Questions and answers about women, peace and security

 

 

 

What is the purpose of the UN resolution on women, peace and security (UNSCR 1325)?
The UN Security Council adopted this resolution to ensure that more women participate in all matters relating to peace and security, and to increase the protection of women in situations of war and armed conflict.

 

Who is it for?
The resolution applies to all the 192 UN member states. It also makes recommendations and requests to the UN Secretary-General, the various UN entities, other organisations such as NATO and the African Union (AU), and to both state and non-state actors participating in conflicts.

 

What does the acronym UNSCR 1325 stand for?
United Nations Security Council resolution 1325.

 

Which countries are included?
All the 192 UN member states are included. Resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council are binding on all UN members. 

 

Why are women’s rights important in situations of armed conflict?
It is important that women are empowered so that they can influence their situation and that women and girls are protected against abuse. Moreover, the participation of women increases the likelihood of achieving lasting, sustainable peace.

 

Where in the world are women worst affected by conflict?
Women are severely affected by conflicts today. They are often targeted directly. All over the world, most of those who have had to flee their homes are women. Many have to support their children and themselves on their own. Hundreds of thousands of women have been subjected to sexual violence in wars and conflicts in recent years. Rape has been widespread in the conflicts in the Balkans, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Colombia and Burma. Rape is still being committed on a large scale in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

How can a UN text help a woman who has been raped or subjected to other forms of abuse?
The text has increased awareness of the issue and the way women are affected by conflicts and other crises. It has put the situation of women in situations of war and armed conflict on the international agenda. This has resulted in better protection of women, for example in refugee camps. It has also resulted in better medical and psychological treatment of survivors, economic rehabilitation and the prosecution of more perpetrators. The resolution has given the international community new norms and rules that all UN member states are obliged to comply with.

 

What has the UN achieved since UNSCR 1325 was adopted ten years ago?
Women’s experiences in war and conflict have been given more attention as have other issues related to international peace and security. The gender perspective is included in UN reports, peace operations and humanitarian efforts. The UN Security Council has also adopted four follow-up resolutions (1820,1888, 1889 and 1960) that strengthen and give more substance to UNSCR 1325. Security Council resolution 1960, which was adopted in 2010, calls for the listing of parties to armed conflict that are credibly suspected of engaging in sexual violence, and the use of this list as a basis for taking measures against these parties. 

 

In which areas has the UN been unsuccessful?
The UN and the UN member states have not succeeded in increasing the participation of women in peace processes and peace negotiations. Very few women have signed peace agreements in the last ten years. As yet, the UN has not been able to establish a system that holds countries and organisations responsible for failing to follow up these resolutions.

 

Who is responsible for ensuring that women’s rights are safeguarded?
It is the UN member states that have the main responsibility for safeguarding their citizens’ rights. The UN has a particular responsibility for refugees, but there are also many NGOs that are doing a good job to safeguard the rights of those who have fled their homes. The parties to a conflict, including non-state actors, are obliged to follow certain rules. The Geneva Conventions set out international rules for the protection of combatants and civilians in conflict and war. The UN Declaration of Human Rights in peacetime as well as in times of war and conflict.

 

Have the parties to conflicts around the world taken proper account of the UN’s decisions in this area?
It seems that civilians are increasingly being targeted directly by the parties to conflicts. Not least, there are many parties that deliberately use rape as a weapon of war. 

 

Is anyone prosecuted for not complying with the UN resolutions?
Under international law, rape may be a war crime, a crime against humanity or a “constitutive act with respect to genocide”. However, there are few perpetrators who are prosecuted and convicted for war-related rape and other forms of sexual abuse of civilians. Sexual violence is included in the International Criminal Court’s indictment of the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir. Former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Jean Pierre Bemba has also been brought before the ICC on charges of having ordered mass rapes in the Central African Republic. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, several high-ranking officers have been convicted by national courts for having ordered mass rapes. The fact that such cases are being tried is a sign of progress in the fight against war rape and other conflict-related sexual abuse.

 

What has Norway done?
Norway has worked actively for many years to promote women’s participation in peace and security efforts and to strengthen the protection of women in war and conflict. We support the efforts of the UN and various NGOs in this area. We exert pressure on governments and parties to conflicts. When we are involved in peace processes, we always encourage the inclusion of women. We seek to ensure that women’s experience is taken on board. We support a number of projects that provide medical, economic and legal assistance for the victims of sexual violence. We also support projects to bring perpetrators to justice, particularly in DR Congo. Norway has played a leading role in promoting the gender perspective and improving training on this issue in the UN and NATO.

 

How much money does Norway spend on this issue?
In 2010, Norway provided NOK 1.2 billion for measures aimed at promoting women’s rights in countries that are in conflict or that have recently emerged from conflict.

 

What has Norway’s contribution achieved?
Norwegian funding has helped to promote work in the area of women, peace and security all over the world. For example, special women’s units have been established in police stations in Liberia for women who want to report rape. We have also sent police advisers with special expertise in this area to UN operations in Liberia and Haiti to assist the local police in their efforts to ensure that perpetrators of sexual crimes are prosecuted.

In North Kivu in eastern Congo, hospitals have been upgraded to provide medical and psychosocial assistance to victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence. We have also provided assistance to help child soldiers return to a normal life in Congo.

Sudan has introduced special measures to promote the participation of women in politics. Nepal has produced an action plan for women, peace and security, which is now being implemented. A network of ten women’s organisations was established in 2006 with Norwegian support.

Norway supports the ICC Trust Fund for Victims, which provides access to psychosocial and physical rehabilitation, schooling and vocational training for survivors of sexualised violence in Uganda, DR Congo and the Central African Republic.

Norway also cooperates closely with the UN. For example, we support UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict (UN Action), which coordinates UN efforts to fight war rape and other forms of conflict-related sexual abuse and to assist countries at risk in their efforts to prevent and fight this type of crime.

Norway also supports UNICEF’s work on reporting and imposing sanctions on parties to a conflict that commit war rape and other forms of sexual abuse of children.

Norway also supports measures to ensure women’s participation and the integration of a gender perspective in peace processes and peacebuilding. One example here is Oslo Forum Mediators’ Retreat, an annual event held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, which brings together peace mediators from all over the world to exchange experience and ideas. In 2011, the women, peace and security agenda was integrated into the retreat programme and a working group on this topic was been established. 30% of the participants were women.

In Afghanistan, we support 30 Afghan women’s organisations, for example in their efforts to establish shelters for women who have been subjected to violence.

In Sri Lanka, Norway has contributed to the prevention of violence against women through the organisation CARE.

In Colombia, Norway has helped to ensure greater participation of women in the peace process through the Forum for Women and Development in Norway (FOKUS) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

 

Will this work soon be finished?
Unfortunately, this work will not be finished in the near future. There is still a low level of participation of women in peace processes and peace operations. Many perpetrators of sexual violence remain at large, and rape victims often face strong prejudices. Few women have access to funds to rebuild communities after a conflict.

 

Whose idea was all this?
Those who pressed for the adoption of the Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security were NGOs and women from countries affected by conflict.   

 

Who makes decisions on this issue in Norway?
Four ministries are responsible for following up different aspects of Norway’s work on women, peace and security. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs acts as coordinator, and holds regular meetings with the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Justice and the Police, and the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion.

                                                                                                              

Who makes decisions on this issue at international level?
The UN Security Council is responsible for international peace and security, and thus has the main responsibility for this issue. However, many others also have a responsibility for following up UNSCR 1325. The UN Secretary-General plays a key role. Many UN entities also play an important part. Norway and the other UN member states have a major responsibility and so do the EU, NATO and the various parties to conflicts.

 

Where can I find out more?

Women, Peace and Security – Norway's strategic plan 2011–13 

UN overview of resources on women and conflict

Stop Rape Now, UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict

UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

UN Population Fund (UNFPA)