Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace, and Security (via VTC)

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 29, 2020


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Secretary-General Guterres, for your unwavering commitment to this important issue. And thanks to the other briefers, who provided us with important insights on progress made since Resolution 1325 was adopted, and – even more importantly – identified shortcomings that we all must address.

The United States has never been more committed to the goals of Resolution 1325, and the Trump Administration has been a leader in advancing the Women, Peace, and Security agenda.

When President Trump signed the Women, Peace, and Security Act in 2017, the United States became the first country in the world to pass comprehensive national legislation codifying our commitment.

Just last June, President Trump released the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security, which outlines new, concrete actions to accelerate U.S. efforts. The strategy recognizes the central role women play in preventing and resolving conflict, countering terrorism and violent extremism, and building post-conflict peace and stability.

It begins with empowering women leaders with the access, skills, and influence they need to be effective. Women have always had a strong voice; they just need to be heard.

Nowhere is this more apparent and urgent than in peacekeeping operations. I witnessed first-hand the importance of women peacekeepers while visiting South Sudan. In an environment where women are often the victims of conflict and bear the burden of providing for families broken by fighting, women peacekeepers provide empathy and sensible support to the people they serve to build resilience so they can recover from violence.

When we increase the number of women peacekeepers, we also see improved performance, fewer incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeeping troops, and greater likelihood of women coming forward to report sexual and gender-based violence.

To increase the number of women in peacekeeping, the governments must reduce barriers to entry and provide leadership opportunities for women in national security roles. Troop- and police-contributing countries should adopt and promote policies to achieve these objectives.

All troop- and police-contributing countries must also enforce the UN’s zero-tolerance policy by swiftly and credibly addressing allegations of abuse. The United States praises the efforts of the UN to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse. However, more must be done, including repatriating and ensuring the prosecution of individuals and units who commit these terrible crimes. Victims deserve justice.

The United States is deeply concerned about the recent allegations of widespread sexual exploitation and abuse by personnel purportedly employed by international organizations and private relief agencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of the Ebola response. We are following this matter closely, and expect the allegations to be taken seriously, and the necessary and appropriate steps to be taken to address the situation.

The U.S. Strategy also promotes the protection of women and girls’ human rights, gives victims a voice and access to humanitarian assistance, and provides safety from gender-based violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse around the world. The Strategy reinforces the U.S. commitment to prevention and focus on accountability.

The United States is also actively engaged with partners across the globe to support their efforts to advance women’s participation in political and security decision-making.

In Colombia, women are increasingly welcome in the peace processes and their perspectives are included into negotiated agreements. In Afghanistan, as mentioned from Zarqa, women now occupy important positions within the government and are participating in the U.S.-brokered peace talks, but they are coming under threat and we all need to support them.

And in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we’ve seen MONUSCO elevate women to leadership positions as part of a project intended to restore social cohesion between communities mired in conflict.

We have also supported the Women, Peace, and Security language in peacekeeping and special political mission mandates. Despite attempts from some members to block these efforts, we have pushed through language that promotes meaningful participation of women in peace negotiations and other political processes. Moving forward, we hope mandates will always feature the interests of women and promote their active roles in peace and security.

Today, the United States calls on all Member States, all of us, to adopt and implement National Action Plans and strategies on Women, Peace, and Security. The United States is ready to support Member States in that effort. Indonesia worked to advance women during its time on this Council and currently deploys more than 150 women in peacekeeping missions around the world. Kenya’s progress in implementing the plan can serve as a model for partners in the region and around the world. We all look forward to working even more closely with Kenya on this and all global peace and security issues.

Together, we must make it a priority to champion women, to champion girls, and protect their safety and security, and promote them so they can participate in promoting international peace and security. We must do this not just because it is the right thing to do, but because we know that our world will be safer and more prosperous when women are supported and heard.

Thank you.