Croatia has developed a National Acton Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the related resolutions, inclusive of the period 2011-2014.
Croatia is in a period of post-conflict transformation and reconciliation, following the 1991-1995 Serbo-Croatian war that followed the break up of Yugoslavia.
The NAP was developed by an interdepartmental Working Group coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration. Civil Society were invited to provide input into the drafted NAP, but had no representation in the Working Group.
Domestically, the NAP seeks to situate the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the related resolutions the context of broader efforts to mainstream gender, eradicate human trafficking and to support survivors of conflict. Internationally, the NAP also seeks mainstream gender in regard to women’s participation in peacekeeping and NATO operations.
The stated Objective of the NAP is to:
“support and monitor the implementation of resolution 1325 and related resolutions that are to be promoted on all levels – locally, through mitigating the effects of conflicts and crises and strengthening the gender awareness of the local population; nationally, as part of government programs; and internationally, through active involvement of the Republic of Croatia in the activities of international organizations engaging in the areas covered by the resolutions in question.”
Theme: Country Context
Croatia is in a period of post-conflict transformation and reconciliation, following the 1991-1995 Serbo-Croatian war that followed the break up of Yugoslavia. The conflict was characterized by gross human rights violations, including indiscriminate targeting of civilian areas, ethic cleansing and mass rape, which displaced approximately 260,000 Croatians and killed 14,000 people, more than 40 per cent of which were civilians.
The conflict had distinct gendered dimensions. The majority of those actively engaged and killed in hostilities where men. This has seen a sharp increase in the number of widows and women headed households, considerably increasing the economic and caring burdens of women. Sexualized violence was employed as an explicit weapon, and method of ethnic cleansing in Croatian occupied territories and Serbian detention camps.
The cultural legacies of violence against women remain a pervasive issue within Croatian as with the other former Yugoslav states. The militarization of public spaces and arrival of international peacekeeping forces lead to a significant increase in human trafficking and sexual slavery, which has affected women in Croatia and across Eastern Europe.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) became the first tribunal to prosecute war rape as a crime against humanity and has prosecuted members of the Croatian Army. Although the Croatian government has taken steps to strengthen legislative and judicial mechanisms to support prosecution of sexual and gender based violence, impunity persists, particularly for crimes committed by the Croatian Army during the conflict. Access to services and justice for victims of post-conflict sexual violence and human trafficking remains uneven.
During the communist period civil society was largely absent, however, human rights and humanitarian civil society groups emerged as in response to the heightened political instability in the 1990’s. Women and women’s organizations called for peaceful resolution to political tensions before the war, and following the outbreak of war, organized to support refugees, victims of rape, provide shelter, medical services and emergency supplies. In the post-conflict landscape, civil society are integral to grass roots peacebuilding, providing an oversight of formal peace processes and localization of UNSCR 1325.
Following independence, the representation of women in parliament dropped significantly after the removal of the communist gender quota system. Although women’s representation has increased, it remains below 25 per cent and there are no constitutional or legislative provisions to guarantee the representation of women in political office.
Women make up less than 16 per cent of employees in the Department of Defence and in the Armed Forces and police. Although women are employed on parity across the public service, this in concentrated at the lower echelons, decreasing significantly with seniority. In departments that are mandated with peace and security issues, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, women’s make up less than 5 per cent of staff above entry level.
The challenges of combating a legacy of violence against women, sexual slavery and human trafficking and improving women’s role and influence at all levels of decision making, has framed Croatia’s decision to implementation UNSCR 1325 and it’s related resolutions.
The Croatian National Action Plan is organized by four thematic areas, which are broken down into specific Objectives as follows:
Objective 1: Strengthening gender perspective through documents and participation in international activities for the implementation of resolution 1325 and related resolutions.
Objective 2: Integration of gender perspective in the education programs for the implementation of resolution 1325 and related resolutions.
Objective 1: Introduce gender balance in the activities of the security system.
Objective 2: Increasing the representation of women in decision-making activities and processes concerning security and peace building.
Objective 3: Implementation of the program of international development assistance for education about gender equality and the role of women in the protection of their rights and in the post-conflict recovery.
Protection and Post-Conflict Recovery
Objective 1: Promotion of the protection of the rights of women and girls – victims of gender-based violence in the areas of armed conflicts and after conflicts abroad.
Objective 2: Implementation of the protection of the rights of women and girls – war victims in the Republic of Croatia with a view to their post-conflict recovery.
Implementation and Monitoring
Objective 1: Improvement of cooperation in the implementation of resolution 1325 and related resolutions.
Objective 2: Supporting the implementation of resolution 1325 and related resolutions.
Each Objective contains a set of Measures (actions), which are linked to an Indicator, responsible actor, and a time-frame. For example, thematic area “Implementation and Monitoring” contains the following elements:
• Encourage experience exchange on the national level concerning the implementation of resolution 1325 and related resolutions
• Encourage experience exchange on international and regional levels concerning the implementation of resolution 1325 and related resolutions, and participate in the debates
• Cooperate with civil society organisations and religious organisations engaging in the provision of humanitarian and other aid in the implementation of resolution 1325 and related resolutions (conflict prevention, peace building, participation of women in peace negotiations), and report to the public about what has been done
• Working Group for drafting NAP is acting as the supervisory mechanism and meeting regularly on an annual basis
• Once a year, the Working Group submit a report to the Human Rights Commission of the Government of the Republic of Croatia about the implementation of the NAP measures
Each activity is attached to an Indicator that is qualitative only in nature. Time-frames are primarily ‘permanently’. Many of the measures are not concrete in nature, particularly in regard to participation which state ‘increase female participation’, without elaborating strategies to achieve this end, or representation benchmarks. There is no allocated or estimated budget included in the NAP.
The Croatian NAP does not include an allocated or estimated budget. No indicators or actions are included that formulate strategies for sourcing increased funding, detail what level of funding is required for which specific activities, or what accountability mechanisms will ensure funding is raised and used in implementing the NAP.
The interdepartmental Working Group established to develop the Croatian National Action will have an ongoing role in monitoring and evaluation and oversight of its implementation.
There is a monitoring and evaluation matrix included within the NAP, with each activity linked to a responsible actor, indicator and time-frame. All indicators are qualitative only and most time-frames are 'permanently'.
There is no provision for a formal ongoing role for Civil Society, although many of the NAP’s activities are to be implementation ‘in cooperation with Civil Society’.
The Working Group is required meet annually and prepare annual progress reports to be provided to the Human Rights Commission of the Government of the Republic of Croatia. It is not stated if these reports will be made publicly available.
The Croatian National Action Plan does not address disarmament issues, or connect the proliferation of weapons with women’s insecurity. The presence of unexploded ordinances is addressed in ‘Protection and Post Conflict Recovery’, with the inclusion of one measure as follows:
"Systematically point to the risk of land mines, cluster bombs and other explosive remnants of war because of their unacceptable effect, in humanitarian terms, on the civilian population, particularly on women and children."
Theme: Civil Society Actors
Civil Society were not involved in the interdepartmental Working Group during the National Action Plan's development and are not involved in this body which continues with supervisory and coordination functions.
Civil Society were invited to provide submissions to the draft NAP and are included throughout the NAPs text as partners in implementation.
During the communist period, civil society was largely absent, however human rights and humanitarian civil society groups emerged, during and after the war including women’s organizations. The Croatian Women’s Network was established in 1999, and includes a broad range of women’s rights, feminist and ant-militarization organizations, many of which are involved in localizing various aspects of UNSCR 1325 and the related resolutions. Centar za Åenske studije (Center for Women's Studies) and Women in Black have been active in promoting UNSCR 1325 and the inclusion of feminist, anti-militarization approaches to its implementation.