March 31, 2016

Sustainable Peace: The Link Between Security and Development and the Role of Women in Peace Negotiations

On March 31, 2016, H.E. Margot Wallström, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, held a conversation about the role of women in creating more sustainable peace. The event was hosted by the Embassy of Sweden and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. In a world where protracted conflicts have led to the largest displacement crisis since the Second World War, where increasing numbers of people worldwide are highly dependent on humanitarian aid, and where human suffering is not met by adequate funding for humanitarian assistance, H.E. Wallström demanded that sustainable peace processes and international peacebuilding be strengthened.

Against the backdrop of failing peace agreements worldwide, women’s participation in peace processes and mediation is critical to ensure the likelihood of an agreement being concluded and adhered to, as well as its long-term sustainability, said Wallström. Sixteen years after the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, she claimed that its implementation in practice still lags, and women are largely excluded from international mediation efforts and peace processes.

Under the slogan “more women, more peace,” Wallström stressed that gender-sensitive approaches are a “true example of smart policy” in that they enhance the overall effectiveness of peacebuilding. The promotion of gender equality is not only a matter of women’s rights, she argued, but a matter of peace and security for all. Increasing women’s access and participation in conflict prevention, mediation, and peacebuilding is thus a top priority for Sweden. Accordingly, Sweden has initiated a network of female mediators, which is intended to contribute to developing the Nordic network and to link up with other international networks of female mediators in the future: “So that we don’t hear again, there are no women mediators. Yes, there are,” Wallström said.

Wallström further argued that the international order has not succeeded in its core task to ensure international peace and security. She called for a renewed commitment to international norms and standards, the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda, and a “new global compact for peace.” Shifting the focus towards more sustainable peace requires political will and active leadership, “It is not a humanitarian problem, it is a political one,” she said, calling on governments and international organizations to invest in conflict prevention, address root causes of conflict, strengthen resilience, and take the commitment seriously to “leave no one behind.”

On behalf of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Wallström announced their continued cooperation with the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.