July 16, 2018

Statement of the Deputy Permanent Representative Mr. Menelaos Menelaou

Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security “Displaced Women and Girls: Leaders and Survivors”

October 28, 2014

Thank you Madame President.

I am honored to address the Security Council on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus on the important topic and we wish to warmly congratulate you for this initiative.

Cyprus has direct experience in this regard with the role of women in the context of the peacekeeping force present in our country – UNFICYP – and through the role of women in the struggle for the liberation and reunification of our country, to which I will refer below.

United Nations Security Council Resolution (UN SCR) 1325 mandates that women participate in the making and keeping of peace. The adoption of such a resolution at the highest possible level, is a testament of the recognition of gender inequities in this regard.

It stems from the realization of the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women and girls and the need for their advanced contribution in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

Unfortunately, 14 years after its adoption we still witness a gap between the aspirations of global and regional commitments and the reality of peace processes. My Government remains committed to implementing resolution 1325 to the peace process of the Cyprus issue, where admittedly there is significant room for progress.

Madam President,

My delegation welcomes the emphasis of today’s discussion on Displaced Women and Girls: as leaders and survivors, as we deplore the fact that in present conflicts civilians and women are increasingly purposefully targeted and sexual and gender-based violence is deliberately employed as a war strategy. Numerous international and regional human rights and international humanitarian law instruments strive for the protection of women during armed conflict.

Today, three-quarters of the refugee and internally displaced population are women and children. Women’s role as leaders is essential to help identify and respond to their protection needs.

Cyprus seizes this opportunity to underline the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. It is important that Peacekeeping operations engage to advance gender balance among staff of peacekeeping missions, including at senior management levels. The presence of women in peacekeeping operations (1) empowers women in the host community to serve as role models inspiring women in often male-dominated societies to push for their own rights and for participation in peace processes; (2) enables women to train female cadets at police and military academies; (3) provides a greater sense of security to women and children; (4) improves access and support for local women such as interviewing survivors of gender-based violence; and (5) facilitates attention to the specific needs of female ex-combatants during the process of demobilizing and reintegration into civilian life.

We note with pleasure that five women currently lead peace operations – including in my own country – Lisa Buttenheim from the United States. We are also pleased to note the appointment of commander of UNFICYP, Major General Kristin Lund (from Norway) as the first woman ever to serve as Force Commander in a United Nations peacekeeping operation.

The UN peacekeeping Force in Cyprus is the first in the world to have a dual female leadership. As Major General Kristin Lund mentioned, in order to face a challenge, it is important to represent in the peacekeeping forces the other 50 percent of the population

Madam President,

My country, being under foreign occupation for the past 40 years, has had direct experience as regards the disproportionate effects of conflict on women. 1/3 of the population are internally displaced persons being deprived of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. All these years, the struggle for liberation and reunification bears the mark of the women movement. In providing shelter and relief to the victims in the aftermath of war, in the struggle for determination the fate of the missing, in the international legal effort for the restoration of the rights of displaced persons, in the effort to raise awareness both internally and internationally, in promoting the message of peace, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. Our recent history can only make us sensitive towards similar experiences worldwide and for this reason Cypriot women have been throughout the years particularly active in international humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross and have made important contributions in solidarity and humanitarian aid campaigns.

To conclude, I will use the words of Hester Paneras from South-Africa, who is the Police Commissioner for the African Union – UN mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the first woman to hold the top police position in peace building mission of this magnitude,Opening up to alternative approaches is very important, but the most important is to show that it doesn’t have to be like that.  You can get out of it”.

Thank you Madame Chair.