Women, Peace and Security: 15 years of Security Council resolution 1325

Fifteen years ago, in October 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted the historic resolution 1325 (2000), drawing attention to the differential impact of armed conflict on women, their exclusion from conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and the inextricable links between gender equality and international peace and security.

Since its adoption, insecurity and conflict has continued in all parts of the world, and in recent years, it is taking on new and increasingly challenging forms. Cycles of fragility and insecurity have become entrenched in some regions, compounded in some cases by natural disasters and humanitarian crises.

The number of refugees and internally displaced persons is higher than ever before in the UN’s history: at the end of 2014, the number of forcibly placed persons rose to 59.5 million—one of the highest numbers ever recorded [1]. Many of these will remain displaced for 17 years—the average current length of displacement.

All of this is also affected by new and emerging threats, the most prominent of which is the rise of violent extremism and terrorism. Overlaid onto existing conflicts and fragile state contexts, it directly impacts the rights of women and girls: from forced marriage and systematic sexual and gender-based crimes, to restrictions on education, access to healthcare and participation in public life, this escalation in violence is perhaps one of today’s greatest threats to global peace and security, and one that affects women and girls in both unique and disproportionate ways.

It has never been more urgent for the global community to seek and implement effective solutions to today’s crises.

The past 15 years have made clear however that women are a key resource for promoting peace and stability. Research highlighted in the Global Study has established that women’s participation and inclusion makes humanitarian assistance more effective, strengthens the protection efforts of our peacekeepers, contributes to the conclusion and implementation of peace talks and sustainable peace and accelerates economic recovery.

The experience of UN peacekeeping missions shows that uniformed female personnel are critical to gaining trust in communities and shaping peace operations to better respond to their protection needs. The study also compiles growing evidence that demonstrates how peace negotiations influenced by women are much more likely to end in agreement and to endure; in fact the chances of the agreement lasting 15 years goes up by as much as 35 per cent [2]. We also have growing evidence that women are the best placed to detect early warning signs of radicalization in their families and communities, and act to prevent it.

And yet the participation and leadership of women continues to be treated as an add-on or ad hoc measure, hampered by lack of financial commitments, political will, and institutional barriers.

To assess progress and accelerate action, the 2015 High-level Review will take place at the Security Council’s Open Debate on Women Peace and Security on 13 October and the Global Study on the implementation of resolution 1325 will be launched on 12 and 14 October.

Commemorating the anniversary of UNSC resolution 1325 provides an historic opportunity for the international community to focus on the women, peace and security agenda, ensure that the rhetoric around resolution 1325 matches the reality on the ground, and that women’s participation is consistently advocated and implemented as an integral tool for building peaceful and inclusive societies.

Global Study on UNSC resolution 1325
The Global Study on the implementation of UNSC resolution 1325 (2000) is the result of a one-year, international consultative process, led by independent author Radhika Coomaraswamy, supported by a High Level Advisory Group and with Secretariat services provided by UN Women.

The Global Study was called for in UNSC resolution 2122 (2013): In the resolution, the Security Council reiterated its intention to convene a High-level Review in 2015 to assess progress at the global, regional and national levels in implementing resolution 1325 (2000). In the same resolution, the Security Council invited the Secretary-General, in preparation for the High-level Review, to commission a global study on the implementation of resolution 1325, highlighting good practice examples, implementation gaps and challenges, as well as emerging trends and priorities for action.

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Global Study Consultation – Asia-Pacific Civil Society
The consultation was convened jointly by UN Women, Saathi, and the Asia-Pacific Women’s Alliance for Peace and Security (APWAPS), in cooperation with the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) and Cordaid. The consultation gathered more than 60 women from throughout the region, including from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Japan, India, Indonesia, Kazahkstan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Vietnam, Australia, Bougainville, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Participants raised issues including accountability for conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, addressing root causes of conflict including militarism, and emerging issues such as violent extremism, climate change and natural resource extraction.

A consultation with women’s civil society organizations from Asia and the Pacific was of particular importance to the Global Study, considering the region’s diverse experiences with peace and security. In many parts of Asia and the Pacific, there have been notable strides toward the implementation of resolution 1325—and the persistent efforts of women’s civil society in advancing this implementation serve as important examples for the rest of the globe. However, challenges for women, peace and security persist throughout the region, in areas such as women’s access to justice, reparations and humanitarian assistance, their protection against sexual violence and other human rights abuses, and their economic and social empowerment. Furthermore, the region also has valuable experience with new and emerging security threats linked to increased radicalization, terrorism and transnational organized crime, as well as the nexus between climate change, natural disasters and conflict. In this context, the specific experiences, challenges and recommendations of women’s civil society organizations in Asia and the Pacific will be critical to chart the way toward a renewed commitment to the women, peace and security agenda.

The consultation took place on the final day of a three-day meeting co-organized by Saathi, APWAPS, GNWP and Cordaid. During the first two days, participants engaged in general discussions on the implementation of resolution 1325, and prepared topics and remarks to share with the Global Study. This allowed participants to deliver concise and coherent remarks on a broad range of topics.

Key areas of interest and discussion included:

  • Structural inequalities and their link to development policies and practices;
  • Accountability and combatting impunity;
  • Militarization, small arms and the continuum of violence in everyday life;
  • Rising cultural and religious fundamentalisms;
  • Survivor/victim recovery and justice processes;
  • Women’s full and meaningful participation in building peace and security; and
  • Climate change and natural resource extraction.

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Media and speeches