“It is time for us all to count the number of women at the peace table, the number of women raped in war, the number of internally displaced women who never recover their property, the number of women human rights defenders killed for speaking out. All of this counts, and we are counting.” —Inés Alberdi addressing United Nations Security Council, October 2009
The year 2010 marks the 10th anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council resolution (SCR) 1325 on women, peace and security. The resolution is the first to link women’s experiences of conflict to the international peace and security agenda, focusing attention on the impact of conflict on women, and calling for women’s engagement in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Two recent follow-up resolutions (1820 and 1888) identify, for the first time, sexual violence as a tactic of warfare and call for political and security responses to prevent its use as a means of fighting. Additionally, Security Council resolution 1889, passed last year, calls for concrete action to accelerate the implementation of SCR 1325, including a strategy to increase the number of women participating in peace talks, where they still average less than 10 percent of negotiating delegations.
The anniversary commemoration provides an important opportunity to further the implementation of SCR 1325.
The formulation of National Action Plans on SCR 1325 (NAPs) is mandated by the UN Secretary-General to advance implementation of the women, peace and security agenda. In the last five years, 18 countries have developed action plans to implement elements of the resolution, including protection, prevention, participation, and early recovery efforts. To strengthen national planning on SCR 1325, UNIFEM is supporting a multi-country initiative to produce meaningful and practical indicators on the implementation of SCR 1325.
The initiative works through three key phases: country-mapping studies which evaluate the gaps and opportunities in the national action plan process; in-country capacity development with government and UN partners; and establishment of in-country advisory teams to provide guidance and technical support for implementation of the National Action Plan. In 2009, efforts focused on Liberia, Uganda and Sierra Leone, in partnership with UNFPA and INSTRAW.
The main indicators prioritized by government and civil society participants include:
- Women’s participation at all levels of decision-making in the government;
- The number of sexual and gender-based violence cases reported and prosecuted;
- Access to health, psycho-social services and trauma counselling for sexual and gender-based violence survivors;
- Domestication of specific regional and international laws, resolutions and conventions; and
- Building national capacity to prevent sexual and gender-based violence.
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is an invisible yet critical impediment to effective peacebuilding. While SCR 1325 calls for women’s engagement in peacebuilding processes, there is little attention on making women’s lives safer. The five-year UNIFEM programme “Supporting Women’s Engagement in Peacebuilding and Preventing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Conflict and Crisis: Community Led Approaches” aims to address this gap.
The initiative focuses on Afghanistan, Haiti, Liberia, Rwanda, Timor-Leste and Uganda. It advances community-based solutions to address issues of sexual violence and the exclusion of women from public decision-making on matters of peace and security. Areas of focus include gender-sensitive justice, security sector reform and capacity building for women to engage in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Early results include: the establishment of gender desks and women-friendly units in police stations like those in Rwanda and Uganda; an increase in SGVB cases prosecuted in Haiti; and the establishment of ‘women’s peace huts’ that engage in community policing and their improved coordination with the local police in Liberia.
“Our first priority must be to include women in peace talks as full and equal partners. If we do not — if we ignore sexual crimes — we trample on the principles of accountability, reconciliation and peace. We fail not just women but all people” —UN Secretary-General, June 2009
Security Council resolutions 1820 and 1888 require that sexual violence is addressed in peace negotiations. However, UNIFEM research shows that since the end of the Cold War, out of approximately 300 peace agreements for 45 conflicts, sexual violence is cited in only 10 country contexts. For ceasefire agreements, only six mention it.
At the UNIFEM-led high-level Colloquium “Conflict Related Sexual Violence in Peace Negotiations: Implementing Security Council Resolution 1820″ in June 2009, a global brain trust of mediators, experts and women peace activists reviewed the striking silence of peace accords on the topic of sexual violence. Mediators urged that negotiating parties should address sexual violence in the following components of peace deals: pre-ceasefire negotiations, including humanitarian access; ceasefires; justice processes and reparations programmes; and developmental components that address the socio-economic needs of victims in recovery and development frameworks.
In 2008, the landmark SCR 1820 profoundly changed the legal and political landscape for addressing sexual violence in conflict by identifying this violence as a tactic of war requiring specialized military and police responses. In 2009, the UN Security Council signaled a robust political commitment to addressing conflict-related sexual violence, with the passage of its resolution 1888. The resolution aims to advance the earlier SCR 1820, by mandating high-level leadership in the form of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and ensuring UN coordination to respond to sexual violence.
SCR 1888 also calls for the development of rapid-response teams of judicial experts to help counter impunity, women protection officers to work with peacekeepers to develop guidance for ending sexual violence, monitoring tools and the production of an annual report that will provide information on perpetrators of sexual violence.
In 2009, the UN Security Council passed SCR 1889 on women’s leadership in peacemaking and conflict prevention, providing tools to accelerate the implementation of SCR 1325 (2000). The two resolutions work together to emphasize women’s role as peacemakers and peacebuilders and target changes for long-term conflict prevention, transition and early recovery. SCR 1889 highlights the urgent need to focus on women’s leadership in fragile states, and their involvement in post-conflict planning, financial allocations, justice processes, security sector reform, basic service delivery and economic recovery.
Noting that there are few useful mechanisms for the effective implementation and monitoring of SCR 1325, resolution 1889 calls for measures that will provide the Security Council with tools to set up a monitoring system. The resolution mandates the production of a set of indicators on SCR 1325 for use at the global level, which were produced in March 2010 in an inter-agency process led by UNIFEM. It also calls for recommendations on how the Council will receive, analyse and act upon information on women and conflict. A report on gender and peacebuilding taking into account the views of the Peacebuilding Commission is also mandated.
“Afghan women have the most to gain from peace and the most to lose from any form of reconciliation compromising women’s human rights. There cannot be national security without women’s security, there can be no peace when women’s lives are fraught with violence, when we cannot step on the streets for fear of acid attacks.” —Mary Akrami, Director, Afghan Women Skills Development Centre, January 2010
Women’s perspectives on security solutions for Afghanistan are of particular relevance, as women’s rights have been a central issue in the conflict in the country. On the eve of the January 2010 London Conference on Afghanistan hosted by the UK Government, Afghan women’s rights defenders released strong recommendations on security, development and governance priorities. The recommendations were the result of dialogue between Afghan women peace and social activists conducted just prior to the London conference, in early January in Dubai, supported by UNIFEM.
The leaders called for the Afghan government and international community to secure and monitor women’s rights in all reconciliation initiatives so that the status of women is not bargained away in any short-term effort to achieve stability. Ensuring women’s representation in peace processes, including in peace jirgas, and a gender-responsive security agenda were also high priorities. The final outcome communiqué of the Conference includes the key priorities of the women activists: commitment to ensure that human rights are central to efforts to seek a political solution to the conflict; and intention to fully implement the National Action Plan for Women.
In April 2010, the UN Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 recommended a global set of indicators in four key areas: women’s participation in conflict prevention and peacemaking; prevention of violence against women; protection of women’s rights during and after conflict; and women’s needs in relief and recovery.
These indicators were proposed by 14 UN entities under the leadership of the Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues. UNIFEM was assigned the technical and coordination role and the indicators were developed in close consultation with Member States and women’s civil society and peace groups worldwide. The process also drew upon indicators that are currently employed in SCR 1325 national action plans and in other national and international efforts to implement the women, peace and security agenda.
The UN Security Council expressed its intention to take action on the indicators on the 10th anniversary of SCR 1325. The use of the indicators would be a clear step forward for improving accountability and implementation of resolution, serving to assess where women are experiencing exclusion and threats to their security.
Despite increased attention over the past decade to the women, peace and security agenda, major analytical gaps remain. For instance, no national military has yet developed guidelines to address sexual violence as a war tactic, and globally, women comprise just two percent of military peacekeeping personnel.
In the lead up to the May 2008 Wilton Park Conference with high-level military personnel, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) collaborated with UNIFEM to compile an “Analytical Inventory of Responses by Peacekeeping Personnel to War-Related Violence against Women.” The inventory served as the springboard for debate on practical solutions that can be used by peacekeeping forces to protect women. This DPKO/UNIFEM/UN Action document has triggered a process of technical self-scrutiny by bringing gender analysis and military and policing practice together. To be presented to the UN Security Council in June 2010, the document aims to generate awareness in military and police planning circles of pragmatic strategies that can be standardized and replicated to address sexual violence. Developed through intensive consultations with peacekeeping missions, women’s groups, national police forces and UN agencies, the inventory is intended as a tool that can inform pre-deployment and in-mission training, and is one of a number of tools being developed to enhance the impact of peacekeeping.