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1325 at 20: Reflections

By Harini Ravi



Twenty years ago, in a landmark resolution, the UN Security Council acknowledged the importance of the role of women in peacekeeping. As we near the 20th anniversary of this resolution, it seems like a good time to take stock of where we are in terms of implementing this resolution.

United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 still remains one of the most significant international documents since the declaration of human rights. As is always the case, there has been some progress in the last 20 years, but the progress has been riddled with uneven successes. Has the resolution really achieved what it set out to do?

National Action Plans and Progress

To ensure that the implementation of the resolution trickled down to national and local levels, starting 2005, UN member states were encouraged to formulate ‘National Action Plans’ (NAPs). European countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway pioneered the process, however many member nations are still yet to formulate NAPs of their own. Even in countries implementing NAPs, there remain challenges within, such as the slow bureaucratic execution, data gaps on women and security issues, and lack of transparency in the content and budget of national programs.

Progress?

One main pillar of resolution 1325 was to ensure increased participation of women in decision-making, especially in the mechanisms of management and resolution of conflict, and in peace negotiations. Women have definitely stepped out of the sidelines and are knocking down gender roles when it comes to rallies and leading peace negotiations.

In 2016, Colombia saw a meaningful participation of women in the peace negotiations between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). The final treaty even had provisions for the empowerment of women, and measures against gender-based violence. But unfortunately, success stories like these seem to be the exceptions rather than the rule. In countries like Yemen and South Sudan, women still remain in the sidelines when it comes to formal processes.

As much as I want to remain optimistic about the resolution’s progress, data reveals otherwise. A study by UN Women and the Council on Foreign Relations reveals that women still make up only 13% of negotiators in peace talks and 4% personnel in peacekeeping operations. It’s extremely disheartening to see that as of today, only one woman - Coronel Ferrer - has ever signed a peace accord as chief negotiator.

Another one of the four pillars of resolution 1325 was to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, including exploitation by peacekeeping forces. However, over the last 20 years, the UN has been scrutinized for sexual abuse among its Peacekeepers in different locations, especially in NATO-led operations and missions. In a report by Al Jazeera, it was revealed that in war-prone areas, women still engage in ‘transactional sex’, displaying an outright violation of human rights in these regions. Cycles of violence still continue to persist. Rape and violence against women are still used as weapons of war. 

Violence against women is on the rise globally. Data shows that in India, 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts. With the recent gang-rape incident in Hyderabad, things have reached an all-time low. According to Jyoti Badekar, a Mumbai-based women’s rights activist, inadequate number of female police staff, even in metropolitan cities, is one of the major factors contributing to this problem.

Findings by the UN Women’s Special Rapporteur on the situations of human rights defenders also show that the rise of sexist, misogynistic and homophobic speech by political leaders has not only contributed to increased violence against women, but also against the LGBTQI community , and women human rights defenders. Projections of these on social media are seen too often, and I hope that this hate speech is not a taste of things to come.

Resolution 1325 is not a success yet, because it fails to work at the grassroot level, and fails to address the local, ethnic and cultural problems of women. I say ‘yet’ because there is true potential in its provisions, and with the right mix of localization and structural improvement, it could be the cure we all once thought it would be. Although there are now signs of increased commitment and action, women need to be included in peace processes at the very beginning. If the resolution is fully implemented in its intent, it could completely transform the politics of peace and security. It has now become clear that when women lead and participate in these processes, peace lasts longer.

The Future

So far, UNSCR 1325 remains one of the best hopes for ending violence against women in conflict and post-conflict situations.  However, it is also one of the biggest disappointments.

Moving forward, women’s meaningful involvement in peacekeeping efforts will need to be complemented by national and regional structures. Resources must be directed towards non-violent methods of civilian protection, prevention of conflict mechanisms and early warning systems. Manizha Naderi, Executive Director of Women for Afghan Women (WAW), commented that “women must be incorporated into post-conflict governance structures to ensure that their rights are promoted and enforced, especially in territories where extremists and local customs subvert the status of women.”

In the coming decade, the implementation of resolution 1325 must also tie into the broader sustainable development goals (SDGs) that are to be achieved by 2030. SDG 5, that stands for gender equality and empowerment of women, and UNSCR 1325 are inextricably linked. The former cannot be realized without the latter.

In any case, there has been too much discussion, and little action. Now twenty years later, maybe it’s time for a call to action?

References

  1. Anderlini, S.N et al (2017). “Bringing Peace to Yemen by Having Women at the Table: What the U.S. Must Do and Why It Matters”. Retrieved from https://icanpeacework.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ICAN-US-CSWG-Policy-Brief-August-28-2017.pdf
  2. Faty, U. (2017, November 1). Persistent Challenges in Implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325: CSPPS Representatives Reflections on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://www.cspps.org/news/persistent-challenges-implementing-united-nations-security-council-resolution-1325-cspps 
  3. Krause, J., Krause, W. and Bränfors, P. (2018). Women’s Participation in Peace Negotiations and the Durability of Peace, International Interactions. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03050629.2018.1492386?scroll=top&needAccess=true 
  4. Lebanon Government Adopts National Action Plan on Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. (2019, September 19). Retrieved from https://reliefweb.int/report/lebanon/lebanon-government-adopts-national-action-plan-resolution-1325-women-peace-and 
  5. Lippai, Z and Young, A. (2017). Creating National Action Plans: A Guide to Implementing Resolution 1325”. Retrieved from https://www.inclusivesecurity.org/publication/creating-national-action-plans-a-guide-to-implementing-resolution-1325/ 
  6. Mayanja, R. Armed Conflict and Women - 10 Years of Security Council Resolution 1325. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/armed-conflict-and-women-10-years-security-council-resolution-1325
  7. Njoku, C. (2018, June 05), The secret to ending a war? More women in peace negotiations. Retreived from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/06/women-in-peace-negotiations-end-wars/ 
  8. Rahmanpanah, G. and  Trojanowska, B. (2016, January 15), “National Action Plans: Localising Implementation of UNSCR 1325”. Retrieved from https://www.wilpf.org/national-action-plans-localising-implementation-of-unscr-1325/
  9. Women’s Participation in Peace Processes. (2019, January 30). Retrieved from https://www.cfr.org/interactive/womens-participation-in-peace-processes
About the Author
Harini is a masters student at Utrecht University, Netherlands. She has lived many lives: a self-proclaimed meme enthusiast, voice actor, and a master procrastinator. Harini has previously worked at The World Bank, Chennai as a Knowledge Management analyst. She is also a voice actor for south Indian advertisements and feature films. Girls’ education is a cause that is close to her heart, and she hopes to work with the Red Elephant Foundation in the coming years to put more girls in school. When she is not scrolling through memes, Harini likes to sing, cook and travel. She is currently pursuing her masters in Economic Policy at Utrecht; her areas of interest include public policy and behavioural economics.