UNSC, Global Index Address Women, Peace and Security
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The UN Security Council held its annual debate on women, peace and security and on the implementation of Resolution 1325 (2000) on this topic, outlining progress and challenges ahead.

In advance of the UN Security Council debate, the Permanent Missions of Namibia, Colombia and Norway, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Peace Research Institute Oslo convened a high-level panel discussion to launch the Women, Peace and Security index.

The Index is structured around three dimensions of women’s well-being (inclusion, justice and security), will be updated every two years and will track progress ahead of the 2019 HLPF and the 20th anniversary of UNSC Resolution 1325 (2000) in 2020.

27 October 2017: During the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) annual debate on implementation of Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, participants underlined the need for accelerated action on the WPS agenda, called for more funding and urged improving monitoring of progress through data.

The UNSC debate on women, peace and security took place on 27 October 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The debate marked the 17th anniversary of the adoption of the UNSC Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. The Resolution calls for leadership and participation of women in maintaining and promoting peace and security.

During the debate, participants recognized that normative frameworks have been established and global awareness on the urgency of ending sexual atrocities and empowering women in conflict situations is growing, but said progress on the ground must be accelerated. Some expressed concern that budget cuts and mainstreamed mandates could result in reduced gender expertise in UN missions. Member States also called for ending violence against women, ensuring accountability for perpetrators and ensuring zero tolerance for sexual exploitation.

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet to the UN Secretary-General, speaking on his behalf, said the UN will strengthen the collection and analysis of gender statistics and encourage Member States to monitor gender equality indicators as part of their work to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Introducing the UN Secretary-General’s 2017 report on WPS (S/2017/861), she affirmed that women’s underrepresentation in the security sector increases their exposure to harm and undermines their potential in conflict prevention. She reported that only three percent of peacekeepers are women, and that the UN Secretary-General is encouraging troop-and police-contributing countries to increase the number of female uniformed personnel. She also informed that the UN Secretary-General is committed to promoting gender equality and to fully integrating the voice of women in conflict prevention; has put forward a plan to achieve gender parity in the UN; and the new Office of Counter-Terrorism is integrating a gender perspective.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women, said political marginalization of women is not only limited to peace talks, observing that only 17 countries have an elected a woman Head of State or Government, and the proportion of women parliamentarians in conflict and post-conflict countries has stagnated at 16 percent in the last two years. She reported that, compared to 2016, indicators tracked by UN Women show an overall decline in: women’s participation in UN-led peace processes; inclusion of gender-sensitive provisions in peace agreements; and consultation with women’s civil society organizations. She called on donors to continue supporting efforts on women’s empowerment, including the UN Peacebuilding Fund and the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, and highlighted the importance of ensuring gender-conscious funding for policies and programmes.

A peace agreement that includes women is 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years.

Michaëlle Jean, Secretary-General, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), reported that, over the last 25 years, there was only nine percent women’s participation in 30 major peace negotiations. Canada, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, said that women’s participation had a positive impact on the credibility and durability of peace agreements. According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), a peace agreement that includes women is 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years. Canada also called for further implementation of the women, peace and security agenda in UN peacekeeping, including in terms of women’s participation, gender expertise and mainstreaming into planning documents.

The African Union (AU) said the AU Peace and Security Council has endorsed the creation of a Network of African women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa) to provide a platform for advocacy, capacity-building and networking and to catalyze and mainstream women’s engagement in mediation in line with the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the SDGs. She noted that the AU Commission and UN-Women, with the support of Germany, have launched the African Women Leaders Network, adding that a recently signed ‘Joint UN-African Union Framework on Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security’ provides a window of opportunity to strengthen the women, peace and security agenda. She announced that the AU and the UNSC will hold an open session on ‘The role of women in preventing and countering violent extremism in Africa’ on 31 October 2017.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) reported that its new ‘Leaders against Intolerance and Violent Extremism’ project specifically includes women’s community leaders and young women and men.

Several countries shared national action on women, peace and security. Senegal said all international instruments have been integrated into his country’s policy frameworks, and more than 100 Senegalese women are now deployed in peacekeeping operations. Kenya noted that it is the top contributor of female officers to UN peacekeeping operations, providing 19 percent of total officers. He also reported that his Government: established an international peace support training centre; launched a national campaign to address gender based violence; reviewed its national information and communications technology (ICT) policy to include a gender dimension; established a toll-free gender “helpline;” and launched a national strategy to counter violent extremism by incorporating women into security and intelligence committees.

The EU said it remains committed to substantially increasing women’s participation in all aspects of peace and security, including political participation and leadership, and has progressed towards better gender balance in diplomatic services and field missions. Italy announced that it had founded a women’s mediation network to build regional capacity to address issues that cause violence and inequality. France said its 2015-2018 national action plan for women, peace and security was built on five pillars: participation; protection; fighting impunity; prevention; and promotion of the women, peace and security agenda. He said that women account for 15 percent of all French troops, a twofold increase since 1998.

Germany called for better efforts to connect implementation of the women, peace and security agenda with other initiatives, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Spain expressed concern that, in the context of the UN reform, the women, peace and security agenda could not be given the level of importance it deserves. Switzerland said human security, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are cornerstones of his country’s foreign policy, and announced that the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs recently launched its first comprehensive strategy on gender equality and women’s rights. The Czech Republic expressed concern that national action plans to implement the women, peace and security agenda have only been adopted by 68 UN Member States, and that most projects are small, short-term and financed through limited resources.

The US said the role of women in maintaining peace and security is critical, and called for moving from rhetoric to action, with more women needed in government and at the negotiating table. Japan informed it has increased its financial support to UN-Women and the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and has invested in human resource development and the education of women in displacement. Nepal explained that women have secured nearly half of the leadership positions in recent elections, and its Constitution requires that the President and Vice‑President represent different sexes or communities. Iraq reported an increase in the number of women in leadership positions in his country, and said his Government worked with the gender unit of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) to enhance women’s role in national reconciliation.

The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, said the comprehensive peace agreement in Colombia includes provisions that could bring radical changes to future peace processes around the world, including the explicit inclusion of a gender perspective as an international principle and the inclusion of an ‘Ethnic Chapter,’ which provides safeguards to ensure the protection and promotion of indigenous and Afro-descendant people’s rights from a gender, family and generational perspective.

In advance of the UNSC debate, the Permanent Missions of Namibia, Colombia and Norway, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) convened a high-level panel discussion to launch the Women, Peace and Security index (WPSI). The launch event took place on 26 October 2017 at UN Headquarters.

The WPSI is structured around three dimensions of women’s well-being: inclusion (economic, social and political); justice (formal laws and informal discrimination); and security at the family, community and social levels. The Index captures and quantifies these three dimensions through 11 indicators, and ranks 153 countries, covering more than 98 percent of the world’s population, along the three dimensions.

A report titled, ‘Tracking Sustainable Peace Through Inclusion, Justice and Security for Women: Women Peace and Security Index 2017/2018’, which introduces the Index, shows that few countries perform uniformly well across key indicators of inclusion, justice and security. Iceland ranks the highest on the WPS Index while Afghanistan and Syria are the bottom ranked countries. According to the report, 30 countries score in the top third for all three dimensions, with achievements in each dimension reinforcing progress more broadly. The report also notes that while there are clear regional patterns in performance, there are also major differences within regions, and the lowest scoring regions all have some countries whose score exceeds the global average. Such countries include Nepal in South Asia and Namibia, South Africa, Mauritius, Ghana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the report, the Index will be updated every two years, and will track progress ahead of the 2019 session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), and the 20th anniversary of UNSC Resolution 1325 (2000) in 2020. [DESA News on WPS Debate] [UN Press Release] [UN meeting coverage of WPS Debate] [Report of the UN Secretary-General on WPS] [UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000)] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on the 15th Anniversary of the Adoption of UNSC Resolution 1325 (2000)] [GIWPS WPS Index Webpage] [PRIO Webpage on WPS Index] [Publication: Tracking Sustainable Peace Through Inclusion, Justice and Security for Women: Women Peace and Security Index 2017/2018]

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