WPS Developments and the 'So What' Question

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) calendar is getting busier every year and as the 10th anniversary of the landmark resolution UNSCR1325 approaches in October, there appears to be even more reasons to publish a report, launch an initiative, or hold a high-level event. PeaceWomen.org, as an online hub of WPS, now features a section on the SCR 1325+10 anniversary.

Echoing the voices of past anniversaries, PeaceWomen reaffirms the need for all actors (Member States, UN Agencies, Civil Society, Donors) to focus on action and impact for all that we do and plan: we need to ask the simple words – “so what?”“So what” will the impact of our actions be? “So what”

Global Indicators on Women, Peace and Security
Since our last PeaceWomen E-News edition, there has been development regarding the indicators on women, peace and security, which were called for in Security Council Resolution 1889 in October 2009 (OP17). After extended consultations in March 2010, 26 indicators covering 4 WPS pillars (prevention, protection, participation, and relief and recovery) were presented to the Security Council in the Secretary-General report (S/2010/173). In a statement on April 27, the Security Council "took note" of the indicators which and expressed its intention to take action on a comprehensive set of indicators in October 2010 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its resolution 1325 (S/PRST/2010/8). The UN Secretariat must now technically and conceptually develop the final list and present a plan to the Council. Assuming all the relevant players do their respective jobs, the Council should endorse a set of indicators by/on the 10th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 and call for the data to be collected as soon as possible.

So what? For some, these indicators are an important policy development and a step towards a comprehensive WPS implementation system (if properly institutionalized). For others, they represent another UN paper strategy that may not even change one woman's life.

One answer to the "so what?" question may be that although the process has been imperfect and the indicators are not as far-reaching as hoped, we clearly do need more comprehensive and systematic information on the various aspects of WPS including: women's participation in peace processes and in decision-making; incidence of sexual violence; women's and girls' physical security; and national control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (to name a few of the areas the indicators cover).

In sum, the indicators can potentially increase information gathering on WPS and increase the flow and quality of the information that reaches the Security Council, which can be seen as an initial step towards advancing implementation of resolution 1325.

Yet we need to continue to ask the "so what?" questions: What will the UN be able to do with the information? Will the UN formulate a system to act on patterns of violations? How will the Security Council be able to act on the information presented through the indicator process?

UN Women
This month, there have been significant developments and announcements regarding the new consolidated UN entity for Women. After several years of negotiations and advocacy, on July 2nd the General Assembly voted unanimously to establish a new agency dedicated to promoting the rights and needs of women and girls around the world: to be called “UN Women”. This entity will encompass the current mandates of all 4 entities (UNIFEM, OSAGI, DAW, and INSTRAW) including their work on WPS. (Read more below).

WILPF and Gaza
We also witness unprecedented developments in the Middle East with the attacks on the Gaza flotilla resulting in a global outcry. The condemnations were not only focused on the attack itself but also protesting the ongoing collective punishment that is perpetrated against 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.

Like many organization continuing to support peace and justice in the region, WILPF, under the new leadership of Madeleine Rees (who has certainly taken to the helm as WILPF Secretary General with great vigor and focus since her appointment in May), is focusing on the international community's responsibility to protect human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and how to engage women through UNSCR1325. (See WILPF statements on human rights responsibilities in Gaza).

PeaceWomen Website ReLaunch
PeaceWomen took a hiatus from publishing the E-News since March as we needed to focus on re-launching our website peacewomen.org. We are pleased to have launched the revamped website and to now continue our E-News publication- an important avenue for communication and information sharing in the women, peace and security community.

PeaceWomen also continues our Translation Initiative, "PeaceWomen Speak Local Campaign", and we are seeking partners to help us translate UNSCR 1820 and further translate UNSCR 1325 (translations@peacewomen.org).

So, there have been many recent developments in the WPS community and beyond where we can add value by asking the “so what?” questions in order to keep the momentum moving forward.

Call for Translation of SCR 1325 and SCR 1820

As the 10th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 approaches in October 2010, the need to make women, peace and security resolutions accessible and relevant to women on the ground is more urgent than ever. The translation and dissemination of SCR 1325 and SCR 1820 are important tools for local ownership and awareness.

Join our "Speak Local Campaign" today. PeaceWomen needs your help to translate SCR 1325 and SCR 1820 into your language(s) to promote local ownership and women's participation in conflict prevention, protection and peace-building. Your work will be acknowledged on our site and will help raise awareness.

For more information, please click here, or email translations@peacewomen.org.

Recent Open Debates

Summary of S.C Debate on Children and Armed Conflict
June 16, 2010

Overall there was a positive reaction to the debate on Children and Armed Conflict, with most countries supporting the SG's Report, the listing and delisting of perpetrators, the inclusion of the maiming and killing of children and sexual violence and rape into the MRM's, and the statement made by Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative to the Secretary General at the outset of the debate. All countries were in agreement that the issue of abuses against children must end, and that the Security Council, Working Group, international community all have roles to play.

With regards to the mention of women and gender issues 30 of the 57 speakers discussed the vulnerability of women and girls and or the sexual violence and rape that they are so often the victims of in cases of armed conflict, or in post conflict societies. The speakers that most emphasized the importance of the recognition of rape and sexual violence against women/girls were; Turkey, Japan, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Finland, Afghanistan, Armenia, Indonesia and Hungary.

Security Council Open Debate: Rule of Law
June 29, 2010

During the Open Debate on Rule of Law, 7 Member States commented on issues relating to women, peace and security. Additionally, the representative of the European Union, the Deputy-Secretary General, and the Security Council President (on behalf of the Security Council) mentioned women in their statements.

Security Council Open Debate: Protection of Civilian in Armed Conflict
July 7, 2010

The Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict was well attended and featured remarks by key figure heads – including the Secretary-General, the USG for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, and the UN Commissioner for Human Rights – and more than 40 countries. Generally speaking, Member States shared similar messaging and key points. Major themes addressed by the Security Council and Member States were: access to civilians for humanitarian assistance organizations, security for humanitarian aid workers in light of increasing attacks against them, ending impunity for perpetrators of crimes that violate international humanitarian and human rights law and efforts to apprehend non-state actors committing violations against civilians in conflicts. 11 out of 15 Security Council Member States referenced the specific needs of women. Additionally, several Member States called for the protection of civilians to encompass the principle of R2P. Although Member States briefly addressed the epidemic of sexual violence in conflict, women's needs in general remained on the periphery of the debate. Furthermore, women are consistently referred to as victims throughout the debate; and while it is true that women constitute a vulnerable group, no mention of their ability to participate in their own protection or in the settlement of conflicts is made.

SCM Notes: Maureen Shaw & Katrina Clydesdale, NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. Rachel LaForgia, PeaceWomen

NGO Working Group Update

The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security has released the July 2010 version of our Monthly Action Points (MAP) on Women, Peace and Security for the UN Security Council. For July, in which Nigeria has the Security Council Presidency, the MAP provides recommendations on country situations such as Burundi, Darfur, Kyrgyzstan, and Somalia. In addition, the MAP highlights the need for improved country reporting on women, peace and security; and indicates key women, peace and security aspects of the upcoming discussions on Protection of Civilians and Conflict prevention and settlement of disputes.

To view the MAP for July (English), please click here.

10th Anniversary of SCR 1325

The 10th anniversary of SCR 1325 provides a unique opportunity to improve the implementation of the women, peace and security frameworks to refocus the agenda on improving the real security and lives of women around the world. With the 10th Anniversary of 1325 gaining momentum for this coming October, PeaceWomen.org has created a section 1325+10 on our website. Please consult the website for listings of events worldwide, news and opportunities to get involved in 1325+10.

Several events, campaigns and initiatives are being planned by various actors (UN, Member States and Civil Society) in the lead up to the 10th Anniversary. Some events/initiatives have already been launched and others are still being finalized. For example, throughout June there were Global Open Days in more than 20 post-conflict countries where senior UN officials are opening their doors to women peace activists and leaders. To learn more about global open days and other UN events, please click here.

Tell us about your plans to commemorate 1325+10 by emailing us at submit@peacewomen.org.

Creation of New UN Gender Entity

On July 2, 2010 the General Assembly voted unanimously to create a dynamic new entity called UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). The new entity brings together four United Nations offices focusing on gender equality; UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW). The GEAR campaign, a network made up by over 300 women´s organization and other civil society organizations have played an essential role in the efforts of the formation of the new body. UN Women is scheduled to become operational in January 2011. One of the main goals of UN Women will be to support the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and other inter-governmental bodies in formulating policies.

For more information please click here.