SRSG Ján Kubiš Remarks Global Open Day Consultative Meeting on the Participation of Women
23 October 2017, Baghdad
Honorable Members of Parliament and Heads of Blocs,
This year we commemorate the 17th Anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 in the atmosphere of great victories - and huge sacrifices - of the Iraqi people and different components of the armed forces in the fight against terrorist Daesh. In the past three years, Da’esh terrorists in pursuit of their inhuman ideology have been particularly brutal to women and girls.
The UN will continue to work with the Government of Iraq to provide to affected women and girls emergency medical care, mental health and psychosocial assistance including to survivors of sexual violence. And let’s not forget - these women and girls are victims and deserve all support as victims, however difficult that might be in the light or prevailing social traditions, practices and norms. I applaud the position of many religious leaders in Iraq - Yazidi, Shia, Sunni, Christian – that indeed have recognized them as victims that bear no guilt and have requested support and protection for them, for their children.
Joint efforts between the UN and the Conflict Related Sexual Violence High-level focal points at federal and regional levels are ongoing to develop an action plan on the implementation of the Joint Communiqué of the Republic of Iraq and the UN on Prevention and Response to Conflict-related Sexual Violence signed in September 2016. I urge the Government to accelerate the establishment of an inter-ministerial taskforce to oversee and coordinate implementation of the Joint Communiqué.
Also, this September the UN Security Council passed resolution 2379 on accountability for Da’esh crimes. This resolution calls for the establishment of an Investigative Team headed by a Special Adviser, to support domestic efforts to hold Da’esh accountable. I am pleased to inform that Secretary General Guterres has been taking all the necessary steps to implement this resolution and to establish this team.
Let’s also recognize that women on top of being directly targeted by Da’esh, have often single handedly shared also another extremely heavy burden. They have been often sole providers for their families, for the most vulnerable – children and elderly- amidst situations of war and terror, displacement, insufficient resources and reduced economic opportunities. The devastation suffered by the Iraqi families has seen an increase in the number of widows and female-headed households. The country, the society owes them a lot. Support must be provided, for families of the martyrs and survivors. Women must be given access to income-generating opportunities ensuring that they are not left behind in the recovery and rebuilding efforts in the areas liberated from Da’esh, but also in the southern provinces as well as in the Kurdistan region of Iraq that now faces new emergencies and displacement.
In light of today’s consultative meeting I’d like to stress in particular a critical role of women as agents of positive change, in building a new, post- Da’esh Iraq, in shaping the future of the country for the generations to come. They must be given a full chance to act in that role as well. Equality and empowerment of women must be central to all peace, justice, reconciliation and reform efforts in the post-Da’esh period. Women’s participation is crucial for an effective, successful and sustainable peace processes and reform. Only through their direct and meaningful participation their voices will be heard. We also need male champions to fight for their rights – and a more proactive approach of the UN. That also concerns the youth.
It is of utmost importance that women participate and are adequately represented, that their perspectives are incorporated in the national reconciliation and settlement processes. It is time to ensure the implementation of the participation pillar of the Iraqi National Action Plan on the Security Council Resolution 1325 which reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.
On this note, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Cross-Sector Task Force on the implementation of the Iraq National Action Plan on 1325. Regardless all issues between Baghdad and Erbil, the collaboration of women group representatives from both Baghdad and Erbil has been remarkable. It is a good model of constructive cooperation that should inspire also the process of finding solutions to the current crisis. Women must play a key role also in these endeavors.
Inclusive approach is needed also for the next elections. Regrettably the ever changing list of candidates for the next Board of Commissioners of the Independent High Electoral Commission does not include any women. That contradicts the relevant constitutional and electoral provisions and represents a clear regress in comparison of the current and previous situations. Equally important, the 25 percent quota for women’s representation in the 2018 parliamentary elections established by the Electoral Law should not be seen as a ceiling. Further mechanisms should be put in place to enhance women’s real participation and representation in the elections and the future representative organs.
Last year we called for the finalization, passing and enactment of the Family Protection Bill by the Council of Representatives aimed at protecting members of the family from the scourge of domestic violence. Another year has gone by and the Bill is still pending. My office has provided comments on the draft law to the Council of Representatives to ensure that it is in compliance with Iraq’s obligations under international human rights law and is in line with Iraq’s constitution. I urge the Council of Representatives to accelerate the adoption of the Family Protection Bill.
The United Nations Secretary-General continues to reiterate that as long as violence against women continues and as long as they cannot fully and equally participate in the political, social and economic life of the country we cannot claim to be making real progress towards sustainable peace, security and development. The UN remains committed to assisting the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, to working with the political and civil society of Iraq in putting in place and strengthening instruments and measures, including institutional and legal ones, to ensure that women can fully enjoy their rights and equality.
Thank you for your attention.