Rhetoric Wins the Day

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This 119 edition of PeaceWomen ENews features an editorial from Maria Butler, Project Director of PeaceWomen. This edition also includes featured women, peace and security news, events and resources from peacewomen.org, and a summary of the 10th Anniversary of SCR 1325 (October 2010).


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.

I will use this editorial to recap the activities that took place in New York for the 10-year review of the first landmark Security Council resolution on women, peace and security (SCR 1325).

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 years point. Importantly, the statement expressed support for taking forward the Secretary-General's 26 indicators (contained in the annex of the Secretary-General Report S/2010/498). 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 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.

PeaceWomen Team, Fall 2010

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.

The year 2010 marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Building on the commitments of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (adopted at the 4th World Conference on Women), the resolution acknowledged for the first time the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace building, and the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

In recognition of the important work being done by women and men around the world progressing this work, WILPF established the WILPF 1325 Literature Repository, an online resource, hosted on www.peacewomen.org.

Overwhelmed by the interest, a final 25 papers have been selected as the first additions to the WILPF Literature Repository. These papers reflect the critical analysis of progress and the challenges in this area with work from UN agencies, academia, civil society and local grass-roots organizations representing such geographical regions as Australia, DRC, and Bosnia Herzegovina.

NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security

Mapping Women, Peace and Security in the UN Security Council: Report of the NGOWG Monthly Action Points for 2009-2010

The NGOWG has launched its NGOWG Monthly Action Points report: “Mapping Women, Peace and Security in the UN Security Council.” The report includes an overview of the results of the first year of our MAP project, indicates where the Security Council has had success and where it still faces challenges in implementation of resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, and 1889, and provides suggestions on how the Council can better fulfill its mandate by incorporating Women, Peace and Security issues in its daily work.

Monthly Action Points (MAP) for the Security Council: November 2010

The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security has released the October November 2010 version of our Monthly Action Points (MAP) on Women, Peace and Security for the UN Security Council. The November MAP for which the United Kingdom has the presidency, the NGOWG provides recommendations on the thematic issue of Protection of Civilians, and the situation in Guinea, Myanmar, Sudan and Timor-Leste.

1325 Commitments

By Miruna Bucurescu, PeaceWomen

Did you know that PeaceWomen monitors Member States, UN, and Civil society actors' commitments on 1325? Did your representative make commitments? Was your delegation among the ones that committed to developing national actions plans on 1325? Hold them accountable by checking our commitments database.

During the Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, October 26th, 53 delegations mentioned SMART commitments (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.) Some examples of SMART Commitments include:

The United States of America

Civil Society Engagement | Financial

1. Looking ahead, I am pleased to announce two important steps the U.S. is taking to advance the goals of Resolution 1325. First, the United States will commit nearly $44 million to a set of initiatives designed to empower women


1. In addition to this new funding, our second step will be to develop our own National Action Plan to accelerate the implementation of Resolution 1325 across our government and with our partners in civil society.



1. As enshrined in its interim Constitution, Nepal is committed to setting aside 33 per cent of seats in Parliament for women. We are also committed to continuing an affirmative action policy in our civil service with a view to bringing women into the decision-making levels of the public sector. We are also committed to increasing women's participation in our army and police forces.

2. The Government of Nepal has adopted various measures to fight gender-related violence, establishing a toll-free hotline in the Office of the Prime Minister, a gender violence prevention fund, and gender violence control committees in every district in the country. We have also set up local peace committees in every district — empowered to address conflict at the local level and to mediate between conflicting parties — with at least 33 per cent participation by women. We are committed to establishing women's and children's service centres in police stations across the country for the expeditious investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender related violence cases.

Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, October 2010

As part of our Security Council Monitor initiative, PeaceWomen has extracted and organized the women, peace and security content of the most recent debate. The statements are available online, organized by Theme (e.g. Conflict Prevention, Indicators, Participation, etc) and by Country/Region.

As is customary, the Council reviewed the latest report by the Secretary-General on Women, Peace and Security, presented by Michelle Bachelet (her first appearance before the Council as head of the new entity, UN Women). Ninety speakers addressed the Council--including country (Security Council and non-Security Council members), UN , civil society, and regional organization representatives--on both the successes and shortcomings in implementing UNSCR 1325.

Upcoming Open Debates:

November 22: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

In Geneva, WILPF hosted the public discussion: "10 Years On: Conflict Prevention Mechanisms for UNSCR 1325" with the NGO Working Group on Peace and Femmes Africa Solidarité, and the Beneva Centre for Security Policy in Geneva. Within this discussion of prevention, Ms. Mary Robinson of the Ethical Globalization Initiative, Ms. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda of World YWCA, Ms. Elisabeth Rehn of the ICC, and Ms. Igballe Rugova of the Kosovo Women's Network discussed best policy and practices as well as women's participation in and access to prevention mechanisms. With an additional focus on protection, the WILPF Geneva office chaired a high-level consultation entitled "Women, Peace and Security: From Resolution to Action to the Protection Agenda Under SCR 1325/2000".

Aiming to broadcast "Stories from the ground" and connect them to policy and decision makers, WILPF's Stockholm office hosted the conference "Ten years with 1325 – What now?". Also seeking to engage the younger generation of stakeholders, Y-WILPF held a meeting in Stockholm to discuss themes of investing in peace and challenging militarism.

WILPF's PeaceWomen Project in New York City partnered with a number of other international organizations, and prepared a 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. PeaceWomen/WILPF also held a panel discussion on conflict prevention and participated in the panel discussion "From the Field to the UN Security Council". During the panel, project director Maria Butler introduced PeaceWomen/WILPF's latest publication "Women, Peace and Security Handbook ". See the Editorial for more details on WILPF's events in New York.

WILPF Campaign

The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is an international treaty and blueprint for improving women's lives. It's been ratified by 186 other countries – but not the United States. This Thursday, for the first time in eight years, the United States Senate will hold a hearing focused solely on the importance of ratifying CEDAW.

We already know that women's rights are human rights. What we need now is TAKE action to DEMAND action from our leaders in Washington. Hundreds of women's organizations across the country are urging the U.S. Senate to Ratify CEDAW now. WILPF is a member of the CEDAW Task Force of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and has worked on this issue for years. Click here to send a letter to your Senator urging action. Click here if you are in the D.C. area and can join the WILPF delegation at the hearing.