Norway to prioritise women, peace, security at Security Council meet

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Norway, which serves as president of the Security Council for the month of January, will prioritise the issue of women, peace and security in the council’s work, said the Norwegian UN ambassador.

“Norway is committed to making women, peace and security a top priority during our presidency. We will prioritise the participation of women peacebuilders and human rights defenders,” said Mona Juul, Norway’s permanent representative to the UN on Tuesday.

Women are often among the hardest affected by conflict, yet remain marginalised when it comes to political processes and peacemaking, she told a press briefing on January’s programme of the Security Council’s work, Xinhua news agency reported.

Norway plans to hold a “signature event” on January 18 on addressing violence targeting women in peace and security processes, she said.

“In the council, we always speak about full, equal and meaningful participation of women. That’s why we are extremely concerned about threat, intimidation and reprisals against women who engaged in peace processes, including those who briefed the council. Therefore, our first council signature event will be looking at (how) to identify concrete ways — on how we can address and prevent threat and reprisals against women.”

The January 18 event, in the form of an open debate, will be chaired by the Norwegian foreign minister, she said.

Norway also aims to have civil society briefers in all open meetings of the Security Council in January, said Juul. “The contribution of civil society to the council creates an important bridge between what is being discussed in the council and the impact felt on the ground.”

A second “signature event” on January 25 is in the area of protection of civilians, and will concentrate on the threats to civilians in urban warfare, she said.

Today’s wars are not fought in the field, but in cities, with a huge impact on civilians, in particular, on children. The open debate will be chaired by the Norwegian Prime Minister and the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross has been invited to brief. The aim of the meeting will be to discuss how civilians in conflict in urban areas can be better protected and have their rights respected, said Juul.

Norway has decided to elevate the quarterly open debate on the situation in the Middle East to a ministerial level this month. The January 19 debate will be chaired by the Norwegian foreign minister.

“In our view, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict deserves more attention… We think it’s critical to enhance the council’s focus and the need to find a political solution to this protracted conflict, and to make sure that we avoid further actions that undermine the prospect of a two-state solution,” she said.

Apart from the meetings, Norway has also planned a Security Council retreat in the middle of the month known as the “mini-Oslo Forum,” she said.

“We would like to invite all members of the council to an informal, closed discussion on how we can do better when it comes to preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution,” said Juul, noting that her country has a long tradition of engaging in peace and reconciliation efforts around the world.

Among the topics to be discussed will be Afghanistan and Colombia. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also be invited to the retreat, she said.

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