“It’s important to be aware of what’s going on in the world and to think about how you can start to make a difference, even when you’re a kid.”
2015 Year Wrap-Up
By: Ghazal Rahmanpanah, Programme Associate (PeaceWomen)
Engaging Men and Boys; Disengaging Violent Masculinities
October and Beyond: Shifting the Gaze from Government and UN to #FemDefenders as Builders of Peace
Delivering on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda: Overcoming Challenges for Peace and Gender Justice
In 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 to uphold women’s rights in conflict and their roles in peace and security. Despite signs of progress, the impact on women’s lives and roles worldwide has been sporadic. This briefing argues that 15 years on, the UN and Member States should use a formal review of the Women, Peace and Security agenda as a crucial opportunity to address key gaps. New commitments should focus on women’s participation, preventing conflict and gender-based violence, monitoring and implementation, and financing.
This paper draws on consultations with other organiations and experts in the field as well as on Oxfam’s experience as a humanitarian and development organisation working in more than 90 countries with a substantial track record of programmes supporting women’s rights and empowerment. The paper makes particular use of evidence and analysis from programmes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
Inclusive peace processes are slowly replacing the traditional exclusive peace deals negotiated solely between two or more armed groups. From Colombia to Libya or Myanmar, current peace processes seek to broaden participation even at the highest level of official peace negotiations. Though women often take part in these negotiations, overall mediators and policy-makers are still resistant to greater inclusion of women. This problem derives from the lack of research-based knowledge able to extend the debate beyond normative claims of the importance of women’s inclusion.
With a team of more than 30 researchers, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva has just concluded a multi-year research on “Broadening Participation in Political Negotiations and Implementation” (2011-2015) analysing how inclusion works in practice by comparing 40 in-depth case studies of peace and constitution-making negotiations and their implementation from the period 1990 to 2013. The project assessed the role of all actors included additionally alongside the main conflict parties such as civil society, religious actors, business and also women’s groups. Key findings and recommendations for mediators, donors, civil society organisations and their partners are presented here.
The purpose of this paper is to highlight how the growing crisis of legitimacy in the relationship between citizens and governance institutions relates to the multilateral system. Given that the essence of multilateralism rests in the state, the efficiency and legitimacy of the multilateral system as a whole is affected when the state finds itself under stress, or no longer constitutes the primary source of political identification. While the United Nations does not traditionally address peace and security challenges internal to the state, its mechanisms—at both the internal and inter-governmental level—continue to be hampered by the reverberations of distinctly “national” problems and their transnational permutations. Its role in this regard is to uphold the norms and rules-based system enshrined in its Charter and to be at the helm of appropriate and effective multilateral responses to these challenges.
The nexus between local, national, regional and global governance requires closer scrutiny. To revitalise its role at the center of multilateral governance, the United Nations must strengthen is capacity to engage with both international and local partners. While the UN remains the best placed and most legitimate vehicle for international action, an emphasis on greater cooperation with regional and subregional organisations, civil society actors, and the private sector, would help bolster its standing as an effective leader in setting norms, coordinating responses, delivering services, and providing assistance when necessary. The reality that regional organisations and powerful member states have at times bypassed the UN can result in the unfortunate perception that the latter is redundant. Such an assumption is ultimately false given that the UN Security Council remains the only instrument mandated by international law to authorize enforcement actions to maintain or restore international peace and security. Stronger engagement and bolstered cooperation would thus be mutually beneficial. While the UN does not have to “be” everywhere, it still needs to be able to rely on functional partnerships and a holistically sound protocol for approaches on regional governance, in conjunction with the national and local level.
Despite the historic importance of the women, peace, and security agenda, results that have come directly from implementation of Resolution 1325 have been limited. In short, this report explains that after the adoption of Resolution 1325, the UN and its members have collectively failed to follow through. The Security Council has not taken sufficient ownership of the agenda, displaying a lack of political will and leadership in developing substantive monitoring mechanisms, and failing as an institution to focus efforts of the UN Secretariat and Member States on concrete strategies that would result in more meaningful results. Although both Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Secretary-General Kofi Annan have spoken publicly about the importance of advancing the women, peace, and security agenda, neither mobilised substantial resources to ensure its implementation. All together, there has been a substantial gap between the promise of Resolution 1325 and its implementation in practice.
Be the Change
By Abigail Ruane, WILPF PeaceWomen Programme Manager
CEDAW General Recommendation 30 is a landmark document giving authoritative guidance to countries that have ratified CEDAW on concrete measures to ensure women’s human rights are protected before, during and after conflict. It also affirms CEDAW’s linkages with the Security Council women, peace and security agenda. The purpose of this Guidebook is to increase knowledge on both of these frameworks, and how they can be used to strengthen and reinforce each other. The Guidebook provides information on the content of the General Recommendation and the Security Council resolutions and on the reporting and monitoring mechanisms. It includes a checklist for States parties reporting to the CEDAW Committee and also provides some examples of where the General Recommendation and Security Council resolutions have been referred to in the Committee’s concluding observations and lists of issues to States parties
This document sets out the commitments that the international community has since made to women and girls affected by armed conflict and outlines the major disappointments and gaps in implementation in three distinct but interconnected areas: participation; protection and assistance; and accountability. It also makes recommendations to governments, to all parties to armed conflicts, and to the UN on how to turn the promises made to women and girls in these three areas into reality.
War is always a choice and it is always a bad choice. It is a choice that always leads to more war. It is not mandated in our genes or our human nature. It is not the only possible response to conflicts. Nonviolent action and resistance is a better choice because it defuses and helps resolve conflict. But the choice for nonviolence must not wait until conflict erupts. It must be built into society: built into institutions for conflict forecasting, mediation, adjudication, and peacekeeping. It must be built into education in the form of knowledge, perceptions, beliefs and values—in short, a culture of peace. Societies consciously prepare far in advance for the war response and so perpetuate insecurity. Some powerful groups benefit from war and violence. The vast majority of humans, however, will gain a lot from a world without war. The movement will work on strategies for outreach to a wide variety of constituencies globally. Such constituencies might include people in many parts of the world, key organizers, well-known leaders, peace groups, peace and justice groups, environmental groups, human rights groups, activist coalitions, lawyers, philosophers/ moralists/ethicists, doctors, psychologists, religious groups, economists, labor unions, diplomats, towns and cities and states or provinces or regions, nations, international organizations, the United Nations, civil liberties groups, media reform groups, business groups and leaders, billionaires, teachers groups, student groups, education reform groups, government reform groups, journalists, historians, women’s groups, senior citizens, immigrant and refugee rights groups, libertarians, socialists, liberals, Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, veterans, student- and cultural-exchange groups, sister-cities groups, sports enthusiasts, and advocates for investment in children and health care and in human needs of every sort, as well as those working to oppose contributors to militarism in their societies, such as xenophobia, racism, machismo, extreme materialism, all forms of violence, lack of community, and war profiteering. For peace to prevail, we must prepare equally far in advance for the better choice. If you want peace, prepare for peace.
This case study explores the trajectory of women’s empowerment in Colombia over the past 20 years in the context of conflict. It analyses important changes in women’s political voice and legal activism, and how these in turn, are contributing to shaping policy on addressing the legacies of the conflict. It is well recognised that conflict-related violence, and the structural legacies of displacement, exclusion and discrimination, are highly gendered.
The Colombian case is an example of progress in women’s empowerment in the face of formidable and continuing challenges. Progress is identified in relation to: legal gains for women’s rights and gender equality; women’s presence and representation in public and elected positions; the advancement of a gender-responsive approach to addressing the legacies of conflict and associated mechanisms of memorialisation, reparations, restitution and transitional justice.
The case of Colombia is a valuable study in how women engage with contesting legacies of exclusion and discrimination in the prevailing political settlement, and influencing the public debate and direction of policy relating to justice, peace and accountability to take into account the gendered experience of conflict.
Although there is a growing body of feminist discourse establishing that war and peace are gendered activities, and consequently women's experiences, responses and needs are different, this is often overlooked by national and 'international policy-imakers. Studies making visible the centrality of women's agency in peace building and the need to have women participate at the peace table are ignored by the dominant cornflict, peace and security discourses. This paper maps the complex and variegated picture of civilian and militarised women's agency in moments of violent social transformation and the peculiarities of their languages of resistance and empowerment.
Voices Against Militarism in South Asia
The issue of women and girls being the targets of rape during war was long considered a taboo subject. Despite publicized incidents in countries such as Bosnia, dealing with gender-specific discrimination was for a long time left to chance when it came to peacebuilding. A breakthrough was not reached until October 2000 when, following a year-long civil society campaign, the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was adopted. Many countries responded to this new commitment by drawing up their own National Action Plan (NAP) – including Switzerland, which approved its first NAP along with corresponding courses of action and indicators in 2007.
This paper focuses on 1) how peacebuilding and gender promotion agendas have evolved in Switzerland, 2) how the two activities interact, and 3) the achievements of UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. While exploring these issues, the paper's authors zero in on the activities of swisspeace’s Centre for Peacebuilding (KOFF) and conclude that gender considerations need to feature prominently in peacebuilding efforts.
In many ways, UN peace operations have become more professional and capable over the past decade but significant chronic challenges remain. Resources for prevention and mediation work have been scarce and the United Nations is often too slow to engage with emerging crises. Too often, mandates and missions are produced on the basis of templates instead of tailored to support situation-specific political strategies, and technical and military approaches come at the expense of strengthened political efforts. This report recomments the Secretariat and missions to carry out gender-sensitive analysis and integrate gender expertise in all peace processes.
This report highlights four essential shifts that must be embraced in the future of UN peace operations:
1. Politics must drive the design and implementation of peace operations
2. The full spectrum of UN peace operations must be used more flexibly to respond to changing needs on the ground
3. A stronger, more inclusive peace and security partnership is needed for the future
4. The UN Secretariat must become more field-focused and UN peace operations must be more people-centred
The present Report was prepared to inform the deliberations of Member States at the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF) in July 2015, including with respect to the scope and methodology of a Global Sustainable Development Report. It is a complement to the prototype GSDR published in 2014 for the second session of the HLPF.
The content of the report is based on the knowledge and expertise of more than 500 contributing scientists and many experts from more than 20 United Nations agencies. The chapters are examples of different analytical approaches that future editions of the GSDR could take to informing discussions on sustainble development at the HLPF with the latest science. Conforming to the mandate given in Rio+20, the chapters do not seek to produce new knowledge but to reflect existing documentation and assessments and turn them into simple, coherent "digests" that can inform decision-making.
Reflections on the Centennial Peace Conference
By Maria Butler, PeaceWomen Programme Director
The WILPF's Women's Power to Stop War Movement: What Power?
20 Years Since Beijing: What does Transformation look like?
Five years after the adoption of the NPT Action Plan in 2010, Reaching Critical Will’s final monitoring report provides a straightforward review and assessment of the Plan’s implementation.
This guide is a resource for policymakers and civil society leaders as they seek to develop, implement, and track progress of national strategies aimed at advancing women’s inclusion.
This new paper discusses how the corporate sector is trying to position itself front and center of the post-2015 development agenda by staking a claim at three levels: First, by setting goals that would suit their priorities for expansion; second, by claiming a primary role in mobilizing the means for implementing these goals; third, by shaping the governance framework that would be set-up to ensure progress in this agenda.
It is with a bittersweet sense that I welcome the new year.
In its regular work, the Council should ensure that all country reports and mandate renewals evaluate the level of protection and promotion of women's human rights, as per SCRs 1325, 1820 (OP 9), 1888 (OP 11), 1889 (OP 5), 1960 (OPs 6, 13), 2106 (OPs 5, 6), and 2122 (OP 2(d)). Member States should inquire about any lack of such reporting.
The Women's Major Group presents its analysis and response to the United Nations Secretary-General's
Gender equality and women and girls' human rights and empowerment have been highlighted as aprerequisite for achieving sustainable development throughout the post-2015 process. The Women'sMajor Group calls for continued strong and global support for gender equality, the full realization of allwomen's and girls' human rights and empowerment to be a stand-alone goal and addressed as a crosscuttingissue.The Women's Major Group is therefore disappointed to note that the Secretary-General's SynthesisReport lacks ambition toward and a strategy for the transformative and action-oriented agenda we needto achieve a gender equal and human rights-based sustainable development for all. While there arepositive elements to the report, the WMG advises against taking the Report as the “starting point” forthe intergovernmental negotiations. It constitutes a significant step back from the OWG in many casesand falls far short of the demands of the Women's Major Group.