According to Ambassador Neil Bush, the United Kingdom’s unwavering dedication to supporting women and girls, including those in Ukraine, continues.
Delivered on: 8 March 2023
Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered:
»UK Statement at the OSCE on Women, Peace and Security«
I would like to thank the Secretary General and the panellists for their interventions. Thank you also to North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for tabling this issue on International Women’s Day – a powerful signal of OSCE support for this vital work.
Chairs, as the Ukrainian speaker has so powerfully set out, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has underlined the ongoing importance of today’s topic. Women are often the first responders to conflict. We salute the thousands of women serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces to defend their homeland. Beyond service in the armed forces, Ukrainian women have also been instrumental to the humanitarian, political, and security efforts in the defence of their country.
This includes the collection of evidence to help bring the perpetrators of war crimes to account. The world has watched in horror as overwhelming evidence has emerged of heinous atrocities committed by the Russian Armed Forces against civilians, a large proportion of them women. That is why, in January this year, the UK joined the core group dedicated to achieving accountability for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. And that is why the UK and the Netherlands will co-host justice ministers from around the world, aiming to provide practical assistance to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in support of the investigation into the situation in Ukraine. We will ensure survivors’ needs are at the heart of our accountability efforts by encouraging compliance with the Murad Code in the collection of information and evidence from survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.
Chairs, last month, our Foreign Secretary and our Minister for the Armed Forces launched the UK’s fifth Women Peace and Security National Action Plan. Our Plan outlines an ambitious approach to tackling gender inequality in fragile and conflict-affected countries. It outlines how we will continue to deliver for women and girls through the UK’s diplomatic, development and defence work, alongside our global partners.
I wish to highlight two particular elements today:
Firstly, on Ukraine. Due to Russia’s full-scale invasion and the devastating reports of conflict-related sexual violence, Ukraine is now a focus country in our National Action Plan. We will work with Ukraine to support their efforts to champion women’s leadership in peace efforts and ensure survivors of CRSV get the support they need and deserve.
Secondly, the UK is committed to ensuring that we strengthen our own record on WPS – including in our diplomatic, development, security and defence fields. In our National Action Plan, we have committed to increase women’s meaningful participation and leadership in UK defence, foreign and security policy. This includes aiming to increase the percentage of women joining the British armed forces to 30% by 2030. And aiming for gender parity between our senior male and female negotiators.
Chairs, the UK continues to view the OSCE’s annual voluntary report on Women, Peace and Security under the Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security as an important method of sharing information and best practice. As our discussions have demonstrated time and again, this remains an issue where we can all learn from each other. We strongly encourage all States to contribute to this exchange.
I wish to conclude by highlighting again the importance of the Women Peace and Security agenda. As we know from hard-earned experience, the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peace efforts leads to better outcomes during and after conflicts. This is a lesson we must never forget. On this International Women’s Day, the UK is proud to say that our commitment to supporting women and girls, including in Ukraine, remains unbreakable.