remarks during an interactive third committee on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Secretary-General Guterres, for your unwavering commitment to this important cause. And thanks to the other briefings that have given us important insights into the progress made since Resolution 1325 was adopted, and – more importantly – identified shortcomings that we all need to 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 adopt comprehensive national legislation codifying our commitment.

Just last June, President Trump announced the US strategy on women, peace and security, outlining new, concrete actions to accelerate US efforts. The strategy recognizes the central role that women play in preventing and resolving conflict, combating terrorism and violent extremism, and building peace and stability after conflict.

It starts 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 clear and urgent than in peacekeeping operations. I saw firsthand how important it is to visit female peacekeepers during the visit to South Sudan. In an environment where women are often the victims of conflict and bear the brunt of families broken by fighting, women peacekeepers offer empathy and meaningful support to the people they serve to create resilience so that they can recover from violence.

As we increase the number of female peacekeepers, we also see improved performance, fewer incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, and greater likelihood that women will step forward to report sexual and gender-based violence.

To increase the number of women in peacekeeping, governments need to reduce barriers to entry and provide leadership opportunities for women in national security roles. Countries contributing troops and police must adopt and promote policies to achieve these goals.

All troop- and police-contributing countries must also apply the UN’s zero tolerance policy by addressing allegations of ill-treatment quickly and credibly. The United States praises the efforts of the UN to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse. However, more needs to be done, including ensuring the repatriation and prosecution of individuals and units that commit these heinous crimes. Victims deserve justice.

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

The U.S. strategy also promotes the protection of human rights for women and girls, gives victims a voice and access to humanitarian aid, and provides security against gender-based violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse around the world. The strategy strengthens the US commitment to prevention and focuses on accountability.

The United States is also actively working with partners around the world to support their efforts to promote women’s participation in political and security decisions.

In Colombia, women are increasingly welcome in the peace processes and their perspectives are being incorporated into negotiated agreements. In Afghanistan, as mentioned from Zarqa, women now hold important positions within the government and take part in the US mediation peace talks, but they are threatened and we all have to support them.

And in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have seen MONUSCO elevate women to leadership positions as part of a project aimed at restoring social cohesion between conflicting communities.

We also supported the Language of Women, Peace and Security in peacekeeping and special political mission missions. Despite efforts by some members to thwart these efforts, our language has permeated meaningful participation of women in peace negotiations and other political processes. We hope that mandates will always advance the interests of women and promote their active roles in peace and security.

The United States calls on all Member States, all of us, to adopt and implement national action plans and strategies for women, peace and security. The United States is ready to support the Member States in this endeavor. Indonesia has worked on this Council during this time to promote women and currently employs more than 150 women in peacekeeping missions around the world. Kenya’s progress in implementing the plan could 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 these and all global peace and security issues.

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

Thank you.

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Marilyn Gayton
ECOSOC advisor
US Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
29 October 2020

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