Featured, Gender, Global, Global Governance, Headlines, Human Rights, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, Poverty & SDGs, TerraViva United Nations

Women Seek Permanent Seat at Peace Negotiations

Credit: www.gnwp.org

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 14 2015 (IPS) - When the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) adopted a landmark resolution on women, peace and security 15 years ago, that resolution was best known by its numerals: 1325.

“After the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1325 has become the strongest organizing and mobilizing instrument for women around the world,” Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, International Coordinator for the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, a program partner of the International Civil Society Action Network, told IPS.

“1325 is a revolutionary idea,” she said.

For the first time, the Security Council, the most powerful structure in the U.N. regarded women’s rights and gender equality as matters of international security.

And for the first time, she said, women’s leadership is highlighted as core to all efforts in peacebuilding.

“Who would ever think that the Security Council will be concerned with women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services?,” she asked.

As the United Nations commemorates the 15th anniversary of 1325, women’s groups and activists are taking stock of the successes and failures of that historic resolution which was adopted on Oct. 31, 2000.

Violence and conflict is costing the planet over 14 trillion dollars, “with extremists placing the subordination of women at the centre of their ideology and war tactics,” says U.N. Women.

A new Global Study on the implementation of 1325, authored by former U.N. Under-Secretary-General Radhika Coomaraswamy, was released here Oct. 12.

During the launch of the report, Secretary-General Bank Ki moon said he has appointed an “unprecedented” number of women leaders at the United Nations.

These include five female Special Representatives in peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Cote d’Ivoire, Western Sahara, South Sudan and Cyprus, plus the first ever female Force Commander – Major General Kristin Lund – in Cyrus.

“I have asked for 15 percent of all peacebuilding funds to be devoted to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment,” Ban said.

Asked about the successes of 1325, Cabrera-Balleza told IPS, women in the Philippines led the peace negotiation with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

For the first time, women in Colombia are principal negotiators in the peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Women in Liberia, she pointed out, demanded the negotiators stay in the peace negotiation room until a peace agreement was reached.

Shelby Quast, Director, Americas Office, Equality Now, told IPS, in the last fifteen years, UNSCR 1325 has become a powerful tool for promoting women’s participation in peace processes.

“However, as we move forward, ensuring that women leaders are consistently included in peace negotiations and that justice is served when their security is threatened, must be primary concerns.”

She said the resolution’s main success is that this issue has become more prominent on the policy agenda and we are seeing women included in peace talks, like in Libya.

“However, it is still the case that we have to argue for women’s inclusion every single time.”

In Syria, women were not included in the peace talks, for example.

Furthermore, there is also the issue that women’s security is threatened when they try to actively participate, such as in our recent campaign for justice for Salwa Bughaighis in Libya – a feminist who was murdered for working towards women’s participation in peace-building”.

Jared Genser, who co-authored a publication titled ‘The U.N. Security Council in the Age of Human Rights,’ told IPS: “There is some extraordinarily low-hanging fruit here — the Secretary-General has to commit to raising serious resources – virtually no new money was spent over 15 years (we recommend 250 million dollars over five years).”

The study also calls for a single coordinator to be designated within the U.N. system – and U.N. Women to coordinate implementation.

Meanwhile, only 48 of 193 countries have developed national action plans – more need to engage, he said, while the Security Council needs to actually systematically sanction states, non-state actors, and individuals who engage in the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Literally less than a dozen have been sanctioned out of more than 1,000 on the U.N. sanctions list for a broad array of reasons, said Genser whose study was published under the auspices of the Human Rights Foundation.

Asked about the shortcomings and failures of 1325, Cabrera-Balleza told IPS: “It is not 1325 that failed. It is those who are supposed to implement 1325 who failed. A powerful international instrument can only be as successful as the people who are mandated to implement it make it to be.”

She said 15 years later, women’s central role in official peace negotiations such as in Colombia and the Philippines is still the exception rather than the rule.

“Of the ‘Ps’ of 1325: prevention, participation, protection, and peacebuilding, ‘prevention’ is the small P. In some cases, it is the silent ‘P’. The prevention of war is not a priority by the global policy community nor by donors. We need to focus more on prevention rather than intervention; more of Chapter 6, less of Chapter 7 (of the U.N. Charter). “

Funding for women’s peace and security initiatives is dismal, she pointed out. And only 2 per cent of aid for peace and security has gender equality as a principal objective. A lot less go to women’s organizations working in conflict situations.

The praises sang to civil society in most of the WPS resolutions – remain just that: words, she complained.

Despite their tireless efforts to keep the 1325 alive in the last 15 years, civil society voices still do not carry as much weight as the government and U.N. leaders.

A most recent example, she said, is the sudden changing of the date of the Open Debate with no consultation: a complaint that was included in an Open Letter to the Secretary-General last week.

She said civil society did not even see the draft of a resolution adopted by the Security Council this week – even as they are the drafters of 1325.

“I am beginning to sound like a broken record but I don’t care: I would like our colleagues in the Security Council, in governments and the U.N. to know that we, civil society are here to realize the full potential of UNSCR 1325. We are here to turn the promise of 1325 into reality,” she declared.

“The international community has to set its priorities right. We cannot wait another 15 years before we see consistent positive impact.”

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

Republish | | Print | |En español

Related Tags