Peace is fragile and delicate in post conflict societies and the full recovery from the trauma caused needs time, commitment and patience. After fourteen years of armed conflict (1989-2003) Liberia has managed to establish a full functioning, democratic elected government that is highly committed to human development, equality, and sustainable peace. The only African nation that has a female head of state has proven its political will to move beyond and develop outstanding and gender friendly policies, among them a national action plan implementing Resolution 1325, which will be launched at the International Colloquium on Women's Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security in March 2009.1 Nonetheless, the country still faces the aftermath of its armed conflict which resulted in atrocities such as systematic rape, recruitment of child soldiers, and –as a result of these atrocities- the spreading of HIV. The international community and a large range of civil society organizations continues to support the challenges faced by the West African Nation in order to fully implement this new policy document that reflects the hope and ambition of Liberian policy makers.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security is one of the international mechanisms of international law2 that has become a vital rallying point for organizations and individuals around the world. Unanimously adopted in 2000, resolution 1325 was the first Security Council resolution to focus in detail on the negative experiences that women and girls face in conflict and calls for the need to include them into all levels of the peace process. Resolution 1325 also highlights the positive role that women can play in conflict prevention, peace negotiations, peacebuilding and postconflict recovery - in short, women's role as agents of change rather than as mere victims. The resolution embraces three core dimensions: participation of women in all levels of the peace process, protection of gender-based violence and prevention of armed conflict.
Following these central issues around women, peace and security the Security Council adopted Resolution 1820 on the 19th of June 2008 which directly addresses sexual violence committed against civilians. This resolution builds and is interlinked with Resolution 1325 and has been incorporated by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and is reflected in the Liberian National Action Plan (LNAP) on Women, Peace and Security. In order to put the obligations outlined in international mandates and legal documents into practice different methods have been adopted by different countries. One of the most comprehensive ways to do so is the development of national action plans that outline and coordinate different responsibilities, timelines, sources and outputs of the different actors involved.
In order to create ownership and accountability among those who aim to address issues around gender, peace and security an inclusive and participatory process is essential.
In collaboration with the international community and civil society organizations, the Johnson Sirleaf government has planned to implement Resolution 1325. This includes the promotion and the protection of human rights of all.
This background paper aims to give a short introduction to gender, peace and security issues in Liberia also in close relation to the action planning process that has been led by the Ministry of Gender and Development supported by the international community and civil society organisations.