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Remarks delivered via videoconference

Good morning and good evening to all of those tuning in around the world.

It is a great pleasure for me to be here today discussing such an important issue.  Thank you to Vietnam and UN Women for co-sponsoring such an excellent event, and Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga for moderating this timely discussion.

Please accept my deep appreciation for Deputy Minister Marta Morgan and Assistant Secretary Asako Okai as co-chairs of this event; as well as keynote speakers that we just heard from today including Under-Secretary General Lacroix, Assistant Minister Swara, Ambassador O’Neil, and Professor Engell.  It is a privilege to be speaking alongside such esteemed officials and scholars to address the future of women in peacekeeping.

Finally, I would like to recognize Ambassador Kelly Currie, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, who will also be a keynote speaker tomorrow in session 4 for the discussion on “Where We Should Be in 10-20 years.”  Secretary Pompeo and the Trump Administration remain strong supporters of Women, Peace, and Security and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which as you know is the foundational resolution for the WPS movement.

The United States is deeply committed to United Nations and regional peacekeeping as a critical tool for promoting international peace and stability and the protection of civilians.  Women play an incredibly crucial and valuable part in peacekeeping missions around the globe and perform similarly in the peacemaking processes which provide the ultimate success of those missions.

Throughout history conflicts disproportionately affected women and girls, yet women remain under-represented in efforts to prevent and resolve conflict and have not been included in post-conflict peace-building activities commensurate with their capabilities.  The United States recognizes the diverse roles women play as agents of change in preventing and resolving conflict, countering terrorism and violent extremism, and building post conflict peace and stability.  Studies repeatedly demonstrate that full and meaningful participation by women in peace operations, especially in leadership positions, widens perspectives on conflict management, opens doors for more inclusive political resolutions, and ultimately improves international peacebuilding strategies.  There is also a direct correlation between the meaningful participation of women in peacekeeping and the performance and effectiveness of peacekeeping units.

We are collectively proud to celebrate the 20th anniversary this year of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and the establishment of the WPS agenda in 2020, which recognize that more women in peacekeeping equals more women empowered; and that more women and girls free from violence means peace efforts are more durable and long-lasting for communities and states in need.

Commitment to the WPS agenda by the United States drives us to be the leading financial contributor to peacekeeping, as well as a leading provider of capacity building to partner nations willing to take on the challenges of peace operations.  Together, we support thousands of women today serving on the front lines of conflict resolution, and we are firmly committed to expanding opportunities for women around the world dedicated to the struggle for peace.

The Trump Administration is proud of its work in this area to support the amazing role that women play in peacekeeping efforts.  In 2017, President Trump signed the Women, Peace, and Security Act and launched the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security in 2019.  With these two efforts, the administration underscored its firm support for the comprehensive integration of women into conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, justice, and disaster recovery efforts worldwide.  Through the WPS Act, the United States became the first government in the world with a comprehensive law requiring a government-wide strategy to promote the participation of women in overseas conflict prevention, management, and resolution, as well as post-conflict relief and recovery efforts.

In addition, under the Global Peace Operations Initiative, GPOI, the world’s largest peace operations capacity building program, the Department of State, in collaboration with our colleagues at the Department of Defense, works with 55 active partner countries around the world to enhance international capacity to effectively conduct UN and regional peace operations.  Women peacekeepers in the conflict affected regions served by UN peace operations, have achieved significant success in stabilizing societies by enhancing the effectiveness of security services, peacekeeping efforts, institutions, and decision-making processes.  Accordingly, furthering this trend by promoting the role of women and gender integration in peacekeeping is among our top GPOI objectives.

Since 2007, more than 10,000 women participated in GPOI training events.  GPOI helps remove barriers to women’s participation in training by supporting gender inclusive facility upgrades to partner countries’ peacekeeping training centers.  Upgrades often include the development of female barracks, latrines, and other necessary accommodations to ensure women can participate fully in peacekeeping training events.

GPOI also facilitated the increased deployment of women peacekeepers.  Since 2010, GPOI partner nations have demonstrated our shared commitment to women, peace, and security by increasing the number of deployed female military peacekeepers by 109 percent as compared with non-GPOI nations, who increased their numbers by 38 percent. In total, an onward trajectory across the board.

Notably, GPOI worked very closely with Under-Secretary General Lacroix’s team in the UN Department of Peace Operations to develop UN training materials focused on enhancing gender integration and women’s participation in peacekeeping.

The United States is also working to ensure the UN headquarters, troop and police contributing countries’ leaders, and troop and police contingents address failures to protect civilian populations and pursue accountability and disciplinary actions when peacekeepers sexually exploit or abuse the very populations they are deployed to protect.  Peacekeeping contributors must reinforce their commitment to uphold a zero-tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse.

To support this accountability effort, in 2018 the United States began working with the UN to fund and coordinate the first joint U.S.-UN National Investigation Officer (NIO) course. The course trains the officers who investigate conduct and discipline issues, including allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against military personnel serving with a UN peacekeeping operation.  Through GPOI, we continued our support for the NIO course, with seven iterations conducted through the end of 2019, including participants from 33 countries in the Africa, Latin America, and Indo-Pacific regions.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions have adjusted and amended restrictions for all of us, leading  to the cancellation of scheduled 2020 courses, but we will resume UN course support as soon as logistically feasible.

Working closely with like-minded countries and the UN to develop and deliver training, and drawing on the expertise of civil society organizations, GPOI is making tangible contributions toward international peace and security.  GPOI continues to promote women, peace, and security as an important means of improving accountability and operational effectiveness in peacekeeping.

The United States remains committed to continue smart investments in bringing more women into peacekeeping operations and doing our part to empower and support women who work to make the world a safer and more peaceful place.  We look forward to continuing these women-focused programs, and I remain confident that the United States will continue to play an instrumental role in uplifting women, peace, and security.

Your excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen, thank you for your attention.


U.S. Department of State

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