Implementing UN-Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security – Milestones and barriers

Peace by Piece · Issue 02

UN Resolution 1325 reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and post-conflict reconstruction. Most importantly, it stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts towards maintaining and promoting peace and security. When decisions affecting war and peace are made, women need to be sitting at the table.

Important milestones since the UN Security Council passed this resolution on 31 October 2000 include the following:

  • the links between gender, peace and security have gone from being viewed as ‘a women’s issue’ to a mainstream security policy concern;
  • there have been follow-up resolutions (notably 1820, 1888, 1889), including Resolution 2467, introduced by Germany, which explicitly addresses sexual violence in conflicts and the rights of victims;
  • to date, more than 80 states have presented plans to implement Resolution 1325;
  • women now make up 35 per cent of leaderships of peacekeeping and political missions, while UN peacekeepers are trained in sexualised violence;
  • several countries have introduced feminist foreign policies: Sweden first, then Canada, Mexico, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Libya, and Germany;
  • in 2022, the WPS agenda was anchored in NATO's Strategic Concept.

Barriers persist, however:

  • Armed conflicts take place predominantly in countries with pronounced patriarchal structures, where women have little chance of leadership roles. Women in such countries in particular have always been committed to their rights and to peace, but mostly as activists. Women make a decisive contribution to peace-making. But their involvement rarely reaches official levels: to this day, women are still hardly represented in peace negotiations (Aili Mari Tripp, 2020).
  • Foreign policy is subject to the commitment of democratically elected governments. When these change, foreign policy commitments change, too. Sweden’s new right-wing government, for example, has withdrawn the country’s commitment to a feminist foreign policy. Anchoring the WPS agenda at the multilateral level in international and European policy architecture remains key.
  • The example of the international intervention in Afghanistan highlights the gap between ambition and achievement. The situation of women and girls in Afghanistan since the end of the international presence has worsened because women’s rights or human rights in general have not been mentioned in the agreement between the United States and the Taliban.

What should we do?

Societies are more peaceful and stable when women participate fully and gender equality is promoted. Fully implementing and strengthening the WPS agenda should therefore remain a priority of any and every multilateral engagement.

At the European level, member states should advocate for it to be anchored more strongly in missions of the Common Security and Defence Policy and the European Peace Facility. More concretely, women’s perspectives should guide the rebuilding of Ukraine and the framing of the future European security environment.

Generally, the implementation of Resolution 1325 is an important milestone. The representation of women at peace negotiations increases not only the probability of an agreement, but also sustainable peace. This is not because women negotiate better, but because they change the substance of the negotiations, bringing issues onto the agenda that men find less important. Or in the words of Ruth Bader Ginsberg: ‘Women belong in all places where decisions are being made’. In questions of war and peace, that should be self-evident.

About Peace by Piece

Peace is one of the major achievements on the European continent after 1945, yet it is barely being mentioned anymore. When it is, it is all too often accompanied by a connotation of appeasement and defeatism. That shouldn’t be the case. Peace is one of the most precious achievements for humankind. But building it and sustaining it requires effort, ideas, political will, and perseverance. However far out of reach it may appear, peace should nonetheless serve as the long-term aim of politicians in Europe. This series of comments provides ideas for a new European Security environment able to provide the basis for a more peaceful future in the face of new challenges.

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