Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 20, 2022
Thank you very much, Mr. President. And let me thank Gabon for hosting this very important debate. The large number of speakers that we have on our agenda today reflects the high-priority that we all give this issue. I also want to thank Deputy-Secretary-General Mohammed for her strong support and for her presence with us today. UN Women Executive Director Bahous, Special Envoy Diop, and Ms. Nader, thank you for your excellent presentations as well today.
Colleagues, the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda, as outlined by Resolution 1325, offers a transformational vision: A world where women and girls are protected, included, and play an essential role for forging peace. Our charge is to make this vision a reality. Not just in words, but in deeds and actions.
For our part, the United States took the important step of codifying our commitment to women’s participation and safety in peace and security processes. And today, we are calling on other countries to do the same. We must all be held accountable, and we must be accountable. And we must build on the growing body of policies to affirm gender equality and equality in security, peacemaking, and peacekeeping.
Colleagues and friends, this call is urgent because right now we face a pivotal moment for the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda. Around the world, women and girls are under threat from conflict and repressive regimes. Under threat from climate and under threat from poverty. Risks have gone up, including the threat of kidnapping, torture, killing, and gender-based violence. Women leaders, human rights defenders, activists are particularly targeted by online threats and harassment and abuse. They are often the subject of disinformation campaigns, designed to intimidate, discredit, and silence their calls for peace.
We see these same patterns around the world, and especially in areas affected by conflict.
In Ethiopia, this past week we have seen renewed and horrific violence. The International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia found reasonable grounds to believe that Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, and Fano have committed widespread acts of rape and sexual violence against Tigrayan women and girls. The Commission also reported that Tigrayan Forces have committed acts of rape and sexual violence, as well.
In Ukraine, the UN has verified more than 100 cases of rape and sexual assault since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February. These cases are only the tip of the iceberg. The UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict said, “When women are held for days and raped, when you start to rape little boys and men, and when you see a series of genital mutilations, when you hear women testify about Russian soldiers equipped with Viagra, it’s clearly a military strategy.” A military strategy using rape as a weapon of war.
In Afghanistan, we must recognize the heroic women and girls who are navigating the destructive, repressive policies of the Taliban. We heard from Ms. Nader about the horrific attack that took place on the Hazara School, killing more than 60 people. These policies defy the standard set out in our Security Council resolutions. And as we work to counter those unacceptable policies, and lift up the voices of women, the U.S. established the U.S.-Afghan Consultative Mechanism. This mechanism systematically engages a diverse range of Afghan voices, particularly women and civil society leaders, to ensure their perspectives are integrated into our policy discussions. We also launched the Alliance for Afghan Women’s Economic Resilience, based on consultations with Afghan women. Our goals with these efforts and others are to support and respond to the innovation and resilience among Afghan women at this harrowing time.
And finally, the eyes of the entire world are on Iran right now. Courageous and brave Iranians from across society, women and men, are protesting the death of Mahsa Amini. They are protesting the fact that she was killed by the Iranian morality police for the crime of being a woman. And they are protesting the denial of basic freedoms that every woman, every girl, every person should be entitled to.
Colleagues, whether it is Iran or Afghanistan, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Haiti, or Burma or elsewhere, this is a moment. It is a moment where women and girls are looking to us, to this Security Council, to support them in their bravery, in their time of need. To do this, we must fortify the UN infrastructure we have established over the past decade to prevent conflict-related sexual violence.
We must ensure Women, Peace, and Security language is deliberately and strategically integrated into Security Council country resolutions. We must promote woman’s leadership, whether it’s in their villages, it’s in their capitals, or it’s on the international stage, as we five women members of this Security Council here promote, and the many other women see around this room today.
We need to make this critical moment to band together as a global community to not just wear pink today as a sign of our support, but raise our voices; raise our voices to demand the change that we know that the women of this world need. We know that we can do that, we must, and we have to do it. We have to do it for the girls, and for the women, and for the peace and security that they will bring the world, but also the peace and security that they need to have from the world.
Thank you, Mr. President.