October 2010 marked the 10th Anniversary of the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The occasion of the 10th Anniversary was both a commemoration of the historic achievements that have been made and an invaluable opportunity to assess the effectiveness of implementation to date. Under the Security Council Presidency of Uganda in October 2010, the Security Council held the Open Debate.
The months surrounding the anniversary, both before and after, were critical for creative initiatives and action relating to the implementation of the then four women, peace and security resolutions (SCR 1325, 1820, 1888 and 1889). Throughout 2010 and in the build-up to the anniversary, PeaceWomen and our partners in the NGO Working Group advocated for concrete action and accountability.
In addition to the Security Council Open Debate, the 10th anniversary included the Call to Commitments initiative, with advancements on global indicators and UN framework, a civil society Peace Fair, convening of high-level special advisory groups (UN and civil society); the first ever UN open days in peacekeeping and political missions; and numerous other activities, analysis and work.
Open Debate Summary and Analysis
The summary, statements and outcome document of the 26 October 2010 Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security (10th anniversary of SCR 1325) can be found under PeaceWomen Security Council Monitor.
This editorial was written by Maria Butler, PeaceWomen Director, recapping the activities that took place in New York and beyond for the 10-year review of the first landmark Security Council resolution on Women, Peace and Security (SCR 1325).
The 10th anniversary of resolution 1325 has come and gone. It served a time for reflection on past shortcomings and planning. We - the women, peace and security community, women’s organizations and peace activists - are reorganizing, reenergizing and realigning our sails to move the agenda forward.
The Security Council held its annual Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security on October 26. On the morning of the Debate, I joined in the “women’s walk” from the Peace Fair to the UN. I felt a genuine sense of solidarity among the participating women and men from different parts of the world, and it reminded all interested parties that this resolution was and remains, a powerful civil society text. The many references to civil society activities during the Debate honoured the local and global voices that walked together 10 years ago, and for many that have worked on these issues for decades before the Security Council took action on October 31, 2000. Our organisation, WILPF, has been committed to empowering women to end war and socioeconomic and gender inequalities for 95 years. See a glimpse of the activities through photographs of the walk on PeaceWomen’s Facebook page (taken by Michelle Reyf). Civil society representative Thelma Awori made a powerful statement in the Council chamber, urging the UN body to “be bold”, to move to a “decade of action”, and to keep civil society at the forefront of the movement. Resounding and sustained applause, unique to her presentation, from the packed civil society gallery (including WILPFers, former Irish President Mary Robinson, and former Bangladeshi Ambassador Chowdhury) made our presence known to the Council, diplomats and entourages below.
Expectations were high going into the day; we were looking for a strong outcome document from the UN’s body with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and firm commitments from Member States. The closed negotiation of the fifteen-member Security Council resulted in the adoption of the Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2010/22)(a non-binding political statement), which reiterated the Council’s position and intentions on women, peace and security at this 10 year point. Importantly, the statement expressed support for taking forward the Secretary-General’s 26 indicators (contained in the annex of the Report). They were not expressly “endorsed” as was both recommended in the Secretary-General Report and strongly called for at the Arria Formula (Civil society briefing to Council Members held on 19 October 2010). A product of political compromise, such lukewarm language reminds us that full support for moving the Women, Peace and Security agenda can never be assured even with sustained pressure. Nevertheless the adopted statement is sufficient for the UN and relevant actors to operationalize the Security-General’s proposed indicators. (See PeaceWomen Security Council Monitor for further details and background on the Indicators).
Ninety speakers made statements in the Council, which certainly suggests the importance of this thematic agenda item to the membership of the UN. However, the statements fell short on our second expectation: actual commitments. Despite the explicit call on Member States to articulate forward-looking, time-bound, and measurable commitments to implementing SCR 1325, most failed to reach these benchmarks. I am not sure if they didn’t understand the concept, but many Member States simply referred to their ‘commitment’ to 1325 or made allusions to national ownership, without revealing their “what-when-how” plans for implementation. Rather than seizing the opportunity to move beyond the realm of rhetoric, most missed the moment. After analyzing all ninety statements as part of PeaceWomen’s Debate Watch, noteworthy pledges include commitments by Uganda, Austria, US, Norway, Finland and Nepal. See the commitment database online.
Secretary of State Clinton surprised us with the launch of the US National Action Plan process - an initiative that has generally seemed off the table for Washington. Of course, we all await the details for what needs to be a transparent, inclusive and comprehensive process. We must also note the twenty-one other Member States committed to establishing or furthering national and gender action plans (including Belgium, Ghana, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Nigeria, Kenya, New Zealand). Further details of the debate, statements and analysis are available on PeaceWomen’s Security Council Monitor: Debate Watch.
The build-up to Open Debate and the anniversary was significant with numerous international, regional and national events. In New York, the UN held the Global Open Day on Women, Peace and Security, showcasing the results of the 27 Open Day events that took place around the world. Civil society presented UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was presented with the report Women Count for Peace: The 2010 Open Days on Women, Peace and Security and the Say NO to Sexual Violence against Women in Conflict petition, signed by more than 21,000 people around the world (21 October 2010).
PeaceWomen/WILPF partnered with a number of other international organizations, and prepared a truly inspiring and participatory, Peace Fair from October 25-October 29, with over 20 events and panels. The focus was on lessons learned and what still remains to be accomplished. Rather than using a framework of ‘making war safe for women,’ the Peace Fair called for full implementation of 1325 as an anti-war, political resolution that showed how more women in decision making, preventing war, and promoting peace was the best way to protect women and men. To this end, PeaceWomen/WILPF held a panel discussion on conflict prevention, with Annie Matundu Mbambi (Chair of WILPF-DRC), Theresa deLangis (WILPF-US worked in Afghanistan for UN) and Madeleine Rees (WILPF Secretary-General) on October 28th. At the PeaceFair closing, Amb. Chowdhury sincerely remarked that the Peace Fair was the most excellent and robust civil society events celebrating the 10th anniversary of 1325.
We, at the PeaceWomen Project/WILPF, also launched the Women, Peace and Security Handbook on October 21st. The Handbook is an analysis of how the Security Council's country resolutions (2000 to 2010) have reflected the language and intent of SCR 1325. I was very proud of the two mentions of our project, PeaceWomen, in the Security Council chamber and especially when the Swiss Ambassador urged participants to use the Handbook. Also see mention of the Handbook in the article on Opendemocracy.
PeaceWomen/WILPF also supported and collaborated on 2 other publications: the case-study book "Promoting Women’s Participation in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies-Global Action to Prevent War", written in coordination with Global Action to Prevent War and the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security and as a member of the Working Group, PeaceWomen/WILPF also partnered on the 2009-2010 Monthly Action Points Report.
With the adoption of a set of indicators for SCR 1325 as the main policy outcome and the underwhelming Member State commitments, October 26, 2010 fell in place with the first decade of SCR 1325, what CSAG’s Thelma Awori described as “years of preparation, of building awareness and putting in place the structures and the tools”. The PeaceWomen Project of WILPF faces this so-called forthcoming “Decade of Action” with tools for monitoring the UN and UN Member States. We will follow up on both the commitments that missed and met our expectations, those that moved beyond and those that reinforced existing rhetoric.
By Maria Butler
PeaceWomen Project Director