National Action Plan: Solomon Is.

The article below describes the Solomon Islands' National Action plan (NAP) for the implementation of UNSC1325, which is the first of its kind for the Pacific region.

The Solomon Islands is an Asia Pacific island country that has been affected by internal conflict, and environmental issues such as increasing climate temperatures, rising sea levels, commercial logging, food (in)security for increasing populations with decreasing agricultural viability, and the destabilization of communities. In 2017, the Solomon Islands became one of the first in the Pacific region to launch a National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) covering the years 2017 to 2022. The plan is meant to support the recommendations made by the previous Truth and Reconciliation Commission, specifically as it pertains to women and girls, CEDAW General Recommendation 30, and the entire WPS agenda, including access to government services, protection, prevention and rehabilitation with the promise that a commitment to women’s rights will be reflected in “all related policies, programs and budgets, including the resources [the Solomon Islands]  invest in recovery and reparation”. The development of the NAP was led by the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, and supported by the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace, the Ministry of Police, Corrections and National Security, and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force with technical and financial support by the Government of Australia, UN Women, and UNDP for the during the NAP development process.

The Solomon Islands is recovering from a civil conflict in which women and girls were deliberately targeted with violence. More than half of women and girls reported direct violence during the conflict, including instances rape, death of family members, threats of violence and intimidation and being held up at gunpoint. According to the Solomon Islands Family Health and Safety Studies (FHSS) 64 per cent of the nation’s women experience physical or sexual intimate partner violence which is twice the global average. Home to over 70 languages the Solomon Islands experienced violent conflict known locally as the “Tensions” from 1998 until the Townsville Peace Agreement was signed in 2003, which helped to pave the way to other deeper peace efforts. Due to patriarchal attitudes, presence of women’s rights and women civil society actors have historically been minimal in the Solomon Islands, and only more recently there is growing representation of women in political and social arenas. Currently two women belong to the national parliament alongside 48 men. During the Tensions, women play a role in peacemaking using traditional practices and churches to mediate and place pressure on parties to disarm, as well as a role providing social, spiritual and material support to one another and to combatants.

According to the National Action Plan background summary, groups like Women for Peace, Westside Women for Peace, and Vois Blong Meri played a large role in provision of food and goods, prayer, to combatants, their own and the opposing sides as a way to calm the tensions and find pathways to peace. Despite this, women were completely excluded from the peace agreement negotiations and amnesty was given to all actors, depriving women and girls and other affected people access to justice and accountability. Reflecting the priorities of the Solomon Islands’ government, the National Action Plan is created from a range of recommendations from previous plans and agreements in the post-conflict setting, with a stated aim of promoting and implementing UNSC Women, Peace, and Security Resolutions and CEDAW.

 

Document PDF: 

Solomon Islands Minister Of Women Highlights Progess On Gender Policy

Civil Society Actors

NAP Development: The National Action Plan states that collaboration with civil society is needed to implement women, peacebuilding, and participation. Women civil society actors are not particularly acknowledged as having played a substantive role in shaping the plan. However, the document mentions that it reflects the “current context and priorities in Solomon Islands and has been shaped and endorsed by government ministries, provincial stakeholders, civil society, women's groups and churches at all levels”.

NAP Implementation: Overall implementation of the National Action Plan is to be overseen by the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs through its Women's Development Division (WDD). A Resource and Implementation Plan with a list of financial resources and operational support needed for implementation by relevant ministries and partners was planned to be developed in the first six months of the NAP's timeframe. The role of civil society in supporting or monitoring implementation is vague.

NAP Monitoring & Evaluation:  A national WPS Steering and Monitoring Group was slated to be established to oversee progress on the implementation of the National Action Plan on WPS. This group is meant to review data on strategies and actions, and provide recommendations to inform implementation, track results, and contribute to reporting on progress. Reporting is to follow requirements from CEDAW, the National Gender Equality and Women's Development (GEWD) Policy 2016-2020, which, as one of its seven outcomes, specifies recognition of the role of women in maintaining peace and national security; and the National Peacebuilding Policy. The NAP also notes that periodic reporting on CEDAW will contribute to impact assessment of efforts toward achieving substantive equality. It is not clear from the NAP what specific role  civil society has in M&E efforts. The NAP does mention that as multi stakeholder, multisectorial initiative, the NAP requires the collective effort of diverse partners, including government, civil society, communities, the UN system and development partners. The NAP will be implemented through national and provincial institutions and processes, in close cooperation with communities, civil society organisations, and development partners.

Government Actors

NAP Development: The NAP was launched by the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children & Family Affairs (MWYFCA) of the Solomon Islands through a consultative and collaborative process led by the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, and the support of the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace, the Ministry of Police, Corrections and National Security, and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. The Government of Australia, UN Women, and UNDP provided technical and financial support during the NAP development process.

NAP Implementation: The role of women in peace and security is one of the seven priority outcomes of the National Gender Equality and Women Development Policy 2016-2020 (NGEWD), and the coordination of the implementation of the NAP will be led by the MWYFCA, the government Ministry responsible for advancing gender equality and promoting women's empowerment. The NAP will be implemented through national and provincial institutions and processes, in close cooperation with communities, civil society organisations, and development partners. MWYCFA will play the key leadership and coordination role in the implementation of action items across government, and lead on implementation of action items assigned to them in the Action and Results Matrix.

NAP Monitoring and Evaluation: A national WPS Steering and Monitoring Group will be established to oversee progress on the implementation of the National Action Plan on WPS. The Group will review data on strategies and actions, and provide recommendations to inform implementation and ensure continuous tracking of results, and contribute to reporting. The functions of the WPS SMG will include: Providing strategic guidance for the coordination of NAP implementation; Overseeing monitoring and reporting against the NAP Results Matrix; and Reporting findings to the ARCC, the SI National Advisory Committee for CEDAW, and other key stakeholders.

Objectives

The Solomon Islands’ NAP is broken down into four pillars: Participation, Protection, Prevention, and Recovery and Reconciliation. Designed to cover the WPS agenda pillars, this section delineates the required actions and expected results.

Participation: Women's participation, representation and decision-making in peace and security are expanded at all levels:

1.1. Expanding formal mechanisms for women's participation and the reflection of women's priorities in peace and security institutions, policy agendas, budgets, and progress monitoring, including rural, remote, urban, disabled, and young women and girls.           

1.2. Increasing women's representation in national peace and security decision-making and establish quotas to address the multiple barriers to women's participation.   

1.3 Strengthen capacities and increase resources to ensure gender equality and women's empowerment are central to security institutions and mechanisms, peacebuilding and conflict prevention activities, at all levels.

 

Protection: Women’s human rights are protected, and women are secured from sexual and gender based violence:

2.1. Strengthen the protection of women and girls by building the capacity of government and civil society actors, including traditional leaders and those responding to humanitarian crises

2.2 Ensure Solomon Islands ongoing transitional justice processes respect women's rights, address gender-based violations, and are inclusive of rural and remote women.   

2.3 Combat impunity for gender based violence and ensure protection of women's human rights, including through prosecuting perpetrators.

 

Prevention: Solomon Islands actively prevents conflict and violence against women and girls:

3.1 Implement reforms in security institutions that prioritise VAW prevention, respond to women's diverse security concerns, and respect women's rights.

3.2 Challenge discriminatory gender norms, attitudes and behaviour, including through working with men and boys.

3.3 Decrease the risk of sexual and gender-based violence and conflict during periods of natural disaster, humanitarian crisis and instability.

 

Recovery and Reconciliation: Women and girls priorities and rights are reflected in all development and peace building:

4.1 Strengthen women's agency and capacities in recovery and reconciliation processes.

4.2 Promote equitable peace and recovery processes

Action/Activities

Each objective of the NAP outlines actions for achieving the overall elements of the plan. Each are elaborated on in the Action and Results Matrix (ARM). For example, under the protection pillar, the ARM contains the following actions:

  • Sensitise traditional and religious leaders on gender equality and women's rights principles, relevant national laws and international instruments, including CEDAW and UNSCR 1325 to ensure the traditional justice system consistently delivers equal protection for the rights of women and girls.

  • Provide technical guidance and capacity building on gender and security issues to all uniformed officers, including Immigration and. border enforcement/ protection staff

  • Include women from border communities in policy consultations and border agreement talks, to ensure identification of women's protection and conflict prevention priorities, including issues related to economic security and cross-border trade, trafficking, arms and GBV.   

  • Build women and men’s capacities to facilitate community dialogue, including disseminating findings and recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report to affected communities.

  • Work with women victims/ survivors to develop strategies to redress conflict related rights violations, with a specific focus on SGBV, that take into account inter- national principles and standards of administration of justice and reparations.

  • Ensure justice mechanisms that consider conflict-related cases, including special courts, are accessible to women survivors in rural and remote areas, and that these prioritise women's human rights violations.

Timeframe

The NAP is to cover four years of implementation from 2017-2021.

Indicators

The NAP does not identify indicators which measure the actions that will lead to the expected results outlined in the plan.

Budget

There is no projected budget provided in the NAP. The NAP states that a Resource and Implementation Plan outlining the financial resources and operational support needed for implementation by relevant ministries and partners, and sequencing and prioritisation of all Actions, will be developed in the first six months of the NAP's timeframe. The NAP will be implemented over four years (2017-2021).

Monitoring & Evaluation

Intention for creating a M&E plan is mentioned in the NAP, but there is no breakdown of what this consists of or the timeline for such a process.

Disarmament

The NAP mentions disarmament as one of the central concerns during the earlier peace process but does not provide a coherent plan on how disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration efforts will be conducted under this plan. It mentions that women and their rights were excluded from the earlier peace process, which did not provide for women’s protection and recovery, and gave amnesty and security sector jobs to perpetrators and ex-combatants. Issues surrounding disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration are mentioned in the NAP through discussion of CEDAW General Recommendation 30, the Townsville Peace Agreement, and other policies.