Vienna, 8 October 2008 - "The voices of women in international peacework and as decision-makers must be strengthened and better heard. I have provided consistent support for this effort in recent years. The national action plan adopted in August 2007 is an important step in implementing this political endeavour in Austria as well. Our international commitment is credible only if we do our own homework," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.
Last year the first concrete steps were taken in implementing the action plan. Training programmes on human rights, and particularly the rights of women, are - for instance - a fixed item in the preparation of Austrian soldiers and police officers preparing for deployment in international peace missions. Staff at the Ministry for European and International Affairs and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) are specifically trained in these fields. We endeavour to integrate women in peace missions to an increasing extent. As an example: Austria dispatched one female communications expert to contribute to the team of EU special envoys in Kosovo, and one female human rights expert to the EU mission in Georgia. Austrian women also work as judges at the international criminal courts for Sierra Leone and Cambodia.
"It is also clear that a lot still remains to be done," claimed Plassnik. It is a special challenge to motivate still more women to participate in peacekeeping missions. "Successful and comprehensive peacework needs the contribution of women. Here we have to continue our efforts to convince others that this work is useful," affirmed the Foreign Minister, with reference to the good cooperation between the Ministry for European and International Affairs and the Ministries of the Interior, Justice and Defence.
"During our EU Presidency we developed a separate review catalogue which ensures that women and their concerns are explicitly integrated into the preparation and implementation of EU peace missions. In Austria’s statement at the General Assembly of the United Nations I proposed to make use of this model in the peacework of the UN and in the missions of other regional organisations, such as NATO’s Partnership for Peace and the African Union," asserted Plassnik.
The commitment of the Women Leaders Network has led to considerable progress over recent years at the international level: "Since our Vienna meeting in May 2007 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed eight women as special UN representatives for conflict regions and peace processes. In addition, there are women in leading functions, such as Patricia O’Brien, the UN’s foremost legal expert, Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the Deputy Chief of UN police, Ann-Marie Orler," affirmed the Foreign Minister. In this context she recalled her proposal for a comprehensive review of the implementation of Resolution 1325 on the occasion of its tenth anniversary in the autumn of 2010.
"On the basis of networking we shall continue our efforts both nationally and internationally in a consistent manner. In the 21st century, women decision-makers must become a matter of course in the field of peacework as well," concluded Plassnik.
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