Remarks at an Arria Formula Meeting on Women Peace and Security in the Middle East and North Africa

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations

New York City
January 24, 2019


Thanks Mr. Minister. The United States remains strongly committed to the global Women Peace and Security agenda. While this effort began as an initiative of the Security Council, we continue to believe that it requires the full commitment, leadership, and action of all member states and the entire UN system.

We thank the sponsors of today’s event for bringing us together in that spirit here today. Thank you to our briefers as well. We are inspired by the work that you are doing. Your remarks today are so important as we consider what our work is in the Council and broadly here at the UN as well. Thank you very much. Promoting women’s equal and meaningful inclusion across efforts to restore security, promote democracy and support economic development is not simply a women’s issue, it is a global security issue vital for progress.

While a growing number of countries have National Action Plans, much work remains in closing the gap for women in peace and security and ensuring more countries in the Middle East and beyond join in this critical effort. We need more countries to draft and adopt National Action Plans, a process that in of it itself can strengthen national security and give women a seat at the table. However, just as importantly, we also must implement those plans and we must continuously update them. Just as we each regularly review our national security strategies, we should also take a regular look at our women, peace and security National Action Plans to renew them and to reinvigorate them.

The United States is doing just that. We are currently developing our new national strategy on Women, Peace and Security. The effort is the culmination of U.S. legislation signed into law in 2017 that will chart a path for the United States to continue to advance the women, peace and security agenda globally.

The United States is also helping other countries draft or revise their National Action Plans. In the Middle East, we supported implementation of Iraq’s National Action Plan and recognize Jordan’s leadership in launching the region’s first funded action plan. Throughout the region, we are committed to getting women to the peace table, which is why we are funding efforts for Yemeni women to engage in their country’s peace process as well.

These national-level steps mark incremental progress and growing recognition that the Women, Peace and Security field is essential for building resilience and security that works for all people, regardless of where they live or the threats that they face.

Essential to these efforts is hearing from affected communities and institutions, especially on how to more effectively include women, from local law enforcement and military, to governments, to academics, NGOs, local women, civil society and other advocates of peace.

By integrating gender perspectives, as well as inclusive staffing across the security sector, security institutions can become more effective and accountable as well and better able to respond to the needs of their entire populations.

For instance, as police officers, women improve community-police relations, which can contribute to early warning of violence as well as prevent violent extremism. Women peacekeepers offer unique skillsets, perspectives, and opportunities for engagement that make peace operations more effective. We therefore commend and support the Secretary General’s call for Member States to increase the number of civilian and uniform women in peacekeeping at all levels.

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa can take steps to enhance the recruitment and retention of women in their security sectors through the National Action Plans that we are discussing today. These country strategies can help identify and overcome barriers to women’s participation. With the scope of the global crises that we face today, we cannot afford to leave half our populations on the sidelines.

Thank you.