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Inaugural Address by Smt. Ruchi Ghanashyam, Secretary (West) at “Integrated Programme on Mainstream Agenda in UN Peacekeeping to end Conflict Related Sexual Violence”

February 05, 2018

Lt Gen Sarath Chand, Vice Chief of Army Staff
Ambassador Nils Ragnar Kamsvag
Lt Gen PK Singh, Director (USI)
Ms Nishta Satyam
Ladies and Gentlemen


Let me begin first of all by thanking USI and UN Women for taking the initiative to put together a training programme on such an important subject.

Let me also thank the participants for attending this program in such good numbers.

Thank You Ambassador, (Norway), for your country’s support to this collaboration effort between UN Women and USI.

Thank you also very much for inviting me to this inaugural session.

India has been contributing to UN peacekeeping activities for over half a century. We are committed to share our experience with other member states who wish to contribute to UN peacekeeping activities. We believe that bilateral or trilateral training collaborations like this one is one of the fastest ways to disseminate this experience to others.

The United Services Institute is one of the oldest institutions in India devoted to the study of War. With its phenomenal power to convoke senior and experienced military commanders, with first-hand experience in UN peacekeeping operations, it is very well placed for conducting such bilateral and trilateral training collaborations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It has perhaps become a cliché to say that conflict environments that the present generation of UN peacekeepers are called upon to operate in, are vastly different from those that previous generations of peacekeepers encountered in the 50s, the 60s and even up to the 1980s. Typical ‘Inter-state’ conflicts of the past, that required a simple peacekeeping operations to stabilize, have now given way to seemingly intractable ‘Intra-State’ conflicts that typically involve ‘parties’ that could range from recognizable "armed groups” to shadowy militias, renegade factions of the state, and even terror and drug cartels. UN peace operations today necessarily have to be multi disciplinary, with the ability and mandate to achieve multiple tasks simultaneously. UN peace operations today are about of range of actions - stopping conflict, preventing re-emergence of conflict, peace-making, peacekeeping, and activities to sustain the peace.

Studies from academia, and our own experience in peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities from the field has taught us that women and the gender perspective can play a vital role in all these activities.

But the question to ask ourselves is, are we acting upon these lessons?

A study conducted by the UN Secretariat some time ago showed that women participation in any peace process raises the probability that the process will succeed in establishing and then sustaining peace. Yet, women continue to be almost entirely absent either as Mediators, as signatories and witnesses to peace Agreements, or as active negotiators.

Very clearly we are not acting upon our lessons. The many long standing UN missions that exist today, show us the consequences of this. Mainstreaming of Gender in UN peacekeeping activities is an urgent task before us. And there is perhaps no better place to begin than within the United Nations itself.

We need many more women occupying top level jobs in the United Nation’s peace and security pillar.

We need many more women police, military and civilian officers deployed in the field. Many UN Military commanders vouch for the fact that a large contingent of women military, police or civilian officers helps foster a sense of stability in the Mission area. It allows the Mission’s civilian and military leaders to better understand the dynamics of a post-conflict society and find ways pathways to reconciliation, and successful peace building activities.

Yet even in 2017 only 3.6% of the military, 9.8% of the police, and 22% of the civilian component in UN peace operations are women.

The disruptive long term impacts on societies, and the difficulties that CRSV incidents create for subsequent peace making and peace building operations are too well known and do not require reiteration here.

The time has, therefore, come for the international community to launch a massive effort to put a definitive end to this scourge. It is also perhaps one of the most important and urgent steps that we need to undertake to assure the credibility and effectiveness of UN peace operations in future years. In India we do believe that it now the very credibility and legitimacy of the role the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace security that is at stake.

Common sense therefore tells us that to tackle the growing incidents of CRSV we need effective peace operations on the ground, and for effective peace operations on the ground we need to mainstream the gender perspective in all aspects of UN peace operations.

India will continue to be supportive of initiatives to enhance gender parity within the United Nations such as the ongoing efforts of the Secretary General to reach gender parity among senior UN staff by 2021 and across the entire UN system by 2028.

We will be supportive of enhance pre-deployment training opportunities for women peacekeepers in the military and civilian fields. I am happy that India piloted the Female Military Officers’ Course (FMOC) in 2015 in partnership with UN Women which has now been replicated in three other countries, including China, Kenya and South Africa. We were the first country to provide an all-female Formed Police Unit in 2007 in Liberia, which demonstrated the key role that women police officers can play in the field.

We will also be supportive of all efforts by Secretary General to introduce a "zero tolerance” culture within the United Nations. We were one of the first contributors to the Secretary-General’s Fund for Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse established in 2016 and the Prime Minister of India has joined the "Circle of Leadership” to lend our voice to this movement.

We will in other words continue to do all that we can.

The Integrated Programme on Mainstreaming Gender in UN Peacekeeping to end Conflict Related Sexual Violence being conducted here at the United Service Institute in partnership with UN Women is a small but important contribution to this overall international effort that we must undertake very urgently.

Thank you once again. I wish all the participants success in their course.

Thank you

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