Women, peace and security: A policy audit – From the Beijing Platform for Action to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and beyond

Women, peace and security: A policy audit - From the Beijing Platform for Action to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and beyond

This report is part of a broader International Alert programme to develop an auditing framework through which the responses of the international community to women’s needs in conflict and post-conflict situations, and support for their peacebuilding efforts can be monitored, enhanced and encouraged. The paper provides a initial overview of some international instruments and outlines achievements and challenges at the global level.

However, the real value of international instruments is in their practical application at regional and national levels. Instruments and mechanisms become more relevant and meaningful when they have an impact on women’s lives and provide a framework for women to engage in policy change processes and also to demand accountability. The Women’s Peace Audit is an attempt to work with women’s organisations and civil society institutions, sharing their experiences on a global level and drawing on the lessons learnt in communities in order to impact global processes.

The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) was an important benchmark which created an internationally-endorsed document highlighting the needs and rights of women in situations of armed conflict. It also suggested recommendations for action to ensure women’s protection and participation in all decision-making processes. It specifically upholds a variety of international instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; it builds on the Nairobi Forwardlooking Strategies for the Advancement of Women and on a number of Resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and recognises a wide range of either international agreements and declarations on specific themes.

But as the 2000 Beijing +5 Review of the BPFA revealed, few states have acted to implement the obligations they undertook in 1995. Despite the escalation of violence in many parts of the world, little is being done by
governments and multilateral organisations to stem the violence against, and deliberate victimisation of, women in war, or to include women’s voices in peace negotiations. This apparent lack of commitment to basic principles and rights reflects badly on member states as international actors and on the UN as an institution, and also means that women remain excluded from many opportunities to contribute to peacebuilding.