9574th Meeting (resumed) (PM)

Draw on Power of Women, Youth to Build Sustainable Peace, End Inequality, Speakers Tell Security Council as it Concludes Debate on Empowering All Actors to Prevent Conflict

Harnessing the experience and potential of women and youth by enabling their meaningful inclusion in decision-making is essential for building sustainable peace and breaking the vicious cycle in which inequality breeds conflict, speakers stressed today as the Security Council concluded its open debate on promoting conflict prevention by empowering all actors.  (For background, see Press Release SC/15623.)

The reality on the ground in Afghanistan, the Sahel, Ethiopia, Haiti, Gaza, Myanmar, Sudan, Syria and Yemen is that international law is blatantly disregarded by parties to conflicts, observed the representative of Bulgaria, setting the stage.  Equally concerning, she said, is that women and youth do not participate equally and meaningfully in the pursuit of sustainable peace.  Against that backdrop, she urged all stakeholders to ensure that conflict-prevention measures and policies are crafted through the lens of gender equality and the empowerment of every member of society.

Building on that, Lithuania’s representative acknowledged the importance of dismantling patriarchal power structures, with a particular focus on the meaningful inclusion of women and youth.  Further, he said that women’s engagement in peace processes often produces “a shift in dynamics, a broadening of the issues discussed — increasing the chances of community buy-in and addressing root causes”.  Similarly, the speaker for Albania stressed that women and youth are agents of change who can contribute to conflict prevention and resolution through their distinct perspective and experiences.

“We know from our own experience that ensuring the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all stages of peace processes is not optional, but is necessary in order to sustain peace,” emphasized Ireland’s representative.  However, women continue to be underrepresented, and he called on the United Nations to “lead by example” and ensure that more women are brought to the table in all peace processes it supports.

Also offering suggestions to the Organization was Paraguay’s delegate, who said that the Council’s design of future peace missions must “have enough foresight” to allow other UN agencies and international financial institutions to be part of the transition process after a conflict situation is stabilized.  He also encouraged the organ to establish exit strategies that can be applied in a timely manner so they can become part of national efforts to return to peace.

Ghana’s representative, on that point, observed: “The hope for prosperity and development that usually accompanies the withdrawal of UN peacekeeping missions in post-conflict countries risks being undermined if adequate attention is not paid to structural fragilities during transitions.”  He therefore called for transitions that empower and support national stakeholders — including organizations led by women and youth — “who are instrumental in maintaining lasting peace and security long after the departure of peacekeepers”.

The speaker for South Sudan also underlined the importance of national prevention strategies, urging a “whole-of-society” approach that ensures inclusive national ownership.  Such an approach involves protecting women’s rights, promoting their participation, addressing structural gender inequalities, being climate-sensitive, engaging in early warning mechanisms and building relationships with local communities.  “With regular communication, we can understand local contexts and potential risks,” she emphasized.

Echoing that was Sri Lanka’s representative, who said that women’s and young people’s understanding of existing socio-cultural contexts allows for the effective implementation of reintegration strategies — making their involvement indispensable in post-conflict peacebuilding processes.  To exclude them from peace negotiations, agreements and decision-making spaces, said Argentina’s representative, means that their needs and rights are weakened or rendered invisible.

Women must be included in all stages of decision-making in peacebuilding — including through leadership roles in peace negotiations, conflict-resolution mechanisms and post-conflict reconstruction efforts — stressed the speaker for Viet Nam.  Further, tackling youth-related issues such as education, employment and welfare is key to preventing violent extremism and radicalization.  A peacebuilding strategy that focuses on the nexus between sustainable development and peace can play a significant role in breaking the vicious cycle of underdevelopment, inequality, injustice and violence, he added.

Haiti’s representative said that the situation that Haitians are currently living through is an example of such a cycle, pointing out that high levels of poverty and inequality in his country — along with limited access to basic services — is fuelling a cycle of violence and impeding efforts towards lasting peace.  He therefore underlined the importance of improving access to education and opportunity — particularly for women and youth — but stressed that this requires strong, coordinated international support. 

For his part, the speaker for Chile said that countries with greater economic power should lead by example in building a more fair and balanced international system, including in global economic and financial governance.  Priority areas of investment and empowerment for women and youth should include support for crisis response, incentivizing local peace initiatives and inclusive dialogues and countering disinformation and hate speech.

On that, the representative of the United Arab Emirates observed that, while extremism and hate speech are regrettably on the rise, this dangerous trend can be reversed through good governance, sustainable development and the promotion of tolerance.  He also underlined the need for an international peacebuilding architecture capable of “fostering cooperation at scale”, detailing a digital humanitarian platform launched by his country that aims to support Governments’ ability to harness international support and thereby facilitate more efficient assistance to affected countries. 

“Peace can be easily lost, but building and maintaining peace is the most challenging endeavour,” observed Cambodia’s delegate, underscoring that promoting conflict prevention contributes to building resilient societies where no one is marginalized.  Portugal’s representative, stating that “investing in women is investing in peace”, stressed that without allotting the necessary time, space and resources for prevention, “we will remain firefighters instead of peacebuilders”.

For information media. Not an official record.