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Thursday, 2 December 2004
Page: 149

Senator MOORE (6:32 PM) —Yesterday in a room in this building the wonderful women from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF, launched a web site. Their web site was designed to draw awareness to, and understanding of, United Nations Security Council resolution 1325. This resolution was passed unanimously by the UN on 31 October 2000, not that long ago. This resolution is the only document that specifically highlights the impact of war and conflict on women and girls and the importance of the involvement of women in the peace-building processes.

It took a long time to have the people of the world pull together through the United Nations process not only to develop this resolution but also to ensure that members of the United Nations voted for it and secured its passing. It was a wonderful moment that we should remember with pride because Australia was there. It did not happen overnight; it happened over a long period. Certainly, experiences of the Beijing conference in 1995 were important in the development of the international understanding of the way that women communicate and the way they can bond together to put an incredibly important resolution through the United Nations processes.

This resolution is a commitment made by the United Nations and is a platform from which individuals, non-government organisations, governments and international institutions can advocate for the inclusion of women in all aspects of conflict, peace and security. In 2005 we are leading to the Beijing Plus 10 process and we will be looking at how we as a world have changed and how women and their values have been celebrated across the world in that time. As we have moved through this decade the key issues of war, conflict and peace have been very confronting and we need to understand them. We, as women and as people who support women, expect that the role of women in all aspects will be identified and used effectively. Certainly that must be important for Australia.

The Australian government has had a strong role to play. On each anniversary of resolution 1325 our United Nations representative has made a strong statement about how Australia has played its part in the process. On the recent anniversary, on 28 October 2004, a statement by our representative, Mr John Dauth, clearly recognised the role that Australia had played. He said, quite accurately:

We are proud to reaffirm our commitment to resolution 1325 ... which remains a landmark document both for the Council in its recognition of the true dimensions of peace-building and for its international recognition of the particular burden women and girls bear as a result of conflict.

I will not burden this group by going through horrific statistics on the impact of war and conflict on civilians. We have the evidence before us now of what is happening in Iraq. Iraq has the media cameras there so we are able to see, when allowed, the impact of bombing and conflict and the way that that always impacts on civilian populations, families, women, girls and children. But this conflict happens not just where the TV cameras and journalists can get. Part of the implementation of resolution 1325 means that we, as part of the international community, must know what is happening across the world and be aware when these conflicts are occurring.

Whilst we will always have to make judgments about being involved in wars, basically we need to know that war has a horrific effect on communities. Certainly from my point of view war does not have any victors. We spoke about that in this place when we debated the national decision on our involvement in Iraq. There were numerous arguments put forward from all sides of the chamber about the need for war and the impact of war, but we agreed that, no matter what happened, women and children were going to be victims of this conflict. They were not combatants; they were victims caught up in something they could not escape.

Hopefully, the anniversary of Beijing in 2005 will not be just a time to get together and say, `Splendid. This is what we have done,' and file it away and look for the next conflict or crisis. We need to have the ongoing involvement of communities across the world acknowledging that we are able to do things better and accepting the universal truth that our goal is peace. That is what the wonderful women of WILPF have been working towards since the early days of World War I. These women from across the world gathered in Europe—I am still amazed at how they could travel in those days—and committed themselves to working across international boundaries to ensure peace. You could say that since World War I there have been lots of wars so maybe they have not been all that successful in achieving peace across the world, but what they have done is remarkable.

The members of WILF—and they are the women of WILF and the people who support them—are committed to ensuring that effective dialogue is created and maintained on what the causes of war are. There are all too many similarities over the years, but we are trying to find ways of making sure that we can effectively work for peace. We—and I am a long-term member of WILF—are committed to achieving total and universal disarmament with the goal of non-violent conflict. Naturally, we support the United Nations and the specialised agencies within the United Nations which focus on particular issues. We know the good work that has been done by the groups that look after children and hunger. Amazing work has been done in trying to get rid of the landmines that are still scattered across areas of conflict.

The impact of war on civilians is seen in no greater way than in the ongoing loss of life and horrific injuries that are caused by landmines after actual war zones are allegedly made peaceful. There is something particularly scary about that concept: the majority of landmine injuries and deaths occur in areas which are supposed to be in a state of peace. Once the fights are allegedly over, the bombing has stopped, the armaments have been cleared and the armies have moved away, what is often forgotten is that some of those weapons of war continue to have a life well beyond the war.

Only last siting week, we received an international report on the impact of landmines across the world. It is sickening reading to see what is continuing to occur, but through our process, through understanding United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 and through working with organisations like WILF, we as individuals can make a difference. Already across the Australian community we are seeing people dedicating their time to raise money, to give resources, so that they can help in some way to ensure that some of these horrid weapons are cleared and that we will not have ongoing cases of small children and people trying to rebuild their lives being maimed and murdered by yesterday's war implements. That has got to be wrong.

The WILF web site—and we are excited in WILF that we have actually got a web site; it is our attempt to move forward with the communication process—is looking at resolution 1325 and calling on people to understand what is there and to see what that resolution is about. It is about the participation of women in the peace process; gender training in all peacekeeping operations—and that is important for our own forces who are working; the protection of women and girls and the respect for their rights; and gender mainstreaming in the reporting and implementation systems of the UN relating to conflict, peace and security. Surely, that is something in which we can all be involved and something that our community can hope for in the future.