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Paul Johnston

Ambassador to Ireland

Part of FCDO Human Rights

7th March 2014

International Women’s Day: ‘women’s economic empowerment and raising girls’ aspirations’.

Upon receiving the Hillary Clinton prize for women, peace and security last month, UK Foreign Secretary Hague said, “I believe that there is no greater strategic prize of the 21st century than the full social, political and economic empowerment of all women everywhere.” [Full speech]
Tomorrow is the 103rd International Women’s Day. A great deal has been accomplished in the area of gender equality and human rights over the last century, however as the global community continues to face crises such as those in the Ukraine and Syria, continued progress and cooperation is crucial.
The UK recognises that long-term conflict prevention requires investment in all perspectives. Women’s participation can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the causes of, and alternative solutions to, violent conflict. Promoting and supporting women’s active and meaningful participation in all peace processes, as well as their representation in formal and informal decision-making at all levels, is vital to international peace and security.
To this end, the UK’s theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘women’s economic empowerment and raising girls’ aspirations’.
Over coming months, the UK will be participating in and facilitating activities around the globe which contribute to the promotion and protection of women’s and girls’ rights overseas.
Starting next week, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will meet to discuss and negotiate ‘Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls’. The CSW is one of the main international policy-making bodies
dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women, and the UK is a committed member. The draft of agreed conclusions can be viewed here.
Later this month, Ministerial and policy specialists from the UK will visit Sweden to participate in the 2014 Stockholm Forum on Security and Development, being hosted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, Hillevi Engström. It will focus on the links between socioeconomic development, conflict, peace and security.
In early June, the UK will host the biggest summit ever held on the issue of ending sexual violence in conflict. The Summit will be co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Hague and the UN Special Envoy for the UN Refugee Agency, Angelina Jolie and will consist of ministerial, NGO and civil society events. All of the 137 States who have so far endorsed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict which the Foreign Secretary launched at the UN General Assembly earlier this year have been invited to attend (including Sweden of course!).
The Summit will both seek agreement to practical steps from states to shatter the culture of impunity for war zone rape once and for all, and deliver practical and ambitious agreements that bring together conflict/ post-conflict affected countries, donors, the UN and other multilateral
organisations and civil society.
Such agreements could include revising military doctrine and training; improving peacekeeping training and operations; providing support to local and grassroots organisations and human rights defenders; developing the deployment of international expertise to build national capacity; improved support for survivors; and forming new partnerships to support conflict affected countries.
Click here for more information on the Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative.

About Paul Johnston

Paul Johnston joined the UK Civil Service in 1990, working for the Ministry of Defence initially. He has served in Paris and New York and has also had a wide…

Paul Johnston joined the UK Civil Service in 1990, working for the Ministry of Defence initially.

He has served in Paris and New York and has also had a wide range of political and security roles in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. Paul joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1993 as Desk Officer for Bosnia. As part of this role he was also Private Secretary to EU negotiator Lord Owen and his representative on Bosnia Contact Group.

His first foreign posting was to Paris in 1995-99 as Second Secretary Political. He was Private Secretary to the Ambassador and latterly part of the UK delegation to the Kosovo Rambouillet negotiations. Then he returned to London as Head of the Kosovo Policy Team, leading work on post-conflict policy in the EU, NATO, UN and G8.

Before his second overseas posting to New York in 2005, Paul held a variety of other EU policy and security appointments in London, such as Head of European Defence Section between 2000-01 and Head of Security Policy Department between 2002-04.

As Head of the Political Section in UKMIS New York, he advised on major policy issues for the UK on the Security Council and the UN World Summit, including the UK EU Presidency in 2005.

Paul returned to London in 2008 as Director, International Security for the FCO. He was responsible for policy on UN, NATO, European Security, arms control and disarmament, human rights and good governance.

Paul was British Ambassador to Sweden from August 2011 to August 2015 and then was Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO.

He was UK Ambassador to the EU for Political and Security affairs from 2017 to January 2020 and became Ambassador to Ireland in September 2020.