Member States have the power to implement the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in their countries. They can create National or Regional Action Plans to translate their international commitments into national policies. Member States can also make commitments for particular policies, or develop localised initiatives to translate words into an impact on the ground.
As of November 2017, there are 71 National Action Plans (NAPs) on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda. The following countries released their NAPs during 2017: Czech Republic, Montenegro, Brazil, Palestine, Nigeria, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Canada, Serbia, and Germany. Two member states (South Africa and Thailand) have also developed WPS implementation frameworks, which are not named National Action Plans; however, they serve the same purpose.
Despite this expansion of National Action Plans, key gaps remain in both the holistic approach and implementation. Lack of financial resources serves as a major barrier to the successful implementation of National Action Plans. In addition, conflict prevention is a critical, but a neglected, pillar of the WPS Agenda.
To ensure a holistic approach, National Action Plans should focus on conflict prevention - including regulation of the arms trade and disarmament - in order to uphold the conflict prevention intent of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. However, the three major arms exporting countries with Action Plans - France, the United Kingdom, and the United States - fail to specifically address military spending or arms and their impact on women in conflict and post-conflict countries and within their own borders.
Despite the notable gaps, a handful of the NAPs adopted to date do contain references to the issue of disarmament and small arms.
The German NAP identifies arms as a risk to women’s security. It encourages the intensified participation of women in disarmament and arms control issues in selected regions of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The NAP calls for integrating a gender perspective in planning and carrying out disarmament and arms control projects. It also calls for the continuation of measures to prevent the proliferation and combat the illegal trade of small arms, taking a gender perspective into account. Gender-specific issues are integrated, especially regarding women in small arms control. For example,
The Japanese NAP includes measures related to small arms. It considers the control of small arms with a gender perspective essential and establishes an indicator that informs the status of gender issues in dealing with small arms control. Furthermore, it aims to strengthen international regulations on the illegal trade of small arms incorporating the gender equality perspective, including the UN resolutions on small arms as well as the Arms Trade Treaty.
One of the main goals of the Argentinian NAP is to “include a gender perspective in all the peacebuilding activities and humanitarian aid missions, including DDR activities” and, one of the actions established to fulfill this goal is to offer capacity-building to the deployed personnel in peace missions on DDR from a gender perspective.
A holistic approach that addresses the root causes of conflict in militarised gender inequality is critical to effectively preventing conflict and promoting gender equality and peace.