Women, Peace and Security: Keeping the promise. How to revitalize the agenda 15 years after UNSCR 1325 | Peacebuilding | United Nations

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In 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 to uphold women’s rights in conflict and their roles in peace and security. Despite signs of progress, the impact on women’s lives and roles worldwide has been sporadic. This briefing argues that 15 years on, the UN and Member States should use a formal review of the Women, Peace and Security agenda as a crucial opportunity to address key gaps. New commitments should focus on women’s participation, preventing conflict and gender-based violence, monitoring and implementation, and financing. 
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  OXFAM BRIEFING PAPER  3 SEPTEMBER 2015 www.oxfam.org Clockwise from left: teaching women literacy and political rights in Yemen; a policewoman in Afghanistan; a villager addressing an Oxfam public health meeting in South Sudan; a Syrian refugee in Lebanon; discussing local peace issues in South Sudan. Credits on back page. WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY: KEEPING THE PROMISE How to revitalize the agenda 15 years after UNSCR 1325 In 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 to uphold women’s rights  in conflict and their roles in peace and security. Despite signs of progress, the impact on women’s lives and roles worldwide has been sporadic. Fifteen years on, the UN and Member States should use a formal review of the Women, Peace and Security agenda as a crucial opportunity to address key gaps. New commitments should focus on women’s participation , preventing conflict and gender-based violence, monitoring and implementation, and financing.  2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Conflicts threaten devastating consequences for everyone  –  but women and girls face particular impacts. In general, women and girls have access to fewer resources to protect and sustain themselves, are more often the deliberate target of gender-based violence and are more often excluded from political processes essential for peace and security. The number of conflicts  –  especially intra-state conflicts  –  has recently been on the rise worldwide (although still below the peak that occurred in the mid-1990s), contributing to record numbers of forcibly displaced people in 2014. 1  Many of these conflicts are marked by violent extremism and acts of gender-based violence and abuse. This poses huge challenges both for communities and governments directly affected and for world leaders charged with maintaining international peace and security. The need for inclusive peace and recovery processes backed by popular support has never been greater. Yet, although women have led and supported peace and recovery efforts in communities across the world, they remain largely excluded from negotiations and decision making. Recognizing these challenges, the international community has taken some important steps. In 2000, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. UNSCR 1325 called for women to participate in peace efforts, greater protection from violations of their human rights, improved access to justice and measures to address discrimination. Since the adoption of UNSCR 1325, there have been many new commitments, growing policy recognition and increasing political rhetoric in relation to the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Six additional UN Security Council resolutions have helped develop the policy framework and promote positive norms. Denmark became the first country to develop its National Action Plan (NAP) to implement UNSCR 1325 in 2005, while Cô te d’Ivoire led the way in sub-Saharan Africa in 2007. The African Union Commission launched its five-year Gender, Peace and Security Programme in June 2014 to promote women’s participation and protectio n across the continent. By July 2015, 49 states 2  had published one or more NAPs. There have been some visible achievements in countries recovering from conflict. Twenty years after the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has the highest ratio of female parliamentarians in the world: 64 percent. 3  In 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected Liberia ’s first female president   in the wake of that country’s civil war. In Afghanistan ’s  2014 presidential and provincial elections, a record 300 women stood as candidates for provincial councils. There are 69 female MPs in Afghanistan (27.7 percent of a total of 249) compared with none in 2001. However, the impact on women’s lives and their   formal role in peace and security worldwide has been sporadic. Globally, the political will required to enable women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and security institutions, to holistically address the underlying causes of conflict, violence ‘Resolution 1325 holds a promise to women across the globe that their rights will be protected and that barriers to their equal participation and full involvement in the maintenance and  promotion of sustainable peace will be removed. We must uphold this promise.’    Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, October 2004   3 and gender inequality, to promote implementation through transparent reporting and civil society engagement, and to mobilize necessary financial resources is frequently absent. High Level Review: addressing the obstacles  As the world prepares to mark the 15 th  anniversary of the adoption of UNSCR 1325 in October 2015, the Security Council is conducting a High Level Review. This welcome review aims to assess progress at the global, regional and national levels in implementing UNSCR 1325, renew key commitments and address obstacles that have been identified. To prepare for this, the Secretary-General commissioned a Global Study to identify good practice, gaps and challenges, and priorities for action. The effort that Spain, which holds the presidency of the UN Security Council in October, has been putting into its preparations for the High Level Review is welcome, as is its aspiration that any new UN Security Council resolution be genuinely measurable. Spain has also been playing a positive role by promoting the integration of the Women, Peace and Security agenda into various UN Security Council activities.  Actions by Spain and the UK (which leads on the Women, Peace and Security agenda at the UN Security Council) to mobilize wider political support for necessary new commitments are also welcome and should be complemented by engaging civil society and women’s rights organi zations to inform discussions and preparations for the High Level Review. It is essential that all UN Member States and agencies use the High Level Review, the findings of the Global Study and recommendations by relevant civil society organizations (especially women’s rights groups) not only to recommit to the principles and ambition of the Women, Peace and Security agenda  –  they should also adopt new, specific measures to address the gaps and challenges identified, set new targets and translate useful policy and political recognition into more effective practice. For example, women’s  meaningful participation in peace talks supported by the international community remains a rarity. An Oxfam study of 23 known  Afghanistan peace talks between 2005 and 2014 found that during negotiations between the international community and the Taliban, not a single  Afghan woman had been involved. 4  Such cases send a terrible message to all other actors that women do not matter, reinforcing gender inequality and the marginalization of women.  At local levels, women’s participation in peacebuilding and conflict prevention activities, as well as the monitoring of peace accords, is often hindered by physical risks and limited access to basic services and livelihoods. The UN and some Member States have made progress in supporting women’s roles and integrating gender expertise and analysis  –  but more needs to be done. The UN itself should build on existing targets for w omen’s leadership and ensure that, by 2020, 40 percent of senior roles across its peace, security and development institutions, including envoys and heads of agencies, are held by women. 5    4 Important steps have been taken to reduce the impacts of conflict. These include the landmark Arms Trade Treaty, which obliges state parties to consider the risks to women and girls arising from arms transfers. But the prevention of conflict itself  –  including by tackling the complex root causes of conflict such as structural social and economic inequalities  –  has not received adequate attention. A holistic approach informed by a comprehensive gender analysis is needed that, for example, enables women to engage in local peacebuilding efforts by addressing not just their technical capacity and advocacy skills but also their basic needs. Turning rhetoric into reality There have been significant efforts to raise awareness and mobilize efforts in relation to gender-based violence in conflict. Serious obstacles remain, however, including the lack of female personnel in the security sector and the frequent failure to hold perpetrators of gender-based violence accountable. More robust action is needed to ensure that the positive rhetoric around efforts to tackle gender-based violence is matched by reality. Challenges and gaps on the issue of reporting and implementation remain. At the UN Security Council, systematic mechanisms to promote effective analysis, monitoring and implementation in relation to Women, Peace and Security were absent at the outset. This may account for the inconsistent integration of UNSCR 1325 commitments in Security Council discussions, documents and decisions over the years. For example, not one of the 11 Security Council resolutions on Israel  – Palestine since 2000 has mentioned gender or UNSCR 1325 commitments. Such gaps not only maintain the exclusion of women from peace talks but miss opportunities to revive peace processes on conflicts that have defied all attempts to resolve them. Recent efforts to address such issues at the UN Security Council are welcome. But setting up a dedicated working group  –  comprising experts from Member States, UN agencies and civil society  –  to review and inform UN Security Council plans, actions and resourcing, would improve consistency and accelerate progress. The 2015 Peace Building  Architecture Review and the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations also provide opportunities to promote gender equality across all peace and security activities in mutually reinforcing ways.  Across the world, Member States can enhance implementation by ensuring their action plans are supported by formal processes to engage women’s rights groups and civil society experts, as well as through regular public reporting of progress and mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation. States looking for a model of civil society engagement should consider the Netherlands NAP, whose production involved a wide range of actors including research institutes , international NGOs, women’s peace movements and diaspora groups. 6   Another crucial weakness in the Women, Peace and Security agenda has been the lack of funding to implement it. Without an adequate, dedicated budget, a national or regional action plan (RAP) resembles a car without fuel: it may be well designed, but it remains incapable of moving forward. A few countries, such as Spain, started well but then cut their NAP funding to inadequate levels. Missing from the table From 1992 to 2011, less than 4 percent of signatories to peace agreements and less than 10 percent of negotiators at peace talks were women. UN Women Sourcebook on Women, Peace and Security, 2012
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