Friday, November 21, 2003

1. Engendering Peace Agreement Processes: Preparation for the Commission on the Status of Women 2004
PeaceWomen Project
November 2003

The UN Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), in collaboration with the UN Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues (OSAGI) and the UN Department of Political Affairs, recently concluded an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on peace agreements as a means for promoting gender equality.

The EGM, hosted by the Canadian government in Ottawa from 10-13 November, was held in preparation for the upcoming Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which will hold its annual session, the 48th session, for the first two weeks of March 2004, at New York Headquarters. This year the CSW will focus on two thematic issues: the role of men and boys in gender equality (Theme #1); and women's equal participation in conflict prevention, conflict management and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building (Theme #2).

The EGM is the first of two, which are meant to prepare substantive recommendations and recommended language on the theme women's equal participation in conflict prevention, management, and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building for consideration by the CSW delegates.

The use of the Expert Group Meetings is recommended in resolution 1987/24 of the UN Economic and Social Council as a means for the Commission to obtain advice on the priority themes for the CSW each year.

Thirty-five women and men from local, national and international non-governmental organizations, academia, the United Nations and government participated in the EGM roundtable. Of the thirty-five, ten were experts from Kabul, Phnom Penh, Freetown, Monrovia, Kinsasha and Dili, to name a few. The experts and the civil society, UN and government observers with the consultant, Christine Chinkin, considered and held discussions on a total of twelve expert papers, the consultant background paper and three observer statements before breaking into working groups to formulate recommendations.

The following are just a few of the concerns and considerations raised in the plenary sessions by the experts and observers.

Inequity in Peace Agreement Processes

An unjust gap exists between women's involvement in informal peace processes and formal peace agreement processes. There thus needs to be a concerted effort to create a nexus between these two currently parallel processes. A few of the experts remarked that women, during the conflict, need to be preparing themselves to be in positions that will allow them to be active participants in the post-conflict processes. One example of this is women's leadership in political parties during armed conflict, which is in many to most cases, a struggle in and of itself.

Related to the marginalization or exclusion of women in formal peace processes, there was concern among the experts that the wrong people are at the table. Warlords should not be able to determine the path towards a new society. Women are the stakeholders, as educators, mothers, community leaders and farmers, among others. The concept of power-sharing, which is supposed to be delineated in peace agreements, among the warring factions never allows for resolution among the actors. As Lois Bruthus of Liberia said, “You either have power or you don't.” As a result, ‘spoilers', who are still armed, continue to tear the social fabric because they don't get what they wanted at the peace table.

Because of the lack of representation of the people of the country, and in particular, women, in the formal peace processes and the history of armed conflict and corruption, et cetera, there is distrust that substantial political will exists in transitional governments to follow through with the implementation of the agreement and the development of the rule of law.

Those who spoke on the Latin American cases noted that land and property reform are essential to societal transformation after peace agreements, but often those at the table have little to no interest in these types of reforms; thus, the same social injustices that caused the armed conflict still persist in the post-accord period.

As one observer noted there is too much emphasis on peace agreements. The agreement that the UN and international community treats as the ‘final' agreement should be weighed like a ceasefire agreement. Because agreements have never been based on gender equity, rather, on ending the fighting among the belligerents, it would be better to hold a meeting of a representative body that would decide the direction of the country, such as the provisions for the establishment of verification and monitoring bodies, constitutional commission and electoral processes.

Women's Legal and Physical Security in the Language and the Implementation of the Agreement

Many experts and observers raised concerns about the failure to disarm, demobilize and effectively reintegrate combatants after the signing of peace agreements. It was reiterated in the plenary discussions that women need to be active participants in these processes.

Peace agreements must provide for mechanisms and institutions that will immediately address violence against women in the public and private sphere. There can be no impunity for those who perpetrate violence against women.

For women, it is of great importance to have affirmative action and special measures, as well as clauses to the effect of “full and meaningful”, to ensure their participation in the implementation of peace agreements and the transitional governance system that develops from agreements.

Societal Transformation and Ownership of Peace Agreements

Repatriation, resettlement, reintegration and reconstruction, as provided for in peace agreements, are misleading concepts in that the “re-“ suggests going back to a time before the armed conflict. These concepts do not necessarily reflect what women have in mind for the future of their society.

Women need free and open spaces to talk amongst themselves. Long histories of physical and psychological violence have played a role in shaping women's concept of who they are and what is required of them in the society. Many of the experts spoke to the complicated issue of informing women of their rights so as to mobilize women to demand equal participation in formal agreements, only to find resistance to be involved in “dirty politics” or “man's work.”

Women and men need to learn about gender equality together. Claudine Muyala Tayaye Bibi of the Democratic Republic of Congo showed many participants at the EGM her photos of community workshops on gender equality that included women and men in the panels and the audience. She noted that the importance of providing food and a per diem stipend for participants at these kinds of gatherings in order to ensure that they do not have to worry about leaving their work, and as a consequence, their inability to provide for their family that day.

Many peace agreement processes take place outside the country. Because they are not invited to the table as stakeholders, women often have to find their own money and resources and take account of the responsibilities they have within the home or in the field in order to go where the formal agreements are taking place. Even if women are supported financially by UNIFEM or a civil society group, like Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS), often they are unable to stay the entire time because it is in the interest of the pampered warlords to prolong the process. In the case of Liberia, the talks went on for three months in Accra, Ghana, although they were initially intended to conclude in three weeks.

Further, the fact that peace agreements happen outside the respective country makes it hard for communities to feel as though they are stakeholders in the implementation of the peace agreement. Women who directly participate in agreements or participate as observers or monitors to peace agreements have taken on the responsibility to go back to their communities to tell others what happened and to distribute the agreement.

The Role of the International Community

Money and other resources from donors, including individual nation states, the UN and international financial institutions, need to be coordinated and allocated using an engendered framework that promotes gender equality.

International mediators and negotiators need to be held accountable to international law, and in particular, Beijing Platform for Action, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and UNSC Resolution 1325.

There was critique of the international community's lack of commitment to help ensure the full implementation of the agreement. Oftentimes international NGOs and United Nations staff do not engage the local population of a country, but instead, they monopolize the limited services and inflate local prices. As one expert said, “They can leave and we are left, and the warriors will come back to kill us. We are the ones dying and starving.”

All actors involved in peace agreements need to recognize their comparative advantage in ensuring gender equality, and then, not cross over into domains where inappropriate.

Creation of the EGM Outcome Document

The experts and observers divided themselves into four working groups to write the recommendations on the following themes:

* Obligations of negotiators, facilitators, funding entities and their processes
* Obligations of peace agreement content with regard to legal, political and physical security
* Obligations of peace agreement content with regard to social and economic security
* Obligations for the implementation of the peace agreement

On the last evening, an outcome document was adopted. DAW is currently working to finalize the document for its submission to the Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women and the UN Secretary-General. PeaceWomen will provide more feedback on the recommendations after DAW releases the outcome document in December.

The PeaceWomen Project of the WILPF-UN Office participated as an observer at the Expert Group Meeting and made a statement addressing the meeting's theme entitled, What are and can be the roles of international NGOs committed to the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325?

The next Expert Group Meeting that will address the same CSW theme, women's equal participation in conflict prevention, management, and conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building, will be focused on enhancing the role of women in electoral processes in post-conflict countries. It will be held in New York, 20-22 January 2004. The Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues (OSAGI) is organizing this EGM. OSAGI is currently still looking for suggestions for experts. Please send names to burns2@un.org.

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November 20, 2003 – (NYT) On that burning hot morning, peace had already been declared in this war-beaten country, West African peacekeepers were on the ground and President Charles G. Taylor had already left the country, ushering in what was widely seen as an end to strife.

November 20, 2003 – (WeNews) Female peacemakers from around the world's war-torn countries are demanding a role in the reconstruction of their countries. A recent conference of Women Waging Peace documented their role and gave them a chance to interact with policy makers.

*This article reports on Women Waging Peace's annual Colloquium (November 3-7). PeaceWomen will be sure to include any outcome documents from the Colloquium in 1325 PeaceWomen E-News as soon as they become available.

November 18, 2003 – (BBC) Burma has released 58 prisoners on humanitarian grounds, according to a statement by the military government.

November 17, 2003 – (UNDP) There are nearly as many women as men in Rwanda's two legislative chambers, making the central African country a world leader in gender balance in political representation and decision making.

November 17, 2003 – (South China Morning Post) The occupation has led to sexual assaults, food shortages and the appearance of militias, she claims.

November 17, 2003 – (OMCT Press Release) The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) expresses its concern regarding violence against women in Cameroon at the 31st Session of the UN Committee against Torture.

November 17, 2003 – (Washington File) Seventeen senior women leaders from Iraq participated in a conference on, "Building a New Iraq: Women's Role in Reconstruction," at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington on November 13. Ambassador Swanee Hunt, founder of Women Waging Peace, introduced the historic panel that included Songul Chapook and Rajaa Khuzai, members of the Iraqi Governing Council, as well as Nassreen Kader and Siham Hamdan, who sit on the Baghdad City Advisory Council.

November 2003 - (femTALK E'News 11/2003) The November issue of femTALK E'News includes an update of the UNIFEM-supported fem'TALK 1325 Community Magazine and recent activities of the Fiji Women, Peace and Security Committee.

November 2003 – (Information from IFOR)… On 18 November the chairperson of the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe, Ms. Janah Ncube, was arrested which taking part in a peaceful protest against rising inflation and food shortages. Supporters of the democratic opposition are beaten and imprisoned. In order to intimidate government critics, women and girls are abducted by security forces and sexually abused. The independent press has been threatened and shut down. Activists in groups like the Women Of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) are imprisoned and harassed when they lead peaceful protests (see website www.zvakwana.org for more information on WOZA's creative nonviolent actions).

The most recent issue of Pambazuka e-news includes an editorial on “A Gendered Dimension to the Zimbabwe Crisis.” To read this editorial, click here.

For more country-specific women, peace and security news, click here.

For more international women, peace and security news, click here.

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The Women Waging Peace Policy Commission (2002) is conducting a series of case studies to document women's contributions to peace processes.

According to Women Waging Peace, these case studies are “pragmatic, and operational, offering suggestions, guidelines, and models to encourage policymakers to include women and gender perspectives in their program designs.”

In September they released their first case study on “Strengthening Governance: The Role of Women in Rwanda's Transition.” The full report and executive summary are available at: http://www.womenwagingpeace.net/content/resources.asp

Most recently, the Policy Commission released the executive summaries of two case studies on women's contributions to the post-conflict reconstruction process DDR - From Combat to Community: Women and Girls of Sierra Leone and Adding Value: Women's Contributions to Reintegration and Reconstruction in El Salvador. The full reports for both case studies will be available shortly.

Below are excerpts of the executive summaries of both case studies, highlighting the key findings and recommendations:

From Combat to Community: Women and Girls of Sierra Leone
By Khristopher Carlson and Dyan Mazurana
November 2003

Drawing on qualitative field-based research and quantitative survey data, [this report] assesses how consideration of gender issues can improve DDR processes and documents the contributions of women in official and civil society-based reintegration programs.

Key Findings

1. Throughout the conflict, women led civil society peace efforts. In 2002, as the country faced the breakdown of the 1999 Lome accords, women were pivotal in galvanizing mass demonstrations that led to the end of the war.

2. Contrary to official reports, women played an under-recognized military role in the pro-government Civil Defense Forces and in the rebel movement.

3. Female ex-combatants from all forces were significantly underrepresented in official disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programs.

4. Women are playing a significant but unacknowledged role in the reintegration of former fighters, filling many gaps in official programs.


1. When planning DDR, international actors, including the UN, multilateral organizations, donor governments, and national governments, must:

* ensure the participation of women during all stages of negotiation;
* assume that women are part of the fighting forces and be aware that, where children are present, 10 to 33 percent may be girls;
* recognize the initial estimated number of fighter provided by military forces may be low, and thus be prepared to increase resources to ensure effective programs; and
* extend the definition of combatant to include those who were part of a “regular armed force in any capacity, including but not limited to cooks and messengers…and girls recruited for sexual purposes…” in accordance with existing norms followed by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and outlined in the UN Secretary General's report on women, peace and security.

2. During disarmament and demobilization, implementing organizations should:

* accept females even when unaccompanied by men; and
* develop parallel systems for the demobilization of women and girls by:
- offering women the choice to enter care centers with their children or to remain with their male colleagues and counterparts; and
- ensuring there are facilities to separately house girls and boys without parents.

3. In reintegration, donors should ensure that:

* local organizations and communities working with former combatants are direct beneficiaries of resources from official reintegration and rehabilitation programs;
* income-generating and job-creation programs are created to provide employment for ex-combatants and members of communities into which they are returning; and
* DDR programs support mothers, particularly single mothers, emerging from the fighting forces – including providing basic care for them and their children (through foster case programs or centers) to facilitate their participation in education and skills training that can help them avoid petty crime or the sex trade.

For the full Executive Summary, visit: http://www.womenwagingpeace.net/content/resources.asp


Adding Value: Women's Contributions to Reintegration and Reconstruction in El Salvador
By Camille Pampell Conaway and Salome Martinez
October 2003

This report revisits the Salvadoran conflict and peace process from the perspective of women. Drawing on field-based interviews, the study documents women's ongoing contributions to reconstruction and assesses how considerations of gender issues can improve disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) program efforts in post-conflict countries worldwide.

Key Findings

1. Women's participation in negotiations had a significant impact on reintegration through:

* ensuring the inclusion of women fighters in benefits programs; and,
* recognizing and including non-combatant members of the opposition movement.

2. Women played an important stabilizing role in the early phases of reintegration.

3. Despite socio-economic constraints, women played a leading role in reconstruction efforts.

4. Women have been most active, and gender roles most transformed, in communities that received continual and systematic support. These communities are among the success stories in terms of overall development.

5. The lack of significant systematic support for women has been detrimental to the country's overall development and is a missed opportunity with regard to social capital.


1. When designing DDR programs, international and local teams should:

* include gender experts to work with agencies designing and implementing programs;
* ensure women's participation in negotiations and decision making regarding DDR;
* consult regularly with former combatants and community members, particularly women, to ensure that programs address their needs; and
* include a gender-sensitive monitoring component, so that corrective action can be taken when needed.

2. During demobilization, program designers must ensure that physical and medical needs of women are adequately addressed by:

* creating secure centers for women, so that they are not at risk of being physically or sexually threatened; and
* providing basic hygiene and medical attention.

3. More emphasis should be put on programs for reintegration and building social capital, including:

* increased resources and training for community groups;
* mental health support for people traumatized by war;
* secure centers for victims of domestic violence and abuse (which increase dramatically in post-conflict societies);
* women-only programs to encourage economic and political participation in postwar communities; and
* childcare, which is essential to women's sustained participation in programs.

For the full Executive Summary, visit: http://www.womenwagingpeace.net/content/resources.asp

A list of upcoming case studies as well as case studies that are under consideration can be found on the last page of each executive summary.

For NGO and civil society reports, papers and statements, UN and government reports, and books, journals and articles on women, peace and security issues, click here.

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In PeaceWomen's local outreach efforts in the U.S., we frequently receive requests from U.S. citizens wanting to know what they can do in their local communities to implement and/or support Resolution 1325. As these outreach opportunities continue, PeaceWomen has been focusing more and more on ways to be more effective in our own outreach efforts.

In response, PeaceWomen recently began work on a guide for US citizens on how to use and support Resolution 1325. In addition, a PeaceWomen colleague of ours, Sheri Gibbings, has produced a similar guide for Canadian university students, titled “Ten Things Young Women and Men Can Do to Support Resolution 1325.”

As both are works in progress, we welcome any comments or thoughts about your own strategies and actions as well as suggestions on additional concrete actions to include in the guides.

Below are excerpts of the two guides:

IN U.S.:

Women, Peace And Security: Transnational Solidarity With Women Recreating Societies In Armed Conflict And Post-Conflict Situations
Guide for United States Citizens in their Use of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security
Compiled by the PeaceWomen Team, WILPF UN Office, NY, USA

…2. Contact the State Department. Call or email Ms. Charlie Ponticelli, the State Department's Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues. Phone: (202) 312-9670. Email: PonticelliCM@state.gov.

The decision-making by the US Mission to the United Nations can be traced back to the State Department.

3. Contact your US representatives and senators, as well as aspiring candidates. Educate them on UNSC Resolution 1325 and other existing UN conventions, treaties and resolutions, remind them of their responsibility for implementation, and request information about their ongoing and future actions with regard to Resolution 1325. The contact information for US representatives and senators can be found at: http://www.vote-smart.org/.

4. Ask your congressperson in the US House of Representatives to co-sponsor Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson's H.R. 432 on the domestication of UNSC Resolution 1325.

For the full guide, click here.



Ten Things Young Women And Men Can Do To Support Security Council Resolution 1325
Compiled by Sheri Gibbings, Toronto, Canada
November 2003

Here are some ideas for follow-up action with NGOs, governments, the United Nations, the public, and others. They are just the beginning; please add more of your own:

1. Write an article for your student newspaper. Take the most recent event you participated in or that is occurring worldwide and turn it into a newspaper article for your school newspaper or bulletin. It is a great way to spread the word about 1325 to others. If possible, try to make this a regular feature in your paper. For examples see www.peacewomen.org website.

…3. Encourage your school administrators to have a course or reading material on conflict prevention and resolution for women or on Resolution 1325.

…5. Focus your Essays or other writing assignment on current women, peace and security issues. Almost every student is required to write a paper for a class. The topics you could explore are varied and diverse. For example, you could write about women's participation in peace negotiations, or the impact 1325 is going to have on the new constitution being drafted in Afghanistan. And if you write such a paper, please let people working on Security Council Resolution 1325 know and they will post it on the website (www.peacewomen.org)!

For the full guide, click here.

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1. Engendering Peace Agreement Processes: Preparation for the Commission on the Status of Women 2004
2. Women, Peace and Security News
3. Feature Reports: Recent Case Studies on Women's Contributions to Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), Women Waging Peace
4. Feature Initiatives: How To Use And Support Resolution 1325 in The U.S. And Canada - Citizens' Guides