The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security is pleased to release its 2015 Civil Society Women, Peace and Security Roadmap ahead of October’s 15th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and the establishment of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. Despite the repeated commitments, the WPS agenda is far from being comprehensively implemented in policy and practice. To achieve effective and sustainable mechanisms of preventing and resolving conflict, UN Member States and agencies must take concrete action in terms of women’s meaningful participation in all peace and security processes, national and regional implementation of WPS commitments, financing, conflict prevention, accountability and UN System Leadership.
In October 2015, women activists, advocates and women human rights defenders along with UN Member States and agencies will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and the establishment of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.
Despite the rhetoric and repeated commitments, the WPS agenda is far from being comprehensively implemented in policy and practice by Member States and the UN system. Full implementation of the agenda means implementation across all “pillars:” conflict prevention, participation, protection and relief and recovery. Although there has been some progress in recognizing and addressing the disproportionate impact of conflict on women and girls, this is only one aspect of the WPS agenda. Women’s leadership and their full and equal participation in all efforts to establish international peace and security, and the promotion and respect of their human rights, are imperative to prevent or resolve conflicts and build peace. Whether it be creating initiatives aimed at countering armed violence or the brokering of a peace accord, peace and security processes will not be effective if half the population is left on the sidelines.
Initiatives related to the 15th anniversary, including the High-Level Review, must be more than ceremonial and about recommitments to the principles and transformative potential, and effective implementation, of the WPS agenda. Implementation and operationalization of WPS commitments must be prioritized, and key challenges that have hindered the full adoption of Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 (2000) and subsequent resolutions must be immediately addressed and overcome by UN Member States and entities. Commitments made in the lead up to and at the October anniversary must be followed by long-term implementation strategies. To achieve effective results on WPS, the international community must address and take action on the following critical areas:
1. Women’s Participation
2. National and Regional Implementation
4. Conflict Prevention
6. UN System Leadership
1. Women’s Participation
In multiple efforts to prevent, resolve and rebuild from conflict, women have been systematically excluded from meaningful participation. The exclusion of women and the lack of gender analysis lead to a failure to adequately address the full drivers of conflict, threatening the sustainability of agreements and forcing women to fight even harder for representation and justice.
All peace-making initiatives and processes, from the earliest assessments and planning through implementation and monitoring, must systematically include women, both within and as consultants to the process. The participation of women from civil society organizations working on WPS, women human rights defenders, and women decision makers at national and local levels is absolutely crucial to ensuring that the contributions, rights and priorities of all local stakeholders are taken into account and that political processes result in just and sustainable peace.
Member States and the United Nations are called on to:
1. Establish formal consultative forums with civil society as per SCR 2122 (OP 6), in particular those from conflict-affected and remote areas, in the structure of any peace negotiations, with a requirement that all negotiating parties address the positions and outcomes produced by the forums.
2. Support through financial, technical and political means all efforts, including concrete incentives, to ensure women and gender experts are included in negotiating parties’ delegations, as well as the consideration of the differentiated impact of the conflict on women, girls, men and boys, in peace and ceasefire negotiations and in any agreements that may result. Financial support along with technical assistance, including training in advocacy and negotiation for women participating in peace processes, must be a core component of any international support provided to advance negotiations. Failure to include women or to open channels of consultation with women’s organizations should result in action by the international community to make sure a gender perspective is integrated in negotiations. Further, the UN is explicit that amnesties must not be applied to crimes of sexual violence committed by senior officials as well as rank and file personnel, as such amnesties stand in the way of peace and justice. This must be adhered to in all peace processes – both UN and non-UN.
3. Support and fund the attendance and meaningful participation of civil society organizations at all international and regional peace and security meetings including donor conferences to ensure a gender lens in the prioritization, coordination, development and implementation of policies and programs; and
4. Commit to raise the recruitment, retention and professionalization of women across all justice and security sector components in order to improve and advance rule of law based institutions that are gender-sensitive and effective at an operational level. In conjunction with the commitments made by the UN Secretary General to raise the number of women in peacekeeping positions, Member States should create and implement a formal proposal to ensure women represent at least 20 percent of all justice and security sectors and further aim to increase the number of women in these sectors by at least 20 percent from current numbers over the next 10 years. A high-level point person within the Executive Branch of each Member State should be appointed and given requisite authority and funding to oversee the recruitment of women.
2. National and Regional Implementation
Without full integration of WPS obligations within the governing structures, legal systems and policies of each individual Member State and regional body, the full implementation of SCR 1325 (2000) will not be realized. Local, national and regional implementation of gender strategies, particularly Local Action Plans (LAPs), National Action Plans (NAPs) and Regional Action Plans (RAPs) can pave the way for women’s increased participation in a country or region’s diplomatic, defense, law enforcement and justice sectors, as well as institutionalize women’s leadership and participation in decision-making across all areas of society, including politics, health, education and employment.
Implementation at local, national and regional levels should increase coordination and mobilization of decision makers to ensure women’s participation and a gender perspective are fully integrated into all pillars of institutional work as well as engage civil society in the development and review of these efforts.
Member States and Regional Bodies must develop, implement and review existing national and regional gender strategies and ensure such efforts continue beyond this milestone year. High-impact and effective national or regional strategies must include:
1. A process to include civil society and relevant actors in the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation process;
2. A coordination system for the comprehensive interagency implementation of a strategy that offers clearly assigned roles and responsibilities;
3. Strong, results-based monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that offer clear indicators and outline specific timeframes for all activities which are regularly reviewed;
4. Identify and dedicate sufficient and long-term resources from the regular budget for implementing activities and consultations and support for civil society;
5. High-level government support for the design, implementation and review of the strategy;
6. A process and coordination system that ensures the inclusion of local authorities including indigenous and traditional leaders in development, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation strategies to guarantee ownership and participation in local communities directly affected by the conflicts; and
7. Compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law standards for women and commitments to gender-sensitive laws, policies, practices and institutions.
In the lead up to October, Member States are also encouraged to hold parliamentary debates on WPS in partnership with civil society which would demonstrate cross party support for WPS and gender strategies; provide an update on the status of the country’s NAP development, implementation or review; commit to implementing the High-Level Review recommendations in accordance with national needs; pledge political and financial support for civil society working in the field of WPS and commit to a regular senior-level consultative mechanism; and consider the appointment of high-level champions on WPS at national and regional levels.
Increased political support must be matched with greater and more sustained financial support for the WPS agenda. Women must have equal access to direct funding as well as to the decision-making processes that allocate funds. Member States must pledge to provide multi-year, large scale financial support for WPS including through existing funds and civil society organizations at national, provincial and local levels and ensure core funding within the UN is dedicated for such efforts. Gender expertise is a fundamental necessity across the UN and should not be considered optional within peacekeeping or political work.
Member States and the UN are called on to:
1. Pledge new, dedicated and sustained WPS funding;
2. Demand the realization of the UN commitment to reach 15 percent minimum of all peacebuilding spending to further women’s empowerment and gender equality;
3. Commit nationally to a 15 percent minimum target of official development assistance free from donor restrictions for women’s empowerment, gender equality and WPS especially in conflict and post-conflict settings;
4. Ensure the General Assembly Fifth Committee approves the systematic and sustained resourcing and deployment of gender and WPS experts in missions and at UN Headquarters (UNHQ) through the regular budget to ensure effective integration of gender issues in the early strategies of missions, including, for example, resourcing for Senior Gender Advisers and Women’s Protection Advisers (WPAs) at the onset and throughout the duration of every mission; and
5. Reduce military spending and redirect this expenditure as called for in Critical Area E of the Beijing Platform for Action, which links gender equality and the call for the control of excessive arms spending. Article 26 of the UN Charter also reinforces the call for minimizing spending on armaments.
4. Conflict Prevention
We are living through a period of instability with almost every country affected by conflict in some way. Conflict prevention lies at the core of the WPS agenda, yet too often is not considered as urgent as conflict resolution and post-conflict rebuilding. Sustainable peace cannot be achieved without women’s full participation in all decision-making related to the prevention of conflict and the protection of all civilians. The full implementation of SCR 1325 (2000) and subsequent WPS resolutions, the promotion of the Beijing Platform for Action, and adherence to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other international human rights standards provide a comprehensive roadmap for the prevention of armed conflict and the integration of gender equality across all peace and security actions.
Member States and the United Nations are called on to address the following areas:
Root Causes of Conflict
1. Commit to addressing the root causes of violence, including political and economic drivers of conflict, negative conceptions of masculinities and strategies for the militarization of societies and violent extremism;
2. Analyze and monitor the close relationship between gender-based violence and violent conflict as part of comprehensive early warning efforts and to deter conflict through the prevention of gender-based violence and the promotion of gender equality;
3. Promote gender equality and invest in women’s human rights, economic empowerment, education and civil society; and
4. Support inclusive conflict- and gender-sensitive local dialogue processes and other conflict prevention measures. States must act with due diligence to prevent sexual and gender-based violence and investigate and prosecute cases in a transparent manner and provide reparation to survivors.
Small Arms and Weapons
1. Call on States to stop exporting arms where there is a substantial risk they could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including sexual and gender-based violence. Governments, arms companies and arms dealers must be held to account for transferring arms to situations where they fuel conflict and serious human rights violations;
2. Urge the ratification and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with a focus on Article 7 (4) of the Treaty on preventing gender-based violence, which requires the exporting State Party to take into account the risk of conventional arms being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children. States must include in their national export regulations binding provisions on preventing gender-based violence, including sexual violence. The potential that an arms export could contribute to serious acts of gender-based violence must form part of the State export assessment. They also must make due diligence investigations open and transparent;
3. Recognize and commit to the inclusion of women in policy making, treaty negotiations and discussions on disarmament, arms control, arms trade and military spending issues; and
4. Foster gender analysis of the use and impact of weapons, including the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, small arms and light weapons and nuclear weapons.
Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism
1. Support women’s leadership and participation in efforts to combat, reduce and prevent terrorism and violent extremism;
2. Establish an ongoing consultative mechanism with WPS-related civil society groups at the UN prior to each biennial review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Any Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) meetings with WPS civil society groups should include the participation of UN Women and the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate; and
3. Strengthen existing language in the Fourth Biennial Review of the strategy on women’s contribution to its implementation by calling on all Member States, UN agencies and international, regional and sub-regional organizations to fully integrate women into all efforts to prevent and counterterrorism.
UN Processes and International Instruments
1. Ensure WPS recommendations are integrated in all multilateral review processes including the Peace Operations Review; the Peacebuilding architecture review; the development of the post-2015 agenda, including the sustainable development goals (SDGs); and the World Humanitarian Summit;
2. Ratification and periodic reporting on the implementation of CEDAW without reservations, as well as removal of existing reservations, with particular and comprehensive focus on General Recommendation No. 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations; and
3. Address the protection and promotion of women’s rights in the context of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review through reporting and recommendations that focus on advancing gender equality with a focus on conflict prevention and preventing arms transfers that facilitate gender-based violence.
Accountability must be insisted upon for atrocities committed by all armed groups; security forces including UN mandated troops; and contractors, including sexual and gender-based violence and civilian casualties. The status quo relating to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) must be urgently tackled as the perpetrators often enjoy complete immunity and escape justice.
This culture of impunity must be addressed to demand accountability from those who claim to work in the name of peace and security of our international community. Efforts calling for national accountability and to reform culturally, politically and socially entrenched forms of gender inequality are undermined if international troops are not held accountable and to the same standards being advocated.
Member States and the UN are called on to:
1. Ensure all investigations and prosecutions are conducted in accordance to international standards;
2. Ensure no immunity is granted for all international personnel, including contractors, regardless of function or status, for gender-based violence and other serious human rights violations and ensure that cases are handled in a transparent and fair judicial process. This should be explicit within the Model status-of-forces agreement between the United Nations and host countries/Model Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and Member States contributing resources to United Nations peacekeeping operations;
3. Call for the immediate halt of the use of transfers out of the host state of peacekeepers to evade accountability for allegations of gender-based violence and other serious human rights violations, and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice in a transparent and fair judicial process; and
4. Ensure international humanitarian law is fully implemented in order to guarantee that women and girls have equal and effective access to accountability mechanisms, reparations and non-discriminatory counselling and medical care, including safe abortion and post-abortion care for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Pre-deployment Vetting and Training
1. As per the recommendations within the January 2015 Report of the Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Department of Field Support (DFS) led Working Group on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, ensure mandatory pre-deployment training and Member State certification; the establishment of a dedicated vetting working group; the expansion of vetting for misconduct to cover all categories of personnel; the establishment of an SEA Immediate Response Team with standard operating procedures; the adoption of consistent timelines and benchmarks for investigations into SEA allegations; strengthened accountability of Commanders of uniformed personnel; and criminal accountability for SEA;
2. Support ongoing gender sensitivity training for all UN staff, especially project and mission personnel;
3. Call on DPKO to expedite the recruitment of WPAs, ensuring that previous experience in gender-based violence response is prioritized in the recruitment process;
4. Formalize training and modes of operation for WPAs by finalizing, endorsing, and implementing training modules and a handbook; and
5. Ensure WPAs do not investigate cases of conflict-related sexual violence without the survivor’s consent and/or without ensuring that there are medical care and psychosocial support services available, in accordance with international ethical and safety guidelines.
6. UN System Leadership
Leadership by the UN Secretary General and UN Secretariat
The highest echelons of UN leadership, within the UN Secretariat, agencies and peacekeeping and political missions, must be directly responsible and accountable to ensure more consistent and systematic attention, action and follow-up on WPS matters.
Member States and the UN are called on to:
1. Support a strong UN structure to deliver on WPS over the next decade which includes gender expertise across the UN System within operational and oversight entities at UN Headquarters and in the field; the incorporation of a gender perspective across the work of all UN inter agency standing committees; and an increase UN rosters of gender and technical experts including those relating to security sector reform and ceasefire negotiations;
2. Pledge to holding WPS dedicated policy committee meetings at least every six months which focus on implementation, accountability and resourcing;
3. Ensure all those that are entrusted with high offices including Under Secretary Generals, Special Envoys, Special Representatives and Senior Mediators have a responsibility in their respective fields to advance a gender perspective and women’s participation, including holding a consultation with civil society organizations within the first month of deployment and the establishment of a regular schedule for consultations subsequently. The inclusion of a gender perspective and promotion of gender equality should be explicit in the Terms of Reference (TORs) of such high-level officials;
4. Evaluate the effectiveness of strategies being implemented to appoint more women to senior roles across the entire UN System; and
5. Ensure all review processes integrate a gender perspective, and commit to appointing more women to all High-Level Reviews.
Leadership by the Security Council
It is equally important that the Security Council, as the highest UN body entrusted with peace and security matters, leads by example in fully implementing the WPS agenda. The Security Council’s lack of consistency and ad hoc implementation of the agenda must be addressed.
In this regard, the Security Council should:
1. Integrate WPS concerns when considering crisis situations and emerging threats, and uniformly request that Senior UN officials and Special Envoys address these in their Council briefings;
2. Ensure all Security Council mandates include specific language related to WPS issues, in particular with regard to the need for effective protection and meaningful participation of women and girls and for robust reporting with gender disaggregated data, as well as public reporting on these issues;
3. Mandate that all reports contain analysis regarding the differentiated impact of conflict on women, women’s role in addressing the situation and outline ongoing barriers to their participation, including in relation to political, electoral and transitional justice processes, security sector reform, and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration;
4. Consider the establishment of an informal mechanism or group that would evaluate practical ways of integrating the full agenda across the entire work of the Council;
5. Incorporate WPS elements into the TORs of Commissions of Inquiry and designation criteria in sanctions regimes;
6. Promote women’s participation in all levels of decision-making and support women’s role in conflict prevention in all cooperation with regional organizations;
7. Institutionalize civil society briefings as per SCR 2122 (OP 6) during open debates and formal meetings as well as ensure the Executive Director of UN Women and the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict systematically brief the Council on country situations;
8. Ensure all field missions fully incorporate WPS components within their TORs as per SCR 2122 by reflecting the context specific realities of women in the countries being visited and include meetings with civil society organizations and women human rights defenders; and
9. Conduct Arria Formula meetings on WPS, focused on implementation and accountability, which engage with civil society from a broad range of fragile, conflict and post-conflict states ahead of the October High-Level Review; are attended by senior Member State officials; and produce concrete actions and recommendations.