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Mr. Hassan Soroosh, Counselor and Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Chairs Session on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ during ACUNS Conference

Vienna, 14.01.2016

From January 13-15, 2016 the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) held a conference on “New Approaches for a Peaceful and More Sustainable World”. On the second day of the conference, Mr. Hassan Soroosh chaired a session on “Women, Peace and Security” where speakers from various international organizations and NGOs discussed the progress made and challenges faced in the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Mr. Soroosh opened the discussion by noting the considerable efforts undertaken across the world including the creation of National Action Plans by many countries as well as various initiatives undertaken across the UN System and beyond to meet the main goals of ‘Prevention, Protection, Participation and Peace Building and Recovery’. During interventions by the speakers of this session, the common idea throughout was a call for the increase in the participation and empowerment of women in peace building and post-conflict recovery as women are a critical for the development of lasting peace. Participants in the audience raised questions including on how to achieve gender balance and what strategies could be applied. Mr. Soroosh closed the session by thanking the speakers for their valuable contributions during the session as well as the participants for their interest in how to further the involvement of women in peace and security efforts.

The conference agenda can be found here.

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Ambassador Ayoob M. Erfani chairs Vienna+20 side event organized by ACUNS on Harmful Traditional Practices and Accusations of Witchcraft

Two days before the Vienna+20 high-level expert conference, which will take place on June 27 and 28 at the Hofburg, with the participation of a large number of international experts, NGO representatives and diplomats, H.E. Ambassador Erfani chaired a side event, organized by the Vienna Liaison Office of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) at the Vienna International Centre, in the framework of the Vienna+20 Conference, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the 1993 Vienna Conference on Human Rights. Speakers in the side event included Ms. Farida Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, and Ms. Katharina Thon, former collaborator, SRSG-Violence against Children.

In his statement, H.E. Ambassador Erfani explained that violence against women is a global challenge with extensive negative and lasting consequences for societies around the world. He  stated  that  “Harmful   Traditional  Practices  (HTPs)  are  serious  crimes  against  the fundemental rights of citizens, particularly in traditional, underdeveloped and post-conflict societies with extreme poverty and lack of rule of law, where women and children remain the main targets of these gruesome actions”.

Concerning this  problem  in  Afghanistan,  H.E.  clarified  “The  issue  of harmful  traditional practices,  unfortunately became the legacy of two decades of conflict, in some parts of country, coupled with a number of unacceptable and imposed century-old traditions, where dark-minded elements, along with  regional and international extremists and other fanatic goups … imposed their harmful practices against  our citizens, in particular women and children.”

With regards to currents developments in Afghanistan, Mr. Ambassador conveyed that, “although the women of Afghanistan still have to face many challenges, they have come a long  way  and  are now actively  participating  in  all  spheres  of the  increasingly  inclusive Afghan society, and gender equality is guaranteed by Afghanistan’s constitution”

Ambassador Erfani stated that, “the HTPs are an impediment to any country’s development and must be  publicly condemned and eliminated from the cultural fabric through every possible ways and means,  including through  realization of women’s cultural, economic, social and political rights and their empowerment … and the government of Afghanistan is commited to fight any  practices that undermine the human dignity of women and infringe upon their human rights”

The Ambassador also referred to the “Empowerment of women as proactive members of Afghan society – as parliamentarians, peace-builders, government officials, and as the most vibrant members of civil society”  as one of the proudest achievements of Afghanistan for the last 12 years -END-