UN Security Council Resolution 1325
In this article, we shall discuss UN Security Council Resolution 1325, also referred to as Women, Peace, and Security. The UN resolution 1325 is an important one, particularly with regards to international women’s rights. We shall trace the origins of Security Council Resolution 135, discuss what it within the UN resolution, with particular attention to the importance of women in peace building and UN peacekeeping, and also the necessity to ensure full gender rights, with the document giving particular attention to ensuring the rights of women in violent conflicts. We will then also discuss the impact of Resolution 1325 years after its establishment in UN international human rights law.
The United Nations Security Resolution 1325 is viewed as one of the most important UN resolutions on women’s rights in recent years. As shall be discussed in greater detail below, “This resolution, with its four pillars of prevention, participation, protection, and peacebuilding and recovery, has become the focal point for galvanizing worldwide efforts to deal with the many challenges that women face in situations of conflict” (UN Women, 2015: 28).
What is UN Security Council Resolution 1325?
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 is a resolution that was adopted by the UN Security Council in 2000, in which it calls for, among other things, the reaffirmation of the role that women play in stopping and also resolving international conflicts, along with the importance of women in international peace building efforts. This resolution came about after the recognition that women suffer significantly during conflicts.
While resolution 1325 was passed in 2000, it comes after decades of human rights and women’s rights activism on issues of violence and security through the United Nations and international organizations before the UN. Whether it was the attention to ending conflict by women activists at the Hague in 1915, the formation of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in 1946, the more specific conversations on protecting women and children in conflict (in 1969), the passage of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1979, the “General Recommendation 19 in 1992, explaining the relevance of the Convention on obligations to prevent, investigate and punish violence against women” by the CEDAW Committee” (UN Women, 2015), the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 in which over 40,000 activists helped create the Beijing Platform for Action which addressed “Women in Armed Conflict,” there is a rich history of rights activism for the protection of women in conflict (UN Women, 2015).
The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 specifically speaks about equality between men and women in with regards to “participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in decision-making with regards to conflict prevention and resolution” (UN Security Council Resolution 1325, 2000). The Security Council Resolution 1325 also calls for continued usage of international human rights law, along with international humanitarian law to ensure that women’s rights are fully protected both prior to conflicts, as well as after conflict (UNSC, 2000).
Furthermore, the UNSC Resolution 1325 also stressed the importance of taking into account different gender perspectives when dealing with matters of international peacekeeping. Furthermore, on this issue, Resolution 1325 also calls for specific training for UN peacekeepers on matters on how to best protect the rights of women and also children in areas where a conflict is taking place. The UN resolution 1325 goes on to also stress “than an understanding of the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, effective institutional arrangements to guarantee their protection and full participation in the peace process can significantly contribute to the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security” (UNSC, 2000).
In terms of a UN action plan, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 calls for countries within the United Nations to not only increase the level of female participation within the various decision-making levels pertaining to issues of conflict and also international peace building, but UN resolution also stresses the need to have more women serve as envoys and as special representatives for these matters (UN, 2000).
UNSC resolution 1325 also calls for the UN Secretary-General to provide training for UN countries on matters of of women peace and security, women’s rights, and related issues regarding women and security. In order to ensure real change on matters of women, peace and security, it is imperative that these training sessions take place, particularly since that are known to have a positive effect on international peacekeeping and peace building.
As UN Women (2015) note during the 15th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace and Security) that “The experience of UN peacekeeping missions shows that uniformed female personnel are critical to gaining trust in communities and shaping peace operations to better respond to their protection needs. The study also compiles growing evidence that demonstrates how peace negotiations influenced by women are much more likely to end in agreement and to endure; in fact the chances of the agreement lasting 15 years goes up by as much as 35 per cent . We also have growing evidence that women are the best placed to detect early warning signs of radicalization in their families and communities, and act to prevent it” (20 percent for agreements respected over 2 years) (UN Women, 2016).
But, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 also urges that countries within the United Nations themselves also offer additional financial contributions, as well as more technical aid for these gender-based trainings. UN Resolution 1325 also calls on any and all actors in an armed conflict to ensure that international human rights of women are respected to the full level. This includes but is not limited to making sure that all actors of a armed conflict ensure that women and girls do not face any forms of gender-based violence.
Expansion of Rights in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325
While the UN Resolution 1325 clearly has outlined a serious of recommendations and calls in order to ensure the protection of women, and the role of women in peace building and peacekeeping, resolution 1325 has served as another foundation for the advancement of additional Security Council actions with regards to women, peace, and security issues. For example, from the initial calls of resolution 1325, “The Security Council has adopted four resolutions addressing the topic: 1820 (2009), 1888 (2009), 1960 (2010), and 2106 (2013). Among their achievements, these resolutions have required that UN peacekeepers receive training on how to prevent, recognize and respond to sexual violence;17 instructed that the UN sanctions regime should include those who commit sexual violence in conflict; and established the position of Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict” (UN Women, 2015: 30).
Moreover, other international bodies such as the International Criminal Court have also expanded their direct application of issues regarding women’s rights and security. For example, the ICC “codified and expanded previous understandings of crimes such as rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy and gender-based persecution…” (UN Women, 2015: 31). These issues have also been incorporated into additional treaties such as The Arms Trade Treaty in 2014 (dealing with weapons and the relation to gender-based violence). Regional human rights bodies such as the African Convention on Human and People’s Rights also speak about the need to stop violence against women and children (UN Women, 2015).
Following the UNSC resolution 1325, subsequent human rights resolutions also call for additional ways to increase the roles of women in peacekeeping, and also as leaders in working to stop conflict from arising. So, for example, “Resolution 1889 addresses women’s exclusion from peace building and the lack of attention to women’s needs in post-conflict recovery. Among its provisions, the resolution calls upon the Secretary-General to include gender advisors and women’s protection advisors in peacekeeping missions…” (UN Women, 2015). United Nations Security Council Resolution 1889 also calls for states to have a place for empowering women following conflict (UN Women, 2015). Along with UN resolution 1889, another UN Security Council Resolution, namely resolution 2122, also states that states must make sure that women are working with complete participation in a series of activities after conflict which “[include] elections; demobilization; disarmament and reintegration programs; and security sector and judicial reforms” (31).
These are not the only laws in place in which provide real attention to issues of women, peace, and security (see UN women, 2015). Another positive development for the protection of women’s security and the assurance of women involvement in peace-building and also in post conflict activities has been the implementation of these expectations in exiting human rights structures in the United Nations. For example, states a party to CEDAW are now provided with help on how to best assure that these issues are being realized.
The Impact of UN Security Council Resolution on Women’s Rights
Scholars and those in the human rights field have examined the impact that UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace and Security) has had on the rights of women and girls in conflict zones and situations. They have also examined whether states have acted upon the calls within UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and more specifically, whether countries have offered more support for the role of women in peacekeeping and peace building. In 2015, there was a review conducted on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. The report, entitled “Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace,” goes into detail on these issues of women, peace, and security, and examines changes that have taken place since 2000 on matters of women’s rights and participation within peace building and peacekeeping, and also discusses the issues of preventing gender-based violence.
There are a number of positive developments with regards to issues of gender, peace and security from UN Security Council Resolution 1325. For example, in a 2015 speech on women, peace, and security, Fegan-Wyles (2015) points out that from resolution 1325, a number of international security organizations have adopted the framework from the resolution in their activities on peace building.
Furthermore, matters pertaining to women, peace, and security has received additional attention at the United Nations, and also at the United Nations Security Council. The groups “Friends of WPS (coordinated by Canada) now [has] 50 members, with 49 countries having National Action Plans” (Fegan-Wyles, 2015). In addition, the United Nations Secretary General has given women’s rights, and issues of women, peace, and security serious attention throughout the United Nations international organization. This includes but is not limited to his women on setting up UN Women, along with appointment “a Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict” (in the year 2010) (Fegan-Wyles, 2015).
Furthermore, we have also seen the effects of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 into domestic and international peace agreements. For example, looking at peace agreements in the year 2014 alone, out of the 15 that were signed, over half of them (8) had specific gender provisions within them. This is an increase from just four years prior, where 2 out of the 9 peace agreements signed had such provisions written into the documents (Fegan-Wyles, 2015). In 2015, it has been noted that 70 percent of all peace agreements signed (7 out of 10) did have gender-based provisions included in the documents (UN Women, 2016). Thus, the trends now, compared to the past decades are remarkable. In fact, these recent figures are “a vast improvement compared against the analysis showing that only 73 out of 664 agreements produced between 1990 and 2000 included a reference to women . More security sector personnel are now trained to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, and more countries are implementing national action plans or related strategies” (UN Women, 2016).
There has also been an improvement on having women serve in peace building and peacekeeping roles, and also ensuring that civil society groups focused on women, peace, and security issues are heard at the United Nations.
Moreover, there has also been progress on the training sessions, as it pertains to better understanding issues of gender with regards to peace and conflict, but also training for women on issues of “Conflict Analysis, Mediation, and Negotiation” (Fegan-Wyles, 2015). For example, through UNITAR (in a program led by the United States), there is a three month training for African Union troops who are expected to serve as international peacekeepers (Fegan-Wyles, 2015). In addition, UN Security Council 1325 has allowed “[a]ll UN Peacekeeping missions [to] have Gender Advisory teams, and have established anti-sexual violence campaigns, including training for all military personnel, and the establishment of trust funds to assist the victims” (Fegan-Wyles, 2015).
Future of UN Security Council Resolution 1325
Still, despite the improvements that we have seen on issues of women, peace and security, there is still much more that needs to be done to ensure that women’s rights are of the utmost importance, and that women’s rights and gender issues are taking seriously in matters such as peace building, peacekeeping, and post-conflict reconstruction and development. As Mlambo-Ngcuka, who is the UN Women Executive Director (2015) notes, there is still so much more that the international community must do in order to ensure that what is called for in the UN Security Council 1325 is ensured. For example, Mlambo-Ngucka writes that” It is clear that we must strive for tangible changes for women affected by war and engage the grossly underused capacity of women to prevent those conflicts. Countries must do more to bring women to the peace table in all peace negotiations. Civil society and women’s movements have made extraordinary contributions to effective peace processes.”
She goes on to say that “We know that when civil society representatives are involved in peace agreements, the agreements are 64 per cent more likely to be successful and long-lasting. It is time to put a stop to the domination of peace processes by those who fight the wars while disqualifying those who stand for peace. It is time to stop the under-investment in gender equality. The percentage of aid to fragile states targeting gender equality as a main goal in peace and security interventions is only two per cent. Change requires bold steps, and it cannot happen without investment.”
For many women, any sort of justice for crimes committed has either been slow, or has not materialized whatsoever. Furthermore, there continues to be a gap between what UN Security Resolution 1325 calls for, and actual application of the demands. One of the other criticisms regarding the implementation of UN Security Resolution 1325 has revolved around the challenges (and inabilities, or an unwillingness) for actors to ensure that UN resolution 1325 is seriously applied at the local levels of society. It is imperative that any initiatives towards women, peace and security issues actually take into consideration what women in each context are calling for; this should not be an effort without real consideration for local demands (UN Women, 2015).
Still, there are many gaps between goals of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and tangible results of equality on women’s issues pertaining to conflict, peacebuilding and peacekeeping. For example, Troszczynska-Van Genderen, writing in 2015, noted that “In 32 years, from the beginning of the United Nations peacekeeping missions in 1957 until 1989, only 20 uniformed women served as UN peacekeepers23. In 1993, only around 1% of all uniformed UN peacekeeping personnel were women24. The first female police unit was deployed only in 2007.” However, arguably in part due to United Nations Resolution 1325 (among other UN women’s rights initiatives), there has been a rise in the number of female peacekeepers in recent years. For example) “in 2014, the number of female staff deployed in UN peacekeeping missions reached its highest level: female peacekeepers constituted 29% of the international civilians recruited for peacekeeping and political missions” (13).
The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 continues to serve as a foundation for changes towards improving the rights for peace and security for women. The international community is continuing to discuss the implementation of Resolution 1325. There are continued calls for full equality for women both in terms of human rights, peace, and security, and also for an equal role in peacekeeping and peace building operations.
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 References
Fegan-Wyles, S. (2015). 15 Years of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. Speech by Sally Fegan-Wyles. Executive Director, UNITAR. Wednesday 9 September 2015, 9:00am, Maison de la Paix, Geneva. Available Online: https://www.unitar.org/sites/default/files/uploads/women_peace_and_security-fegan-wyles-speech.pdf
Mlambo-Ngcuka, P. (2015). Turn words into action involving women in lasting peace. UN Women. 14 October 2015. Available Online: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2015/10/ed-oped—turn-words-into-action-involving-women-for-lasting-peace
Troszczynska-Van Genderen, W. (2015). Reforming the United Nations: State of Play, Ways Forward. European Parliament. Directorate-General for External Policies: Policy Department
United Nations Security Council (2000). UN Security Council Resolution 1325. 31 October 2000. Available Online: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1325(2000)
United Nations Women (2015). In Focus: 15 years of Security Council resolution 1325.
United Nations Women (2015). Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace: A Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325. Available Online: http://wps.unwomen.org/~/media/files/un%20women/wps/highlights/unw-global-study-1325-2015.pdf
United Nations Women (2016). Women at the forefront of peace building. UN Women. Available Online: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/women-peace-security