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Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

An Inside Look At Women, Peace and Security


Photo by: Mariangela Bizzarri

On Friday, October 28, the UN Security Council met for its annual debate on Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. It was the 11th anniversary of the adoption of the resolution and the theme of this year’s debate was Women’s Participation and Role in Conflict Prevention and Mediation. We tweeted a few highlights from the morning session of the debate, but this important annual event deserves some additional consideration.

Since the passage of this resolution in 2000, there has been increased attention to women, peace and security issues by the international community as well as by the media. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize last month to three women peace activists (two from Liberia, one from Yemen) contributed further to this. The Nobel Committee’s announcement recalled Hillary Clinton’s comments at last year’s open debate, “…women’s participation in these activities is not a ‘nice thing to do’…Including women in the work of peace advances our national security interests, promotes political stability, economic growth and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

More than 50 Member States took part in the open debate in the temporary Security Council chamber on October 28. Most speakers detailed their countries’ achievements, welcomed the Secretary General’s report and congratulated the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Although some States had significant progress to report, many had only modest efforts to share. Eleven years on, the number of countries with National Action Plans remains low—only 32 are in place with just another 12 in progress. Resolution 1325 called for Member States to create National Action Plans to detail in specific, measurable ways the methods and resources they would use to implement the resolution. The U.S. is working now on its National Action Plan, which we hope will be released before the end of the year.

During the open debate, a few States delivered specific remarks on areas of special concern to the WRC. U.S. Ambassador Di Carlo noted the U.S. and other Member States’ efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence, and underlined the need for continued work in this area. Ambassador Sook of the Republic of Korea stressed the importance of addressing the needs of displaced women and girls, particularly in terms of their increased vulnerability to sexual and gender-based violence. Ambassador Kapambwe, President of the UN’s Economic and Social Council, called upon intergovernmental bodies to assist in providing women with war-related disabilities targeted support. Ambassador Borges of East Timor drew attention to the particular needs of women with disabilities and the need for a multi-sectoral approach to this issue. Finally, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Michelle Bachelet discussed instances of improved protection for women engaged in crucial livelihoods activities, such as gathering water and firewood.

Ms. Bachelet also acknowledged that significant work remains to be done. In presenting the Secretary General’s report, she highlighted its three key recommendations: more targeted action by the Council to build women’s engagement in conflict resolution and recovery; improved information be provided to the Council on women and peace and security issues; and Member States assuming more specific, aggressive action to move this agenda forward.

By undertaking meaningful steps to implement 1325’s “three Ps” —Prevention, Protection and Participation—Member States can lend greater integrity to peace processes and increase the likelihood that post-conflict reconstruction processes will succeed. We look forward to all Member States adopting and implementing National Action Plans to allow for consistent, coordinated approaches to this work. And we encourage State and non-State actors to pay particular attention to refugee and displaced women and girls and those with disabilities. By engaging those groups that are most often overlooked and marginalized, peace and security will become truly inclusive, and therefore sustainable.

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence