The United States adopted its first National Action Plan (NAP) in 2011 for the period up until 2015.
The national implementation of UNSCR 1325 has been interpreted in an international way, seeking to coordinate the efforts and resources of diplomatic, defense, and development government actors.
The NAP was developed by an interagency group which included representatives from the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security, and the U.S. Mission to the UN, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Office of the U.S. Federal government representatives engaged with grassroots and civil society networks in five consultations held in various locations around the country.
The NAP’s stated goal is to “empower half the world’s population as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence, and insecurity”.
Theme: Country Context
The United States has considerable influence in global security. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and important economic, political and military power. The United States is a nuclear armed state, the world’s largest supplier of arms and home country for a significant proportion of the growing private military contracting industry.
The United States is presently engaged in military operations in several locations around the world, in addition to having numerous permanent bases, joint training operations and being a major troop contributor to NATO. The United States is also a large AID contributor and holds considerable influence in world banking institutions.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council the United States drafted and presented three of Women Peace and Security resolutions, UNSCR 1888, which established the position of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Women in United States have had important roles during times of peace and conflict. Women are eligible for service in the police and military, however they are eligible for restricted service only in the defense forces.
Women have a long history of peace activism in the United States, playing important roles in advocating for disarmament, demilitarization and the peaceful resolution of conflict. WILPF U.S founder Jane Adams, was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
The United States NAP is organized by an Objectives and Action Framework, which includes the following:
National Integration and Institutionalization: Through interagency coordination, policy development, enhanced professional training and education, and evaluation, the United States Government will institutionalize a gender-responsive approach to its diplomatic, development, and defense-related work in conflict-affected environments.
Participation in Peace Processes and Decision-making: The United States Government will improve the prospects for inclusive, just, and sustainable peace by promoting and strengthening women’s rights and effective leadership and substantive participation in peace processes, conflict prevention, peacebuilding, transitional processes, and decision-making institutions in conflict-affected environments.
Protection from Violence: The United States Government will strengthen its efforts to prevent—and protect women and children from—harm, exploitation, discrimination, and abuse, including sexual and gender-based violence and trafficking in persons, and to hold perpetrators accountable in conflict-affected environments.
Conflict Prevention: The United States Government will promote women’s roles in conflict prevention, improve conflict early-warning and response systems through the integration of gender perspectives, and invest in women and girls’ health, education, and economic opportunity to create conditions for stable societies and lasting peace.
Access to Relief and Recovery: The United States Government will respond to the distinct needs of women and children in conflict-affected disasters and crises, including by providing safe, equitable access to humanitarian assistance.
Each of the strategic areas is linked to Outcomes, Actions and the department responsible for implementation. For example, the objective “Conflict Prevention” contains the following elements:
• Conflict early warning and response systems include gender'specific data and are responsive to SGBV, and women participate in early warning, preparedness, and response initiatives.
• Women and girls participate in economic recovery, and have increased access to health care and education services.
• Integrate protocols and support opportunities to share best practices for gender analysis in conflict mapping and reporting, including for mass atrocity prevention and stabilization funding.Review conflict early warning systems and conflict assessment methodologies, including the Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework, to assess and strengthen the integration of gender in these tools.
• Ensure the inclusion of a broad range of perspectives from women and youth to inform policy, strategy and programming decisions.
• Share and utilize relevant data from the Women’s Agriculture Empowerment Index and the Demographic and Health Survey in support of conflict prevention, early warning, and response activities.
• Actively engage women in planning and implementing disaster and emergency preparedness and risk reduction activities, including regarding how police can better interact with women in their role as first responders.
• Provide diplomatic and development support for community-based early warning and response activities, such as empowering local communities to develop strategies to prevent and respond to outbreaks or escalations of violence and conflict.
• Identify and share relevant multilateral development bank databases, such as the World Bank’s Gender Stats, a one-stop source of information on gender at the country level, drawn from national statistics agencies, UN databases, World Bank surveys, and other sources.
• Provide diplomatic and development support to advance women’s economic empowerment, including through cash for work programs, increased access to land, credit, and other enterprise support activities.
• Promote access to primary, secondary and vocational education for children and youth in countries affected by violence or conflict, with special incentives for the attendance and retention of girls, taking into account related special protection needs.
• Support women’s and girls’ increased access to health services, including reproductive and maternal health care.
• Advocate for the operationalization within the multilateral development banks of the relevant information from the 2011 and 2012 World Development Reports on the role women can play both in preventing conflict and in promoting stability in post-conflict situations.
• Create and strengthen private sector activities and new market opportunities through U.S. trade and investment programs, such as preference programs and Trade and Investment Framework Agreements, to assist women entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
These indicators are not attached to an allocated or estimated budget, or specified implementation time-frame. It is stated in the section titled “Coordination, Implementation, Monitoring, and Reporting” that the Department of State, Defense and USAID are responsible for allocating implementation staff and submitting departmental implementation plans. “These implementation plans will establish a full range of time-bound, measurable, and resourced actions […] and will include meaningful strategies for monitoring implementation and evaluating results.
The NAP contains no allocated or estimated budget. Instead, each department responsible department is required to resource the actions within existing budgets. The primary implementation agencies (Department of State, Defense and USAID) are required to submit fully resourced individual implementation plans.
The NAP does not include a monitoring and evaluation framework, and instead tasks the Department of State, Defense and USAID with developing individual departmental Implementation Plans which must include time-bound, measurable, and resourced actions with meaningful strategies for monitoring and evaluation.
USAID and the Department of State released their individual departmental Implementation Plans on August 14 2012 and the Center for Disease Control on 11 October 2012, which can be accessed in the flexible links below. It is not clear if the Department of Defense has released its implementation plan.
The Department of State and USAID’s implementation plans contain a list of Outputs, which are linked to a time-frame (though many are specified as ‘ongoing’ only) and a responsible office. The plans reference gender sensitive budgeting and the need to ensure resource allocation for Women, Peace and Security, but no outputs are attached to an allocated or estimated budget.
The NAP tasks the National Security Council with chairing the Women, Peace, and Security Interagency Policy Committee (WPS IPC) to monitor the actions taken and ensure that NAP is integrated into national policies. This body is required to establish a mechanism for regular consultation with civil society representatives.
NAP has annual reporting requirements to the President, and is to be reviewed and revised in 2015.
Theme: Civil Society Actors
The U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security was involved in the development of the US NAP, providing policy recommendations and guidance to the US Government Interagency Committee, which coordinated the formation of the National Action Plan. The Working Group is convened by U.S Institute for Peace (USIP)’s Gender and Peacebuilding Center.
During the process of NAP development the U.S Civil Society Working Group produced 3 advocacy documents, including a 10 point action plan for the development of the NAP, a memorandum outlining 4 benchmarks against which actions can be evaluated to facilitate a NAP with concrete commitments, rather than intangible and vague aspirations.
The Civil Society Working Group is comprised of the following organizations:
WILPF-US participated in the development of the US NAP at several stages. WILPF-US advocated for a US NAP and once it was announced, WILPF-US published a comprehensive policy paper on the proposed NAP with key recommendations. The policy paper recommended a “human security” approach to the NAP, domestic application and the inclusion of civil society and grassroots women’s organizations. WILPF-US also conducted online survey, workshops and trainings.
WILPF-US convened civil society consultations in five cities (Detroit, Milwaukee, San Diego, Portland and Boston). The consultations were attended by representative of the US Department (from the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues) and saw involvement of local women’s groups as well as WILPF members. The consultations resulted in a report, which features 64 recommendations for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the U.S. NAP and were presented to US Government.
Like many other non-conflict affected nations, the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in the United States has been interpreted in a largely international way. However the feedback received through consultations undertaken by WILPF-US, indicated the strong desire within civil society for the NAP to have domestic application as well, and address the insecurity women face in the United States.
Those participating in the consultations, pointed to a range of issues, including erosion of gender machinery, the absence of physical security in many areas of the country, high rates of domestic violence, as well as issues such as sexual, slavery, forced prostitution and poor representation of women in public office. A summary of the recommendations included:
• Adopt a whole of government process.
• Adopt a transparent, accountable and inclusive process which ensures women from grassroots and marginalized communities are fully engaged.
• Establish a formal monitoring and review, body with equitable membership from women in civil society
• Establish quotas for women at all levels of decision-making, internationally and domestically, in elected and executive positions—including those related to peace and security.
• Reference international standards NAP, and urgently ratify CEDAW, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Rome Statute and other relevant UN treaties.
• Explicitly address the continuum of violence and to adopt a holistic perspective of peace based on equality, human rights, and human security for all, including the most marginalized, applied both domestically and internationally.
• Address accountability of private contractors and the U.S. government to international law.
• Implement a shift from military spending to an investment in human security and social safety nets
• Include comprehensive peace education in schools.
• Support a fully developed Department of Peace.
Despite strength of voice and common themes that emerged through these consultations, WILPF-US has stated that the finalized NAP falls far short in addressing the security threats identified by participants and fails, moreover, to incorporate their most pressing recommendations for conflict prevention. In particular the NAP has ignored women's concerns for domestic application and language on military spending and disarmament.