By: Nicholas Jaech, Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC)

Fifteen years ago, the United Nations Security Council adopted UNSC Resolution 1325 – a groundbreaking resolution linking the experience of women to the agenda of peace and security. 1325 was the first Security Council resolution to address the disproportionate and distinct impact of armed conflict on women. This resolution notes the importance of women’s equal and total participation as active agents “in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace-building and peacekeeping. It calls on member states to ensure women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and urges all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspective in all areas of peace building.”1

Yet, 15 years and six resolutions later, significant challenges remain.

Security Council Meeting: Women and peace and security Report of the Secretary-General on women and peace and security (S/2015/716) Letter dated 1 October 2015 from the Permanent Representative of Spain to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (S/2015/749)

Security Council Meeting: Women and peace and security (UN Photos).

On Tuesday, October 13, 2015, in commemoration with the 15th anniversary of 1325, an open debate on Women, Peace and Security was convened by the UN Security Council to discuss the further implementation of 1325. In his opening remarks the Secretary-General reiterated women’s leadership in peacebuilding is a top priority and shared his personal commitment to seeing the resolutions implemented. His report on Women, Peace and Security highlights the following:

  • A recent study of 40 peace processes showed that the ability of women to influence negotiations increased the chances of agreements being reached, was positively correlated with greater implementation and had a positive impact on the durability of peace (Par. 12).
  • In 2012-13, the Development Assistance Committee of OECD spent only 2% of its $10 billion on gender equality objectives in its efforts to invest in developing economies (Par. 15).
  • In 2013, economic recovery programs allocated only 4% of economic recovery spending to furthering women’s economic development (Par. 15).
  • The global proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments has doubled from 11% in 1995 to 22% in 2015 (Par. 29).

In addition to the Secretary-General, Under- Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed that the most under-utilized tool in peace building is women. She also introduced the Global Acceleration Instrument on Women Peace and Security and Humanitarian Engagement. This new fund  will accelerate the implementation of UNSCR 1325, and as well as channel funds to women’s organizations working on peacebuilding.. Other speakers included Julienne Lusenge of the Democratic Republic of Congo, speaking on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, stressed the importance of including women in all parts of the peacemaking process – from the village to national levels. Yanar Mohammed, also speaking on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, said that peace will “never be established” in Iraq and Syria without the proper implementation of resolution 1325. She urged for more support for grassroots women’s organizations, And Alaa Murabit of the NGO Voice of Libyan Women, and also  a member of the High-level Advisory Group for Global Study on SCR 1325 had three recommendations for the Security Council regarding women, peace and security:

  • Conflict prevention is paramount to global peace and security. The UN should address underlying causes of conflict, as well as focus on justice, global disarmament, accountable media and fair economic practices.
  • Need mechanisms to address crisis situations. Crises disproportionately affect women and girls, who are specifically targeted by violence. Current efforts are simply not working. The UN must create a formal and accountable protection mechanism for women in crises.
  • Need for adequate resources for 1325. Specifically, there needs to be a removal of political structures that hinder funds from reaching on-the-ground efforts.2

All speakers echoed the sentiment that women are the key to the prevention of conflict and the central to the lasting-effects of peace building.

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Under- Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the UNSC Open Debate (Photo: UN-Women)

Directly after this opening segment, Resolution 2242 was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council (UNSC). This resolution was supported by a record 71 countries. It has two key outcomes. The first is that it outlines actions to improve the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325. The second is proposing a broader Women, Peace and Security agenda, including countering violent extremism, monitoring sexual violence within UN Peacekeeping forces, increasing the representation of women in governments and implementing the gender recommendations of a recently-released global study. Highlights from this resolution include:

  • Urges Member States to increase the representation of women in decision-making bodies at local, regional and national levels, as well as in peace-making bodies. Member States are called to finance these efforts, as well as finance the efforts to educate people on the importance of the role of women in peace making (Item 1, Page 3).
  • Further encourages Member States to produce national action plans that prioritize women in the process of peace making and conflict prevention (Item 2, Page 3).
  • Urges the Secretary-General and other UN entities (specifically naming DPKO, DPA AND PBSO) to strengthen their efforts to integrate the needs of women and gender perspectives into their work (Item 4, Page 4).
  • Expresses the importance of civil society organizations in the realm of Women, Peace and Security (Item 5C, Page 4).
  • Urges DPKO and DPA to provide the necessary gender analysis and technical gender expertise at all stages of mission planning, implementation and review. This includes more cooperation between DPKO, DPA and UN-Women (Item 7, Page 5).
  • Encourages steps to be taken by the Secretary-General to prioritize the appointment of more women to senior UN positions, as well as to further expand efforts to acquire a greater number of women in militaries and police deployed to UN peacekeeping operations (Item 8, Page 5).
  • Expresses deep concern over the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers and calls for trainings regarding the issue and thorough investigation on the matter (Item 9, Page 5).

The following day, Wednesday, October 14, “Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace – A Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325” was officially launched. This study is the product of the engagement of Member States, UN entities, regional organizations and civil society, including research institutes. During this official launch, Member States made financial contributions to the new Global Acceleration Instrument. Radhika Coomaraswamy, lead author of the global study, also expressed her opinions of the recently-adopted UNSC Resolution 2242. While she was overall supportive of the resolution, she had serious concerns about the mixing of women, peace and security and counter terrorism efforts. She noted the need for a clear, conceptual difference between the two, and that UN intentions towards civilians and military forces cannot be blurred.

Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, International Coordinator for the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, a program partner of the International Civil Society Action Network, also had reservations, despite acknowledging the symbolic victory for women’s security. She was concerned about the lack of participation by civil society in the creation of UNSC 2242. Noting that no representatives of civil society had the opportunity to see the draft resolution before the open discussion on Tuesday, she declares: “I would like our colleagues in the Security Council, in governments and the U.N. to know that we, civil society are here to realize the full potential of UNSCR 1325. We are here to turn the promise of 1325 into reality.”

Cabera-Balleza adds: “The international community has to set its priorities right. We cannot wait another 15 years before we see consistent positive impact.”

We join in calling for a full implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

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For more information on the upcoming events commemorating UNSCR 1325 organized by some of the Ecumenical Women members, and other partners, please click here.

1) http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/issues/women/wps.shtml

2) http://webtv.un.org/watch/part-1-women-peace-and-security-security-council-7533rd-meeting/4555944476001