This month marks the fifteenth anniversary of the United Nation’s Security Council Resolution 1325, which is the building block of the entire Women, Peace, and Security Agenda (WPS). This resolution mandates that women be involved in all aspects of peace and security. The WPS Agenda acknowledges the disproportionate and unique impact conflict has on women and girls and calls for a gendered perspective in addressing the special needs of women and girls during conflict. This includes reparations, resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and many other aspects of post-conflict reconstruction.
This historic resolution, since its adoption on October 31st, 2000, has been expanded upon through six other resolutions, and it is speculated that an open debate held on October 13th will result in a seventh. These expansions have been called for by many civil society organizations and implemented by the United Nations Security Council.
One of the resolutions most prominent expansions was UNSCR 1820, which recognizes sexual violence as a weapon and tactic of war. This means that “rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide”. While this aspect of the resolution’s expansion is vital toward reducing violence against women and improving human rights, it has been criticized for its poor implementation, and how it has overshadowed many other aspects of the WPS Agenda. Since UNSCR 1820, three of the five following resolutions have centered around sexual violence, while the issues of refugees, the inclusion of women in peace negotiations, education and many other aspects of the WPS agenda have fallen by the wayside. The ineffectiveness of this resolution has recently become the target of research and debate.
Internationally, women are still struggling to be included in peace negotiations, the design of refugee camps, and the deployment of peace keepers. Since 1325’s implementation there has been a less than desired improvement in the status of women during peacekeeping operations. This disparity is heavily emphasized among women in rural areas. In January of 2014, the Institute for Global and International Studies suggested that many members of the states have become too focused on addressing sexual violence instead of gender equality and women’s empowerment, and steered attention away from the root issues that cause sexual violence. It emphases that the focus has been on what to do once sexual violence has occurred as opposed to what nations, organizations, and individuals can do to prevent it. Other organizations, including the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and Cordaid have also criticized many of the international community’s national action plans for doing too little.
Throughout October the United Nations, alongside a great number of civil society organizations, will be hosting events globally to mark the fifteen anniversary of resolution 1325. In addition to the open debate of the United Nations Security Council, UN Women is launching a Global Study on the effectiveness and implementations of UNSCR 1325. Headed and authored by Radhika Coomaraswamy, former UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, the launch of the Global Study on October 14th will look at whether there has been an increase in women’s rights to participation and representation, protection and promotion of the rights of women in conflict, accountability for grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law against women, peace-building, recovery and most of all prevention.
The Women’s League for International Peace and Freedom: Peace Women, is leading up to the debate with a series of info-graphics showcasing the main components of the WPS Agenda’s resolutions. To join the conversation use the hashtag “#1325at15” and “#UNSCR1325” on Twitter and other social media platforms, and join the GNWP’s Tweet-a-thon from October 12th to the 13th using the hashtag “#1325Means” and answering the question, “What does UNSCR 1325 mean to you?” To find out more check out Peace Women’s E-news on October 12th.
Whether or not the implementation of 1325 has been effective as originally intended is questionable, but it’s adoption fifteen years ago surely started a real and sustainable dialogue on women’s involvement in peace and security.