At the outset, I would like to join the others in thanking Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed and Ambassador Tete Antonio, Permanent Observer of the African for their valuable briefing.
The joint AU-UN Mission was important in closing the gaps in perception versus reality between NY and Africa, in terms of Women, Peace and Security agenda. It was also of great significance as the first-ever joint trip based on the enhanced partnership between the Commission of the African Union and the United Nations in the field of peace and security.
I therefore highly commend Ms. Mohamed’s strong and insightful leadership, which has made it a great success; and we support that other Missions will follow in the same vein.
This Mission made clear that gender inequality and discrimination against women are among the root causes of conflict in both countries. In addition, during the visit to the Lake Chad Basin region in March, members of the Security Council witnessed the important role of women in ensuring peace and security in the region.
The existing conflicts will be further protracted, and peace will become more distant and fragile, if countries in the region along with the international community fail to protect women, who are often the first victims of conflict, and fails to make them participate in any peace building efforts, as women are bearers of peace.
When it comes to the protection of women, we have to address sexual violence first. Holding perpetrators judicially accountable and providing victims with judicial redress are both key elements. To make these effective, we have to first establish a legal structure and consistently implement it.
Japan is proud to be a leading supporter of the Office of the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and specifically the Team of Experts, in their efforts to provide assistance to governments in Africa, including the DRC, to ensure the rule of law.
Regarding women’s participation, we must enable women to serve as leaders and to aspire to a better future. Women’s involvement makes their communities and regions more resilient. It will prevent the infiltration of violent extremist groups and cut off the negative spiral of poverty and conflict.
I would like to affirm that Japan continues to collaborate with UN-Women to promote women’s participation through empowerment, community dialogue and education, focusing on the Sahel region.
In Nigeria, it is encouraging that a group of Chibok girls were released; however, we must not forget that so many other girls are still held captive and used as weapons of war by the terrorist group.
Even after their release, many are still suffering due to stigma and struggling to cope with the return to their communities. In such cases, we see the need to find comprehensive and long-term approaches to support women in conflict settings.
In the DRC, it is welcomed that perpetrators of rape are being held accountable. The DRC is facing an important crossroads in maintaining and enhancing peace and stability through elections. It is vital for its success that women be actively involved in the decision-making process for their own future.
The bitter experiences of both countries should serve as prominent lessons for other conflict-affected countries in Africa and beyond.
To conclude, let me add that Japan emphasizes peace-building in Africa, including through the TICAD process. This month, Japan will organize the TICAD Ministerial Meeting in Mozambique. This fall, Japan will host the Fourth World Assembly for Women, “WAW!” for short, in Tokyo.
Japan has emphasized the fundamental nexus between peace and women through these international fora, with which, I believe, we share the same values and message as the joint AU-UN Mission.
I thank you, Mr. President.