German Statement in the Peacebuilding Commission (Women Peace and Security), December 13th, 2022

13.12.2022 - Speech

This Statement was delivered by Ambassador Thomas Zahneisen.

I would like to thank the Chair for convening this timely and very relevant meeting on the role and participation of women in peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

The participation of the leadership of the Un Department of Peace Operations (DPO), represented by its head Under Secretary-General Lacroix, and UN Women, represented by its Chief Peace and Security, Ms. Kannisto, is a testament to the UN-wide efforts towards an equal participation of women in advancing peace. I would also like to thank the briefers for their presentations.

Since the Adoption of Resolution 1325 in 2000, we have made progress towards full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peace, peacebuilding and peacekeeping processes. Yet, we still have a long way to go.

I want to mention just one figure: across all peacekeeping missions, only 7,8 % of the personnel in military, police and justice & corrections are women.

At least we know the exact figures for PK missions. It is much harder to assess the real level of participation of women peacebuilders in conflict-affected countries. The same applies to women in peace processes and mediation. We certainly came a long way, but we are not even close to exploit their full potential.

We believe it is important that we get better, consolidated and more granular data on women’s participation in both fields in order to better target our interventions in this regard. Mr Chair, this might also be a point that this Commission could further discuss.

In addition to better data, we must collectively intensify our efforts on the ground with concrete measures to tackle the challenge. In its capacity as a “Women, Peace and Security” Champion within the UN’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, Germany strives to bring change, both at the national and at the global level:

At the national level, the German government conducted a “barrier to participation assessment” to better understand what prevents women soldiers from being deployed to UN Peace Operations. Let me mention two major points from its findings:

1) One main barrier consists in the fact that not enough women soldiers are trained as UN staff officers or military observers. Currently the proportion of women in the German Armed Forces is around 13%. Only 3 % have undertaken one or both preparatory trainings. These issues are, in parts, homemade socio-cultural issues within our own armed forces. We will try to address them.

2) At the same time, the second biggest barrier was lack of information. 80% of the women surveyed indicated that they could not access sufficient information about UN peace operations. We will launch a broad information campaign on UN Peacekeeping within the German armed forces. In this regard, we would welcome a dialogue with DPO and others actors on how to make information on specific UN Peacekeeping missions more accessible for ordinary soldiers, especially female soldiers.

At the global level, Germany is pursuing a feminist foreign policy and a feminist development strategy. We will further step up our engagement across the WPS agenda and support important UN-led initiatives.

The ELSIE initiative is doing groundbreaking work on increasing women’s participation in peace operations and support. We joined Elsie in 2017, after its launch at the initiative of Canada, and contributed 2 Mio. EUR to the Elsie Initiative Fund under the auspices of UN Women. Today’s presentation of ELSIE’s achievements confirms that this was a good decision. We encourage other members of the Commission to consider supporting ELSIE/Elsie Initiative Fund.

Germany also supports DPO in piloting a uniformed women peacekeepers network in UN peace operations. Every year, we invite up to twenty women soldiers from UN Troup Contributing Countries to take part in the UN Military Observer Course held at the German Armed Forces UN Training Center.

A final remark on creating synergies:

UN peace operations and peacebuilding efforts benefit immensely from the knowledge and voices of women in civil society (and local peacebuilding processes). As today’s briefers convincingly showed, it is a two-way street! We believe that we are not yet making the best use of UN Peacekeeping mission’s full potential to support women leadership at the local, civilian level. Too often, we still fail to increase participation of female peacebuilders and civil society organizations.

For this very reason, together with South Africa, Sweden and DPO, Germany organized a side-event on “Translating UN Peacekeeping WPS mandates into reality” in May 2022. It provided very valuable input from Gender Advisers and Units on what more to do in order to strengthen women participation and leadership in local peacekeeping and peacebuilding contexts. Those findings as well as success stories from individual missions such as MINUSCA, MONUSCO and UNMISS should be mainstreamed in other operations.

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