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For Immediate Release
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UN Security Council: Create Senior Post on Women and War

Decade-Old Promises Unfulfilled Because of Lack of Leadership


The UN Security Council should urgently establish a high-level post
to fill a leadership gap relating to women and armed conflict, Human
Rights Watch said today. A special representative of the
secretary-general assigned to this issue would be able to push for
protection against sexual violence and to promote equal participation
by women in peace talks. The Security Council is to hold a discussion
this morning on the issue of women, peace, and security.

"It has been 10 years since the Security Council acknowledged that
women experience war differently than men and that this is a relevant
security concern," said Marianne Mollmann, women's rights advocate at
Human Rights Watch. "But at all levels - national, intergovernmental,
the United Nations - it's been almost all talk and hardly any action."

In a recent report on
the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, Human Rights Watch
concluded that sexual violence continues unabated - or worse - despite
condemnatory remarks from the Security Council.

Although the Security Council has recognized that involving women in
peace processes and peacekeeping is essential to improving the response
to such abuses, women continue to be substantially underrepresented in
peacekeeping and peace negotiations. Only four of 23 leaders of UN
peacekeeping field missions are women, based on information on the UN
Peacekeeping Operations website. A recent study by UNIFEM, the UN fund
for women, shows little if any movement on the participation of women
in peace processes and negotiations over the past decade.

"The leadership vacuum on women and armed conflict has enormous
consequences," Mollmann said. "Where women have been more directly
involved in peace processes, the negotiated solutions have been more
likely to include the concerns of the society as a whole."

The United Nations has created a template for addressing this type
of entrenched problem in its actions concerning the abuse of children
in armed conflict. In 1996, the secretary-general appointed a special
representative on children and armed conflict, and the Security Council
created a working group and a monitoring and reporting mechanism on
this issue in 2005. While the working group initially primarily dealt
with the issue of child soldiers, the Security Council this week
expanded its mission to include reducing sexual violence committed
against children in conflict.

The Security Council is expected to return to the subject of a new
mechanism on women, peace, and security and consider a resolution in

"The expansion of the mechanism on children and armed conflict is a
tremendous step forward," said Mollmann. "But protecting a girl from
rape, for example, shouldn't end when she turns 18. The Security
Council should act quickly to provide the same protection for women."

Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.