Localized Training Efforts on Implementing the UNSCR 1325: Lessons Learned and Emerging Possibilities
In October 2000, the United Nations Security Council passed the landmark Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security (WPS), which linked women’s experiences of conflict to the international peace and security agenda, acknowledging their peacemaking roles as well as the disproportionate impact of violent conflict on women. The transformative element of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security paved the way for seven supporting resolutions (1820, 1888, 1889,1960, 2106, 2122, 2242) and strengthened the normative framework for women’s participation in decision making, conflict prevention and peacebuilding; protection of women and girls’ rights; and prevention of sexual violence in conflict.
Sixteen years, after the adoption of UNSCR 1325, there have been a few successes in the implementation of the WPS resolutions. According to UN Women’s 2015 report on women in peace processes, between 1992 and 2011, four per cent of signatories to peace agreements, 2 percent of chief mediators and 9 percent of negotiators at peace tables were women. When women are included in peace processes there is a 20 per cent increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least 2 years, and a 35 per cent increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least 15 years.
Notably in the recent Colombian peace negotiations women participated as gender advisors and experts, negotiators, and in delegations of women affected by conflict, making up one-third of peace table participants and over 60 per cent of victims and experts.  The Syrian Women’s Advisory Board, which is the first-ever women’s advisory board to call for peace and reconciliation in Syria is another good example. This has led to more peace agreements integrating provisions on women’s human rights and gender equality as, 7 out of 10 peace agreements signed in 2015 included gender specific provisions. Also, more security sector personnel are undergoing training on the WPS resolutions including appropriate response to, and handling of, sexual and gender-based violence cases. In all sixty – three (63) member states of the United Nations have adopted national action plans (NAPs) on Resolution 1325 and many more are in the process of drafting.
The Global Study on UNSCR 1325 conducted in 2015 states, “much of the progress toward the implementation of resolution 1325 continues to be measured in ‘firsts,’ rather than as standard practice. Obstacles and challenges still persist and prevent the full implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.” The Global Study recommends that “all relevant actors – member states, civil society, donors, and multilateral agencies should support and invest in participatory processes, social accountability tools and localization initiatives to link global, national and local efforts and ensure the voices of the most affected and marginalized populations inform and shape relevant responses and monitoring of progress.”
The Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 Program
The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) in its effort to bridge the gap between global policy and local action on issues of Women, Peace and Security initiated the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program. This is a people-based, bottom-up approach to policy-making that goes beyond the local adoption of a law, as it guarantees the alignment and harmonization of local, national, regional and international policies and community-driven strategies to ensure local ownership, participation and links among communities, civil society organizations and government.
The main strategy behind the localization program is the direct engagement with local authorities, traditional leaders, local women leaders, youth leaders, school teachers, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable groups in the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 in local communities. Local ownership and participation is the underlining framework of the Localization program which has been implemented in 11 countries with remarkable results. In Nepal, UNSCR 1325 and 1820 have been integrated into school curricula and training for police and army; in the Philippines, a traditional peace council in Kalinga province (called Bodong) made up of 24 members appointed by tribal elders have for the first time now included 4 women to deliberate with the men; in Uganda, communities are beginning to know and respect women’s rights reducing the incidences of gender based violence etc.
This program complements the efforts of national governments, regional and international organizations and ensures that the WPS resolutions are making a positive difference in the lives of women and men, girls and boys especially in conflict-affected communities. It allows local communities to analyze their everyday government functions and policies to see what is enhancing or hindering the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 1820. The program creates channels for better coordination, cooperation and coherence among all stakeholders in the work around the WPS resolutions.
The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders through the Cora Weiss Fellowship for Young Women Peacebuilders support the development of young women peacebuilders and ensure that more young people share Cora Weiss vision for sustainable peace and gender equality as strong and integral parts of our global culture. As part of this initiative, the peacebuilding fellow gets the opportunity to participate in the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program.
To make UNSC Resolution 1325 count at the grassroots level as the first fellow experience was gained at the Localization workshop for county officials and media representatives from Bungoma, West Pokot and Uasin Gishu counties in Kenya. The trainings centered on building participant’s capacity on UNSCR 1325 and supporting resolutions as well as the relevance of the Kenya National Action Plan (KNAP) to promoting women participation in peacebuilding. The KNAP which was adopted on March 8, 2016 integrates the context of application of 1325 more broadly to include fragile situations, political instability and humanitarian disasters, and addressing the root causes of conflict.
The localized training efforts to educate government officials and the media representatives on UNSCR 1325 served to create awareness on the international instrument. The training developed the skills of media practitioners in reporting on the WPS agenda and solicited commitments from the stakeholders in contributing to promoting women’s participation in decision making and peacebuilding processes particularly ahead of the Kenya election in August 2017.
Indeed, this is a foremost initiative to promoting realistic implementation of international instruments. To ensure replication and sustainability there is need for the national and local governments to build strategic partnership to ensure allocation of budget for the implementation of developed local action plans on implementing UNSCR 1325. To improve on the localization initiative, key recommendations are
- Continuous capacity building for local officials on implementing international instruments that deal with women, peace and security.
- Build capacity of Civil Society Organizations on localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 to promote expansion of the initiative within countries.
- Simplify and translate international instruments for the rural communities and build their capacity to understand them to hold their government accountable.
- Integrate more visible roles for women to partner with their male counterparts on issues of peace and security within their communities.
- Create mechanisms for collaboration through a united platform where women can share their peacebuilding efforts and challenges as well as speak out on issues affecting their general wellbeing.
UN Women (2016), Facts and Figures: Peace and Security (At the Peace Table) Retrieved from http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/peace-and-security/facts-and-figures
UN Women (2015). Women take the reins to build peace in Colombia, 28 May. Retrieved from http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2015/5/women-build-peace-in-colombia
UN Security Council (2016). Report of the Secretary-General on women, peace and security, p. 5.
 Coomaraswamy, C. et al, (2015). Preventing Conflict Transforming Justice Securing the Peace A Global Study on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325. Retrieved from http://wps.unwomen.org/~/media/files/un%20women/wps/highlights/unw-global-study-1325-2015.pdf
 The countries where the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 is implemented are: Burundi, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Nepal, Philippines, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Uganda.
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