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Women essential to peace says UN

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women in peace negotiations vital, UN resolutionNew measures highlight increasing global recognition of roles women play in conflict resolution.

Resolution 2122 is the seventh text passed by the United Nations (UN) over the last 13 years that addresses the ‘participation aspects’ of women in the international peace and security agenda.

This reflects a growing determination that the vital roles women play in conflict prevention and resolution are no longer ignored.

The resolution explicitly links gender equality with international peace and security and calls on Member States to fund and support work that develops women’s leadership, for ‘full participation in all levels of decision-making.’

‘Sustainable peace requires an integrated approach based on coherence between political, security, development, human rights, including gender equality, and rule of law and justice activities.’

Hailed by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) as a high water mark in Women, Peace and Security commitments, the UN Security Council’s unanimous adoption of the resolution aims ‘to change the business as usual approach’ of conflict resolution and peace building.

The UN itself recognised the need for improvement in its own work; Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, welcomed ‘calls for concrete actions to increase the number of women involved in peacemaking [as well as] to improve the way in which the Council and other entities address gender issues.’

That intent was emphasised by the point in the resolution announcing the UN’s plans ‘to increase its attention to women, peace and security issues in all relevant thematic areas of work on its agenda.’

One of the most meaningful measures is the resolution’s clarion call for funding and humanitarian aid to include ‘access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, including regarding pregnancies resulting from rape, without discrimination.’

Other important calls for action centre around the need for more regular briefings and reports, with an emphasis on timely information and analysis.

Senior officials, including special envoys and representatives, have been tasked with providing the Security Council with more frequent updates on ‘issues relevant to women, peace and security, including implementation [and] on progress in inviting women to participate.’

The resolution also makes clear the importance of women’s groups, requesting that all missions ‘regularly consult with women’s organisations and women leaders, including socially and/or economically excluded groups of women.’

While acknowledging the importance of women’s organisations, the Global Partnership for Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) points to difficulties it has had in securing funding for its work because it is not a women-only organisation.

It warns that this practice ‘misses valuable input from feminist practice and ideas on preventing violent conflict, both from civil society and decision makers [and] risks reinforcing tendencies to treat gender as a separate issue from broader peacebuilding processes.’

As a further push for change, resolution 2122 confirms the Security Council’s plans for a High Level review in 2015 of resolution 1325, the resolution passed in 2000 that started the process of stressing the importance of women’s equal and full participation in the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

The review will assess progress at the global, regional and national levels and will include a global study identifying ongoing problems, challenges, trends, priorities and examples of good practice.

As Marten Grunditz, Sweden’s representative at the Security Council meeting, said, ‘Let us underline that gender justice is not merely about women’s needs as victims, but also about women’s valuable contributions to bringing about peace and their participation at the forefront in transitional justice and rule of law measures.’

Amina Smaila, Nigeria’s representative at the meeting, agreed, saying that was was needed was ‘strong advocacy to break the culture of silence and promote zero tolerance across the globe [as] fundamental [steps] to restoring the rights and dignity of women in all circumstances.’

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