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Saturday, April 29, 2017
Ambassador Anwarul K.Chowdhury was the initiator of UNSCR 1325 when he was Security Council President.
- 2015 is a year of UN anniversaries as the calendar tells us. Of course the big one is the United Nations’ own seventieth birthday. I find two other anniversaries very significant in their relevance to humanity’s quest for peace and development in general and for goals and objectives of the UN’s work in particular.
I am referring to the 20th anniversary of the world’s biggest-ever conference on women held in Beijing in 1995 advancing women’s equality and empowerment. Five years later it was by followed by a groundbreaking initiative resulting in the adoption by the UN Security its landmark Resolution 1325 on “Women and Peace and Security” on 31 October 2000.
The Security Council will hold an open debate to undertake its High Level Review of the 15 years of the implementation of 1325. Curiously, the Global Study that has been undertaken for this had its formal launch Monday.
UNSCR 1325 is very close to my intellectual existence and my very small contribution to a better world for each one of us. To trace back, 15 years ago, on the International Women’s Day in 2000, as the President of the Security Council, following extensive stonewalling, I was able to issue an agreed statement that formally brought to global attention the unrecognized, underutilized and undervalued contribution women have always been making towards the prevention of wars and building peace.
The Council recognized in that statement that peace is inextricably linked with equality between women and men, and affirmed the value of full and equal participation of women in all decision-making levels. That is when the seed for Resolution 1325 was sown.
The formal resolution followed this conceptual and political breakthrough on 31 October of the same year giving this issue the long overdue attention and recognition that it deserved. This inexplicable silence of the Security Council on women’s contribution for 55 long years was broken on the 8th of March 2000.
Adoption of 1325 opened a much-awaited door of opportunity for women who have shown time and again that they bring a qualitative improvement in structuring peace and in post-conflict architecture. When women participate in peace negotiations and in the crafting of a peace agreement, they have the broader and long-term interest of society in mind.
We recall that in choosing the three women laureates for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, the citation referred to 1325 saying that “It underlined the need for women to become participants on an equal footing with men in peace processes and in peace work in general.”
The Nobel Committee further asserted that “We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.” 1325 is the only UN resolution so specifically noted in the citation of the Nobel Prize.
Thanks to 1325, the Security Council is gradually accepting that a lasting peace cannot be achieved without the participation of women and the inclusion of gender perspectives and participation in peace processes. The Council has also met with women’s groups and representatives of NGOs during its field missions on a fairly regular basis.
Much, nevertheless, remains to be done. We continue to find reports that women are still very often ignored or excluded from formal processes of negotiations and elections and in the drafting of the new constitution or legislature frameworks.
The driving force behind 1325 is “participation”. I believe the Security Council has been neglecting this core focus of the resolution. There is no full and equal participation of women at any level. There is no consideration of women’s needs in the deliberations.
The main question is not to make war safe for women but to structure the peace in a way that there is no recurrence of war and conflict. That is why women need to be at the peace tables, women need to be involved in the decision-making and as peacekeepers to ensure real and faithful implementation of 1325.
Gender perspectives must be fully integrated into the terms of reference of peace operations related Security Council resolutions, reports and missions. A no-tolerance, no-impunity approach is a must in cases of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers.
As a matter of fact, I would recommend that all prospective peace-keepers must pass the “1325 test” before they leave their countries and there should be no relaxation with regard to this qualifier. Troop contributing countries should be aware that repeated violations by their contingents would put them on a global blacklist.
Analysts are of the view that the passage of 1325 is an impressive step forward for women’s equality agendas in contemporary security politics. However, they also believe, that the historic and operational value of the resolution as the first international policy mechanism that explicitly recognized the gendered nature of war and peace processes has been undercut by the disappointing record of its implementation, particularly for lack of national level commitments.
According to them, the poor record of the implementation of 1325 has fuelled rather well-founded suspicions about the complicity of the Security Council in international practices that make women insecure, basically as a result of its support of the existing militarized inter-state security arrangements.
I believe strongly that we would not have to be worrying about countering extremism if women have equality in decision-making enabling them to take measures which would prevent such extremism.
I recall Eleanor Roosevelt’s words saying “Too often the great decisions are originated and given shape in bodies made up wholly of men, or so completely dominated by them that whatever of special value women have to offer is shunted aside without expression.”
It is a reality that politics, more so security, is a man’s world. Empowering women’s political leadership will have ripple effects on every level of society and the global condition. When politically empowered, women bring important and different skills and perspectives to the policy making table in comparison to their male counterparts.
Here I would add emphatically that, to be true to its own pronouncements, I believe it is absolutely high time that in its seven decades of existence, the United Nations should appoint the first woman as the next Secretary-General.
After 15 years of the adoption the UNSCR 1325, our sole focus should be on its true and effective implementation. In real terms, National Action Plan (NAP) is the engine that would speed up the implementation of Resolution 1325.
It should be also underscored that all countries are obligated as per decisions of the Security Council to prepare the NAP whether they are in a so-called conflict situation or not. So far, only 50 out of 193 UN Member-States have prepared their plans after 15 years. This is a dismal record!
There are no better ways to get country level commitment and involvement to implement 1325 other than the NAPs. I believe very strongly that only NAPs can hold the governments accountable. There has to be an increased and pro-active engagement of the UN secretariat leadership to get a meaningfully bigger number of NAPs – for example, setting a target of 100 NAPs by 2017. UN Women needs to work more proactively with the Member States so that their 1325 NAPs are commenced and completed without any further delay.
Another missing element is a greater, regular, genuine and participatory involvement of civil society in implementing 1325 both at national and global levels. The role and contribution of civil society is critical. At the global level, the UN secretariat should not only make it a point to consult it, but at the same time, such consultations should be open and transparent. Very limited opportunity provided to civil society at tomorrow’s High Level Review is not what we expect.
Let me end by asserting that anniversaries are meaningful when they trigger renewed enthusiasm amongst all. Coming months will tell whether 1325’s 15th anniversary has been worthwhile and able to create that energy.