Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Resolution 1325 - 10th Anniversary


(Logo: Gunda Werner Institute, HBS)
After a decade of deafening silence around Resolution 1325, a flurry of activities has broken out to celebrate its 10th anniversary: New York, Brussels, Geneva, Vienna, Beirut and other attractive locations host international conferences. This year's 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence also plugs into the topic, with the theme "Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence against Women".
I picked the easiest option: a conference at the Boell Foundation, within walking distance from my home: "Overcoming Crises, Ending Armed Conflict - Men's and Women's Peace Policy Strategies". It was a pleasure to meet interesting women from women's, peace and development organisations, and a small handful of men involved in masculinity research, to share our indignation about the absence of a German government policy on the Resolution. Not that we would have done much about that in the last ten years - I hadn't even noticed Germany had not fulfilled its international obligations in that respect, as I was busy complaining about the absence of women's voices elsewhere...

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security urges States and the UN institutions to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in conflict prevention, management and resolution. It calls for (i) negotiating and implementing peace agreements with a gender perspective, (ii) gender sensitivity training for anyone involved in peacekeeping operations, and (iii) specific measures to prevent and punish sexual violence in situations of armed conflict. Find the full Resolution here. Commonly, its key aspects are summarised as the three "P's": participation, prevention and protection.

Most importantly, Resolution 1325 explicitly refers to the Geneva Conventions (1949), arguably one of the most respected pieces of international humanitarian law. This is where the Resolution belongs - into the mainstream of international law implementation. As long as it remains tucked away into the "ghetto" of women's movements, to put it a bit dramatically (and I know we're not a ghetto anymore... still...), it won't get anywhere. It doesn't have to be that way: I heard at the conference that in Serbia, the government institution in charge of implementing Resolution 1325 was the Ministry of Defense - not some resource-poor donor-driven short-lived Ministry of Gender. Apologies for sounding polemic!

Let's hope Resolution 1325, and the more recent ones that add extra precision (1820, 1888, 1889) will garner more attention and commitment in the coming decade and become part and parcel of established international law. Jan Egeland, former UN Undersecretary General, is reported to have said that no peace treaty should be accepted unless women signed on to it. "Which women?", somebody asked during the conference. "Which men?", one might be tempted to ask back.

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