Read Norwegian Ambassador Kjell Tormod Pettersen’s speech at the National Peace Seminar of Media Initiative for Rights, Equity and Social Transformation (MIREST/Nepal) 20 July 2014:
Honorable Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Narahari Acharaya, Secretary Mr Dhan Bahadur Tamang, President of MIREST Suresh Acharya, General Sharma, Ms. Bandana Rana, NPTF Director Sadhuram Sapkota, Dr Some Pudasaini from UNFPA, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for the invitation to participate at today’s seminar on “Peace Building and Women’s Participation”, a very pertinent topic in a post-conflict transitional period of Nepal. It is a great honor to be with you.
Norway’s engagement in peace and reconciliation goes far back. While our role as facilitators to the peace processes in the Middle East and Sri Lanka is the best known, we should also recognize the job my predecessors did to facilitate dialogue between the conflict partners here in Nepal leading up to the Comprehensive Peace Accord in 2006.
We know that there can be no development without peace. Behind Norway’s investments in peace and reconciliation is the recognition that preventing and resolving violent conflict is a cost-efficient way of fostering development. And it is necessary to take a long term perspective. Peace and reconciliation is not a quick fix.
One major lesson learned is that the inclusion of women in peace and reconciliation processes is crucial. Women suffer some of the worst consequences of conflict. And their concerns need to be addressed both in the peace process and at the negotiating table.
Promoting women’s inclusion in peace and security issues is a priority for the Norwegian Government, and we try continuously to improve our policies and efforts in this area. We believe that women should have the same rights as men. This is a matter of democracy and universal human rights.
We attach great importance to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and the follow-up resolutions, Resolution 1820 on sexual violence being the most significant. Norway advocates and puts high priority on the effective implementation of these resolutions globally and of course also here in Nepal.
We appreciate the government of Nepal for bringing the National Action Plan of 1325 and 1820 and putting priorities on its implementation through Nepal Peace Trust Fund where Norway has been a partner from its inception phase in 2007. We strongly support the effective implementation of the NAP both at local and national level to ensure the equal rights of women with their male counterparts. There is a requirement that the gender dimension has to be integrated into all projects and UN Funds that are funded through the peace and reconciliation allocation.
Adopting a gender perspective in peace processes can bring interventions more in line with local needs and realities on the ground. Gender analysis, understanding the needs of women and men respectively, can be an effective tool for realistic and sustainable peacebuilding. I believe a truly integrated approach is a key to success.
Dialogue builds trust and helps gaining confidence and willingness among conflicting parties to find a common ground, inclusiveness and partnership. Nepal is an evidence of this by resolving contentious issues through a dialogue and consensus among the parties for a lasting peace, justice and prosperity of each citizen and of the country as a whole.
I would like to commend the MIREST-Nepal for their continuous efforts, including this Seminar, to bring the issues of women, peace and security to attention. These efforts empower women and their organizations to claim their rights and to make state mechanisms and structures accountable and responsive to the special needs of women and children who suffered the most during conflict time and also in the post-conflict transitional period of Nepal.
All conflicts are different, and there is a need to share experiences and best practices. Women in conflict-affected countries all over the world, and also as I personally have observed in Nepal, are doing crucial work to build peace and reconcile communities. Their long-term peacebuilding must get recognition, visibility and support.
Justice, including meaningful reparations for victims is essential in restoring the confidence of the people in their government and in promoting sustainable peace. Amnesty should never be granted for the most serious crimes, including sexual violence, which can constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Civil Society organizations like MIREST-Nepal has as a media organization an instrumental role to educate people, including women, and bridge their voices to policy makers as part of a democratic and inclusive governance system. Local initiatives and ownership are vital in order to bring about the expected change.
Norway works closely with the UN system to promote women’s participation in peace processes and to increase the number of women mediators. Increasing women’s participation in international peacekeeping operations is another priority area. We seek to combat sexual violence in conflict multilaterally, bilaterally and through NGO partners locally. At the request of the UN and the civil society, we have an increased focus on reporting and accountability in relation to the implementation of the SCRs on women, peace and security.
Resolutions 1325 and 1820 have influenced our thinking, our norms and our attitudes in fundamental ways. There is a strong momentum for women’s empowerment and participation. We all have the responsibility to translate the words of the resolutions on women, peace and security into action on the ground.
Finally, I would like thank the Honorable Minister and the entire cabinet for their commitment and dedication to hold local elections as early as possible and to bring a long awaited constitution as a logical end of the peace process and as a start to build a new and prosperous Nepal.
Thank you very much for your attention!