Upholding the fundamental intent of UNSCR 1325 in the prevention of all conflict, National Action Plans (NAPs) must focus on the conflict prevention, including regulation of arms trade and disarmament to fully remedy violations of women’s human rights in conflict.
From our monitoring in PeaceWomen/WILPF, we have identified the integration of disarmament as a critical gap in National Action Plans. Most notably, the three major arms exporting countries with Action Plans - France, the UK, and the US - fail to address military spending and/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 41 existing NAPs, do contain references to the issue of small arms and light weapons.
Country: Bosnia Herzegovina
Bosnia Herzegovina has included language on disarmament within its NAP, with reference to the Beijing Platform for Action, and the issue of unexploded ordinances. The specific text is as follows:
“Beijing Declaration finds that it is necessary to embark upon extensive institutional changes to decrease military spending and enable a global promotion of human rights and non-violent conflict resolution.”
“The fact that large areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina remain contaminated by mines leads to reduced population mobility, undermined security of men and women and lesser opportunities for economic development, especially in rural areas.”
Although the ‘Introduction and Situational Analysis’ describes the factors facilitate the emergence of human-trafficking and sexual slavery, there is no reference to the militarization of society or the role of international peacekeeping forces in sexual exploitation.
There is an Objective area dedicated to unexploded ordinances (which is detailed in ‘Indicators’), but no actions relating to disarmament generally, or the link between arms and violence against women.
Country: European Union
In Challenges and Key Requirements, the RAP states, "the opportunity to include a gender perspective in Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) activities is often neglected rendering these programmes inaccessible to women."
The EU will pay specific attention to the needs of women and girl combatants and will seek to ensure that DDR processes are used as an opportunity to educate participants on sexual and gender-based violence.
OSCE structures, in cooperation with participating States, will "address the gender dimension of proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW)," seeing as "SALW proliferation exacerbates violence against women."
There is no mention of the strong connection between disarmament and women, peace and security agenda. Instead, the NATO/EAPC policy calls for defense reform efforts, including heightened participation of women in the national armed forces.
The need to disarm and dismantle armed rebel groups is broadly mentioned without reference to gender in Article 5.
Article 17 reiterates the importance of combating the proliferation of small arms and light weapons but, once gain, neglects to mention the acute link of disarmament to women, peace and security.
Previously, Ireland has been involved in small arms and light weapons (SALW) risk education and explosive remnants of war (ERW) initiatives. Building on this ongoing work, Ireland commits to supporting civil society projects and multilateral actions that incorporate gender guidelines and international best practice guidelines on Humanitarian Mine Action developed by United Nations Mine Action Service.
The NAP also includes objectives relating to gender sensitive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and Security sector reform.
The Philippine NAP is one of the few NAP's with language and actions relating to disarmament. The NAP commits to enacting and enforcing laws regulating possession of small arms by 2016 and delegates responsibility to Department of Foreign Affairs, the national police, FED, CHR, and PCW. Success will be evaluated by:
• Ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty and local legislation is passed
• The number of legislation on small arms
• the number of loose arms confiscated, surrendered and/or destroyed
• The number of individuals apprehended, prosecuted, and punished for illegally possessing small arms
By 2012, the NAP aims to enact and enforce strict qualifications for the issuance of license to carry arms and laws regulating possession of small arms. Success will be measured by the use of a system of arms registration that includes neuro exams, a seminar and orientation on human rights and women's rights for gun owners.
The NAP describes the context of small arms and light weapons in the Philippines as being fueled by warlords, aggravating the situation of violence, and facilitating "a vast spectrum of human rights violations, including killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence…and forced recruitment of children by armed groups or forces. Small arms are directly linked to women’s death, injuries, rape and forced displacement during conflict and post conflict situations. In the Philippines, women are intimidated, threatened, harmed and violated with the aid of small arms."
Although the executive summary specifies the need to include women in “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), and security sector reform (SSR) processes” the NAP does not comprehensively address disarmament issues or explicitly identify arms proliferation as a risk to national implementation of UNSCR 1325.
However, as a means to reduce trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation and incidents involving small arms, the NAP commits to training women living close to border areas to better identify and address issues related to small arms.
The introductory chapters of the NAP identify the domestic and regional proliferation and easy accessibility of arms, particularly Small and Light Weapons as contributing to Uganda’s experience of conflict, insecurity and violence against women.
The NAP also references Uganda’s arms control and disarmament commitments, namely; the Bamako Declaration on an African Common Position on Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking on Small Arms and Light Weapons (2000); the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons (2004).
The inclusion of disarmament language and actions are limited within the NAP's indicators, which includes one reference within Strategic Objective 5 to put “mechanisms in place to combat the problem of arms trafficking and illegal acquisition of arms”
The Belgian National Action Plan includes references to disarmament and the link between women’s insecurity and arms proliferation. Specifically the NAP refers its role in drafting the treaty to ban on cluster munitions, and its efforts to incorporate an explicit reference to the protection of women and children in the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of anti-Personnel Mines.
The specific references to disarmament are as follows:
• Continue fighting the use of landmines and cluster munitions, with specific focus on the impact of these weapons on women and children
• Promote a civil approach in disarmament and rehabilitation processes with regard to women who did not participate actively in the conflict. This means that preference is given to the expertise of international organizations or of international civil missions.
• Gender mainstreaming will remain a part of the Belgian policy regarding peace missions, e.g. in recruitment, education and training, regulations, directives etc., including DDR and SSR programmes
• In de-mining programmes plead to let local communities co-decide on which zones should be de-mined first. In this respect, women’s participation is of crucial importance.
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."
The Danish National Action Plan contains language and actions on disarmament primarily as relates mainstreaming gender and meeting the specific needs of women and girl combatants in Disarmament, De-mobilization and Reintegration activities. The NAP also includes activities to support Civil Society in de-mining programmes and to provide support and funding to United Nations Mine Action Service.
Specific actions on Disarmament, De-mobilization and Reintegration have been featured in the 'Indicators' section of Denmark's country summary.
The NAP does not address disarmament issues, or connect the proliferation of weapons with women’s insecurity.
The Finnish National Action Plan contains progressive language on the connection between gender inequality and armed conflict, however does not address the link between weapons proliferation and women’s insecurity. There are specific action in the field of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration and the need to address the specific needs of female combatants and include women in Security Sector Reform processes.
The Action Plan of Germany on the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 addresses the issue of disarmament in its text.
Germany sets four strategic "Targets" for its Action Plan. The fourth target maintains Germany's "Heightened and appropriate attention to the needs of women in the planning and carrying out of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities." This text is located on page 6 of the the NAP.
Located on page 14 of the NAP in the "Protection" section. "The Federal Government is working toward integrating a gender perspective into international efforts to curb the proliferation of small arms. Following the end of a conflict, small arms often remain available and affordable and increase the risk of both domestic and sexual violence. The Federal Government makes sure that its project work to combat illegal small arms also takes in consideration gender-specific issues, and in particular secures the involvement of women in the control of small arms."
Located on page 14 of the NAP in the "Protection" section. "Germany heads the, 'Group of Interested States in the Practical Disarmament Measures.' This group provides a forum for exchange through project work and political measures, with the aim of supporting implementation of the United Nations' Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, which regularly deals with gender-specific issues. The Federal Government examines projects dealing with the control of small arms with regard to their gender-based relevance, thereby underlying the significance of this aspect."