Monday, May 16, 2016

Six Months after the Global Study: from a Politics of Fear to Solidarity and Justice

By Abigail Ruane

(Photo: David Lagerlöf)

It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since WILPF mobilised 1,000 activists from 80 countries at our centennial peace summit around women’s power to stop war. It’s hard to believe it is also now half a year since the launch of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) Global Study. Six months to a year on – where are we now, and how can we take action to move forward?

The political climate around the world right now would be almost absurdly comical if it were not terrifying. In the United States, the purportedly premier global superpower, the Republican party presidential nominee is now officially Donald Trump – who has openly supported torture, called immigrants “rapists,” and stated that women should be “punished” for having abortions. In the Philippines, the president-elect is Rodrigo Duterte, who has openly supported death squads and shoot-to-kill orders and in Europe, the refugee crisis is stoking anti-Muslim sentiment and the closing of borders.

Misogyny, xenophobia, and fascism are running rampant. Public affairs has started to feel like the world is a giant schoolyard with administrators who may have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, but certainly are not taking any action to implement it. Meanwhile, bullies manipulate bystanders into stepping aside rather than standing in solidarity against violence.  

The Lord of the Flies is not a world we can live in. And it is not the only way.

In Myanmar, activists are standing up to defend the indigenous Rohingya population despite sidelining of this issue by authorities. In Iraq, activists are supporting displaced and refugee populations, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, in solidarity for all. In Sweden, activists are facing down white supremacists and standing up for politics of inclusion and justice.  

These actions – which may seem small in such global climate of fear – are key to stopping what peace activists have called “the iron lung of militarism” and creating alternatives to fear for peace and gender justice.

But non-violent action requires solidarity for impact. So, to move beyond a politics of fear, we must all find ways to act in solidarity to uphold the rights of those most marginalised in all ways we have at our disposal.

As we reflect on the three peace and security reviews at the UN conducted this year, including on UNSCR 1325 and the Women, Peace and Security agenda, solidarity requires taking action on gender issues as a perennially neglected priority. It means making and delivering on strong committments for gender equality and peace at next week's World Humanitarian Summit. It means rejecting creeping militarism and demanding equal protection from forced conscription for men, women, and gender-queer people. It means addressing indigenous issues from a gender and disarmament perspective. And it means bringing an intersectional gender perspective that addresses a wide range of marginalised experiences in the WPS agenda more generally.

Six months on from the Global Study, the evidence base remains firm, but the rising politics of fear requires solidarity for change. Together, we can overcome.

How will you be an ally?

Inside the High-Level Thematic Debate on Peace and Security

By Marina Kumskova, Grace Jennings-Edquist, Marta Bautista, Nela Abey, and Lyna Zaim

Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee at the High-Level Thematic Debate on 10 May. (Photo: United Nations)

On May 10-11, 2016, a High-Level Thematic Debate of the UN General Assembly took place at United Nations headquarters in New York. The debate, organised by  President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft, focused on UN, Peace and Security. It built on the common trends and synergies from the most recent UN peace and security reviews, including the recent review of UN Peace Operations, the Peacebuilding Architecture Review and the Global Study on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

The event brought together the representatives of Member States, observers, UN entities, civil society, research institutions with global and regional reach, media, and other stakeholders to discuss the ways to implement the ambitious and wide-ranging 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, gave a memorable keynote speech in which she spoke powerfully about the need for increased funding and attention for peace processes, reminding the General Assembly that peace is not an event that magically occurs; rather it is a collaborative process between nations and stakeholders. She also appealed to the General Assembly to respond to threats to peace using non-violent solutions, rather than militarism. "We made the mistake of trying to fight fire with fire," she said.

She also quoted the Dalai Lama, who once said: "The only way to achieve lasting peace is through mutual trust, respect, love, and kindness."  Speakers noted that as the international community revitalises the entire UN peace and security approach, it must ensure that a gender equality perspective is incorporated into that overall approach and that women are more involved in both preventing and resolving conflicts.

For more detailed analysis of the debate, please visit the PeaceWomen page

Member States’ Approach to Conflict Prevention and Resolution

By Marina Kumskova

Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefs the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Yemen. (Photo: United Nations)

During its presidency of the Security Council in April, three open debates addressing counter-terrorism worldwide, the situation in the Middle East and the piracy in the Gulf of Guinea was organised by China. Disappointingly, all three  were characterised by the lack of speakers’ attention to the issues of Women, Peace and Security (WPS). Few speakers attempted to encourage the international community to include women’s perspectives in peace processes and take into consideration women’s role while addressing the root causes of conflicts. Most often, women were represented as victims of violence in need of protection.

On 18 April, under the Chinese presidency, the Security Council held a ministerial-level open debate under the theme, "The Situation in the Middle East,” with special focus on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Syrian Arab Republic. Solutions proposed to the ongoing crisis in the Middle East included the commitment of all parties to the peaceful resolution of conflicts and proper implementation of the respective SC Resolutions. However, despite the significant work that has been done by female activists in Syria, Palestine and Yemen, among others, to persuade Member States to include women in peace negotiations, only ten speakers (20%) used specific, gendered language during the debate.

Even less attention to the gender issues was expressed during the open debate, "Peace Consolidation in West Africa: piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea" on 25 April. The role of women’s participation in addressing the issues of piracy and armed robbery was put aside in the discussion, even though women have been recognised by the Council as key actors in addressing the same root causes of others crises in the African region, including the lack of political will, poverty and economic instability.

The complete analysis of April debates is featured on our Debate Watch page.

Kenya, South Sudan, Sweden, and Timor Leste Announce National Action Plans

By Joanna Lockspeiser and Grace Jennings-Edquist

International Women’s Day event launching the Kenyan NAP (Photo: Embassy of Finland Nairobi)

A series of new National Action Plans (NAPs) have been launched on UNSCR 1325 and the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Kenya launched its first NAP 8 March and Sweden launched its third NAP 11 May. South Sudan and Timor-Leste both also announced approved NAPs that have not yet been publicly released.

The development of National Action Plans is one tool for translating international commitments into local ation. In the context of Kenya, the NAP comes at an important time for this vibrant but troubled country. The proliferation of small arms remains a significant problem with gender discrimination curtailing women’s political participation, with one survey finding that 32% of girls had experienced sexual violence before adulthood. This is one part of broader issues of violence, including around election-related conflict, as well as terrorist-associated violence such as the Al Shabab 2013 Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and the 2015 attack on Garissa University College.

The formal title of Kenya’s first National Action Plan (NAP) on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) is: “To involve women is to sustain peace.” The NAP, launched March 8th on International Women’s Day this year, addresses all four pillars of UNSCR 1325 and specifically recognises that civil society “can and will play an important role in implementing” the resolution.

Read PeaceWomen’s full analysis of the Kenya NAP here.

Stay tuned for analysis of Sweden’s NAP here and for future analyses of South Sudan and Timor-Leste’s NAPs.

Gun Violence: An Ongoing Challenge to the Women, Peace and Security Agenda

By Grace Jennings-Edquist

A fighter of the pro-government Ras Kimboni Brigade with a belt-fed machine gun in Somalia, October 2012 (Photo: Albany Associates/Flikr Creative Commons)

The Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence during 1-8 May provided a valuable opportunity to reflect on the international community’s progress on conflict prevention as it relates to the WPS Agenda.

As the Global Study on UNSCR 1325 found last year, action on conflict prevention, including demilitarisation, must be prioritised if the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 is to be effectively implemented. Many member states that purport to be “friends” of the WPS Agenda continue to invest in militarism and arms. However, arms are integrally tied up with violent masculinities, sexual and gender based violence, and normalisation of force as a method of dispute resolution. Counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism efforts which are gender blind also threaten to blindly continue militarised approaches to state security, while putting at risk women’s human security and peace.

A holistic understanding of conflict prevention includes strengthening small arms controls; further preventing SGBV by harmonising firearms laws with other national laws; and incorporating means to prevent the diversion of legal arms into the illicit market. It also requires seeking constructive alternatives to preventing terrorism and violent extremism. It is time to re-think failed approaches, listen to women, and take action for peace.

You can read the full blog post here.

Introducing Chapter 5 of the Global Study: Towards an Era of Transformative Justice

By Nela Abey

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Liberia in March 2016. (Photo: United Nations)

Chapter five of the Global Study on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 addresses transformative justice; that is, the provision of justice that focuses not just on particular violations but also underlying inequalities that women and girls face in conflict, which leaves them vulnerable to human rights violations.

The chapter demonstrates that there must be a focus on reparations for victims equal to  the focus given to perpetrators in courts on inquiry. However, informal justice systems that aim at delivering equal rights for women and girls remains under-serviced and under-resourced.

Facts and Figures:

  • Women tend to be less informed and report lower levels of access to both formal and traditional justice mechanisms than men;
  • Charges for gender-based crimes have been brought in 6 of the 9 situations under investigation by the ICC, and in 14 out of 19 cases. But in the three verdicts issued so far, there have been no convictions for gender-based crimes;
  • Increasing the number of women judges and other front-line justice officials can create more conducive environments for women in courts, and make a difference to outcomes in sexual violence cases.

Key recommendations:

  • Adopt a transformative justice approach when programming for women’s access to justice;
  • Invest in strengthening national justice systems to investigate and prosecute international crimes, including Sexual and Gender-Based Violence;
  • Integrate a gender perspective in all steps of the work of a Commission of Inquiry/Fact Finding Mission including preparation, investigation, analysis and reporting; and
  • Support increasing the participation of women at all levels in justice service delivery, through measures that can include quotas and support to women’s legal education.

For more information, see UN Women’s Global Study Factsheets or the entire Global Study on Women, Peace and Security.