Ambassador Leendertse on “Translating UN Peacekeeping WPS mandates into reality”, May 12th, 2022.
Statement delivered at the event of the same name taking place at the German House, co-hosted by Germany, UN Peacekeeping, and the Permanent Missions of Sweden and South Africa
Dear colleagues, delegates, friends, I warmly welcome you to the German House. I extend a special welcome to all Senior Gender Advisers and other Mission personnel. It is my pleasure to have you at the German House, in New York, learning from your experience “on the ground”, exchanging on avenues to strengthen gender mainstreaming in peace operations.
It is a priority for Germany to advance the WPS agenda and to enhance its implementation “on the ground”. It was also a key endeavor of our Security Council tenure 2019/2020: We initiated resolution 2467 and advocated for a survivor-centered approach. I believe that this approach is more relevant than ever, if we look, for instance, at the horrific crimes of sexual violence being committed in Ukraine.
In July 2020, Germany organized the first ever Security Council meeting on “Peace operations and human rights”. Better training of peacekeepers, especially prior to deployment, as well as effective implementation of strong measures to enhance women’s participation were among the important conclusions of this event.
Better training requires sessions on the gendered dimensions of human rights violations, including the risks of trafficking, abduction and sexual and gender-based violence. Equally relevant it is to engage with women networks, women human rights defenders and civil society and to advance women’s leadership in peace and transition processes. All of these important tasks and many more are part of – and a challenge to - your daily work.
Also, UN peace operations must lead by example and ensure that the UN “zero-tolerance” policy on sexual exploitation and abuse is duly observed and implemented. More awareness and better training on this delicate topic is key.
UN peace operations are rightly expected to prevent or end human rights violations in order to protect civilians. They draw on both their civilian and uniformed components for that purpose, for instance through Joint Protection Teams. Furthermore, mixed gender engagement teams have proven to be successful in building relationships with vulnerable groups during patrols and outreach activities. This underlines the importance of increasing the number of women peacekeepers as well as to establish gender expertise on all levels of a Mission, including a gender-responsive leadership.
As you know, Germany is committed to a Feminist Foreign Policy. Equal rights, representation and resources as well as diversity are now, even more than before, at the centre of our foreign policy. Our Foreign Minister has made clear that this also lies at the heart of Germany’s security policy. A feminist lens to peace and security is not “a nice thing to have”, but fit for our time – a time where we can no longer afford to subtract half the population from the equation of peace and security.
As a champion for WPS, we are proud to support the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative as well as its current implementation strategy A4P+. Together with other A4P+ champions, we presented practical recommendations on how to break barriers for women in peacekeeping in July 2021. They are based on a national barrier study in the German Armed Forces.
Germany’s continuous engagement against sexual and gender-based violence and for gender equality implies to look at concrete cases and support specific projects “on the ground”. It also means to measure the performance of UN staff. We endeavor to achieve accountability and justice for every single person. In this regard, it is invaluable to lead discussions with you, practitioners from the ground. I look forward to our exchange.