Throughout the world, incidents of gender-based violence escalate during times of conflict as rape and sexual abuse become weapons of war. Within conflict zones, larger numbers of women and children are killed and displaced, as governments, soldiers, family members and sometimes peacekeepers commit violence (Amnesty International, 2004a). As a result, women's movements around the world have struggled for greater equality and justice by pressuring the United Nations (UN) to issue and adopt new resolutions, declarations and action plans that can increase gender equality throughout the world.
One such declaration is the 1979 UN General Assembly Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which defines and delineates how to prevent unequal treatment between men and women. While an important benchmark for women's rights, the resolution failed to address the situation of women in conflict zones. In 1993 at a conference on human rights, however, the UN added articles to the Vienna Declaration and Platform of Action (VDPA) drawing attention to the violation of women's human rights in times of war. Following this declaration, in 1993 the UN adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which drew greater world attention to gender-based violence, couching women's rights as human rights. In 1995 the UN also adopted the Beijing Platform for Action, which recognizes the specific impact of war on women and acknowledges that they experience war differently than men.
It was after the Beijing Platform for Action that the UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in October 2000 and for the first time in fifty-five years “devoted an entire session to debating women's experiences in conflict and post-conflict situations” (Cohn, Kinsella, and Gibbings, 2004). It thus marked the first time that the Security Council specifically addressed the role and experiences of women in the context of armed conflict (Amnesty International, 2004).
Resolution 1325 calls for “the prosecution of crimes against women, increased protection of women and girls during war, the appointment of more women in the UN peacekeeping operations and field missions and an increase in women's participation in decision-making processes at regional, national, and international level (Cohn, Kinsella, and Gibbings, 2004), while also noting “the need to consolidate data on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls” (UNSC Res. 1325). By focusing on four inter-related thematic areas, participation of women at all decision-making levels and in peace processes, inclusion of gender training in peacekeeping operations, protection of the rights of girls and women, and gender mainstreaming in the UN's reporting and implementation systems (Kirk and Taylor, 2006), Resolution 1325 underscores the importance of women's active agency and participation in politics, rather than portraying them only as victims (Amnesty International, 2004b).
Since the UNSC adopted the Resolution, women's organizations around the world have worked to implement its parameters. Some states have adopted national action plans to increase women's representation in decision-making activities and to fight gender-based violence, while others have incorporated language from the resolution into state policy.
In Israel and Palestine, women's organizations have lobbied legislators for greater female involvement in decision-making processes and have organized collaborative implementation and conflict resolution workshops. Despite these efforts, there is a disconnect between implementation activities among elite women who enjoy access to political power and those with less access to the political framework (Wi'am, 2007b; Moghadam, 2005; Kumpulainen, 2008) or economic resources. Many women are still unfamiliar with the Resolution, and widespread participation in implementation activity on a grassroots level remains a challenge (Nazzal 2009, Wia'm, 2007b). The continuing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the lack of a Palestinian state, cleavages between women along social, ethnic, religious, and economic lines, the centrality of the military discourse to Israeli policymaking, and forms of patriarchy and control over women in both societies continue to hinder widespread, grassroots involvement in implementation activities, despite the success women's groups have had lobbying lawmakers and creating networks among women.
This report will look at the actions taken to implement the Resolution in the Palestinian territories and among Palestinian women in Israel, and will review and analyze the feminist literature related to the Resolution and its implementation. Below is a review of state and non-governmental efforts to implement UNSCR 1325, the main legal, social, and political obstacles to its implementation, and the arguments concerning the relevance of UNSCR 1325 around the world, and more specifically in Palestine and Israel.