Women, Peace and Security in Afghanistan, Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 Six Years On: Post-Bonn Gains And Gaps

Friday, August 31, 2007
medica mondiale
Southern Asia

It has been six years since the United Nations (UN) Security Council unanimouslyadopted Resolution 1325 and five years since the fall of the Taliban and the drafting ofthe Bonn Agreement, the international agreement which set the stage for initiatingAfghanistan's peace process, democratization and reconstruction. Over these years, whatsteps have been taken to protect women from a war which continues to rage in manyparts of the country? Have the principles of Resolution 1325 been realized to any degreefor Afghan women?

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was unanimouslyadopted by Security Council members on October 31st, 2000. This report attempts tobriefly analyze these questions, and make recommendations to further theimplementation of Resolution 1325 in Afghanistan.

This landmark piece of international law resulted from over 20 years of advocacy andlobbying by women activists from war zones and post-conflict states around the world.The Resolution recognizes that women and children constitute the majority of victims ofarmed conflicts that women and girls are affected by conflict differently from men andboys and that women have a role to play and a right to participate in all levels of apeacebuilding process. Resolution 1325 calls attention to the consequences of war onwomen's lives - including sexualized violence, the spread of HIV/AIDS, the prevalenceof landmines and among others, the displacement of women and girls as refugees andinternally displaced. Resolution 1325 recognizes the importance of women's place at thedecision-making table and their positive contribution to conflict prevention, conflictresolution and the promotion of peace and security.

As a Security Council Resolution adopted under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter Resolution1325 creates obligations applicable to all United Nations Member States, including theGovernment of Afghanistan. As a state with a large UN mission, Afghanistan hostsseveral UN agencies - many of which are members of the 22 member Inter-Agency TaskForce on Women, Peace and Security that has contributed to developing the UN systemwideAction Plan on Resolution 1325. These UN agencies are each tasked with coveringspecific areas of responsibility for the implementation of Resolution 1325 in Afghanistan.The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) in particular has aleadership role in carrying out the mandate of the Bonn Agreement and overseeing manyof the key political processes such as election monitoring which are relevant toResolution 1325.Resolution 1325 evolved from, and builds on, previous international commitments toprotect and promote the rights of women in war zones and (post-) conflict contextsaround the world. It builds on the work of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action resulting from the Fifth World Conference on Women and the General AssemblyResolution entitled "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace in theTwenty-first Century" (A/55/341) which incorporated Further actions and initiatives toimplement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

While Resolution 1325 is not specifically referred to in key documents that guide thereconstruction and peacebuilding process in Afghanistan, its provisions are neverthelessechoed in many of these documents, such as the Berlin Declaration that followed themeeting of donors to Afghanistan's reconstruction (Berlin 2004). This Declaration clarifiedcommitments previously made by donors concerned with Afghanistan's reconstructionprocess (Tokyo Conference, 2002). Both documents pledge to assist the Afghangovernment with security and peace needs – including entrenching the rule of law,implementing DDR processes, realizing women's rights and political participation anddeveloping the capacity of an independent civil society, among other issues. Morerecently, in January 2006, the Afghanistan Compact was produced as a result of theLondon Conference on Afghanistan. This Compact outlines the cooperation betweenAfghanistan and the international community. It is organized around four key areas ofactivity: security; governance, rule of law and human rights; and economic and socialdevelopment. The Afghanistan Compact makes references to women's participation indevelopment processes, specifically recognizing that in all policies andprogrammes…men and women have equal rights and responsibilities.

Resolution 1325 is an action document. It is a framework for bringing change to the livesof women and girls affected by war. The resolution puts women at the centre, articulatingthe unique ways in which war affects women and the measures needed to integratewomen's voices into peace processes and reconstruction. In Afghanistan, 1325 representsa commitment on the part of the State of Afghanistan and the United Nations thatwomen's rights and peace activists can use as a reference point in assessing progress todate. It is a tool for accountability that obliges the Afghan government, UN agencies andthe international community in Afghanistan to answer for failures to protect women andgirls, ensure their participation in peace processes, and promote their fundamental humanrights.