Opening Statement by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the High-Level Political Forum son Sustainable Development “Re-designing Peacebuilding for the 21th century”

14.07.2021 - Speech

“A peace that is shaped by men, for men, is not peace.” These were the words of Nadia Murad, when we recently named a building at our Diplomatic Academy in Berlin after Resolution 1325. Nadia Murad’s words sum up why the Women, Peace and Security Agenda is a priority for Germany. But her words also highlight how much work still lies ahead of us.

Inclusive peace processes not only tick the box of gender equality. Inclusive peace processes are also common sense. Research has shown, many times, that peace processes in which women participate as witnesses, signatories, mediators or negotiators are likely to be more sustainable.

On my visits to many countries in conflict areas, like Mali or the Sudan, I have met some of these strong and dedicated women. For them, as for many of you, inclusive peacebuilding is not only about gender equality. In many conflict-ridden areas of the world, it is the very basis for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And this is why we want to discuss it here today – at the High-Level Political Forum.

But instead of telling you, the experts, how to do your important work, I would like to share some political take-aways with you - based on my last three and a half years as Germany’s Foreign Minister, trying to help you advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

The first one is: Standing still means falling behind. Of course, we have spent lots of time and energy in recent years to fight back against those who tried to cut back on women’s rights and participation. And the rollback during the pandemic has helped them. But if we stop advancing our cause, because of that push-back, we are letting the political die-hards dictate our agenda. Therefore, I am glad that the United States administration is back on our side.

And I am also glad that we pushed for Resolution 2467 to enhance the protection and empowerment of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. Of course, we would have liked to go even further – especially on sexual health and rights. But for me, passing that resolution was also a political signal that we are not giving up. That we will continue our fight for justice and equal participation even when the wind blows hard in our faces.

My second take-away is: In order to succeed, we need broad alliances. This is why, together with the United Kingdom, we initiated the “Commitments 2020”, through which 64 states, eight UN organisations and three regional organisations committed themselves to more than 400 measures to advance the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Through our Embassies, we have strengthened cooperation with women’s groups and peace activists around the world. And when these activists brief the UN Security Council, it does something to the diplomats and politicians sitting around the table. Because their voices have credibility. Because they know the situation on the ground. And we should continue to make their voices heard – here in New York and beyond.

My third and last take-away is: Ambitious goals need substantial support. Launching the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund – and most recently its COVID-19 Emergency Response Window – were important breakthroughs. And I am proud that Germany is one of the biggest donors to the Fund, with a contribution of nine million euro since 2019. A contribution that we stepped up significantly during the pandemic – to counter the push-back and to break down barriers for women who try to participate in peace processes.

So, in my view, these are the political tools we need to make peacebuilding more inclusive. It is good to know that we are in this together. Not only here today. And that we will not lower our ambitions until peace is shaped equally – by men and women. Because only then will that peace last.

Thank you.


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