United Arab Emirates Panel Series on Women, Peace and Security: The Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda - Harmonizing the High-Level Review Processes

Conference Room 1, Conference Building United Nations Headquarters New York

The sixth and final panel discussion of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) series, organised by the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates, examined the linkages between this year's three important high-level review processes - on WPS; on Peace Operations; and on the Peacebuilding Architecture. The panel discussion, moderated by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, included Radhika Coomaraswamy, Lead Author of the Global Study on the Implementation of SCR 1325 (2000); Youssef Mahmoud, Senior Advisor for International Peace Institute; Saras Menon, Member of the Advisory Group of Experts on the Peacebuilding Architecture; and Yannick Glemarec, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of Policy and Programme for UN Women. The event began with welcoming remarks from H.E. Mrs. Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the UAE, an opening address from Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, and a keynote address from Hon. Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, Founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. 

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson highlighted that in the same year that the UN celebrates its 70th anniversary, three important High-Level Review processes are underway; the Council works towards the implementation of the sustainable development goals; and the international community prepares for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit (to be held in Summer 2016). Eliasson stressed that the promotion of gender equality must be prioritized and placed at the top of the agenda rather than merely an afterthought. 

Hon. Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire spoke of the nascent and still underdeveloped pillar of protection within the realm of peacekeeping operations, and There is a need to harmonize the WPS agenda within the peacekeeping operations and the Peacebuilding Architecture. Today, 40% of the child soldiers in the world are girls. Thus, they are distinctly important to the peacebuilding and disarmament stages of post-conflict situations. While many recognize the importance and benefit of inclusion of women in the peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations, more needs to be done to integrate and include women in these settings. As Dallaire stated, "women in peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations are what we in the military would call 'force multipliers' - their presence dramatically increases and enhances the effectiveness of the operation." Thus, it is imperative that women are placed at the forefront of these operations and not solely in support of these operations. 

Ambassador Melanne Verveer spoke of the importance of inclusion when it comes to the perspectives and observations of women in negotiations, peace processes, and peacebuilding. Echoing Eliasson, Verveer stressed the importance of remembering the first three words of the preamble - "we the people," which refers to the entire population and not just half. There must be strong horizontal coordination amongst the agencies and missions of the UN System in order to ensure that the WPS agenda is always a priority in peace and security efforts. 

Radhika Coomaraswamy spoke on the Global Study on WPS, highlighting some of the key messages emanating from the field from women globally as well as institutional recommendations for the UN System. Women globally stressed the importance of breaking the cycle of increased militarism and militarisation. One central recommendation for the UN System from the Global Study higlights the importance of developing stronger prevention mechanisms through early warning systems, for example. Furthermore, the "boys club" framework when it comes to women's participation is no longer feasible or sustainable. UN Women has provided research that scientifically proves linkage between the participation of women in peace processes and sustainable peace. We must ensure women's participation is recognised in both the formal and informal processes when it comes to peacebuilding. Finally, regarding prevention, the "bandaid" method will no longer work. Post-conflict Rule of Law is weak; there are spikes in violence against women, corruption, and crime; weak regulatory frameworks exploit resources and land rights of civilians. Thus, we must make an effort to make reforms and address the gaps in the work done post-conflict so that the cycle of violence can finally be broken. 

Youssef Mahmoud began by asking two key questions: why are we lamenting deficits in implementation of 1325, 15 years after it was passed? What can we do in order to avoid another review in 15 years?Mahmoud highlighted two major gaps/assumptions in implementation that need to be addressed. Firstly, the WPS agenda does not solely address "women's issues" but rather impacts everyone and requires greater engagement with men in order to emphasize this importance. Secondly, the traditional conceptual frameworks for peace and security currently do not accomodate the issues facing women. Security tends to be a "male" rhetoric, while peace tends to be associated with "female" - the issue that arises here is that when it comes to the gendered perspective of peace and security, peace is lost and it becomes solely "women and security." It is imperative within an analysis to capture the various, numerous roles that women play within conflict. Women play various roles such as mobilizers, advocators, and perpetrators. Secondly, there needs to be an analysis on how women access power and what instruments and mechanisms are being utilised in order to gain power. Upstream, more needs to be done to understand women's perspectives within conflict as well as before conflict arises in order to best comprehend the impact of armed violence on civilians holistically. Downstream, the Security Council must utilise a "gender lens" when advocating and implementing a policy. 

Saraswathi Menon spoke on behalf of the High-Level Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture. Menon spoke of the imperative to include women in peacebuilding situations, who are often an informal participant in the peace processes as has been seen effectiveness of inclusion tactics such as quota systems. Research has shown that peace accords that meaningfully include civil society and women's organizations. Peacebuilding should prioritise social welfare and systems throughout its efforts and attention must be paid to deal with impunity and long-term trauma due to violence. Security Sector Reform must be sensitive to this. Access to justice for women must be ensured and economic reform and recovery must directly address economic empowerment of women as well as men. Finally, state governments and institutions must empower women in their participation. Unless these structural issues are addressed, sustainable peace will never be attainable. Gender equality, thus, must be a key objective to all that is done to attain peace. 

Yannick Glemarec concluded the panel discussion and spoke of the goal of the three High Level Review processes to address gaps and increase harmonization. Women's participation and inclusion in humanitarian assistance makes humanitarian efforts more effective; contributes to sustainable peace; accelerates economic recovery; and makes peacebuilding and peacekeeping operations more effective. 

The panel discussion was interrupted with an intervention by the Permanent Mission of Spain, who reiterated Spain's support of the High-Level Review processes and stated that during the country's presidency over the Security Council in October 2015, Spain will attempt to pass a draft resolution focused on WPS and SCR 1325. 

Document PDF: 

Concept Note from UAE: The Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda - Harmonizing the High-Level Review Processes