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UN Secretary-General Turns His Back On Resolution 1325

October 31, 2014

His Excellency Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General
United Nations Secretariat
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017

Open Letter

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

Today, October 31st, 2014, you threw the struggle for gender equality into reverse. You established a High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. You appointed fourteen members: eleven men and three women.

The timing of your announcement is a slap in the face to women working for peace the world over. Exactly 14 years ago today, on October 31st, 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325, stressing the importance of women’s “equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security” and urging, first and foremost, “increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict.”

Just three days ago, you described those words as part of “a bold agenda for achieving gender equality.” You went on to say that “the United Nations is striving to realize this vision.” Today, your actions drowned out the sound of your rhetoric.

In one stroke, you have succeeded in making a mockery of Resolution 1325. In one stroke, you have repudiated the importance of gender equity in the appointment of high-level panels. In one stroke, you have declared to the world your view that there are no women to be found anywhere—not in politics, academe, diplomacy, civil society, or among Nobel laureates—who are qualified enough to satisfy the requirements of a panel on peace operations. In one stroke, you have plainly indicated that the panel’s consideration of a “broad range of issues facing peace operations” is overwhelmingly the domain of men.

Mr. Secretary-General, we have complained about this insulting and sexist pattern before. This pattern must be reversed. The gender equity you profess to espouse can only be achieved by the appointment of eight additional women to the panel. If a panel of that size seems too unwieldy, some of your appointees must be asked to relinquish their seats to qualified women in order to achieve balance.

If you leave things as they are, this panel will become a testament to the yawning, unbridgeable hypocrisy between UN performance and UN rhetoric.

Let us end by reminding you of your words at the opening of the General Assembly just over a month ago: “Transformation is our goal. I can think of no better place to start than with opening doors and shattering ceilings for women and girls... We cannot fulfill 100 per cent of the world’s potential by excluding 50 per cent of the world’s people.”

Sincerely,

Paula Donovan & Stephen Lewis
Co-Directors, AIDS-Free World