After more than 10 years since it was passed, the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace and Security) is gaining more attention with the opportunity to develop and present a Regional Action Plan at the 2012 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting. The “Women Count for Peace in the Pacific” side event at the 42nd Pacific Islands Leaders' Meeting, provided a key part of the strategy to develop the Regional Action Plan on Women Peace and Security by seeking inputs from senior officials on content and process and preparing the ground for country level initiatives in 2012 – 2013. Mr Knut Ostby the Resident Coordinator, Fiji Multi-Country Office and UNDP Resident Representative who chaired the side event told participants that a possible launch in 2012 provided an exciting prospect and incentive for the day's event.
Dr Noeleen Heyzer the United Nations Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of UNESCAP, in her keynote address called the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 a landmark one because it was the first resolution ever passed by the UN Security Council that specifically addresses the impact of war on women, and women's contributions to conflict prevention and sustainable peace. “1325 is about people's security, it is a way to redefine and transform security and understand the impact of war and conflict on men and women, and recognise and enhance the role of women as agents of change while also enhancing protection and the prevention of sexual gender based violence,” she said. “A Regional Action Plan is (therefore) an opportunity to use 1325 as a transformation tool, to transform notions of peace and security and institutions.
Dr Heyzer also suggested a series of core elements for a Regional Action Plan.
“We have to ensure prevention and protection, as well as women's participation at the Peace Table where women make a difference for the whole of society (and we) need to build back better.” She called for greater accountability by state institutions to women's human rights and gender equality commitments and integrating peace into development agendas. “A development agenda which invests in women is enabling them to participate in decision making particularly to address new and emerging threats to Peace in the Pacific including climate change, tensions over access to water, land and other diminishing resources.”
“The Regional Action Plan will be an important operationalization of gender mainstreaming commitments because it will enable the integration of women's human rights and gender equality policy commitments into a practical regional and national frameworks including national security sector governance programmes,” said Fekita ‘Utoikamanu, Deputy Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and co-chair of the Pacific Regional Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. She challenged officials of Pacific Governments to support the development and implementation of the Regional Action Plan.
Reflecting on the establishment of the Regional Working Group on Women, Peace Security which includes UN agencies, Pacific Island governments and regional inter-government agencies, and civil society leaders, Otsby stressed the importance of all partners working together in the development of any action plan, as well as the need to encourage and include power holders including traditional leaders while also ensuring women access justice and sexual and gender based violence is a crime during times of conflict.
“There is a need to invest in capacity building of women in their communities to access and use these resolutions,” said Helen Hakena, Executive Director of Leitana Nehan Women's Development Agency and a member of the Asia Pacific High Level Working Group on Women, Peace and Security.
In 2011, the Forum Regional Security Committee (FRSC) welcomed the establishment of the Pacific Regional Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, recognizing the importance of UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 in addressing the key role women play across the entire scope of peace and security activity, and encouraged the Secretariat to continue to work in support of the Group. The Committee supported the preparation of a Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and undertook to consider at the 2012 FRSC Meeting how this might be best taken forward for the consideration of Forum leaders.
The side event was a key part of the strategy to develop the Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security by seeking inputs from senior officials It is organised by Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat with assistance from UNDP Pacific Centre as secretariat of the Pacific Regional Working Group on Women, Peace and Security.