In October 2000, recognizing the complexity of contemporary warfare, the increasing impact on civilians, including women, and the active involvement and contributions of women in peacemaking and conflict prevention, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. The resolution called on all actors to support and increase women’s participation in decision making pertaining to the prevention and resolution of conflict and reconstruction.
Over the years, UN entities, some member states, and many international and national NGOs have led efforts to increase women’s participation and to ensure that peace agreements not only address women and men’s different needs during peacebuilding, but also take account of their different perspectives and priorities. UNSCR 1325 catalyzed a significant number of interventions and innovations by a range of actors globally.
- In Nepal, for example, a UN-donor ‘1325 Working Group’ was formed, chaired by UNFPA that helped coordinate interventions and provide practical guidance to the UN mission and national government on how SCR 1325 could be implemented in the context of governance, security and justice issues.
- In Israel, local NGOs successfully lobbied for legislation requiring women’s effective representation in all decision making pertaining to national and security issues.
- In the Solomon Islands, UNIFEM led innovative work on gendered early warning indicators and outreach to networks of women and men as steps towards conflict prevention.
- UN and civil society organisations have developed transformative policies and guidance on disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) efforts and security sector reform (SSR) that take account of women’s needs and inclusion.
- In transitional justice processes there is more sensitivity to women.
Many of these efforts have not been well documented. As new governments show interest in SCR 1325, there is both a danger of losing opportunities of systemizing good practice, and of re-inventing ineffective efforts. Moreover, comprehensive progress on the full application of UNSCR 1325 has been limited. An analysis conducted by UNIFEM shows that women have been fewer than 7% of negotiators on official delegations in peace processes since 2000, and have been just 2.7% of signatories. Most strikingly, in 13 major comprehensive peace agreement processes since 2000, not one single woman was appointed as a mediator.
In addition, an estimated 40% of peace processes fail within the first five years after an agreement is reached. In many cases, violence escalates, armed groups fragment and become uncontrollable, and the popular groundswell in favor of peace diminishes, resulting in new cycles of violence, conflict, and instability.
While the nature of conflict and range of actors involved have changed radically in the post-Cold War period, processes to make peace have not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands. Track-two initiatives have facilitated productive negotiations in many conflicts, and several peace processes were structured to allow for input from a wide cross section of the population. But peace processes are still largely in the exclusive domain of political and military leaders – those who bear and use the arms. Civilians and civil society groups that are major stakeholders in peace and are often involved in pragmatic peacebuilding efforts remain systematically excluded.
In effect, 21st century warfare is still being addressed through 20th century mechanisms and perspectives. The emphasis is on “ending the war” rather than the complex range of issues and people that define peace and peacebuilding.
Looking forward to the 10th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, MIT’s Center for International Studies and ICAN propose partnering with UN agencies and interested governments to examine recent cases of peace processes to:
1. Document and assess whether and how various actors (UN, donors, national governments, NGOs) have made more efforts to include women and to ensure gender sensitivity in the language of peace accords;
2. Examine the outcomes of such efforts, in terms of the impact for/on women, as well as for peace in general; and
3. Determine the specific strategies and key elements that UNDP and other actors could undertake to ensure that women’s voices and their concerns are addressed equitably in current and future processes.
A critical dimension of this project will be to return to women in conflict zones to capture and elevate their voices and experiences regarding the actual and potential relevance and impact of SCR 1325-related activities in their country.
Our goal is to determine the most practical and efficient methods of ensuring how peace processes can (a) address the needs of a wide cross section of the population, (b) harness the peacebuilding potential of all stakeholders, and (c) follow through with effective implementation of commitments made to women. Given the opportunity, we will also examine some cases where a peace process is not ongoing to assess 1325’s call for parties to conflict “to respect fully international law applicable to the rights and protection of women and girls,” including prohibitions against sexual violence, reaffirmed under SCR 1820.
This project builds on the current desk research and analysis of peace agreements being undertaken by UNIFEM. We have conducted an extensive literature review and find a number of useful efforts to understand the utility of 1325, but none have undertaken the kind of in-depth field study we will do.
Between six and ten cases will be conducted. They will detail and assess:
- The level and types of involvement and influence of women in formal negotiations and in informal processes, and their impact on outcomes
- The involvement and effectiveness of women in civil society at large in promoting, facilitating, and inventing peace processes and projects
- The role of governments, mediators/facilitators, and external actors (including international agencies) in enabling or hindering efforts at implementing 1325
Our findings will distill lessons for future efforts, including: identifying the efficacy of particular kinds of initiatives, describing levels and entry points of women’s involvement, explaining at which stages women are having the most impact, and confronting the failures in cases where the evidence points to gaps in implementing 1325. On the last point, where the women and civil society are not present, what issues did not make it into the text of agreements, and why not? We intend to ask the question of whether a more inclusive process would have contributed to a more successful outcome, and how.