On October 31, 2000, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 (2000), which calls for the participation of women in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. Credit: United Nations NEW YORK, Oct. 30 (IPS) – In 2010, at the opening session of the Civil Society Forum marking the tenth anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women and Peace and Security, I had the honor of declaring 1325 as “the common heritage of humanity,” which indicates the far-reaching nature of the potential benefits to be derived from the full and effective implementation of the landmark resolution by all at all levels.
On October 31st, the world will celebrate the 20th anniversary of 1325. The United Nations Security Council held a virtual session on October 29 with wider participation from UN member states to celebrate the anniversary.
Today President Dr. Hage Geingob in Namibia, the country that headed the Security Council when UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was passed, the International Women’s Peace Center in Windoek.
Anniversaries become meaningful when a serious inventory of progress and shortages is taken, followed by a realistic, determined roadmap and course of action for the years to come. It’s a shame, of course, that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected our plans and excitement for compliance.
The key message of 1325 is an integral part of my intellectual existence and my humble contribution to a better world for each of us. To be able to trace it back a little more than 20 years ago, on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2000, as President of the Security Council, which represents my country Bangladesh, after extensive stone walls and fierce resistance from the permanent members, I was able to trace this back on behalf of all 15 Members of the Council, with the strong support of civil society, issue an agreed statement officially acknowledging worldwide the contribution women have always made to preventing war and building peace.
In this major standard-setting declaration, the Council recognized that “peace is inextricably linked to equality between women and men” and reaffirmed the value of full and equal participation by women at all levels of decision-making.
At this point the seeds for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 were sown. The formal resolution followed this conceptual and political breakthrough on October 31 of the same year, with Namibia at the helm after eight months of tough negotiations, and gave the issue the long overdue attention and recognition it deserved.
The very first paragraph of this formal resolution begins with a reference to the March 8, 2000 Declaration which sets out the reasons and history of “women, peace and security” in the Security Council. The Security Council’s inexplicable silence for 55 long years on the positive contribution of women was broken forever on March 8, 2000.
The adoption of 1325 opened a long-awaited opportunity for women who have shown time and again that they can improve the quality of the structure of peace and architecture after conflict. We remind you that in the selection of the three winners for the Nobel Peace Prize 2011, reference was made in the quote to 1325: “It underlined the need for women to take part in peace processes and peace work in general on an equal footing with men.”
1325 is the only UN resolution that is specifically mentioned in the quotations from the Nobel Prizes. That is the value, that is the essence and that is the prestige of UN Security Council resolution 1325 in the world community.
However, the historical and operational value of the resolution as the first international political mechanism to explicitly recognize the gendered nature of war and peace processes has been undermined by the disappointing track record of its implementation, particularly due to a lack of commitments at the national level and poor leadership at the global level.
The driving force behind 1325 is “participation”. I think the Security Council has neglected this focus of the resolution. In their deliberations, the real role and participation of women is not taken into account.
The poor record of implementation of 1325 also shows that the Security Council continues to adhere to the existing militarized interstate security arrangements, even though the Security Council is gradually, albeit slowly, accepting that lasting peace cannot be achieved without the participation of women and the inclusion of Gender perspectives in peace processes.
The Council met regularly with women’s groups and representatives of NGOs during its field missions. The first such meeting took place in June 2001 with women’s organizations in Kosovo, when I, as President of the Council, led the Security Council mission in that country because the UN-appointed head of mission in Kosovo was not ready.
My work has taken me to the most remote corners of the world and I have repeatedly seen the central role of equality for women in our lives. That realization has now become more relevant in the midst of the escalating militarism and militarization that is destroying both our planet and our people.
Equality for women makes our planet safe and secure. When women participate in peace negotiations and the drafting of a peace agreement, they have the broader, long-term interest of society in mind.
It is a reality that politics, and even more security, is a man’s world. The empowerment of women’s political leadership will have implications at all levels of society. When women are politically empowered, they bring important and different skills and perspectives to policy making than their male counterparts.
Women are the real actors of change in reshaping peace structures that make them more sustainable.
When the United Nations passed the SDGs in 2015, 1325 was nearing its 15th anniversary, and many wondered why Goal 5 for women and girls and Goal 16 for peace and governance failed to refer to the universally accepted 1325. This separation between the two main organs of the United Nations is unacceptable to all well-intentioned supporters of the world body.
This global reality is shown dramatically in the fact that the United Nations, while being the greatest advocate of women’s equality, has failed to elect a Secretary-General to reverse the historical injustice it has held for more than seven decades to have existence occupied by men.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of 1325, I was invited to speak at many virtual events and interviews from different parts of the world. People keep asking me what could be done to make the true implementation of 1325 make a difference. I believe I have identified four priority areas for the next five years.
First, the leadership of the UN Secretary General.
What role should the Secretary General (SG) play? Secretary General Guterres has achieved good results in terms of gender equality in his senior management team. It would make more sense to expand this parity for the Secretary-General’s Special Representatives (SRSG) and Deputy SRSGs, commanders and deputies at the field level with geographical diversity.
Many believe that it takes the Secretary General’s truly proactive and dedicated commitment to harness the moral authority of the United Nations and the high office he holds for the effective implementation of 1325.
Wouldn’t it have a strong positive impact on countries if their heads of state or government received a formal notice from the Secretary-General requesting the submission of their respective National Action Plans (NAPs)?
The implementation of 1325 should be seriously taken up by the system-wide UN coordination mechanism of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. United Nations-based coordinators representing the SG and UN country teams should support all actors at national level in the preparation and implementation of NAPs.
A “1325 Impact Assessment” component with specific recommendations must be included in all reports by the Secretary-General to the Security Council requesting her involvement in all peace and security decisions taken by the Council.
Gender perspectives must be fully integrated into the United Nations mandate for peacekeeping. Improvement of the gender architecture in field missions and at headquarters; Improving gender conflict analysis and information flow; Accountability for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel requires the dedicated leadership of SG to move forward.
An approach free of tolerance and impunity is a must for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel and its regional partners in hybrid missions. The United Nations are welcomed in countries as their protector – they cannot become perpetrators themselves!
The implementation of 1325 has added an additional barrier to overcoming a culture among councilors and within the UN system that views gender issues as an “add-on” component rather than one of the central tenets of conflict prevention and long-term stability. SG should take the lead to change this culture in a creative and proactive way.
Two, National Action Plans (NAP)
If we watch the anniversary of 1325, it is really disappointing that only 85 out of 193 UN members have prepared their National Action Plans (NAPs) for the implementation of 1325 in 20 years.
It should also be emphasized that, in accordance with the decisions of the Security Council (as provided for in Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations), all countries are required to prepare the NAP, whether or not they are in a so-called conflict situation.
In reality, NAPs are the engine that would speed up the implementation of 1325. There is no better way to get a 1325 implementation commitment at the country level than through the NAPs. I firmly believe that only NAPs can hold governments accountable.
There is a clear need for the Secretary-General’s attention for the effective implementation of 1325. While NAPs are national commitments, they can be monitored globally. SG can also target 50 new NAPs by the 21st anniversary of 1325.
Three, mobilizing men for the implementation of 1325
Patriarchy and misogyny are the double scourges that divert humanity from our pursuit of a better world. Gender inequality is an established, proven, and undisputed reality – everything is ubiquitous. It is a real threat to human progress! UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has lamented that “… we still have a male-dominated culture everywhere”.
If we do not face these vicious and persistent negative forces with all of our energy, determination and persistence, our planet will never be a desired place for everyone.
Women’s rights are threatened by a “backlash” from conservatism and fundamentalism around the world.
We are seeing an organized, determined setback in profits around the world, as well as new attacks on equality and empowerment of women. Yes, this happens in all parts of the world and in all countries without exception.
Men and the policies and institutions they control have been the main contributors to gender inequality. It is a reality that politics, and even more security, is a man’s world. It is also a reality that empowered women bring important and different skills and perspectives to policy making when compared to their male counterparts.
We have to recognize that women’s equality and their rights are not just women’s issues, they are relevant to all of humanity – to all of us. This is the most important point that each of us must internalize.
With this goal in mind, we launched the “Mobilizing Men as Partners for Women, Peace and Security” initiative on March 20, 2019 in New York, under the leadership of Ambassador Donald Steinberg, Creed and as our Mission.
Fourth, direct involvement of civil society
Another missing element is stronger, regular, genuine and participatory civil society involvement in the implementation of 1325 at the national and global levels. The role and contribution of civil society is crucial. I would like to pay tribute to the International Women’s League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and the Global Network of Women Peacemakers (GNWP) who have made creative and qualitative contributions to the implementation of 1325 over the past two decades.
Civil society should be fully involved in the preparation and implementation of the NAP at country level. At the global level, the UN Secretariat should not only aim to consult civil society, but at the same time these consultations should be open and transparent.
We should not forget that if civil society is marginalized, 1325 has little chance of actually being implemented.
Let me repeat that feminism is about smart politics that are inclusive, use all potential and leave no one behind. I am proud to be a feminist. We all have to be. This is how we make our planet a better place to live for everyone.
We should always remember that without peace development is impossible and without development peace cannot be achieved, but without women there is neither peace nor development.
Let me say once again that observing anniversaries makes sense when they rekindle everyone’s enthusiasm. The coming months will show whether the 20th anniversary of 1325 was worth it and whether it is able to generate this energy.
To conclude, let me repeat once more: “If we take peace seriously, we must take women seriously”.
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