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China's envoy stresses protection of women in conflicts

By LIU YINMENG in Los Angeles | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-01-19 12:17

This picture taken on November 14, 2021 shows women going to back to their houses after attending a class of grade 12 in Langar village, in the Qarabagh district, some 56 km south-west of Ghazni, in Ghazni province. When the Taliban overran the village of Nawabad in central Afghanistan, fighting stopped but lessons carried on at the local girls' high school. [Photo/Agencies]

China's United Nations ambassador on Tuesday stressed the importance of protecting women in armed conflicts and supporting their participation in the peace process.

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, urged the Security Council to "stick to the right direction and stay on the right course" to achieve these goals.

Zhang told a Security Council open debate on women, peace and security that women affected by armed conflicts are entitled to security and protection, regardless of whether they are part of the peace process or not. "They should be treated equally without exception," he said.

"A comprehensive approach and collective efforts" are needed to protect these women and parties to conflict should fulfill their obligations under international humanitarian laws to renounce all violence against women, including sexual violence, the ambassador said.

He affirmed China's support for relevant UN organizations in carrying out their work "in accordance with their respective mandate in this regard."

The international community should intensify relief efforts in line with the UN guiding principles for humanitarian assistance and meet the basic living needs of women affected by conflict. Countries with historical responsibilities for hotspot issues are duty-bound to provide more financial and in-kind support, Zhang said.

He urged the Security Council to address the symptoms and eliminate the root causes of conflicts.

"In conflict situations, the risks of violence, displacement, poverty and famine often rise exponentially among women. We should be tough on violence against women. Yet nothing can provide more basic protection for women than a holistic approach to conflict prevention and resolution," the ambassador said.

Noting that peace could only be restored through dialogue and consultation between parties concerned, Zhang encouraged the civil society to play a more constructive role in advocating peace, being the voice of people, promoting exchanges and mutual trust, as well as providing useful advice. All parties should practice gender equality in the political processes, he said.

The Security Council, which bears the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, should "work harder to eliminate root causes of conflicts, pursue political solutions to hotspot issues, and unremittingly seek peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue, mediation and consultation," Zhang said.

The ambassador also emphasized the need to "unswervingly support women's empowerment and development." Supporting women's development, amplifying their initiative, participation and power to change in the field of peace and security could help extend the impact of the women, peace and security agenda, Zhang said.

As the host country of the Fourth World Conference on Women, China always advocates gender equality and women's empowerment, promotes women's development globally, and follows the women, peace and security agenda with concrete actions, the ambassador said.

He noted that more than 1,000 Chinese women have served in UN peacekeeping operations over the past three decades. In recent years, China has also helped developing countries implement 100 maternal and child health projects and train 130,000 female professionals.

In addition, China partnered with UNESCO to set up the prize for girls' and women's education to galvanize more people into action, Zhang said.

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