Asian Partners for Cooperation Conference: The Role of Women in Building Confidence, Peace And Security
As delivered by Alex Tiersky, Political Officer
to the Asian Partners for Cooperation Conference, Vienna
June 15, 2022
Let me begin our first intervention by thanking Sweden for organizing this conference, and the panelists for their compelling and substantive remarks.
The United States has long acknowledged the interconnectedness of the OSCE region with that of our Asian Partners for Cooperation, and we welcome opportunities to highlight the value of the collaboration between our Organization and its partners. The United States recognizes and appreciates the many generous contributions our Asian Partners have made to key extrabudgetary projects and activities, including to the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and the Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe.
The close cooperation we enjoy with our Asian Partners is based on shared core interests and values. The United States works with our Asian Partners to uphold these values through, for instance, efforts to promote the security and prosperity of the rules-based order that ensures a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Madam Moderator, these shared values and interests are under direct assault today. As the invitation to this conference noted, we meet today “against the background of the particular challenges the OSCE is facing in light of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”
In fact, the consequences of Russia’s aggression are in no way limited to the OSCE region. On the contrary, the ripples of Russia’s unprovoked and horrific war of aggression against Ukraine have already hit every shore across the world.
Russia’s deliberate disruption of Ukraine’s agricultural production and export of its foodstuffs has wreaked havoc on the global food supply and increased the ranks of food insecure by 40 million, including directly impacting the Indo-Pacific region. Ukraine’s grain and food staples are especially important to Southeast Asia, and in particular (and perhaps most tragically) those countries most vulnerable to food insecurity, including Afghanistan.
Given the focus of this panel, it is important to underline the tragic and disproportionate impact Russia’s war has had on women.
To begin with, many women are on the front lines, fighting for their country to repel this unprovoked attack: women comprise about 15 percent of the Ukrainian armed forces, in addition to those engaged in territorial defense forces.
We must also remember the almost 7 million Ukrainian refugees, ninety percent of whom are women and children. Thankfully, generous neighboring states have received most of these women and children, but many remain vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking. Of course, there is no accounting for those who have been forcibly displaced within occupied areas of Ukraine, or to Russia.
Madam Moderator, the tragedy of this senseless war of aggression has forced the international community to take a renewed focus on issues pertaining to women in conflict. For instance, the OSCE has issued a set of recommendations to help reduce the risk of human trafficking and supports local organizations in neighboring countries such as Moldova to help survivors of gender-based violence. It will be incumbent upon us to ensure that any lessons learned in addressing this tragedy, particularly regarding effective OSCE recommendations on combating human trafficking, are shared with an eye towards helping others, especially women and children, displaced by conflict in other parts of the world, to include Asia.
In conclusion, it is evident that the core values and principles we share with our Asian Partners are under assault and we must stand firm to defend them. We would again like to thank the Chair for convening this forum, and we appreciate the opportunity to once again meet with our Asian Partners to discuss common solutions to common challenges.