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Intervention of H.E. Anneli Jäätteenmäki in ILC 2021

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to talk with all of you today. Our topic, “Women in International Peacekeeping and Reconciliation Process” is challenging. Women are not so often seen and heard in this context, even if it is of the utmost importance that we women are active and have a role in defining and shaping peace and reconciliation.

As Mrs. Julia Moon told us in the opening remarks, all women in the world should realize and know their own unique value. To achieve peace in the world requires that both women and men are included in the process, and in many cases they are, not in the headlines, but in the long working process they make very important work.

My very close friend has worked in ex-Yugoslavia, in Bosnia - Herzegovina and also in Ukraine. My other friend has worked in Afghanistan. There are thousands of women included in the process.

My own experience is limited but I dare to say one important part of peace process in one country. During the 1990’s, I helped Bosnia - Herzegovina to become a member of the Council of Europe, a human rights organization. Before a country can become member of the Council of Europe, it must fulfill certain human rights criteria. I and one Hungarian member, Lazlo Surijan, visited Bosnia - Herzegovina to study the situation just after the war. During these visits to Bosnia – Herzegovina, I learned a lot.

All of the cases are different, yet there are similarities. In my work with reconciliation and nation building, I’ve considered the following elements as the most important tools; first of all, the long history of the nation. To know and understand your own history is of the utmost importance and from where you can draw examples and possibilities to solve the problems.

The second tool I have used is cooperation between different authorities and with NGOs.

And the third tool has been using myself as an example of a democratic society with an understanding of equality, impartiality and confidentiality – building trust.

According to the UN, reconciliation involves building or rebuilding relationships among people and various groups in society and between the state and its citizens. Depending on the conflict, reconciliation may be needed between political groups, between different communities or ethnic groups, between citizens and the state, or a combination of these.

For nation-building, in addition to financial resources, international political will and time.

The most relevant priorities are security for citizens, political reform and strengthening legal institutions.

The process is slow. Healing trauma, building trust and enabling forgiveness take a long time. And it is not done in the headlines, but in the minds, brains and hearts.

The way to reconcile is to meet and begin to discuss. When I met the different ethnic and political groups in Sarajevo, it was the first time for them to meet, to discuss. That was the starting point; to get them at the same table.

During this long process they could be reassured that nobody was going to lose anything, but that everyone would benefit from something.

Dear friends, I could imagine that in the Korean Peninsula, the women should be included in the process. The proposed “Peace Zone”, a small zone of trust, a meeting place for women to discuss is an excellent idea. And step by step, the women in the Peace Zone would come to know their own unique value.

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