OSCE Asian Partners Contact Group meeting co-hosted by Japan and Italy
"The OSCE’s Commitment to Women, Peace and Security"
Statement by HE Dr Brendon Hammer, Ambassador of Australia to the OSCE
5 April 2019
Thank you Chair.
And, as this is the first Contact Group meeting for 2019, I would like to thank you, Ambassador Azzoni and to thank Italy for your early work to develop the Group’s program for the year ahead.
Australia welcomes the opportunity to participate in this Contact Group meeting, and we thank Japan for co-hosting a meeting on this important topic of the OSCE’s commitment to women, peace and security.
As an international gender champion, I particularly welcome this opportunity, noting that I’ve made promoting gender equality a priority of my Embassy’s work here in Vienna.
That’s because achieving universal gender equality is a core Australian priority across our foreign policy, economic diplomacy and development interests.
Women’s participation in peace and security efforts greatly improves the prospects for maintaining peace, and for securing and sustaining resolution of conflicts.
Women have a crucial role in bringing peace to their communities and are crucial partners in strengthening the three pillars of lasting peace:
- Economic recovery
- Social cohesion
- and Political Legitimacy.
Experience shows that where women exercise real influence in the process of peace negotiations:
- the prospects for reaching agreement increases
- the chances of agreements being implemented grows
- and the likelihood of agreements failing diminishes.Women’s meaningful participation in the public and private sphere is vital to conflict prevention, conflict resolution and sustainable peacebuilding.
To achieve such meaningful participation requires a shift in our culture, and a change in the way we approach peace and security.
We must strive persistently to create an environment that allows women – and women’s groups – to participate fully in security and peace forums.
We need to have greater gender-disaggregated data and develop responses that are gender-sensitive.
Australia is committed to the women, peace and security agenda and we will continue to advocate strongly for its objectives.
I would now like briefly to outline some of what Australia is doing in practical terms in this regard.
In my own Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade we launched a Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy in February 2016.
It applies to all work undertaken across our Department.
The Strategy is a connecting thread that runs through all of our policy making in the areas of trade, development assistance and international security, and it very much affects both our internal and external operations.
The Strategy identifies three foreign policy priorities that guide our work: these are:
- Enhancing women’s voice in decision-making, leadership and peacebuilding
- Promoting women’s economic empowerment
- And ending violence against women.
The Strategy also mandates that a minimum of 80% of our aid program contains elements that promote gender equality, women’s issues and the empowerment of women.
Australia’s commitment is further outlined in the Australian National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security (2012-18).
We are right now developing our second National Action Plan which will be released mid-2019.
The current Plan sets out Australia’s actions as being to to integrate a gender perspective into international peace and security efforts; to protect women and girls’ human rights; and to promote women’s participation in conflict prevention, management and resolution.
The Plan has five strategies for embedding women’s participation in building peace and security, these are:
1. Integrating a gender perspective into all Australia’s policies on peace and security.
2. Embedding the women, peace and security agenda into the Australian Government’s approach to human resources management for:
- Our Defence Organisation
- the Australian Federal Police
- and our deployed personnel
3. Supporting civil society organisations to promote equality and to increase women’s participation
- in conflict prevention
- conflict resolution
- and relief and recovery.
4. Promoting women, peace and security implementation internationally
5. Taking a coordinated and holistic approach domestically and internationally to women, peace and security.
A distinguishing feature of this Plan has been our close engagement with civil society.
We believe civil society organisations should be the bedrock of the women, peace and security agenda.
They are present before, during and after conflict, offering continuity, expertise and commitment to outcomes.
Accordingly, civil society is involved in the deployment, monitoring and evaluation of our Action Plan and civil society also produces an independent annual report card on the Government’s progress.
There is much more I could say about Australia’s actions to fulfill our commitments in relation to women, peace and security.
But let me instead close my remarks by pointing to a small part of the progress Australia believes the international community as a whole has made on this front.
In this connection I note that, since the adoption in 2000 of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 there have been eight further resolutions in the Security Council that establish the broader women, peace and security agenda.
And the OSCE itself has adopted several Ministerial Council decisions in this area, including as recently as December last year on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women.
Of course, while progress has been made on many fronts, challenges still exist to the full implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.
Australia hopes that the OSCE, its participating States and its partners for co-operation can continue to accelerate this implementation to achieve our common objectives in this area.
Thank you, Chair.