For years, UN Women has highlighted the persistent under-investment in gender-inclusive peace in conflict and post-conflict settings and the significant gaps in financing that make the implementation of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) commitments much more difficult. However, there is a dearth of data on the size of this gap, and how exactly the pledges and promises from donor conferences, peace agreements or post-conflict planning frameworks dissipate when it comes to allocating and spending resources on these issues.
18-19 MAY 2022 Geneva, Switzerland
We, the representatives of Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, Uruguay, as well as of the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), have come together in Geneva, Switzerland on 18 and 19 May 2022, for the fourth capital-level meeting of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Focal Points Network, hosted by Switzerland and South Africa as 2022 Co-Chairs of the Network, in close collaboration with UN Women as the Secretariat of the Network, and with the participation of women human rights defenders and civil society organizations working at global, regional, national and local level.
We reaffirm, as highlighted in the Technical Operative Guidelines of the Network, that civil society and local organizations are critical partners and welcome their substantive contributions to meeting deliberations.
We welcome the theme of the meeting, Partnering for Change: Translating the Women, Peace and Security Agenda into Action, with the recognition that responding to conflict and crisis situations requires sustained and impactful measures to implement the existing normative framework on women, peace and security.
We note with concern, current and escalating conflicts and crises taking place around the globe and reaffirm our commitment to take action to ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful leadership, participation and representation in all peace and security and humanitarian processes.
Women’s Participation in Peace Processes
1. An integrative and inclusive peace leadership approach which means working together, valuing and using diverse expertise, experiences, roles, views and contributions of all persons for peace. We recognize that the full, equal and meaningful participation and leadership of women will remain stalled as long as political power is seen as a zero-sum game – gains made by women are regarded as equivalent to losses for men. There is need for societies to reflect on their understanding of gender and how it informs and strengthens all stages of peace processes, and for governments to implement gender policies at all levels as a long-term strategy to address the participation of women in decision-making positions in peace processes.
2. Building on use of mechanisms, including quotas and targets, as appropriate, by some member states, for promoting the equal participation and representation of men and women in negotiation teams. This can ensure that women are included in official negotiation and mediation processes through use of selection criteria. Quotas and targets should be employed alongside other relevant instruments such as capacity building and mentoring opportunities. Third parties should lead by example and gain credibility by modeling diversity in their own delegations, which also enhances their effectiveness.
3. International and regional third parties, both formal and informal, to listen to and collectively work with diverse local actors – before, during and after formal negotiations to address specific context and cultural challenges to the inclusion of women in peace processes. Third parties should foster consensus among civil society actors, particularly women’s rights organizations and women’s mediator networks, on societal issues and priorities in order to strengthen civil society impact in negotiations.
Protection of Women’s Rights and Recognizing Women’s Agency
4. Addressing the gendered impacts of the trafficking in and illicit use of small arms and light weapons (SALW) at the local level. We recognize that this involves supporting women’s agency at the community level, mapping the flow of SALW, identifying geographical gaps in service provision, improving state-civil society collaboration and providing technical and political capacity building on regulation of SALW for women’s local organizations and WPS focal points. Where necessary, national authorities should ensure that WPS focal points are mandated and have adequate resources to engage meaningfully with local organizations.
5. Fostering collaboration between experts on WPS and SALW to incorporate gender equality in national action plans (NAPs), policies and strategies on SALW that recognizes the different impacts of firearms on women, men, girls and boys, and to include gender-specific indicators. Experts on SALW should be encouraged to provide technical input into WPS NAPs.
6. Strengthening firearms-related legislation and compliance mechanisms as necessary to prevent the trafficking in and the illicit use of firearms, which can enable gender-based violence (GBV), including domestic and family violence. We recognize the utility of greater transparency on the part of arms-exporting states with respect to the conduct of GBV risk assessments in arms export decisions.
WPS National Action Plans – Responding to Conflict and Crisis Situations
7. Creating gender-specific linkages between WPS national action plans (NAPs) and other national plans and strategies. We recognize the utility of context-specific and tailored WPS NAPs that go beyond the absence of conflict and the need to establish synergy with plans and strategies that address emergency and humanitarian response, refugees and internally displaced persons, climate change, youth, peace and security, countering all forms of extremism and radicalization, issues of trafficking, the gendered impacts of SALW, and gender-responsive early-warning systems.
8. Strengthening WPS national action plan accountability mechanisms to include more robust and systemic approaches to monitoring and reporting with appropriate allocation of financial and human resources. Where relevant, NAP indicators should incorporate indicators developed by regional organizations and where applicable, build synergy with the CEDAW monitoring mechanism and General Recommendation 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations (CEDAW/C/GC/30). We also recognize the need to strengthen the roles and capacities of CSOs in monitoring NAP impacts at village, local, provincial and national levels.
9. Sustaining civil society involvement throughout the life cycle of a WPS national action plan. We discussed the importance of building bridges between governments and civil society organizations and codifying civil society representation in NAP committees. Youth representatives, including young women, should be supported to engage in WPS NAP development and implementation processes and to create linkages between women, peace and security and youth, peace and security.
Network members reaffirmed their commitment to continue sharing best practices and lessons learned on these and other women, peace and security issues and urged other Member States and regional organizations to join the Network.
Strengthening women’s participation in peace processes: What roles and responsibilities for states?
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) organized an international seminar on Strengthening Women’s Participation in Peace Processes: What Roles and Responsibilities for States? in Rome, Italy, on 3 to 4 December 2019.
Building on Italy’s goal to strengthen the role of women in peace processes and in all decision-making processes as formalized in its Third National Action Plan on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000); its spearheading of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network (MWMN); as well as its active facilitation of women’s participation in peace and political processes across the Mediterranean region, the high-level seminar examined the role of Member States in advancing the full and effective participation of women in mediation and peace processes.
The Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action (WPS-HA) Compact, a transformative initiative to see results on decades of commitments, was launched on July 2, 2021 at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris. The Compact – the product of a consensus-driven process including Member States, Regional Organizations, UN Entities, Civil Society, the Private Sector, and Academia – is an inter-generational, inclusive movement for action on women, peace and security and gender equality in humanitarian action.
In August 2020, the Women, Peace and Security Network-Canada (WPSN-C) hosted three virtual consultations with women peacebuilders to develop recommendations for the WPS Focal Points Network. Held in Arabic, French, Spanish and English, the consultations brought together 50 feminist voices from around the world, including women’s rights organizations and organizations working on WPS issues in fragile and conflict affected countries, representatives from youth networks and academia, as well as Indigenous voices.
As the international community celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, New Directions reflects on its past (and future) and the assumptions inherent within the global normative framework. We argue that the WPS agenda is illustrative of a practice of global politics that can be rooted in exploitative patterns of interaction between the Global North and so-called Global South.