In addition to the UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security, a number of other instruments share some of their core principles. These include other thematic Security Council resolutions, as well as international legal and policy instruments.
The women, peace and security agenda came about as part of a broader trend emerging in the late 1990s, when the Security Council began complementing resolutions on specific conflicts with the development of crosscutting thematic resolutions. Some of them helped to pave the way for the eventual development of resolution 1325, and others address the implementation of some of its components.
Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict — The first of four Protection of Civilians resolutions was adopted in 1999, recognizing that civilians, and particularly women and children, account for the majority of casualties of armed conflict. These resolutions emphasize the State’s responsibility in ending impunity, the obligations of combattants and states to protect civilians, the United Nations’ willingness to intervene in situations where civilians are targetted, and the need for specific provisions for the protection of women and children in situations of armed conflict. Resolution 1674 specifically condemns sexual and gender-based violence, the recruitment of children into armed groups, the forced displacement of civilian populations, trafficking of women and children, and sexual exploitation and abuse. It calls on all parties to implement measures to prevent such violations and end impunity, and further calls for the special needs of women and children to be taken into account in peace processes. The most recent resolution, 1894, calls for indicators to evaluate civilian protection, which will overlap with some of the proposed indicators called for in resolution 1889.
Children and Armed Conflict — Another set of thematic resolutions that arose from the Protection of Civilians mandate addresses the situation of children and armed conflict. These resolutions, of which there are now seven, condemn the recruitment of children into armed groups, as well as acts of sexual violence perpetrated against children. Resolution 1612 established monitoring and reporting mechanisms aimed at protecting children and documenting violations, which have led to the development of a name-and-shame list of armed groups who are known to use, recruit, kill, maim, or perpetrate acts of sexual violence against children. These resolutions also mandate the UN to enter into negotiations with armed groups to halt violations and bring perpetrators to account.
Other legal instruments serve as critical complements to the women, peace and security agenda. The foundational instrument is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. State Parties to CEDAW are expected to pursue legal and institutional reform aimed at removing discriminatory practices; establish institutions aimed at the effective protection of women against discrimination; and eliminate discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.
Another important development was the evolution of jurisprudence through two notable international criminal tribunals in the 1990s. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) prosecuted and convicted individuals with command responsibility for rape as a form of torture and as a crime against humanity. At the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), both rape and systematic rape were prosecuted for the first time as acts of genocide. These tribunals eventually led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), through which rape and other forms of sexual violence can be prosecuted as crimes against humanity, as war crimes and as acts constitutive of genocide. These precedents also informed the development of Security Council resolutions 1325 and 1820.
Two policy instruments have played essential roles in moving this agenda forward. The first is the Beijing Platform for Action, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. It lays out a 12-point policy for advancing the situation of women, one of which specifically focuses on women and armed conflict. This section calls for the increased participation of women in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and governance, as well as the protection of women during armed conflict. It is a landmark text that succeeded for the first time in framing women’s issues as matters of international peace and security.
The Windhoek Declaration and Namibia Plan of Action followed in May 2000 and calls for the mainstreaming of gender perspectives in multidimensional peace operations. In particular, the plan calls for the equal inclusion of women in all aspects of peace processes; the appointment of Gender Advisors to peace operations; the mainstreaming of gender perspectives in all mandates and in planning of peace operations; the appointment of more female Special Envoys and Special Representatives to peace operations; the recruitment of more women in all UN functions; the development of training programmes to sensitize troops to gender issues; and the strengthening of monitoring and accountability.