Role of Parliamentarians in the Implementation of

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and National Action Planning

 

 

Hon. CHOI Young-Hee

 

February 24th, 2011

 

Introduction


Thank you, Ms. Weiss for opening the event.

Let me extend my deepest appreciation to Ms. Linda Yarr, Director of the Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia (PISA) of the George Washington University, Ms. Gyunglan Jung, Coordinator of the Organizing Committee of the Northeast Asian Women’s Peace Conference (NEAWPC), and Ms. Narae Lee, International Coordinator of Peace Boat US for the hard efforts to put together this event successfully.

 

And my special thanks also go to distinguished speakers including Ambassador Herman Schaper, Ms. Susan Braden, Ms. Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, Ms. Hyunback Chung, and other distinguished guests who are present here today. .

 

It is indeed a great pleasure for me to sponsor this parallel event of the 55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which happened to take place on the same day as the official launch of UN Women and I believe this Resolution 1325 initiative will greatly serve to strengthen the body of UN women.

 

The inauguration of UN Women was possible thanks to dedicated women working for gender equality and women’s empowerment in various sectors, along with the support of UN Member States. Let me pay my deep respect to them for their devotion and commitment.

 

Currently, South Korea is a member of the Executive Board of UN Women, and also one of the Friends of 1325. In this regard, as Chair of the Korean National Assembly Standing Committee on Gender Equality and Family, I feel a heavy sense of responsibility for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Also as a politician of a divided country, I always attach great importance to peace as I have witnessed human sufferings, anxiety and environmental degradation caused by military conflicts.

 

Peace is a prerequisite for development and equality

 

Last year, the Korean Peninsula went through times of uneasiness and tension. The sinking of South Korean warship Cheonan and North Korea's shelling of Yeongpyeong Island provided a great source of concern for South Koreans. These incidents were a stark reminder that the Korean War has never ended and two Koreas are still technically at war. Now, we recognized once again how urgent it is to establish a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

 

The sense of crisis swept through the entire country that 60 years of hard-earned efforts rising from the ashes of war, such as economic development, political democratization, improved individual capacity and women’s rights, and institutional advancement for gender equality might go in vain.

 

North and South Koreas should engage more actively in dialogue for the peaceful resolution of the North Korea’s nuclear issue and the settlement of peace on the Peninsula. We should get rid of instabilities standing in the way of reconciliation by mending the inter-Korean ties that have gone sour and restoring mutual trust at the earliest possible time so that further military confrontation and civilian causalities can be prevented.

 

Individual happiness can be achieved only in a peaceful society. And sustainable development and advancement of equality at the national and international levels can also be achieved only on the ground of peace. In this respect, Korea and the world need to take note of the core elements and substances of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

 

Peace produces resources for well-being

 

Distinguished guests,

 

Peace is not merely a matter of non-violence. Peace provides people with more access to well-being for the pursuit of individual happiness.

 

Countries around the world spend an astronomical amount of money on military build-up and the introduction of new weapons. In particular, some reports say that Northeast Asian countries have increased their military spending by 55% over the past 10 years. If we have broader consensus on the importance of peace, then we will be able to reallocate our spending to poverty reduction, protection of ecological systems, economic assistance and to achieve gender parity, at all levels of education.

 

Only peace can save numerous lives that are dying from violence and underdevelopments caused by military conflicts, and make them live a healthy life with dignity.

 

A need to involve women in peace negotiations

 

In conflict situations, rape and sexual violence are used as a tactic of war. During the Pacific War, many Korean women experienced tremendous sufferings as they were drafted into military sexual slavery by Japan. Likewise, conflicts and the culture of military make sexual-trafficking and violence more rampant.

 

Nevertheless, women are underrepresented in policy-making processes in the areas of military, diplomacy and unification. Particularly, you can hardly find women at official peace negotiations such as inter-Korean talks or the Six-Party Talks. As such, challenges still lie ahead for women to make their voices heard in peace processes. It is all the more difficult for them to speak out as the situations deteriorate.

 

However, women should come forward more than ever when peace is desperately needed. Women’s participation in peace processes will determine their future regarding protection of their social and political rights in conflict situations, prevention of such conflict and their status in post-conflict situations.

 

We found some very innovative moves in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Women's Coalition was organized regardless of religion, politics and community before the Good Friday Agreement was signed, based on which women actively joined forces to become a major player of the negotiations for their family, community and future generations. Those experiences clearly demonstrate that women are pursuing challenging spirits, inclusiveness and equality.

 

Role of parliamentarians in the implementation of UNSCR 1325

 

My interest in Resolution 1325 grew larger as I attended the Seminar for Korea-Japan Women Parliamentarians on the sidelines of the Northeast Asian Women's Peace Conference (NEAWPC) in September 2008. This led to my sponsorship of the “2010 Northeast Asia Women’s Peace Conference” and this event as well. I believed that there is a lot more to do as a parliamentarian to implement Resolution 1325.

 

The Korean National Assembly Standing Committee on Gender Equality and Family has been playing an important role in laying the institutional framework for mainstreaming a gender perspective in close cooperation with women’s organizations in order to improve national policies on gender equality. Now is the time for us to take more active steps in the peace and security arena.

 

Resolution 1325 maintains that experiences and strengths we have as women should be incorporated into conflict prevention and resolution, and peace processes. Implementation of the Resolution will definitely contribute not only to developing better strategies to build peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, but also to moving toward a more peaceful world.

 

The Korean National Assembly is required to take various actions for the Korean society to implement the Resolution, and for the Korean government to adopt a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

 

First, a public education campaign to raise awareness of Resolution 1325, and establishment of networks should be implemented.

 

In South Korea, very few people know about the Resolution. We should share expertise and establish networks to get parliamentarians more informed and interested in the rationale and substance of the mandate. To this end, networks of parliamentarians at home and abroad should be expanded while a partnership among parliamentarians, policy-makers, scholars and civil society groups supportive of the Resolution is strengthened.

 

Second, a National Action Plan should be developed.

To date, there are 24 countries which have adopted a National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325, including the Netherlands. In addition, US Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens, who showed her support for the Northeast Asian Women's Peace Conference, informed me of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement to develop a National Action Plan to implement Resolution 1325 last November. I understand that the U.S. is stepping up its efforts for the adoption of the National Action Plan. The South Korean National Assembly also needs to call for the Korean government to come up with its own National Action Plan in order to advance the goals of the Resolution as a member of the Friends of 1325.

 

Third, gender perspective should be mainstreamed in diplomacy, security and unification

 

When it comes to the implementation of Resolution 1325, gender mainstreaming policies should be formulated and expanded in the areas of diplomacy, security and reunification. The spirit of the Resolution should be upheld more widely through South-North Cooperation Fund and Official Development Assistance (ODA).

 

Fourth, the South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF) should play a more active part

 

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family is one of the government agencies playing a pivotal role in setting the direction for and defining the status of women-related policies. These goals are aimed at promoting sustainable gender equality in a more active and multi-faceted manner by designing and implementing policies that allow men and women to participate equally in the operation of national affairs. In addition, social activities need to be promoted with the ultimate objective of putting into practice strategies of mainstreaming a gender perspective into all spheres of life.

 

In this connection, the Ministry is advised to take the lead in and support activities regarding women, peace and security.

 

Conclusion

 

What is most important for the implementation of Resolution 1325 is a political will of the National Assembly, governments and civil society organizations. In addition, it would be one of the greatest assets to have close partnership among the different players. This will contribute enormously to the implementation of UNSCR 1325.

 

It is my sincere hope that today’s event can be a stepping stone to forging a new partnership for the implementation of the Resolution. I am very much convinced that this partnership will bring us one step closer to achieving a common vision of building a healthier and more peaceful world, and promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

 

Thank you for your attention.

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