Meeting with African Permanent Representatives
to the United Nations
UNAOC High Representative’s Remarks
Tuesday, 30 June 2020
Thank you very much for accepting the invitation to this meeting. It is an honor to have the opportunity to discuss issues at the core of the work of the UN Alliance of Civilizations with such a distinguished group of African female Permanent Representatives to the United Nations and with my dear friend and President of the Fundación Mujeres por Africa, Maria Teresa Fernández de la Vega.
The promotion of the role of women as peacemakers within the mandate of the UN Alliance of Civilizations has been a priority for me since I took office as the High Representative in January 2019, and it is now a fifth pillar of our work together with the traditional areas of education, youth, media and migration.
With the objective of identifying initiatives and actions that could help promote the role of women as negotiators and mediators in Africa, the UN Alliance of Civilizations and Fundación Mujeres por Africa, a Spanish non-profit organization which promotes equal rights and opportunities for African women, established the Women’s Alliance for Peace last year.
The Women’s Alliance for Peace will contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goals 5, 16 and 17, and, more specifically, will collaborate in initiatives and projects to support and strengthen the role of women as mediators and negotiators in conflicts with a cultural and interreligious dimension.
In this context, an Advisory Council to the Women’s Alliance for Peace, comprising prominent African women, was created to provide strategic direction; help identify priorities so initiatives and projects undertaken by the Women’s Alliance for Peace provide value-added and are complementary of other UN entities; and to leverage partnerships with relevant actors in the implementation of initiatives and projects.
We shared the composition of the Advisory Council with you in preparation of this meeting and I am pleased to inform that we had a rich and productive discussion with them during our first meeting on 14 May.
On that occasion, members of the Advisory Council highlighted:
- the importance of including women in decision-making in response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- the role that African women can play in fostering solidarity and resilience not only in the face of COVID-19, but more generally as agents of change when it comes to addressing tensions and conflicts;
- the importance of working with local women organizations focusing on mediation and peacemaking issues by providing them with training and capacity building.
It was also felt that the Women’s Alliance for Peace should not duplicate existing mechanisms or structures, but rather build on them and provide value added.
As a result of the meeting on 14 May, members of the Advisory Council sent a letter to the Secretary-General to express their support for his call for a global ceasefire and to relay their readiness to amplify the call in their respective activities and engagements.
One of the recommendations that came out of that meeting was to hold this discussion with you today to benefit from your advice and explore areas for collaboration and synergy.
In the agenda for today we already identify three issues for discussion:
1. First, I would be grateful for your advice on relevant UN fora where the Women’s Alliance for Peace could be presented to foster synergies to promote the role of women as peacemakers in conflicts with religious and sociocultural dimensions.
2. Secondly, I am very interested in working closely and in complementarity with the African Union. In fact, as H.E. Fatima Kyari Mohammed, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN knows, I had planned an official to Addis Ababa in April that had to be canceled due to the pandemic. It is my intention to reschedule this visit when circumstances allow. For the time being, and in view of the fact that one of the members of the Women’s Alliance for Peace Advisory Council is Ms. Aya Chebbi, the AU Special Envoy on Youth, we are exploring the organization of an intergenerational dialogue with her office.
3. Thirdly, I think that it would be very beneficial if we can start identifying concrete initiatives and projects in your respective countries to promote and strengthen the role of women as peacemakers in conflicts with a cultural and interreligious dimension. From the side of the Women’s Alliance for Peace, we are actively working to secure funding that could help implement concrete projects in the field.
I very much look forward to our conversation today and to your advice and feedback on the issues that I mentioned and on any other point that you would wish to raise.
I will now give the floor to the President of Fundación Mujeres por Africa, Maria Teresa Fernández de la Vega.