NATO on Women, Peace and Security

Next year the UNSCR 1325 will celebrate its 15th birthday. Some ten years back I worked at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and prepared together with colleagues at the Ministry of Defense a first brief on how the Dutch government was trying to implement a resolution approved by  the UN Security Council on issues of women, peace and security.  That seems like really long ago.  Let’s flash forward: last week – it did not make the headlines – at the NATO-summit in Wales NATO leaders reviewed progress and  discussed and approved a new policy and an action plan to implement UNSCR1325.  So where do they stand?

Yesterday, 9 September Mari Skåre, who was seconded for two years to NATO as Special Representative of the NATO Secretary General  for Women Peace and Security looked back on her time in office at an informal event, organised by WIIS (Women in International Security) – Brussels. Institutional change tends to come slowly – and not only when it comes to gender issues – and the first priority is to get the issue on the agenda of those who take the decisions. Skåre noted that while many positives things on gender had happened within NATO over the years, the Wales Summit was the first time that the issue of women, peace and security was discussed at ministerial level among the members of the alliance. Another achievement is continuity: Skåre’s successor – Dutch diplomat Mariett Schuurman – is now officially on the NATO pay-roll so the position of the Special Representative for Women Peace and Security has been fully institutionalised.

Skåre explained that had been able to help promote change because she has found within the institution and within the member-state military and diplomatic apparatus true champions for the cause of women, peace and security.  And connecting the champions is critical to move ahead, she feels.  Skåre also highlighted the support she  had from activists, researchers and diplomats from within the UN, organisations like WIIS and civil society organisations.  She indicated that Involving civil society in developing the policies and plans around women, peace and security in NATO was a novelty, and Skåre hopes that this engagement will continue.

No revolution to report, I am afraid, but certainly progress and hope. Skåre’s advice to her successor was to focus on further institutionalising the implementation of the policies and plans and to prioritise the development on guidelines to reduce and prevent sexual and gender-based violence.  For a collection tweets on Mari Skåre’s presentation yesterday, check @WIISBrussels.

Skåre emphasized that the NATO/EACP Policy for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women Peace and Security  is publicly available, which means CSO’s can monitor what is happening.  From the actual Action Plan I could only find a cached version. All progress since 2012 is summarized in the also publicly available Progress Report on the NATO/EACP Policy and Action Plan on Women Peace and Security .

A more in-depth – and critical – analysis of the state of play in the field in Afghanistan and Kosovo can be found in the Review of Practical Implications of UNSCR 1325 for the Conduct of NATO-led Operations and Missions, conducted by the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), published in 2013.

If you are interested in security issues do also check out the Security Jam – Brainstorming Global Security Issues which is an online debate taking place 14-16 October this year and which has an interesting line-up of ‘VIP-jammers’ that already includes three women.

If you want to know more about UNSCR1325 and the national action plans, check out the dedicated site from WILPF-founded PeaceWomen Programme. By the way, WILPF – Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom will celebrate it 100th birthday next year: indeed you have to be tenacious in this field!