The 3rd International Conferenceon Action with Women and Peace
by H.E. Chung Eui-yong
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea
on November 25, 2021
High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet,Minister of State Lord Ahmad,Ambassador Jacqueline O’Neill,
Ambassador I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja,Distinguished Guests,
It is my pleasure to welcome you all
to the 3rd International Conference on Action with Women and Peace.
My sincere gratitude goes to the speakers and panelists,
especially to those who have ventured to Seoul in person.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Korea’s UN membership.
30 years ago, Korea was a fledgling new democracy and a developing economy eager to learn the ways of the leading countries of the world.
Today, we are proud to have grown to become the 10th largest economy and even prouder to be one of the most democratic countries in the Asia Pacific region. We are the first and only country to have started as a recipient of international aid to become an aid donor country.
We owe much of our success to the international community and we are committed to repay by contributing to the advancement of global issues ranging from socio-economic growth, response to climate change, and to the advancement of human rights.
Part of our effort to do so is linked to today’s conference, which is an extension of the “Action with Women and Peace” initiative.
Armed conflicts still continue to wreak havoc in many parts of the world. And more often than not, women bear the brunt of the devastation.
News from nearby Asian countries are particularly worrisome to us.
women arrested and detained for participating in protests to military takeover of the government are exposed to risks of sexual harrassment and violence.
human rights of women and girls are regressing,
overshadowing steady improvements that were achieved
during the past two decades.
The most basic rights are being withheld from women,
including the freedom to go outside by themselves and
the opportunity to receive proper education.
Korea is doing its part in addressing these problems.
In August, we safely brought from Afghanistan to Korea
391 “persons of merits” who were at risk.
It is noteworthy that half of them were women and girls,
and over 60 percent of the entire group under the age of 18.
This decision had the strong support from all relevant agencies in the government and, more importantly, from the general public. It was the first time that Korea received such a large number of foreigners displaced by conflict and humanitarian crisis.
The solution to the prolonged problem of
Conflict-related Sexual Violence, or CRSV, across the globe
is to put survivors at the center.
This survivor-centered approach is the only way to heal the wounds of CRSV survivors and to recover their honor and dignity. As is the case in any human wrong-doing, only the victim can forgive and put a painful past to rest. It would be immoral for the perpetrator to wish for a shameful act to be forgotten by denying the truth, even revising history or waiting for the survivors to pass away.
Thirty years ago, the late Ms. Kim Hak-soon became
the first survivor of the so-called “comfort women”
to testify about her painful experience.
Her brave act inspired many other survivors to go public with their own similar experiences and this sparked an international outcry and galvanized global solidarity in their support.
Last March, I had the privilege to meet another survivor, Ms. Lee Yong-soo.
Listening to her tragic story, I felt a great responsibility to restore their honor and dignity, and make sure such an atrocity is never forgotten or repeated.
The sad truth is that these atrocious acts may not be just distant memories of the past but, unfortunately, an ongoing reality for many victims in many parts of the world.
We need to pay close attention to the unheard voices of CRSV survivors,many of whom are forced to stay in silence.
Moreover, recognizing that
women make up the vast majority of CRSV victims,
we need to do our utmost to increase women’s participation in all processes of peace building and reconciliation.
Listening to their voices is the beginning of genuine forgiveness and peace.
And sustainable peace is possible only when the participation of women is ensured.
In order to further develop the Women, Peace and Security agenda,
the Korean Government will continue to make meaningful contributionto the international community.
In two weeks, Korea will host UN Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting in Seoul which will be attended by high level delegations from more than 90 countries. One of the topics of the meeting will be "enhancing women's roles in peacekeeping."
More participation of women in UN peacekeeping operations will allow their skills, experiences and perspectives to be reflected in the full range of peacekeeping operations in the communities they serve.
Furthermore, we will transform our pledges into substantive actionsthrough an Action Plan that we will present at the end of this Conference.
Throughout this journey, Korea will always walk together with CRSV survivors.
I hope today’s conference will provide a meaningful step to expand the participation of women,
including CRSV survivors,
as we march together towards genuine peace and reconciliation.
Thank you. /End/