International Alert has worked in West Africa for many years, and has a long association with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the original member countries of the Mano River Union (MRU)1. Since 2007 much of its focus in the region has been on gender issues in peacebuilding. International Alert’s work uses UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security as a way of addressing women’s priorities in peacebuilding. Resolution 1325 – a landmark legal and political framework adopted by the United Nations in October 2000 – identifies women’s participation and perspectives as essential components of effective peacebuilding. By “peacebuilding”, we mean the long-term process of building capacity and strengthening institutions and culture within society to manage and resolve conflicts in a non-violent manner. With funding from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Alert implemented a project called Supporting Women’s Peacebuilding Priorities: Implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2007 to 2009. The project’s objective was to build women’s capacity to have their priorities included in ongoing peacebuilding efforts. In addition, International Alert is currently implementing its 2008-2010 Human Security Project in all three countries, again with funding from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This project’s aim is to address the culture of impunity around sexual and gender-based violence in the three MRU countries. Finally, and with additional funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Commission, the organisation has carried out several research activities focusing on women’s peacebuilding priorities in the region. This briefing note seeks to contribute to the knowledge on Resolution 1325, building on International Alert’s work in the MRU region during the last few years. The first section briefly discusses the need to adjust the approach to implementing Resolution 1325 in challenging contexts such as post-conflict Sierra Leone and Liberia and conflict-prone Guinea.2 Based on a brief discussion of salient issues and thematic priorities across the three countries, the subsequent section sketches the contours of a comprehensive agenda for implementing Resolution 1325 in the MRU region. The three components of this agenda are addressing women’s security needs, enhancing their political participation, and implementing gender equality legislation and policies. The briefing note ends with the following four broad recommendations to sustain and enhance work on Resolution 1325 in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone: 1. Working (better) with what exists: Engage custodians of the customary justice system. 2. Address sexual and gender-based violence: Mobilise communities through change agents. 3. Economics matters: Address the economic dimension of gender, peace and security. 4. From plans to action: Make smart investments in civil society.
- Author(s):Steven Schoofs
- Date:September 2010