The UN will work alongside all Cypriots to seek a viable, enduring, and acceptable resolution to the Cyprus issue, Unficyp chief Colin Stewart said on Monday evening.
Stewart, who was speaking at an event on women’s participation in the issue, said progress could neither be achieved nor sustained without the perseverance demonstrated by all, including the women in attendance.
The event was held to acknowledge and celebrate women’s contributions as political and legal advisors, members of working groups and technical committees, and as trusted colleagues and partners in settlement negotiations.
The important contribution of women to the Cyprus talks in the past had often gone unnoticed, Stewart said.
“We tend to emphasise that women’s meaningful participation needs to be improved – and this remains true,” he said. “But we must also recognise that the number and role of women […] was important, more so than in any other UN-facilitated process.”
He noted that women had set the precedent for participation in Cyprus, and this was the basis for the action plan to which the the leaders had committed to ensure the continuation of women’s involvement.
The UN official recalled that two decades ago, the security council adopted resolution 1325, recognising the integral role of women’s leadership and added that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has made the “Women, Peace, and Security” agenda a top priority.
“For the United Nations, women’s participation in peacemaking is not merely a matter of inclusion, equality, and fairness; it is also smart peacemaking,” Stewart said.
It is therefore important to not only acknowledge these contributions and their potential to bring about change, but also to highlight them, in Cyprus and beyond, to inspire future generations of women, he added.
“What lies ahead is the crucial task of implementing the [action] plan, a responsibility which falls on us all,” Stewart said, adding that the UN looks forward to supporting the two sides in this effort.
The technical committee’s spokeswoman, Soula Hadjikyriacou, said that the committee was hosting a series of public conversations on different dimensions women’s participation in peacemaking.
“We will work closely […] to ensure that any future negotiation process has women and men working together…while keeping a finger on the pulse in the streets, tavernas and meyhanes, on both sides of the island,” Hadjikyriacou said.
Speaking on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot women, Sulen Karabacak referred to her own longstanding participation, noting that during Crans Montana she was one of three women in the main negotiating team.
“In addition to our backgrounds and the expertise [we carry] we have contributed with skills we have acquired from occupying our social roles and responsibilities as women,” she said.
Karabacak also welcomed the action plan, expressing the belief meaningful participation and female leadership in delegations can only contribute positively to the process.