On Tuesday 21 May 2013, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) – Brussels organised a conference on “Gender, violence and war: how successful has the international community been at integrating the role of women into peace and security policy”. It presented an opportunity to come back to the landmark United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325.
Adopted on 31 October 2000, this resolution is the first recognising the impact of armed conflicts on women and the first highlighting the fact that women have a central role to play in peace processes, from early conflict prevention to post-conflict reconstruction, in order to maintain and promote peace and security. Concretely, Resolution 1325 calls upon the United Nations and Member States to ensure an increased representation of women at all decision-making levels. Furthermore, the resolution insists on the importance to incorporate a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations and to involve women in all peacekeeping and peacebuilding measures.
In twelve years, the need to associate women in decision-making processes has been largely recognised on the international stage and some relevant initiatives have led to concrete efforts. For instance, a leading organisation has been set up: the “UN Women”. The number of women officers deployed in peacebuilding operations as well as the number of gender experts have increased. Similarly, 30% of women are currently associated to peace negotiations, against 5% previously. The appointment of Mary Robinson, in March 2013, as the first female UN Special Envoy is also highly symbolic.
However, as Simon Tordjman, Policy Analyst, UN Women Brussels Office recalled: “The system has not changed; the peacebuilding process is the same”. Therefore, many efforts remain to be made in order to fully involve women in decision-making processes.
Resolution 1325 and following UNSC Resolutions on gender issues require special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence in times of armed conflict and emphasise the responsibility of all states to put an end to impunity and to prosecute perpetrators of violence. However, results are largely unsatisfactory. Giji Gya, Gender Expert at The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) insisted, during the conference, on the reality of trafficking and organised crimes, especially those having a sexual dimension, and she underlined the necessity to stop impunity.
Resolution 1325 is undoubtedly an honorable theory, but a theory is nothing if it is not to be implemented. All participants agreed on one point: it is necessary to go beyond the traditional split male / female; this issue is so important that women and men shall join forces.