Remarks by acting Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan at Plenary Session of World Forum for Democracy “Women, security and democratization in the context of multilateralism”

22 November, 2018

Mr. President,

Thank you very much to all of you that you take such an interest in coming together from various parts of Europe, comparing notes about how we feel about the future of democracy and that is the foundation of how we want to build our nations, our countries, how we model our countries. In fact, it’s very encouraging to see more people in the room than one would often see during the Parliamentary Assembly sessions. The theme is about multilateralism, and it’s about women, who are stakeholders in multilateralism and in the security agenda.

You know, I think there are a few dates that we would want to remind ourselves, anniversaries that would be helpful in terms of testing whether history teaches us anything. The United Nations was celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2015, a few weeks ago, Europe was commemorating Armistice Day, soon we will be commemorating the end of the Second World War, the 75th anniversary, this year we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and, most importantly, in the context of where we are, next year this organization will be celebrating its 70th anniversary. And I think all of those anniversaries are reminders about the powers of multilateralism, the powers of nations coming together to address collective challenges and collective threats. And I think the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War are exactly the dates when we think about the alternative to multilateralism, and the alternative has been the catastrophe. This continent has known too well the extent and depth of catastrophe. However, those anniversaries are also taking place at a time when there is a decline in so many ways: decline of multilateralism, decline of democracy, decline of respect for human rights. We are witnesses in various parts of the world--and Europe is not an exception--witnesses of the rise of populism, of the rise of nationalism, and again, the question before us is whether history teaches us anything. I think when we talk about these things, it’s the security issue, the concept of security that is at the heart of the deliberations. Security in its entirety. Security in terms of defence security and security for the development of all nations. And at the heart of it is the human person. And the United Nations Charter has been written on behalf of “we the people” and it reaffirms the faith in human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person. I think that’s the foundation of the entire architecture that we’ve built for the security arrangement globally. So the human person is the center of our deliberation.

Multilateralism is the capacity, the test of our willingness, our wish to collectively approach crises, collectively approach all these issues that are before our societies, before our nations. There are good examples, after all. We shouldn’t undermine everything, I don’t want to appear as someone who brings everything in the bleak colors. There are good examples. There was a reference to Agenda 2030 and that is an example, the latest example of how the international community has been capable to come together and address the global issues of development and the way in which we work together. There are other examples like climate change. Again, a capacity, because none of the nations is capable to address those issues alone. We are not capable to deal with most of the issues in the globalized world alone, so we do delegate part of our sovereignty to this collective effort, for our own benefit, as sovereign states, as nations, for the benefit of our people. So that’s the value of multilateralism.

And we are in a continent which is perhaps one of the most elaborate in the architecture of multilateralism. In Europe, you have the variety of regional and subregional organizations that bring nations together to work together, which is unprecedented. Here, in this organization, we have something that is not known anywhere else in the world – a supranational court - the European Court of Human Rights. This is an organization that has been created 70 years ago, nearly 70 years ago, created to put democracy, human rights and the rule of law as the foundation of multilateralism within this regional setting.

We are a relatively new member to the Council of Europe. We are one of the beneficiaries of that multilateralism because we have chosen a model, once we restored our independence, we have chosen a model, which absorbs the values of Europe, which absorbs the principles of Europe, it absorbs the architecture, national building, state and institutional building along the lines that are known to Europe. Our road has been occasionally bumpy, we have known many instances of crisis nationally in building these institutions, in moving forward but it was through this multilateralism, through this collective work within this organization to elevate our national capacity to a point that made the Velvet Revolution in April-May of this year possible. It didn’t happen out of nothing, it happened because in its entirety, the state institutions, the civil society, the media, all components of our collective life in the country have come to a point where it was possible to absorb shock and take protest in a direction that brings our country to a much firmer ground.

The Council of Europe has been very critical in that. Because it was through the Council of Europe, with the Council of Europe, with the generation of this collective effort to bring the expertise, the knowledge to our country and to instill what we call the values of Europe in our country. So that’s an example, that’s a positivism of multilateralism. Now, in our country we have this saying, we say that democracy in the case of Armenia is not a mere choice of political model, it’s a security issue and I personally believe in that. I think this continent has shown the power of democracy and respect for human rights as a foundation for reliable security. There are many ways of looking at it but now I want to go straight to the next target of this talk. Women and youth are stakeholders in building security, stakeholders in building national institutions, participating in national life, participating in the arrangements within which a society finds harmony. I will bring you an example. The Prime Minister of Armenia, when he was marching, when he was in protest, when he was addressing the crowd, the people in the streets, in the squares of Armenia, at some point, he looked around and reflected on what he had been observing: “when I saw this many women, this many young women, this many women with pushchairs and their children, I knew this is going to happen.”

That was a very important message. We are living in a region, where we are not free of a conflict. We deal with the unresolved conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Women have that power of delivering the alternative message to militarism, to hatred. And we recognize that. There is this initiative in Armenia that we want to mobilize the women on all sides, so that they carry the message of peace. There is this belief that women have this capacity to be socially more responsible. And their sensitivity to peace is far stronger. But we haven’t got to a point at which we can claim effective use of this capacity. And I think that’s a collective challenge.

There is United Nations Security Council resolution 1325. I think it is a very important document which is a very good foundation for all of us to work together, to bring it to a national level and see how we can make use of that multilateral document to our national purpose. In Armenia as well, it took some time for us to get to that point. But I’m really glad that we will be working within a national setting on the implementation of resolution 1325.

Mr. President, in the same context, you mentioned Goal 5 of the SDGs. We have the various multilateral settings to promote the women’s agenda, within Agenda 2030 we have  our collective commitment to this, we have the various institutions within the United Nations, within this organization, within other settings to promote the women agenda at the global level, at the international level. But this is an ongoing challenge, because amongst nations we have a divergent record, there are countries with more visible progress, countries with different record. It remains an ongoing challenge in that we haven’t come to a level where we can claim there is a level of participation of women in our life, in our public life, both nationally and globally that would allow us to claim that we have reached a satisfactory point. It’s an ongoing challenge.  In my country, again, as an example, we have constitutionally set a target, you know, a minimum level of 25 percent for participation of women in Parliament. We still have to reach that target. And that is not good. We still have to raise the level of women's participation in political life. And I think we are not an exception. So, this is a very timely discussion. This is an opportunity, most of you are young people, most of you are the ones who will be in charge of the future, of the future of democracy. And this is an ongoing challenge for all of us. And I do appeal to collectively be sensitive and resolute about this agenda, because women’s participation, I claim, in public life, nationally and globally is an issue of security. Security, nationally and globally.

Thank you very much.

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