Subject: UN: transcript of Maria Diaz, President of Rede Feto on Women and peace and security

[Not sure why the transcript refers to North -South conflict, when east-west is meant. - John] 

United Nations S/PV.5556 (Resumption 1)

Security Council

Sixty-first year

5556th meeting

Thursday, 26 October 2006, 3 p.m.

New York



Women and peace and security Report of the Secretary-General on women, peace and security (S/2006/770)

The President: I now give the floor to Ms. Maria Diaz, President of Rede Feto.

Ms. Diaz (spoke in Spanish): I should like to thank the members of the Security Council for this opportunity to participate in the open debate and the delegation of Japan for inviting me to describe the situation in East Timor, in particular the role of women in peacebuilding. I represent Rede Feto, a network of women's groups that is present throughout the country. On 28 April, to the surprise and dismay of all the people who have been working so hard to consolidate peace in East Timor, armed conflict broke out again. The crisis was caused by bad governance, weak government institutions, corruption, a lack of respect for basic human rights and the lack of empowerment, which leads to disappointment in youth, who were the main actors in the conflict. Innocent citizens lost their families and their scant possessions. For example, a woman and her six children were burned alive inside their house, merely because she was the relative of a controversial minister. Many couples are forced to separate temporarily for their security as a result of the North-South conflict. Thousands of students have had to give up their studies for lack of security or because schools have been burned down or merely because they come from the north of the country.

In the struggle for reconstruction, we women have played and continue to play a crucial role. Members of Rede Feto have tried to mediate between the two parties to the current conflict. We made the men sit down at the table, and we invited them to talk to each other. Right now, we are engaged in talks, both with the head of the rebels as well as with the leaders of the armed forces to bring about a meeting between them, so they can discuss the possibility of putting an end to hostilities. In collaboration with other civil society organizations, we are also meeting and working with youth gangs in towns and refugee camps to find out what these boys and girls need in peacetime. These boys and girls have tremendous problems. They need education, work, hope and self-respect.

The fact that the conflict flared up again shows us that there are at least five important elements involved in preventing future outbreaks of violence. First, there is the participation of women and youth, who have been significantly marginalized in the decision-making processes. Their inclusion is particularly urgent, because young people, specifically, young men, are the main perpetrators of the current conflict, having been manipulated in large part to pursue violent acts that were initially carried out by the rebels, the police and the military.

Secondly, the treatment and resolution of trauma is necessary for everyone, in particular, to avoid that the wounds of trauma suffered will create another dangerous situation.

Thirdly, we need economic security. We have to create work opportunities for all male and female persons, in particular, for young people and women. Fourthly, we need justice. We must bring before the courts all the perpetrators of the acts of violence that took place this year. We must resolve the 2,500 pending cases, most of which involve sexual or domestic violence.

Finally, we need security. It is urgent that international police forces throughout Timor-Leste be enlarged, particularly in the context of the upcoming elections to be held in 2007.

To achieve long-term peace and stability in Timor-Leste, we must invest in education and promote a culture of peace and gender balance. It is particularly urgent to strengthen the Vulnerable Persons Unit, a Governmental and civil society mechanism that provides support to victims, particularly those who have suffered gender-based violence. It is equally necessary to create a parliamentary committee that will monitor gender balance. Similarly, I would like to voice my great satisfaction at the very significant gender content of the recent assessment mission of the United Nations to Timor-Leste. I hope that the recommendations of the Secretary-General's report will be implemented and that the organizations that work with women's groups, such as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), will be adequately funded.

In view of the foregoing, we have the following recommendations to make. We call upon the United Nations to re-evaluate its activities during the two years when it was in charge of the Timor-Leste Government, in order to identify the weak points that made the flare-up of violence possible. We call upon the United Nations to ensure that all information about Timor-Leste is transparent and accessible to civil society, so that there is a balance between the information available to the Government and that available to the population. The United Nations must set up formal mechanisms for consultation that will enable women and young people of both sexes to be heard. They need the support of women's organizations and women journalists in carrying out activities to disseminate information, to build peace and reform communities.

The President: On behalf of the Council, I again thank the two speakers from civil society.

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