By: Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, FemLINKPACIFIC/GPPAC Pacific
Photo by: Evan Roberts, Author: Sharon Bhagwan Rolls
According to the Report, “Candid Voices from the Field: Obstacles to a Transformative Women, Peace and Security Agenda and to Women’s Meaningful Participation in Building Peace and Security,”[i] UNSCR 1325 and its sister resolutions have become “renowned for being the most advocated and least implemented set of resolutions.”
This is hardly a resounding endorsement for the capacity of a global policy instrument meant to change the lives of some of the most marginalised and critical actors working to build sustainable, peaceful and secure communities.
Unfortunately, this is the reality in Pacific Island countries and territories where despite women and young women’s productive efforts our participation in formal conflict prevention and management and post-conflict recovery efforts, as well as oversight and accountability mechanisms for the security sector is still not fully realised.
Women still struggle to be heard at the negotiating table in leadership roles and are not given sufficient recognition and resources to do their work. Women’s voices – whether individual or collective – continue to be fundamental to advancing women’s rights at national and international levels.
The 15th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 came at a time when there is growing recognition to the changing nature of conflict and for our Pacific region, as women have been communicating that we still need to address the root causes of our region’s political fragility and insecurity and the interconnections between natural disasters, humanitarian crises and conflicts.
Women, of course have proven for more than 15 years that we are not simply vulnerable to these crises but have demonstrated leadership that must be integrated into political processes. In the Pacific this year, we convened a Pacific Civil Society Forum on Peace and Human Security, enabling peace builders to provide input for the global study.
No wonder Radhika Coomaraswamy has said “Peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding is not about men speaking to men with male facilitators but there is a radical change needed to ensure not only the inclusion of women but an investment in the leadership of women in both formal and informal processes.”
Coomaraswamy of course authored the report Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace: A Global Study on the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, commissioned by the UN Secretary-General in preparation for the 15th anniversary review.
The recommendations of the Global Study are reflected in those that have been identified and refined by Pacific women through FemLINKPACIFIC and GPPAC Pacific networks during the past 15 years and we now need to hear more than just affirmations of state-centric security. We must now reassert the need for a feminist lens on the Peace and Security agenda – from the local to global.
Our regional media and policy network on UNSCR1325 has consistently been communicating the need to transform notions of security particularly to ensure strategies are inclusive of women’s human security priorities. Through community radio and television broadcasts and a range of media initiatives we have localized the resolutions to make the connection with human rights, peace, human security and development as a regional network of communicators and peace builders. One of the key messages from FemLINKPACIFIC has been that we need to enhance efforts on Participation for Preventive Action.
We need a human security approach where women have an equal role in developing solutions to the interdependent threats we face. For us the Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (2012-2015) provided the framework for ensuring the inclusion of women, particularly as part of civilian oversight, participation and ownership of the security sector and reform processes.
Ensuring peace and human security for us is about transforming spaces and processes for women’s equal participation – in all our diversities; it is about environment security – from the negative impact of extractive industries to intensifying natural disasters and the impact of climate change on food and nutrition security; it is about ensuring that we have a police force that is resourced and responsive to us.
The Global study has highlighted that despite the successes, obstacles and challenges still persist and prevent the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325.
The adoption of a Pacific Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (2012 – 2015) has been recognised as a key regional mechanism to support the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights in the Pacific region particularly to enable women to be equal participants with member states, UN agencies and regional inter-governmental organisations – It is part of a legacy of women’s peace activism, which brought voice and attention to the need for a nuclear free and independent Pacific Island region.
But as we found, clearly having a plan is not enough. And if women are not resourced and supported we cannot make our plans work for us. The Women, Peace and Security agenda must continue to evolve so that it does not become out-dated in the face of new and emerging threats, as well as the exacerbation of older problems.
This means accountability to women’s human rights, conflict prevention and human security within the regional inter-governmental peacebuilding architecture as well as financial and technical support so that we can continue to engage and collaborate with civil society partners and allies working on peace and security.
Women’s voices – whether individual or collective – continue to be fundamental to advancing women’s rights at national and international levels. The use of new and traditional media technology is key to amplify our notions of Peace. The next phase of implementation of UNSCR1325 should not be about simply making the linkages between the participation of women in peace processes and sustainable peace.
This requires ensuring resources for women’s action to enable us to take the necessary bold steps at the regional and national levels to define the Peace, which includes an end to increased militarism and militarisation.
With the last 15 years we have not seen a real effort to bring about the shift from reaction to prevention and place more emphasis on women's leadership - women of all diversities and ensuring young women's active participation in prevention, through inclusive communication, dialogue and mediating roles, peace education to address root causes.
It is about national and regional security structures responding to human security issues including women's definitions of peace. This is where the resources are needed - early warnings systems, prevention of conflict mechanisms, and imaginative, non-violent methods for the protection of civilians.
A global alliance of activists, service providers, advocates, feminist academics, researchers, policy and political analysts can contribute to revitalisation of strategies. This should include actions to build policy coherence on the peace and stability goal with the Sustainable Development Goals to enhance action on the WPS Agenda.
The new Sustainable Development Agenda and the Recommendations from the High Level review of UNSCR 1325 must be used to address the inadequacy of the existing WPS agenda and to address the structural factors that perpetuate inequality, insecurity and the exclusion of women’s meaningful participation and leadership in peace, security and development.
None of this is possible without dedicated funding for WPS work at international and national levels to support local actors as leaders of social change, and organisational support to increase women’s participation at the grassroots.
This should also include non-programmatic funding including investing in new and ground-breaking approaches to peace and security including ways to support work on conflict prevention, alternative masculinities, inclusive security and active nonviolence.
For our Pacific region the nexus between peace and development including recognizing the impact of climate change and environment insecurities as drivers of conflict are critical. We cannot stress enough the need to ensure the shift from reaction to prevention and place more emphasis on prevention, on dialogue and addressing root causes.
[i] (GPPAC, Cordaid, WPP - October 2015)