe, trustworthy and convenient.  Innovative technologies offered unprecedented opportunities for implementing the Goals, but also required managing the risks of those technologies.

AMINA J. MOHAMMED, Deputy Secretary‑General, said technological progress must be well managed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  She urged the international community to engage in partnerships to leverage the power of technology equitably.  New technology could enhance food security, reduce waste and help local economies grow, among other advancements.  In Zambia, the first virtual farmers market was piloted.  Seed planting drones were tested and indirectly helped to mitigate climate change.  Mobilized construction changed how roads were built and monitored across Africa and the developing world.  Technology should not be used as a “silver bullet”, she said.  Highlighting recent technological events hosted at the United Nations, she stressed that creativity and imagination of youth must be nurtured to create new solutions and reach the Sustainable Development Goals.  The international community must also protect workers and help them adjust to technological advancements, close the digital divide and avoid exacerbating inequalities through proper education and training.  Engaging Sofia the robot, she asked how the United Nations could ensure that all people benefited from technological advancements.  In response, Sofia stated that AI could produce results with fewer resources.  Thus, AI could be leveraged to distribute the world’s existing resources, such as food and energy, in a more equitable manner.

Panel Discussion

JENNIFER STRONG, Moderator of the discussion and Host of the Wall Street Journal’s “The Future of Everything” podcast, said today’s event aimed to show how technology was shaping society.  Adding that she herself was not a technologist, she said it was all too easy to let someone else decide how technology affected our daily lives.  But leaving technology to others would be neglecting the great challenges of the time.  With her programme, she had assumed the responsibility of standing in for people who did not understand.  Through storytelling, she hoped to bring more voices into the conversation, as if technology belonged to all.

DAVID HANSON, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Hanson Robotics, said he hoped he could assist in connecting technologists and humanitarians in deciding how technology could benefit all.  His company made machines that were fundamentally human.  They took the nano properties of human soft tissue and produced mobile, social robots.  As art forms like animation had brought wonder and delight to the world, robotics could perform a similar service.  However, it was important to understand what it was like to be human.  By making AI grow up among humans, perhaps robots could really care about people and become alive.  There was a revolution at work today in the field of bioengineering, which had just begun to see the implications of work that would change the world.  He stressed that robotics must make machines reflecting the best people could be, humanizing robots as animated characters.  The goal was to make living robots that were truly ethical and could make the world a better place.

STEPHEN IBARAKI, serial entrepreneur and founding managing partner of REDDS Venture Investment Partners, said due to the rapid progress in AI, technological advancements would be central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  AI could be leveraged to solve humanity’s challenges by processing data on health, commerce, communications, transportation and more.  Thus, stakeholders must work together to evaluate opportunities and ensure such advancements would benefit all of humanity.  AI and machine learning already replaced human cognition through algorithms, assistance, augmentation, automation and autonomous intelligence, he continued.  Those advancements would result in a $16 trillion increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.  Similarly, the gains from AI would result in a 55 per cent gain in GDP from 2017 to 2030, and in 2030 alone, 58 per cent of GDP would come from consumer impacts.  He said every region could benefit from AI, with the largest beneficiaries predicted to be in China and the United States.  The impact of AI would be apparent in economic, cultural and social disruption.  For example, such advancements could track poverty through satellite imagery and poverty mapping from space.  Machine learning could extend medical care through remote diagnosis and the enhancement of transportation resources.  AI could serve as a key resource in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and further promoting the development of smart cities.  As every sector would be affected, he encouraged the international community to consider liability rules, ethnical conduct, transparency and open partnerships.

RITA KIMANI, Co‑founder of FarmDrive, questioned whether robots would make a difference to rural farmers in her home country of Kenya.  It was necessary to take a step back to look at the root problems and real challenges one was attempting to address.  What were the challenges of communities and could technology be used to solve them, she asked.  Her organization had learned that access to finance was among the biggest challenges for small farmers.  So it looked at how technology could assist farmers in obtaining credit.  That was done by looking at simple revenue data from farmers, using it to assess the risk and then determining whether they could have credit.  In the case of those farmers, it was important to focus on the real problems and be aware of a community’s culture.  Small rural farmers, for example, had no smartphones, so a device they could use had to be found.  In the end, they used a basic mobile phone to send messages to the FarmDrive platform, using a tool they already had access to.

JEFFREY SCHNAPP, founder and faculty director of metaLAB at Harvard University, said the international community should not narrow the scope of our technological conversations.  He said robots come in all shapes, sizes and forms and have already transformed economic production.  Robotics and AI were already part of the everyday world, outside of warehouses and production plants.  He underscored that technological advancements augment the human experience.  Smart vehicles, for example, were used to map cities and inform urban development.  As shifts into those augmented realms, the international community must consider how information and data would be used.  The use of data would pose one of the greatest challenges, and the international community must leverage such information responsibly.  There was a trend, he continued, to treat algorithmic knowledge as a form of public knowledge and it had become part of our social and cultural lives.  As a result, educational institutions must reshape themselves and the international community must encourage lifelong learning.  Humanity must prepare and understand our relationship with the “world of devices” as digital tools, smart devices and the intensity of connectivity would continue to have greater impact.

DICKSON DESPOMMIER, Professor Emeritus of Public and Environmental Health, Columbia University, stressed that all people in the world needed to eat and drink.  The difficulty was in getting adequate supplies to them.  Sometimes, there was not enough rain to fill reservoirs and sometimes the food that was grown was raided by animals or destroyed by adverse weather.  Noting that eliminating hunger was among the primary goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said it could be accomplished if the global community tried hard enough.  The world was now faced with rapid climate change and its consequent effects on health.  The cause was primarily deforestation as well as the use of fossil fuels.  Deforestation — which had mainly occurred to clear land for farming — took away the ability of the Earth to take back carbon it had fed into the atmosphere.  Noting that farming was 10,000 years old and traditional, he said no one wanted to break with that practice.  Rather than human clearing of land, a tsunami in Japan had trashed 5 per cent of its farmland in one hour.  In that case, the solution was indoor farming — vertical multi‑story farms, rather than one‑level greenhouses.  Countries were now adopting this alternative, led by Japan, and were producing great quantities of food.  Other countries using vertical farms included Singapore, China and Germany.  The advantages of vertical farming were that it was year‑round, used 70 to 90 per cent less water and could be established anywhere in the world.

Interactive Discussion

Ms. STRONG asked Sofia what the United Nations could do to support innovation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Sofia responded that leaders must work together to build an equitable, standard infrastructure.

The moderator next asked the panel about the historical precedent of technological innovation.  Mr. IBARAKI said the implications to labour would result in a period of disruption and chaos, but economic and social benefits would manifest in the long‑run.  Mr. SCHNAPP responded that social panic around automation was recorded throughout the history of industrialization, and would be repeated with the development of AI and robotics.  So far, evidence had shown that technological advancements would not fuel job loss, but may fuel inequality.  To address that concern, the international community must do more to ensure adequate skills and capacity‑building.

The representative from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) asked how the global community might achieve its goal of universal and affordable access to the Internet by 2020, including in the least developed countries.  Mr. IBARAKI responded that public‑private partnerships must be strengthened through outreach from the United Nations.  The enhanced engagement of all the multi‑stakeholders would be required to accelerate that goal, particularly in the least developed countries.  Mr. SCHNAPP responded that the international community must urgently acknowledge broadband access as a civil right.

The representative of Nigeria asked how technological advancements in the labour markets might impact youth unemployment, particularly in Nigeria and sub‑Saharan Africa.  Mr. HANSON responded that the technological community was actively engaging Africa in research and through open robotics programmes.  He said that such initiatives were producing significant results and supported the production of low‑cost, open source tools and resources.  Such opportunities also created welcoming environments for entrepreneurship and infrastructural developments.  Ms. KIMANI said the international community must continue to address the root causes of inequalities, while also responding to technological advancements.  Mr. IBARAKI said the investment community considered Africa the greatest new opportunity on a personalization and localization basis, thus the region would continue to see greater investments, particularly around financial services and education.  Mr. DESPOMMIER said there was great interest in establishing indoor vertical farming, which would not require significant changes to skillsets.  Thus, AI in developing communities could enhance agriculture.

The representative of Mauritius asked how to ensure that economic gains would “trickle down”, reduce poverty and ensure technological accessibility.  Mr. IBARAKI responded that the greatest growth would be seen in Africa, including through investment and representation in scientific communities.  In terms of accessibility, technology would continue to evolve and eventually the challenge would solve itself, as AI would likely appear in all devices.

The representative of Sierra Leone asked how producers would prevent robots from acquiring the “worst of human values”, while ensuring culturally relative personalities and values.  Mr. HANSON said his company was working to improve deep learning through pattern extraction.  In doing so, technological producers would include abstract reasoning in AI and empower machines to understand the consequences of their actions.  “It comes down to love,” he continued.  Technology producers would create algorithms that moved AI and computing towards wisdom and “super benevolence”.  In terms of cultural design, he said his robotics have a wide cultural diversity as characterized by different skin tones and cultural values.  Mr. IBARAKI said agreements in the European Union Parliament addressed liability, employment and ethical conduct.  Global science associations and other related reports also addressed those concerns, as well as threats to humanity’s existential existence.

The representative of Brazil said access should not only be shared with consumers, but also with producers of technology.  Greater consideration should be given to developing countries as they could play a significant role in innovation and technology, including by strengthening intellectual and financial systems.  She said that other problems may not require technological solutions, but rather political ones.  Thus, the international community must not forget human responsibilities to global challenges.  Additionally, greater consideration should be given to defining who decides ethics and values.  In that regard, she noted the use of robotics and technological advancements for military use.  As a final comment, she reinforced the importance of privacy rights with respect to innovation.  Mr. IBARAKI said that the United Nations would remain a key facilitator in those discussions, and that overall, the scientific community was encouraging broad dialogue in that regard.  The open source movement and talent crowdsourcing would continue to be widely accessible, he said.  Mr. SCHNAPP reiterated that the open source community was an open community and that most operating systems were open source.  Mr. DESPOMMIER noted a media laboratory which was working to enhance vertical farming, and the information from which would be open source.  Mr. HANSON said blockchain would help to decentralize economic initiatives and facilitate entrepreneurship.

The representative of Zambia urged that the international community continue dialogue on such issues, while ensuring a global governance system which incorporated universal codes of conduct.  Regarding job loss, he said many economies were based on low cost products, many of which would be replaced by new innovations.  In that regard, he asked how Governments might tax labour, given that humans would be replaced by robotics.  Mr. IBARAKI said taxation had already been addressed in many high‑level discussions.

The representative of South Africa asked about the future of human beings, and how to combat the unequal division of benefits.  Mr. IBARAKI said there would be a coexistence of robotics and humans.  Concerning job loss and governance, innovation would create new opportunities.  Mr. SCHNAPP said there was a diversity of opinions on how tools and technologies would interact and that they would be shaped by disparate belief systems and social values.

The representative of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development asked about the digital divide, while the representative of Global Pulse asked how to mitigate the risks of smart technologies in a manner that ensured that data was properly managed and utilized.  The latter underscored the urgency of addressing risks, as AI had “as much potential for good or harm as nuclear energy”.  In terms of human rights, he urged for a stronger governance approach to innovation.  Mr. HANSON said the international community must continue to utilize all available tools without waiting for regulation.  The value of automation, he continued, was that it managed resources efficiently, thus the democratization of technology would benefit mass production and lower costs.  Mr. IBARAKI said more consideration should be given to technological assessment and skills building.  The unintended consequences of innovation must also be addressed by all stakeholders.  Ms. KIMANI reiterated that human needs must be at the centre of conversations.  Ultimately, the international community must achieve a good balance between innovation and policy.  Mr. SCHNAPP said the international community must create a universal code of values while ensuring proper leadership to decide upon ethics and values.  Mr. DESPOMMIER said ethical considerations should not prohibit innovation, thus more open dialogue would continue to be necessary.

Concluding Remarks

Ms. STRONG questioned what the global community could do to ensure more people were empowered to take advantage of new technologies.  It was also difficult to know if the world was on the right track with certain technologies and how they could be used to increase productivity.

Mr. ZHENMIN said the world was at a critical juncture, faced with unprecedented challenges and unique opportunities for a challenging future.  Technology was the main driver of economic growth and could be revolutionary in transforming societies.  AI could bring a new industrial revolution, which would be fundamentally different than previous ones.  The influence of technology on the future was not preordained but could be influenced by proactive policies to embrace and direct it, ensuring that gains were broadly shared.

Ms. CHATARDOVÁ said the potential for grass‑roots initiatives in the field of agriculture and food security were truly inspiring as the international community sought avenues to accelerate progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  Likewise, AI‑enabled solutions in the mobility and transportation sectors would go a long way in making cities more sustainable.  Yet, there were also risks associated with those new technologies, and a need to bring regulation to issues that were so far largely ungoverned.  There was more to learn about the impact of AI on societies at large and its potential to accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. JÜRGENSON said the quest for innovative solutions to the complex challenges of the time should be particularly inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and imagination of young people around the globe, using data as their generation’s natural resource.  The benefits of technological progress and innovation to all people remained far from clear.  However, the 2030 Agenda offered a vision that could help in navigating rapid technological change.

Presentation of Reports

LAKSHMI PURI, Assistant Secretary‑General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women), introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on women in development (document A/72/282).  She said the 2030 Agenda sought to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls as a Sustainable Development Goal in its own right.  The imperative of the gender‑responsive implementation of the Agenda was the task in front of the international community.  Gender equality strategies needed to be fully integrated into national sustainable development frameworks to promote greater policy coherence.  Adding that a central commitment of the Agenda was eradicating poverty, she noted that close to 800 million people still lived in extreme poverty around the world.  Most were in informal employment and many were women.  Vulnerability was the hallmark of informal employment, lacking health or safety regulations, benefits like health insurance, pensions and other social protection.  Such work failed to meet the criteria of decent work.  Recent estimates indicated that 600 million new jobs would need to be created by 2030 to keep pace with the growth of the global working age population.  Focus was needed on young women’s entry into the labour market, including in the areas of science, technology and innovation.

DANIELA BAS, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on the Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty 2008 to 2017 (document A/72/283).  She said a survey was circulated by the United Nations to track progress and remaining challenges in addressing extreme poverty.  Recommendations from the report emphasized the need for the United Nations system to maintain momentum in the context of the 2030 Agenda.  Despite the international community continuing to make progress in poverty eradication throughout the second decade, the Millennium Development Goal targets remained only partially met.  Since 1990, around 1 billion people were lifted out of extreme poverty, however the report noted uneven progress.  Although extreme poverty dropped, poverty levels remained high in many least developed countries.  Growth had not been sufficient to meet the needs of the growing labour force, particularly in countries with large youth populations, and gaps remained in addressing undernourishment and lack of education.  Lessons learned included the importance of social policy, adequate macroeconomic policies, investment in agriculture and infrastructure, rural development and policies to build resilience and empower people living in poverty.  She emphasized the importance of partnerships and reassurance mobilization and called for greater attention to poverty eradication programmes in the national context.  The international community must continue structural transformation by driving inclusive industrialization, combating inequality, promoting decent work, investing in education and health care and improving women’s participation in the labour market.

NAVID HANIF, Director of the Office for Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on human resource development for the twenty‑first century (document A/72/292).  He said human resource development was fundamental to fulfilling the 2030 Agenda.  Currently, employment trends painted a challenging picture due to decreasing jobs in some sectors, which was compounded by vulnerable employment in many developing countries.  Rapid advancements in science and technology innovation were transforming economies and societies.  Organization of work and production were changing because of globalization.  Stressing that education, training and skill development were at the core of human resources, he said there was an urgent need to improve them.  National institutions must adapt, especially in education, training and social protection system development strategies, which must be informed by stakeholder engagement and policies.  The United Nations provided policy advice in implementing the Agenda, and would continue to do so, although technological changes were shaping its ability.  Investment was needed in the Organization’s own workforce, putting people at its centre.

General Discussion

The representative of Nigeria asked Ms. BAS for policy prescriptions for development and poverty reduction in rural areas, especially in Africa.  Ms. BAS said the international community must go through a structural transformation of how to conceive rural areas and work with them in an integrated manner.  That would mean how work would be perceived and created in rural areas, including farm and non‑farm economies.  She said innovative solutions must be compatible with the environment and respect the dignity of the people.  She stated that she would be happy to provide additional information on best practices.  Ms. PURI, responding to the same question, said the Commission on the Status of Women would be focusing on women’s empowerment in the context of rural development.  That would be an important aspect of how one could address poverty, inequality and the rural‑urban divide.  States should create in rural areas the necessary infrastructure, such as electricity, education, transport, financing and telecommunications.  Sustainable agriculture and the farm economy should address eradicating poverty, creating jobs and meeting the needs of young people.  She said such efforts would limit the uncontrolled growth of urban areas, as young people would have an incentive to stay in rural areas.

DIEGO MOREJÓN-PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said there was no way to overemphasize the relevance of poverty reduction to developing States.  It was worrisome that more that 767 million people continued to live on less than $1.90 per day, he said.  The international community made progress in eradicating poverty, as 10.7 per cent of the world’s population was extremely poor in 2013 and 9.1 per cent of the world’s population was poor in 2016.  Despite good economic performance by African countries over the last two decades, that growth was not translated into poverty reduction or the creation of adequate jobs.  In fact, 22 per cent of Africans lived on between $.70 and $1.25 per day, while 25 per cent lived on less than $.70 dollars per day.  He also expressed concern about the lack of productive employment and decent work, as 203.8 million people would be unemployed by 2018.  In that regard, he called for the creation of more economic opportunities, increased mobilization of resources and adequate means for developing countries to implement policies and programmes.  He expressed concern that the progress for women and girls remained unbalanced, and recognized that women were key contributors to the economy and combating poverty.  Stressing that human resources development was at the heart of economic, social and environmental development, he emphasized that health and education were at the core of human resources development.

Statement by Cambodia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to come.

LOIS MICHELE YOUNG (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that hurricane devastation in Barbuda and Dominica had underscored the interconnected vulnerabilities of the State and individual.  Farmers had lost their crops.  People had lost their livelihoods.  Economies, with productive sectors — agriculture and tourism — were virtually at a halt, she said.  While the Caribbean had improved its diagnosis of the complexity of the poverty problem, it had been far less progressive with its solutions.  Emphasizing that each State had a responsibility to align its plans with the 2030 Agenda, she said that the United Nations must not attempt to prescribe solutions at the domestic level.  Simply put, the needs of Caribbean countries far exceeded their means.  The added high debt and exposure to climate change only increased the region’s vulnerabilities.  The Caribbean had to work with its partners to develop financial instruments appropriate for loss and damage.  “Development is not linear,” she said, adding that the new multidimensional perspective on poverty should signal a “step change” in the response.

SHAMEES AHSAN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, recounted the progress that had been made on poverty eradication in the last decade, citing it had fallen from 43.6 per cent in 2008 to 36.3 per cent in 2013.  However, levels of extreme poverty remained high in least developed countries and therefore remained a major concern.  Pointing out the vital role of economic growth in poverty eradication, he lamented that least developed countries were growing at the slowest pace of economic expansion since 2000.  Inequality in income, wealth and opportunities remained high in those States while conflicts, climate change, diseases and economic “shocks” continued to impact them.  To strengthen efforts, least developed countries must overcome structural impediments to enhance productive capacity and encourage the participation of women and children in poverty solutions.  Greater attention should be given to the agricultural sector, he continued, without neglecting the potential of the industrial sector.  Global support through financing was also vital and, in that regard, he looked forward to the implementation of ODA, trade and foreign direct investment (FDI).  Access to technology was also essential for development.  Finally, he stressed the importance of international support in addressing the severe impacts of climate change and natural hazards.

Ms. ZAHIR (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that increasingly frequent and more intense weather events had reversed any sustainable development gains made in eradicating poverty.  Such events, in addition to the 2007 to 2009 global financial and economic crisis, put small island States further in debt.  There was limited space to diversify economies as such States that largely relied on tourism, agriculture and fisheries.  All those industries faced great harm from climate change and thus faced great volatility.  Her region’s limited resources went towards rebuilding rather than sustainable development, and any gains were further reversed by other aspects of climate change including warming ocean temperatures, sea level rise and acidification.  Her region also faced numerous unfair financial arrangements that placed countries at greater disadvantage in the global market, including illicit financial flows, unfair trade practices and taxation challenges.  Although statistics showed that many small island developing States experienced high economic growth rates, such growth did not result in sustainable job creation.  Due to those challenges, her region was left with high indebtedness.  “The odds are stacked heavily against us as we desperately try to not only meet our various international obligations but also to provide safe, productive and fruitful living conditions for our citizens,” she stated.  Gains around empowering women and girls were also set back, however she reiterated her region’s commitment to the advancement of gender equality.  She implored Member States to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change.  She also called for international financial institutions to evaluate their criteria for access to financing, and urged the Secretary‑General to ensure that small island developing States were taken into account in all reform efforts.  Finally, she called upon all partners to meet their ODA.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf CELAC and associating himself with CARICOM, said eradication of poverty and sustainable development with social, economic and financial inclusion were challenges requiring global, regional and national efforts.  The irreversible eradication of poverty was a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development and ensuring equal opportunities of progress for societies.  Sustainable development must include groups in situations of vulnerability so that no one was left behind.  Equity, social and financial inclusion and access to fair credit were central to ensure overall access to justice, citizen participation, well‑being and a dignified life.  He stressed the need to improve the mechanisms of regulation, supervision and control of the international and regional financial systems to promote an international financial environment conducive to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, considering that the mobilization of national resources was insufficient in achieving economic growth which would contribute to sustainable development and promote mechanisms of justice and social inclusion to eradicate poverty.  He also highlighted the positive impact of facilitating and increasing intraregional trade in food for food and nutrition security.  Finally, he recognized the relevancy of South‑South and triangular cooperation, complementary to North‑South cooperation, as well as ODA to increase national capacities, improve food and nutrition security and encourage the exchange of good practices.

ORLI GIL (Israel) said that eradicating poverty required promoting capacity‑building and not solely resorting to aid.  Developing countries faced many of the same challenges that Israel struggled with in its early years.  In that context, Israel continued to provide technology and training to nations facing desertification, water scarcity and water desalination.  Today, Israel reused 95 per cent of the water it consumed for agricultural purposes.  She said Israel was working with Governments, civil society, academia and the private sector to create innovative solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  Israel also offered courses to instructors from developing nations.  It viewed the involvement of women and young people in the workforce as a prerequisite to poverty eradication.

LU YUHUI (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the international community must accelerate efforts to eradicate poverty by 2030, including through domestic development.  He urged for enhanced development cooperation through the establishment of new international relationships.  He said all countries should support the United Nations, World Bank and other related institutions in their efforts for poverty eradication, and in that regard, he stressed the importance of North‑South and South‑South cooperation.  He encouraged all Governments to enhance support to developing countries and bolster in depth regional cooperation, including through pragmatic cooperation in agriculture, green energy and infrastructure among others.  He also urged the international community to promote an equitable financial order to ensure that developing countries would be enabled to improve their infrastructure, connectivity and integration into supply and value chains.  China remained committed to poverty eradication, he said, noting that more than 600 million people in the country had been lifted out of poverty.  Over the past 60 years, his Government provided 166 countries and international organizations with ODA and dispatched more than 600,000 personnel to assist with humanitarian aid.  His country also furthered initiatives for debt cancelation and would continue to deepen its cooperation and support to developing countries.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with the ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that economic growth alone did not lead to poverty eradication.  Despite being a middle‑income country, 8.23 million Filipinos were still subsistence poor.  She noted the importance of ensuring that women and girls achieved their full potential and were given equal opportunities especially in contributing to the workforce.  It was critical to empower women to participate in the labour market.  The Philippines national plan outlined strategies in improving access to childcare services, formulating policies that promoted work‑life balance, providing retraining services for women and enhancing maternal and paternal benefits.  She called on the United Nations to continue to mainstream gender and poverty elimination in their plans.

ANGELA NG (Singapore), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and ASEAN, said that social safety nets were essential to achieving sustainable development.  “Every Singaporean must be able to stand on their own two feet and live a life of dignity,” she stressed.  Jobs, family support and an empowered civil society were all crucial for communities to grow and prosper.  She emphasized the importance of life‑long learning and training to ensure that citizens were equipped with the necessary skills in changing workspaces.  Poverty was multidimensional, she continued, emphasizing that Singapore’s social safety net encompassed health care, housing, education, a mandatory comprehensive social security savings plan and income supplements for low‑wage workers.  Singapore’s social service officers were also empowered to exercise flexibility when providing aid to low‑income individuals and families, which helped tailor assistance to their needs.

JAVAD MOMENI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that his country placed people at the heart of all development and had taken numerous steps to eradicate poverty.  Women were key contributors to the economy and the Government was working to create an enabling environment for them to become equal partners and beneficiaries of development.  Underscoring the link between poverty and peace, he added that the United Nations system should continue to coordinate its support to developing countries in their efforts to fight poverty.  The proclamation of a third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty would enhance those efforts.

HA THI THANH HUYEN (Viet Nam) said that poverty eradication was at the heart of development efforts.  In the last 30 years, more than 40 million Vietnamese people had escaped poverty.  That success was attributed to economic growth that created more and better jobs.  Yet challenges remained, as poverty persisted among ethnic minorities, and rural and mountainous populations.  Viet Nam was also among the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts, including sea level rise, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones.  Natural hazards had caused average annual economic losses estimated at 1‑1.5 per cent of GDP in the last two decades.  To maintain the gains in poverty reduction, Viet Nam had to find comprehensive solutions that minimized trade‑offs.

Ms. ALMEHAID (Saudi Arabia) said her country attached great importance to the Sustainable Development Goals, and had placed a great deal of focus on empowering women.  One of the most important aspects of those efforts included bringing more women into the workforce.  The percentage of working women in the country had increased from 22 to 30 per cent, which had resulted in 1 million new jobs for women.  Saudi women were an integral part of society — they had been elected to local councils, participated in official delegations at international and regional conferences and were fully integrated in the diplomatic corps.  Further, a woman was currently the head of the Saudi stock exchange, which was the largest in the Middle East.  There were now more than 30,000 business women in Saudi Arabia, she noted, adding that women represented some 52 per cent of college students.  As a result, Saudi Arabia had expanded scientific departments to accommodate the influx of women studying in that area.

MAHLATSE MMINELE (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that poverty remained the greatest global challenge and its eradication was a compulsory requirement for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.  To eradicate poverty in developing countries, those countries needed a fair chance as well as policy space to develop their economies, in order to bring about transformative sustainable development.  Member States should also demonstrate their will by committing to a rules‑based, non‑discriminatory multilateral system that would address systematic imbalances.

TLHALEFO BATSILE MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Africa Group, said that the pace of job creation remained inadequate in relation to the growing labour force.  His Government had made poverty eradication its top priority through social protection programmes that targeted the destitute and orphans.  He called on various development partners to continue assisting developing countries in terms of technical aid and capacity‑building, particularly in the areas of science and technology.  He reiterated that Africa had lagged behind all other regions in using information and communications technology (ICT).  While major challenges remained, Botswana had made significant progress to empower women and would remain committed to ensuring that no women and girls were left behind.

Mr. HENCKERT (Namibia) said that his Government had put in place several policies to protect workers, including minimum wage for key industries, safety standards and adherence to suitable environmental practices.  All primary and secondary school children had the right to free basic education, he said, pointing out that his country was undergoing a demographic transition, which presented an opportunity to leverage the large number of young workers to help build the economy.  The classification of Namibia as an upper‑middle‑income country was problematic, he said, because that did not take into account the huge income disparity between the rich and the poor.

RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN, the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, he stressed the need to improve the quality of life for all citizens by investing in education and health, and diversifying the economy.  Outlining ways to increase Cambodia’s GDP by 2025, he noted that diversifying exports would help to deviate overreliance on the garment, tourism and agriculture industries.  Cambodia’s achievements in poverty reduction had been driven by robust and equitable macroeconomic growth.  That included strong checks on inflation, significant increases in agricultural production and productivity, and strengthening and improving infrastructure.  International support was still welcomed, he said, noting that official development assistance (ODA) played a significant role in contributing to the success of the 2030 Agenda.

MAHE’ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that issues such as health, education and economic growth were all of importance for his Government.  As such, he said that various strategies and policies had been put in place to support those areas including human resources development and poverty eradication.  Programmes that improved education and training, addressed non‑communicable diseases by promoting healthy lifestyles and formal services that helped the most vulnerable, including the elderly and disabled, were now all in place in Tonga.  Further, strengthening women’s economic empowerment and ensuring equal access to full and productive employment and decent work were other areas of concern and had been bolstered thanks to support from the European Union and various civil society initiatives.

Mr. ALKHAFAJI (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country’s poverty rate had dropped to about 13 per cent in 2013 due to falling oil prices and the occupation by ISIL, which had led to unprecedented displacement of the population.  Iraq’s development plans extended to 2030 with a view to eradicating poverty by increasing wages and reducing disparities in pay between men and women.  Iraq granted loans to help the poor create new businesses and small‑scale projects, he said, emphasizing that more assistance was needed from the international community to alleviate poverty due to the country’s unique circumstances.

MAYTHONG THAMMAVONGSA (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries, and ASEAN, saying that reducing extreme poverty and overcoming other daunting development challenges would not be possible without further strengthening international development cooperation.  In that connection, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic called on development partners to scale‑up financing for United Nations operational activities, he said, adding that the Government attached great importance to eradicating poverty and to rural development, he said, calling attention to his country’s particular development challenges due to the prevalence of unexploded ordnance.

Mr. TAMALGO (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that in 2016, his country had adopted a national socioeconomic plan for the period 2016‑2020 with a view to transforming the domestic economy through a favourable industrial environment and reform of the education system.  The Government had also promoted competitive industries, thereby strengthening productivity and the marketing of agricultural products.  Structural changes included improved urbanization, a lower birth rate and falling child mortality.  Ultimately, the effect of the national strategy would be the creation of 50,000 decent jobs per year, he said.  The strategy would also reduce demographic growth to 2.7 per cent by 2020, accelerate human capital and reduce negative consumption patterns.  Burkina Faso would continue its efforts to mobilize its natural resources to finance that strategy, he said.

CHRISTINE KALAMWINA (Zambia), associating herself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, recalled that for more than a decade, his country had been on a path to realizing its Vision 2030 of becoming a prosperous middle‑income country.  However, persistently high national poverty levels remained at around 54.4 per cent, despite strong economic growth.  The situation in rural areas was even worse, with poverty estimated to be around 76.6 per cent, she noted.  The number of vulnerable households had also taken an upward swing, with people lacking access to such essential basic services as health care, education, water and sanitation.  In that context, the Government of Zambia had committed to reducing the national poverty rate by 20 per cent by 2021.

LEULESEGED TADESE ABEBE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the progress made in eradicating poverty was uneven across and within regions, adding that 35 per cent of the people in least developed countries could still be living in poverty by 2030.  The Government of Ethiopia continued to coordinate development efforts with political commitment, and as a result of its efforts, the national economy had registered double‑digit growth through three consecutive national development plans.  Poverty had declined from 45 to 22 per cent, and per capita income had grown from $377 in 2009 to $794 in 2016.  Ethiopia had also undertaken legal and policy measures that had attracted special attention to the economic empowerment and political participation of women and girls, he said.  Reducing poverty by generating decent and productive jobs while consolidating the pace of structural transformation would remain among the top development priorities, but national efforts would not succeed without a revitalized global partnership and an enabling development environment.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said poverty was the result of the unjust and exclusionary economic model that had prevailed in recent decades.  Capitalism had never placed human beings at its heart and had doomed millions of people to lives of poverty.  Foreign occupation, political and economic destabilization, colonialism, war and the international financial system were the real obstacles that must be overcome if poverty was to be eradicated, he emphasized.  The world’s richest minority continued to benefit from that unfair world order, while its poorest people remained marginalized and excluded, he said, underlining the need to change the world economic order in order to ensure that everybody benefited, rather than a select number of elites.  Measures of poverty should take levels of inequality into account from the perspective of economic, social and citizen rights, he said.

GONZALEZ PENA (Cuba), associating himself with the Group of 77, CELAC and AOSIS, said the current international economic order was deeply unjust and unsustainable.  It had the increasingly profound effect of marginalizing many nations in the global South.  Hunger, extreme poverty, illiteracy, lack of sanitation and premature death remained constant in many countries, and more than 80 per cent of the world’s population survived on less than one dollar a day, he said, adding that one billion people lived in extreme poverty.  Those statistics stood in stark contrast to data on the developed world, he noted.  Cuba believed firmly in South‑South cooperation and international solidarity, sharing its modest resources with other nations through international cooperation, he said, emphasizing that humanity’s survival would depend on social justice, equality and respect for the rights of all peoples.

LOT DZONZI (Malawi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, expressed concern that poverty remained a hurdle to sustainable development, despite the progress made in reducing poverty numbers from 17.8 per cent of the world population in 2008 to 10.7 per cent in 2013.  In Africa, levels of extreme poverty remained very high despite the drop in the proportion of people living on less than $1.90 per day from 44.8 per cent in 2008 to 39.2 per cent in 2013.  Malawi’s poverty rates had exceeded 70 per cent in 2013, he recalled, adding that it had made great strides in reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS as well as maternal and child mortality.  However, challenges remained in unemployment, particularly for young people, he said.  Addressing them would require consistent and reliable resources that would facilitate technological diversification, economic expansion and increased industrialization, he emphasized.  The Government promoted women’s participation at all levels, and embraced the need to improve their terms and conditions by facilitating reconciliation with unpaid care work and eliminating gender discrimination in the labour market.  He also urged inclusive action to address issues relating to water, energy, resilient housing, sustainable consumption and production patterns as well as sustainable ecosystems and partnerships.