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Want peace talks to work? Include this key group

A U.N. study released Monday concludes women's participation in peace talks is key to ending military conflicts.

The 420-page study, entitled "Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace," was produced by UN Women and a high-level advisory group, and authored by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and former Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy.

In an interview with CBS News, Mlambo-Ngcuka explained, "Women do not start wars, so when they are coming into the peace table, they are not there to settle a score with their enemy, they are there in the first instance because they want a ceasefire, they want access to humanitarian services for all, they want a break for their children to go to school, and they want their country to be constructed."

The extensive study was based on research by the Graduate Institute in Geneva from 2011 to 2015 and on in-depth analysis of 40 peace processes since the end of the Cold War.

The authors' conclusion is clear: "The report documents that when women are involved in the peace process, the agreements last."

"So who did what and how many points you must gain, that is not their starting point. Their starting point is 'stop the war,"' Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

The study sites extensive research to show that "women's participation boosts humanitarian assistance, strengthens the protection efforts of peacekeepers, enables the conclusion and sustainability of peace agreements, and facilitates economic recovery after conflict."

Syria is a case in point, says Mlambo-Ngcuka. "We heard that last week from the women from Syria from all sides. [They said] 'We want the war to end, we want to create an environment where our children can go to school and their lives are not at a standstill, we want to be able save the people who are injured and support them, and we want to reconcile and build our country with everybody. We don't want the next generation of Syrians to be fighters.'

"The agenda for women is completely different."

Mlambo-Ngcuka pointed to Liberia, Colombia and the Phillipines as places where women made the difference.

The report cites peace negotiations, some implemented and others ongoing, where women have been involved in Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Mali, Somalia, South Africa, Rwanda, Benin, Macedonia, Guatemala and others, concluding that, "Cases of women's participation and strong influence, an agreement was almost always reached."

In the 40 case studies, the report says, there was not a single instance in which organized women's groups had a negative impact on a peace process.

The other conclusion the study reaches is that when women participate, there is a deepened peace dividend with an impact on post-conflict peace building.

"We know that when women are placed at the center of security, justice, economic recovery, and good governance, they will be more direct recipients of a range of peace dividends including job creation and public services. This means that the pay-offs of peace will be delivered more rapidly to communities," the report says.

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