FRIDAY FILE: Ten years have elapsed since UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was adopted. What progress has been made on its implementation? What has been accomplished as a result of this important instrument? And what are the remaining challenges to overcome?
By Massan d’Almeida
In October 2000, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to pass Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The resolution is one of the most important international mandates, calling for women’s full and equal participation in all peace and security initiatives as well as the cross-cutting integration of gender issues within the context of armed conflict and the process of reconstruction and peace-building. It also protects girls, who are among the most vulnerable and most severely affected during war and conflict, and calls on all UN Member States, all stakeholders during armed conflicts and all actors involved in the disarmament and peace process to address peace and security by taking into account the gender dimensions of these processes.
The Resolution constitutes the first measure specifically dealing with women that the United Nations Security Council (UN SC) has adopted since its creation and was the first formal recognition by the Council of the distinct roles and experiences of women in different phases of conflict, its resolution and its long-term management . Its adoption was the result of several years of persistent advocacy by civil society including women’s organizations.
Since the adoption of 1325,three other UN Security Council Resolutions have been adopted to strengthen the international agenda on women, peace and security: Resolution 1820 (adopted in 2008), which recognizes the use of sexual violence as a tactic of war and calls on the international community to prevent it; and Resolutions 1888 and 1889 (adopted in 2009), which develop measures to strengthen the implementation of Resolutions 1325 and 1820 .
National Action Plans
Over the last 10 years, as part of efforts to ensure the effective implementation of Resolution 1325,there have been increasing calls by women’s organizations and other civil society actors for national policies and action plans. As a result, in his 2004report on the implementation of 1325, Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the UN, called upon all Member States to develop national action plans (NAPs) to ensure the implementation of the Resolution . The intended purpose of NAPs is to provide a framework within which to identify priorities and resources, determine responsibilities and establish implementation timelines.
To date, 21 countries have adopted NAPs. The content of these plans varies greatly from country to country with some emphasising the number of women recruited for peace-keeping operations, some the participation of women in the decision-making processes at the national level, and others legal aid and social services for survivors of sexual violence. In the countries where they exist, the NAPs are powerful tools to build consensus, promote the development of policies for implementation of Resolution 1325 and translate those policies into concrete actions. Yet too few countries have adopted comprehensive national action plans and those that have face enormous challenges in measuring the progress and impact of the different activities in the plans.
Indicators of progress in the implementation of Resolution 1325
Establishing standardized indicators and highlighting good practices for monitoring the implementation of the NAPs of different countries is an essential step towards the effective implementation of Resolution 1325 .
In 2009–2010, UN Member States developed 26 global indicators to track and monitor the implementation of Resolution 1325 on the basis of four Pillars: Prevention, Participation, Protection, and Relief and Recovery. These indicators serve as a common basis for reporting on the implementation of Resolution 1325 in 2010 and beyond by the various UN entities, regional and international organizations and Member States .
During the 10th anniversary of Resolution 1325, commemorated this week, the Security Council will decide on a comprehensive set of indicatorsto use globally to monitor implementation in an attempt to respond to the current lack of precise, measurable, achievable and relevant data and indicators, as stated by the 2010 Report of the UN Secretary General .
So what exactly are we celebrating? Some examples of achievements
Since its adoption in 2000,in addition to the 21 countries which have adopted NAPs, some UN entities and regional bodies have also undertaken activities to push for the implementation of Resolution 1325.
At the UN level, for example, the Gender,Peace and Security Programme of UN-INSTRAW supports key recommendations of 1325 and promotes its implementation within the UN system by national governments and non-state entities. This includes technical support for the development of NAPs as well as research on various aspects of the Resolution such as the integration of the gender perspective in peace-keeping operations .
At the level of regional bodies, actions to implement Resolution 1325 have generally been lacking,although several processes are currently underway. The European Union, for example, has been active in promoting the implementation of 1325 through the development of several legal and policy documents, including: the Comprehensive Approach for the EU implementation of the United Nations Security Country Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on Women, Peace and Security. The African Union has also taken important measures for the cross-cutting integration of gender analysis in its programmes and there are several initiatives at the sub-regional level in Africa.
Although a specific regional approach to Resolution 1325 has not been developed in Latin America,the region has a certain number of legal and policy initiatives on issues relating to women, peace and security, including the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishments and Eradication of Violence against Women.
Civilsociety organizations, and women’s organizations and women peace activists inparticular, have been at the forefront of advocacy on Resolution 1325 over thelast 10 years. Resolution 1325 and the related Resolutions that have followedare the result of important work by women around the world with support fromsome UN Member States as well as UN agencies like UNIFEM and UN-INSTRAW.
From before 2000, women’s organizations were developing a range of conflict prevention and peace building programs including awareness raising and capacity building, policy advocacy at different levels and providing legal assistance,counselling and other forms of support for survivors of gender-based violence.With the adoption of the Resolution in 2000, women’s organizations have used1325 as a platform for advocacy and a tool for mobilisation in diverse and innovative ways.
Huge challenges remain
The adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000 was crucial in drawing attention worldwide to the unrecognized, underused and underestimated contribution that women can bring to prevent war, build peace and lead communities to live in harmony.
Yet 10 years on, huge challenges remain.
As women’s rights activists, organizations and movements have consistently highlighted, there is still a chronic and continuing under-representation of women at all levels of formal peace-keeping and building efforts, despite being effective agents in informal peace processes. The violation of the rights of women and girls remains rampant in conflict areas and there has been an alarming increase in systematic and large-scale sexual violence during conflicts and in the period of political instability after conflicts. Mechanisms of protection and legal response are slow and weak, creating a situation of relative impunity conducive to the increase of serious crimes against women .
In the face of these challenges, it is urgent that major efforts be made to translate the good intentions of Resolution 1325 into reality. The new UN WOMEN holds great hope in this regard but only if it has enough funds to meet the challenge of its mission, because, as the 10th anniversary of Resolution 1325 reminds us, women play a vital role in the process of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building, recovery, reconstruction and democratization.