Statement of Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, 27 October 2017
We thank France for organizing this important meeting and extend our appreciation to the Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary General, the Executive Director of UN Women, the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security and the Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie for their efforts and important briefings.
The issue before us is of relevance not only for half the planet, but to all, given the role and contribution of women in the fields of peace and security and the untapped potential that could be unleashed by mainstreaming their participation. Since the adoption by consensus of resolution 1325 by this Council, a lot has happened, and yet we are still far from the goal of full and equal participation, including in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building, and from ensuring the protection and empowerment of women. Gender equality and non-discrimination remain prerequisites for the fulfilment of the purposes and principles of this organization and all of our lofty, collective commitments, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The State of Palestine welcomes the Secretary General’s report and his commitment to implementing the women and peace and security agenda, including by placing gender at the centre of his prevention platform and surge in diplomacy. We appreciate all efforts by the UN in this regard, including by UN Women, OHCHR and UNDP, notably in the field of human rights, capacity building, employment and rule of law. We urge UN bodies, notably those operating in Palestine, including the Special Representative, to intensify their engagement and collaboration with women organizations.
I wish to highlight some of Palestine’s own important efforts in this regard. The Palestinian women’s movement is one of the oldest and strongest in the region and beyond, with institutional and representative structures established as early as the 19th century. Within the PLO, the General Union of Palestinian Women was among the first unions to be established. A coordination of women frameworks within PLO political parties and other organizations has also been established as the “Women’s Affairs Technical Committee” in the aftermath of the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference.
There have been many achievements thereafter. Among them: In 2012, Palestine inaugurated a High-Level National Committee for the implementation of resolution 1325, led by the Ministry of Women Affairs in partnership with relevant Ministries and NGOs. In 2016, the State of Palestine was among the 68 countries and areas that adopted a National Action Plan on women, peace and security.
This Action Plan (2017-2019), adopted by both the Government and civil society organizations, identifies three primary objectives: 1. ensuring protection for women and girls both domestically and in the face of the Israeli occupation; 2. ensuring accountability through national and international mechanisms, with a particular focus on crimes and violations committed by the occupation; and 3. furthering women’s political participation in decision making at the national and international level. The State of Palestine also joined core IHL and human rights instruments, including CEDAW, without reservations. Women’s participation and empowerment are also important and cross-cutting objectives in the context of the National Policy Agenda (2017-2022).
We are, however, conscious that, despite all these efforts, much more work remains to be done. Only in 2009 was a women elected to the highest executive body of the PLO. Quotas are still decisive in allowing women’s election to Parliament and local councils. And while women organizations were among the strongest advocates of national reconciliation, they have been unfairly absent from reconciliation talks. The relevant legislative framework applicable in Palestine is also outdated and must be revised to ensure consistency with Palestine’s international commitments and obligations and avail women the protection and rights they are entitled to and the opportunities they deserve.
The Palestinian women’s movement since its establishment over a century ago pursued the struggle on two fronts – the struggle for the independence of Palestine and the struggle for women’s rights and empowerment – a dual struggle the movement continues to pursue to this day. The Israeli occupation remains the main source of the violations of our women’s rights and their vulnerability and violence against their person. We have repeatedly called for protection of the Palestinian people, especially women and children. We have also called for accountability, a key element of resolution 1325, the first resolution to address the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women, as the only way to put an end to violations and crimes.
While Palestine stands ready to do its part to advance women rights and the role of women in the fields of peace and security, it is clear that the enjoyment of these rights in our country necessitates ending the Israeli occupation. We will thus continue to work for an end of the occupation and true progress on the path to independence, justice and peace, with the equal and full involvement of women, leading to an independent State of Palestine ensuring human rights for all its citizens without discrimination.