SCR 1325 and the Peacebuilding Commission

Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security – Six Years On Report

<p>It has been six years since the unanimous adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 (SCR 1325) and, within the last year, the United Nations has established the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC)—a body intended to advise and propose integrated peacebuilding, development and reconstruction strategies for countries emerging from violent conflict.</p><p>Considering many of the existing strategies, mechanisms and bodies that already exist within the United Nations (UN), two questions immediately arise. First, why create a Peacebuilding Commission? The UN has long been engaged in working to build peace in war-torn regions, so why is there the need for a new body? More specifically, what was happening in the UN and globally that made it necessary? Second, given that SCR 1325 commits the UN to making women’s participation in peacemaking and peacebuilding central to its activities, how did the commitments embodied in the resolution shape the development of the PBC?</p><p><strong><em>Why create a Peacebuilding Commission? </em></strong>In the years since the end of the Cold War, the United Nations’ “peace support” work has undergone dramatic transformation: it has moved from an emphasis on peacekeeping—monitoring ceasefires to allow space for peace processes—to far more active engagement in reconstructing societies in the arenas of civilian administration, political affairs, humanitarian relief, human rights, and legal and judicial affairs. Put another way, the United Nations’ focus has expanded from keeping warring parties from shooting at each other, to the wider issue of developing the means to build sustainable peace in a society.</p><p>The United Nations’ commitment to this “multidimensional peacekeeping” has not only meant a transition from heavily military peacekeeping operations to ones involving greater civilian participation (e.g., as police and as experts in human rights, civil affairs, child protection, and gender)—it has also brought and reflected an increasing understanding that <em>peace building </em>is not the same as <em>peacekeeping</em>. Building peace has many complex components, including: ensuring the daily security of citizens; the establishment of effective reconciliation and justice processes; the reintegration of fighters back into society; the return and resettlement of displaced persons; economic reconstruction and development; the creation of an effectively functioning political system; the creation of police, military and judicial systems that support the rule of law; support for the reinvigoration of civil society; reform of land and property ownership laws; and the transformation of cultures themselves, including the norms and beliefs about roles of men and women in society.</p><p>Despite this increased understanding of what it takes to build peace in a post-conflict nation, the United Nations, along with the rest of the international community, has not been very successful.1 This is perhaps most starkly evident in the fact that roughly half of all countries that emerge from conflict lapse back into violence within five years.2While the reasons that a peace fails to be sustained are always complex, weaknesses in international responses are clearly a contributing problem. Peacekeeping operations are typically too small, inadequately resourced and withdrawn too soon. Following conflict, the international community historically gives too little attention and commits too few resources to the work of post-conflict peacebuilding and does not efficiently coordinate the efforts of those international and national actors who remain. Furthermore, there are too few mechanisms in place to ensure the effective transmission of knowledge and experience regarding “what works” in peacebuilding. There has also been too little emphasis on involving and strengthening local civil society groups already long engaged in the hard, daily work of local peacebuilding—groups that are often predominantly female.</p><p>The creation of the PBC is an attempt to address some of these shortcomings. Not only is it a recognition of the many different kinds of knowledge and activities required for building peace, it is also a recognition of the fact that, in any post-conflict situation, there are a tremendous number of different actors involved in the peacebuilding process—not just the warring parties, but the rest of the society; not just the warring country or countries, but also others in the region, and those that act as donors in the peacebuilding process; not just the UN, but organizations, financial institutions, development agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).</p><p>The creation of the PBC is not only an outgrowth of the complex task the UN faces when it tries to help a country transition from armed conflict to lasting peace—it is also indicative of the need to coordinate, involve and ensure communication between all of the actors and elements of societal reconstruction throughout the process. Finally, the establishment of the PBC can be seen as recognition of the need to learn from the experiences of peacebuilding and to retain, add to, and disseminate that knowledge for future efforts.</p><p><strong><em>How did the commitments embodied in SCR 1325 shape the development of the PBC? </em></strong>Given the potential importance of the PBC to peacebuilding processes around the world, the commitments of the UN and Member States to women’s human rights and to gender equality as expressed in the UN Charter, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and, inter alia, the Beijing Platform for Action <em>and</em>, given the acknowledgement in SCR 1325 of the necessity of women’s full participation in peace processes and post-conflict reconstruction, it would seem obvious that the commitments embodied in SCR 1325 should have been incorporated in the establishment of the PBC.</p><p>Despite a few rhetorical flourishes, to which women’s rights advocates might refer in an effort to hold the United Nations accountable to its commitments, the short, sad fact is that, to date, there are no structural or institutionalized mechanisms to ensure women’s participation or representation in the PBC or to ensure that women’s needs, capacities, interests and rights are addressed in the PBC’s work. Six years after SCR 1325’s adoption, the international community must recognize this grave and dangerous omission, and take swift action to redress it.</p><p><strong>Six Years On Report</strong></p><p>This report examines the process leading up to and the establishment of the PBC, along with a critical analysis of what this newly formed Commission means, not only for women and the implementation of SCR 1325, but for the coordination of policy and frameworks that will achieve durable peace and development in the countries where the Commission operates. It also considers key issues at stake in the implementation of SCR 1325 by the PBC such as gender-mainstreaming, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, displacement, women’s active participation in formal processes and the consequences of sexual and gender-based violence. Finally, the report makes recommendations to be urgently taken up by both the Peacebuilding Commission and advocates for gender justice and peace.</p>

  • Author(s):
    Gina Torry (Ed.)
    Karen Barnes
    Rebecca Chiarelli
    Carol Cohn
    Ramina Johal
    Milkah Kihunah
    Maria Olson
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  • Date:
    October 2006
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