STATEMENT OF WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM UNITED STATES SECTION ON THE U.S. NATIONAL ACTION PLAN ON WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY
This Statement by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom–U.S. Section (WILPF U.S.) raises critical concerns and questions about the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (NAP) issued by President Barack Obama on December 19, 2011. After ten years of unrelenting activism towards this goal, WILPF U.S. acknowledges the Obama Administration’s effort to draft and launch the National Action Plan, which has the potential to be a milestone in advancing the role of women as agents of peace through U.S. policy.
Committed to holding our government accountable to the original spirit and intent of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (SCR 1325) on women, peace, and security, WILPF appreciates the Administration’s articulated goal of the NAP: “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.” However, while the U.S. NAP makes certain advances and provides an action plan more substantive than a mere gesture of goodwill, the questions it raises are more profound than the ones it answers.
WILPF U.S. questions; Is it possible for the U.S. NAP on Women, Peace and Security to make a substantive difference in the lives of women around the world, including women living in the U.S., when over $700 billion of our federal tax dollars are consumed by the military budget and armed interventions annually? Put simply, can we avoid diluting the transformative potential of the Women, Peace and Security agenda when ‘peace and security’ continue to be understood and acted upon through a framework of militarized security, as opposed to a human security or human rights approach?
Critical questions such as this arose during the five historic civil society consultations on the formulation of the NAP facilitated by WILPF U.S. in September and October 2011. The consultations were attended by nearly 400 women from over 60 different partner organizations, as well as representatives of the Department of State‘s Office of Women’s Global Issues, in Detroit, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; San Diego, California; Portland, Oregon; and Boston, Massachusetts. The participants offered input resulting in 64 concrete recommendations on protection; participation, prevention and process, and described their personal definitions for peace and security.
These unprecedented consultations called for a redefinition of America’s concepts of peace and security, especially in terms of women’s experience of conflict and violence. If entirely adopted and implemented, the recommendations would necessitate a doctrinal shift in foreign and military policy; a shift that firmly situates women’s equality and protection, at home and abroad, at the center of establishing long-term sustainable peace. In essence, consultation participants echoed what peace activists have repeatedly said: If you want to make war safe for women, end war; if you want to end war, bring women to the peace table.
In addition, we would like to highlight further areas where the current NAP needs development or remains silent:
For almost a century, WILPF has articulated the need to address the root causes of war and the necessity of women’s participation as being fundamental both to prevention and to ending armed conflict as a means of dispute resolution. A true and sustainable peace will only be achieved when our nations commit to goals of total disarmament, universal human rights, economic, justice and care for our planet; if clarified and implemented effectively, this National Action Plan can act as a powerful tool in achieving these aims.