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"Democracy without women is hypocrisy"

Hibaaq Osman, Founder and CEO, Karama

Transparency, not nationality is the problem with UN appointments, say women in the Arab region

We are appalled that the United States has objected to the appointment of a UN special envoy based purely on the candidate’s nationality. The UN Secretary-General’s is right in his pledge to “recruit qualified individuals, respecting regional diversity”, to which we would add the need to reflect gender, ethnic and cultural diversity.

There are many legitimate questions about the credibility of the process for appointing mediators and envoys at the United Nations. It is however plainly wrong for a candidate to be disqualified based on irrelevant and politically-motivated matters.

The issues that desperately need to be addressed in the special envoy appointment process are the complete lack of transparency and accountability. It is crucial that parties engaged with mediation processes have confidence in UN envoys and missions. But decisions on the appointment of representatives – from special envoy level down – continue to be taken behind closed doors, without consultation with the parties involved.

This has led to a succession of men appointed as special envoys, and disproportionately white, European men. The recent Global Study on UNSCR 1325 made a clear recommendation that there should be more women appointed to these roles. We believe that transparent appointments based on principles of quality and equality would yield greater diversity, as well as more confidence in mediation processes.

The UN currently has special envoys and political missions focused on three Arab countries, Libya, Syria and Yemen. We should be in a position where these envoys and missions have the trust, respect and support of all parties throughout their mandates. Appointments need to be made with far wider consultation than is currently the case. As women in the Arab region, there should be nothing about us without us.

– The Arab Regional Network on Women, Peace and Security

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