National Action Plan: United States of America

Flag of the United States of AmericaThe United States of America (USA) adopted its first National Action Plan (NAP) in 2011 for the period 2011-2015. The NAP was developed by an interagency group that included representatives from many government agencies and departments as well as civil society networks. In June 2016, the USA adopted their second NAP which was developed on the basis of reviewing policy and programming as well as challenges and lessons learned from the implementation of the first NAP. Consultations were also held with civil society stakeholders during the drafting of the revised NAP.

The USA has a history of being involved in conflicts outside of its borders. The United States has considerable influence in global security. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and important economic, political and military power, the USA is regarded as a global superpower. The USA is a nuclear-armed state, the world’s largest supplier of arms and home country for a significant proportion of the growing private military contracting industry. The United States is presently engaged in military operations in several locations around the world, in addition to having numerous permanent bases, joint training operations and being a major troop contributor to NATO. The USA is also a large aid contributor and holds considerable influence in world banking institutions. As such, the NAP is interpreted in an international way.

 The USA NAP is unique in setting a timeline for the three main departments in charge of implementation - Department of State, Department of Defense, and USAID – to develop their own departmental implementation plans. In August 2012 both State and USAID launched their organizational action plans. Moreover, the NAP mentions that the Interagency Policy Committee dedicated to Women, Peace and Security (WPS IPC) will later develop specific indicators for the purpose of monitoring implementation. Thus, the USA NAP comes across as relatively unspecific because it delegates issues to the future (Miller, Pournik, & Swaine, 2014).

Document PDF: 

Guidance for the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

NAP Reaction

WILPF US: Preliminary Findings from Civil Society Consultations with the U.S. State Department on the U.S. National Action Plan

US analysis: Miller, Pournik, Swaine

WILPF Statement on US NAP

WILPF

WILPF-US participated in the development of the first US NAP at several stages. WILPF-US advocated for a US NAP and once it was announced, WILPF-US published a comprehensive policy paper on the proposed NAP with key recommendations. The policy paper recommended a “human security” approach to the NAP, domestic application and the inclusion of civil society and grassroots women’s organizations.

WILPF-US also conducted online survey, workshops and trainings. WILPF-US convened civil society consultations in five cities (Detroit, Milwaukee, San Diego, Portland and Boston). The consultations were attended by representative of the US Department (from the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues) and saw involvement of local women’s groups as well as WILPF members. The consultations resulted in a report, which features 64 recommendations for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the U.S. NAP and were presented to US Government.

Like many other non-conflict affected nations, the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in the United States has been interpreted in a largely international way. However the feedback received through consultations undertaken by WILPF-US, indicated the strong desire within civil society for the NAP to have domestic application as well, and address the insecurity women face in the United States. Those participating in the consultations, pointed to a range of issues, including erosion of gender machinery, the absence of physical security in many areas of the country, high rates of domestic violence, as well as issues such as sexual, slavery, forced prostitution and poor representation of women in public office.

A summary of the recommendations included:

  • Adopt a whole of government process.

  • Adopt a transparent, accountable and inclusive process which ensures women from grassroots and marginalized communities are fully engaged.

  • Establish a formal monitoring and review, body with equitable membership from women in civil society

  • Establish quotas for women at all levels of decision-making, internationally and domestically, in elected and executive positions—including those related to peace and security.

  • Reference international standards NAP, and urgently ratify CEDAW, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Rome Statute and other relevant UN treaties.

  • Explicitly address the continuum of violence and to adopt a holistic perspective of peace based on equality, human rights, and human security for all, including the most marginalized, applied both domestically and internationally.

  • Address accountability of private contractors and the U.S. government to international law.

  • Implement a shift from military spending to an investment in human security and social safety nets Include comprehensive peace education in schools.

  • Support a fully developed Department of Peace.

Despite strength of voice and common themes that emerged through these consultations, WILPF-US has stated that the finalized NAP falls far short in addressing the security threats identified by participants and fails, moreover, to incorporate their most pressing recommendations for conflict prevention. In particular the NAP has ignored women's concerns for domestic application and language on military spending and disarmament.

The revised NAP mentions disarmament briefly when recognising that: ‘women and girls act as combatants and in other capacities associated with armed forces, but demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration programs, as well as those involving reintegration and rehabilitation for former violent extremists often fail to take into account their distinct needs’. The various roles which women can play in military structures are also noted once in the revised NAP.

Government Actors

NAP Development

The second NAP of the USA was developed on the basis of reviewing policy and programming as well as challenges and lessons learned from the implementation of the first NAP. Consultations were also held with civil society stakeholders during the drafting of the revised NAP. The drafting of the first NAP was led by the White House National Security Staff with the following government agencies involved: Departments of State, Defense (DoD), Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Mission to the UN (USUN), the U.S. Agency for International Drafting Development (USAID), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Office of the U.S Trade Representative (USTR).

NAP Implementation

The leading actors of implementation of the revised NAP are: Departments of State, Defense (DoD), Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Mission to the UN (USUN), the U.S. Agency for International Drafting Development (USAID), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Office of the U.S Trade Representative (USTR).

Civil society organisations are mentioned as part of the actions to be taken in several of the outcomes corresponding to the five objectives of the revised NAP. For instance, outcome 2.2 on ‘Laws, policies, and practices in partner states promote and strengthen gender equality at national and local levels’ has the following action point including civil society

  • ‘Engage civil society entities, including male and female religious leaders, faithbased groups, and interfaith initiatives, to encourage grassroots support for laws and policies that promote and strengthen gender equality’

The second NAP is supplemented by the National Security Advisor agency-specific Women, Peace, and Security implementation plans developed by the Executive Order and National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, State, DOD, and USAID.

NAP Monitoring and Evaluation

An Interagency Policy Committee (IPC) dedicated to Women, Peace, and Security is chaired by the White House National Security Council (NSC) and monitors and reviews actions in support of U.S. national objectives. It also integrates the WPS agenda in relevant national-level policies and strategies. The monitoring and evaluation is carried out through specific indicators and outcomes identified by the IPC.

Furthermore, the IPC regularly holds consultations with civil society representatives on the implementation of the NAP.

Objectives

The revised NAP of the USA has the following five objectives:

  • National Integration and Institutionalization: Through interagency coordination, policy development, enhanced professional training and education, and evaluation, the United States Government will institutionalize a gender-responsive approach to its diplomatic, development, and defense-related work in conflict-affected environments.

  • Participation in Peace Processes and Decision-making: The United States Government will improve the prospects for inclusive, just, and sustainable peace by promoting and strengthening women’s rights and effective leadership and substantive participation in peace processes, conflict prevention, peacebuilding, transitional processes, and decision-making institutions in conflict-affected environments.

  • Protection from Violence: The United States Government will strengthen its efforts to prevent —and protect women and children from—harm, exploitation, discrimination, and abuse, including gender-based violence and trafficking in persons, and to hold perpetrators accountable in conflict-affected environments.

  • Conflict Prevention: The United States Government will promote women’s roles in preventing conflict, mass atrocities, and violent extremism, including by improving conflict early-warning and response systems through the integration of gender perspectives, and invest in women and girls’ health, education, and economic opportunity to create conditions for stable societies and lasting peace.

  • Access to Relief and Recovery: The United States Government will respond to the distinct needs of women and girls in both natural and conflict-affected disasters and crises, including by providing safe, equitable access to humanitarian assistance.

Action/Activities

Each of the strategic objectives is linked to Outcomes, Actions and the department responsible for implementation. For example, the objective “Conflict Prevention” contains the following outcomes:

  • Outcome 4.1: Conflict early warning and response systems include gender specific data and are responsive to GBV, and women participate in early warning, preparedness, and response initiatives.

  • Outcome 4.2: Women and girls participate in stabilization and economic recovery, and have increased access to health care and education services.

Each of the outcomes have corresponding actions and the agency which is responsible for its implementation. For example, outcome 4.2 listed above contains the following actions:

  • Provide diplomatic and development support to advance women’s economic and social empowerment, including through cash for work programs, increased access to land, credit, savings, and other enterprise support activities.

  • Promote access to primary, secondary and vocational education for children and youth in countries affected by violence or conflict, with special incentives for the attendance and retention of girls, taking into account related special protection needs.

  • Support women’s and girls’ increased access to health services, including reproductive, HIV, and maternal health care.

  • Advocate for the operationalization within the multilateral development banks of the relevant information on the role women can play both in preventing conflict and in promoting stability in post-conflict situations.

  • Create and strengthen private sector activities and new market opportunities through U.S. trade and investment programs, such as preference programs and Trade and Investment Framework Agreements, to assist women entrepreneurs in growing their businesses.

  • Support women’s participation in efforts to de-radicalize men and women who have supported violent extremism, promote tolerance and pluralism in their communities, and advance stabilization and reconstruction activities.
Timeframe

The revised USA NAP does not specify a period of implementation and does not give timeframes for specific actions.

Budget

The revised NAP contains no allocated or estimated budget. Instead, each department responsible department is required to resource the actions within existing budgets. The primary implementation agencies (Department of State, Defense and USAID) are required to submit fully resourced individual implementation plans.

Indicators

There are no specific indicators given in the revised USA NAP, but they mention the development of indicators toward the end:

"Progress in implementing the objectives of the National Action Plan will be monitored and evaluated against specific indicators, to be identified at the direction of the WPS IPC".

Monitoring & Evaluation
The revised NAP does not include a monitoring and evaluation framework, and instead tasks the Department of State, Defense and USAID with developing individual departmental Implementation Plans which must include time-bound, measurable, and resourced actions with meaningful strategies for monitoring and evaluation. The NAP tasks the National Security Council with chairing the Women, Peace, and Security Interagency Policy Committee (WPS IPC) to monitor the actions taken and ensure that NAP is integrated into national policies. This body is required to establish a mechanism for regular consultation with civil society representatives. By 2018, the National Security Council staff will coordinate a second comprehensive review of the USA National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security following the interagency-coordinated, comprehensive review of the 2011 USA NAP on Women, Peace, and Security,
Disarmament

Despite the USA's position as a leader in global arms trade and military budget, the revised USA NAP does not discuss disarmament and de-militarization of its budget to fund humanitarian needs.

There is a brief note on disarmament in the initial sections of the NAP describing the context of the US policies: “women and girls act as combatants and in other capacities associated with armed forces, but demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration programs, as well as those involving reintegration and rehabilitation for former violent extremists often fail to take into account their distinct needs”

Civil Society Actors

NAP development

Not specified.

NAP implementation

In the implementation of WPS efforts, the revised US NAP states that ‘we will seek to better leverage civil society, including women’s networks and organizations, in activities aimed at arresting armed conflict or preventing spirals of violence’

Furthermore, supporting women in civil society is a part of several action points in the implementation framework. Example from outcome 3.3 on preventing trafficking is the following action point:  ‘Engage with international and/or civil society organizations to ensure that standard operating procedures are in place to prevent human trafficking’. The main actors implementing the action points are however government departments and/or agencies.

NAP monitoring

To ensure an inclusive follow up process, the White House National Security Council (NSC) staff chairs an Interagency Policy Committee (IPC) dedicated to Women, Peace, and Security priorities which has engaged in consultation with civil society representatives on the status of the National Action Plan’s implementation. Civil society also plays a role in relation to accountability, the NAP notes ‘we expect civil society, which informed the development of this Plan, to continue to hold us accountable to these commitments, to help us learn from activities and approaches implemented under the Plan, and to contribute to future revisions of the Plan’