Exclusive Interview with UNSCR 1325 at NATO HQ Celebrating her 19th Birthday
Recalling UNSCR 1325
If you aren’t familiar with her work, a snap chat-style summary of the pillars of 1325 is below:
UNSCR 1325 asks all parties involved in conflict to:
Ø Increase the PARTICIPATION of women – for NATO countries this could mean engagement with Civil Society – such as the Civil Society Advisory Panel and requesting NATO members to deploy more women on operational deployments. Participation can also mean increasing the representation of women in senior appointments and increasing their role in negotiations and peace-talks.
Ø PREVENT conflict from taking place and PROTECTING women and girls from human rights violations – notably conflict-related sexual violence.
Ø Including a GENDER PERSPECTIVE in planning,policies and operations. For NATO, this means conducting human terrain analysis which considers how women and girls experience conflict and crisis and then ensure NATO includes this perspective throughout their doctrine, plans and operations.
Ø As military operations come to an end, planners should consider how women and girls are affected during the RELIEF AND RECOVERY phase. UNSCR 1325 calls for measures to address international crises through a gendered lens. This could be by respecting the civilian and humanitarian nature of refugee camps, and considering the needs of women and girls in the design of refugee camps as well as considering the needs of women and girls during Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) programmes.
Meeting UNSCR 1325– Not Your Average Millennial
I meet the 19-year-old Resolution in NATO HQ Starbucks. She’s touring Europe before heading home to UNHQ for the Open Debate in October – she’s been headlining on the Security Council stage every year since she was a toddler. Smart and poised, 1325 asks me not to describe what she’s wearing noting that “male Resolutions rarely have their appearance or age commented on”. She has the air of someone much older and wiser than your average Millennial.
Exclusive Interview with UNSCR 1325
How do you feel when people say you’re a liberal Western ideal?
UNSCR 1325: - Well, that doesn’t make much sense to me [she sighs]. I know I have a large family – [over 15 sets of parents adopted her in 2000] - but if I had to pin down my lineage I’d say it was Namibia and Bangladesh who brought me into this world and they sure aren’t Western. I also can’t forget the rest of the family - Argentina, Canada, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mali, the Netherlands, Tunisia and Ukraine. I don’t see that as a typical Western lineage.
It was Civil Society who brought me into the world, women and girls exhausted by the conflicts in Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Bosnia and absent from the negotiating table. So, I’m not a Western ideal – I am far more universal. Ask any woman or girl in any country, for example Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan, what she wants and she will, in one way or another, ask to be given the same opportunities as men and boys. Many, such as the incredible Nadia Murad from Iraq, will demand that women and girls are no longer deliberately the target of human rights violations. And women like the Liberian Leymah Gbowee, will ask for women to be at the negotiation table – none of them represent the West.
Do you enjoy a good relationship with the Permanent Five?
UNSCR 1325: - Of course! They are every Resolution’s family – I guess I can thank them for not abstaining or vetoing me out of existence. I’m grateful to the UK for always being my pen-holder and I appreciate the other P5 Members allowing me to be debated. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea so it’s refreshing to know the Security Council provides a platform for me and my siblings. [as at Sep 2019 UNSCR 1325 has been followed by eight other Resolutions]
What’s it likebeing the eldest of nine?
UNSCR 1325: - On the whole I’m happy to be the eldest in such a large family – however my sibling Women, Peace and Security resolutions [the term given to the UNSCRs and the x-cutting thematic concerning women and girls security concerns] were born out of frustration. Sadly, I wasn’t as effective as the international community wanted me to be.
You see, I wasn’t perfect – perhaps no Resolution is. I overlooked the fact that men and boys can be victims of sexual violence, whilst ignoring the fact that women could commit human rights violations, too. I also wasn’t specific enough in describing the vital role that men and boys can play in contributing to an equal society and human rights for all. I didn’t say anything about men and masculine cultures of violence – the elephant in the WPS room. Perhaps I talked too much about the vulnerability of women and nothing about who is the main source of danger to women.
I’m really proud of Resolutions such as 2106 [born 2013] and 2242 [who shares the same birthday month as 1325, being born in October 2015] which highlight the role of men and boys in combatting all forms of violence against women. 2242 reiterates ‘the important engagement by men and boys as partners in promoting women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of armed conflict, peacebuilding and post-conflict situations’.
NATO leaders are playing their part in the Participation aspect of my work – the Women, Peace and Security Chiefs of Defence Network, established by Bangladesh, Canada and the UK in 2017, brings together the most powerful military leaders to discuss the challenges and best practice for implementing WPS. I’m grateful to military leaders such as General Jonathan Vance and General Nick Carter for demonstrating leadership in this area, we need more men such as these to encourage military organisations to acknowledge how civilians are now the target in contemporary conflict.
My youngest sibling, Resolution 2467 [born April 2019] rightly raises the fact that men and boys can be victims of conflict related sexual violence. Attacks on men and boys are common – sexual violence is used in detention centres and has been a method of subjugating populations throughout history – such incidents are under-reported and I could have done more to inform people of this overlooked aspect of conflict. I’m confident that 2467 will address this.
Maybe if I had been more inclusive back in 2000 the Women, Peace and Security would have had a wider following and not been viewed as a Resolution only for women.
You mention resistance – what are the main reasons for people and organisations failing to implement you?
UNSCR 1325: - Great question! Something I ask myself every day. There are different reasons for me not being implemented as much as many would like.
For the few living under a stone, it’s just an unawareness of what I’m trying to achieve; for others it’s a lack of knowing what to do. Some senior staff think that they are already implementing me – many confusing me with the Law of Armed Conflict and a few just don’t see the connection between my aims and objectives and their approach to security dilemmas. There are others who state that I am not legally binding.
What’s your response to the critics who don’t see you as legally binding?
UNSCR 1325: - That’s a tough question (she smiles, but I can see fatigue and possibly boredom flash across her face). My approach is that if you adopted me then you should be implementing what I stand for. According to Article 25 of the UN Charter, all members of the UN “agree to carry out and accept the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter” so I argue that any Resolution [including me] adopted by the Security Council is legally binding – unlike my cousins adopted in the General Assembly.
Lawyers, and who likes them? will argue that because I wasn’t adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter then I’m not legally binding. Some academics argue that my language isn’t strong enough to be legally binding, for example, there are no “demands” in me thus undermining legal obligations by Member States.
As I approach my 19th birthday I’d like to think that I am more than a political document and I shouldn’t be fixed to a particular moment in the Security Council’s past. Academics such as Professor Christine Chinkin, head of the London School of Economics’ Centre on Women, Peace and Security has pointed out that various bodies of legally binding law underpin me. International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights law which protects women and girls during and after conflict makes implementing me and especially the 3 Ps (Participation, Prevention and Protection) a “must do” not a “might do”.
Those who say I was created under Article 5 and not Article 6 should still be obliged to implement me. In my Resolution language you can see the language of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its 1977 Additional Protocols; the Refugee Convention 1951 and 1967 Protocol; other UN Treaties including the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol and the Rome Statute 1998.
How could Member States become more accountable for implementing you?
UNSCR 1325: - Ha, let me tell you that in practice enforcing resolutions is not straight forward. Even if I could overwhelmingly prove I was legally binding, the complex nature of international relations—between Member States as well as between members and non-members—means that it is almost impossible to enforce me. Where there’s a will, there’s not always a way.
National Action Plans (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security were introduced in 2005 as a means of offering specific examples of how to implement me and as a method of addressing the lack of accountability surrounding me. I applaud Denmark as the first Member State to have a NAP, and Norway, Sweden and the UK for being so close behind. NAPS have been a positive step in elaborating how I can be implemented. I like what the UK has done in its Joint Service Publication (JSP) 1325 [blushing and murmuring] it was so thoughtful to name their JSP after me. What I like about the JSP is that it gives examples of what the security sector can do to implement me. Sadly, neither the implementation of JSP 1325 nor the National Action Plans are easy to monitor – but I think in time they will make Member States more accountable.
How does UNSCR 1325 enhance operational effectiveness?
UNSCR 1325: - I always feel that Member States who implement me are not only doing the right thing but the smart thing. What I mean by that is by increasing the participation of women in the security sector be that military or police, NATO units are more likely to interact with women and girls and other non-traditional security actors. It is clear that single sex patrols – be they all women or all male are less successful at engaging with local communities. Thus, by having mixed NATO patrols and training teams you will more likely hear the stories and recommendations of women and girls.
Women and girls know better than anyone where they are most vulnerable and they know better than anyone how to prevent and respond to security risks. Listening to women and girls and men and boys will help NATO troops better design and respond to protection of civilians activities.
Implementing the 3P’s and including a gender perspective in J2 and J5 military planning will result in a force that has a strong situational awareness and a better understanding of the human terrain.
What are you most proud of?
UNSCR 1325: - I’m proud that I was the first step in creating new international norms acknowledging that women are agents of change in matters of security and that sexual and gender based violence is not a by-product of war but a critical security concern. I hope that I have encouraged the inclusion of women in negotiations, key leader engagement, and the security sector generally, as well as protecting them from human rights violations.
I’ve been established in NATO Bi-Strategic Orders 40/1 and various products by ACT and SHAPE. All NATO missions have a HQ military Gender Adviser and I can see some planners are trying to include a gender perspective.
I’ve encouraged governments to conduct meetings with Civil Society such as the NATO Civil Society Advisory Panel and the UK MOD and Civil Society Round Table bi-annual meetings. I am so impressed by the Canadian ELSIE Initiative which is going to help the UN reach a tipping point for women peacekeepers and better prepare Troop Contributing Countries to include a gender perspective in their work.
The UK Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI), launched by Lord William Hague and Angelina Jolie is also another great agenda that has me at its roots. Its work to end the impunity surrounding conflict reacted sexual violence and assist survivors of rape is known globally. I’m excited to see what arises from the 2019 PSVI conference being held in London the month after my 19th.
I’m delighted that there are Military Gender Advisers in many NATO Member States but would always welcome more. I think it is healthy that women are now allowed to join the Infantry and Armoured Corps in many NATO militaries – I hope this trend continues. It’s also heartening to see men engaged: the WPS CHODS Network is an incredible enterprise – I hope anyone reading this will join up today.
Last question 1325, what would you like to see happen before your 20th birthday?
UNSCR 1325: - Well, despite improvements,the challenges in my implementation mean the promise of the WPS agenda has a significant way to go. It would be helpful to see if NATO members could act on the following:
- Engaging with Civil Society and NGOs who bring a broader outlook to security concerns and this should take place on a regular basis. Civil Society could be invited to early planning meetings or meet with staff working on future NATO areas of operation.
- NATO Member States deployed on the ground should conduct engagement with local communities and include non-traditional security actors such as women in Key Leader Engagement campaigns.
- Member States would benefit from establishing Military Gender Advisers across Defence – ask your American, Australian, Canadian and Swedish colleagues how they did it…
- NATO conflict and human terrain analysis should be gendered and intersectional, taking into account masculinities, femininities, gender roles and age. These should be associated with sex and age-disaggregated statistics.
- Prevention should be at the heart of NATO policymaking. A preventive approach based on human rights and engagement with local populations may result in fewer conflicts or specific military action.
- Protection of civilians, especially women and girls needs to be taught across Defence and viewed as an essential military capability – noting that mixed-patrols of women and men will enhance protection of civilians operations.
- Securing accountability for the crimes and human rights violations committed and ending the impunity of all perpetrators – state and non-state actors – is paramount.
UNSCR 1325, it has been a pleasure interviewing you, thank you for your time, best wishes for your 19th birthday.
UNSCR 1325: Thank you to NATO for wanting to celebrate my 19th birthday with me! It seems like everyone is wishing my 20th on me but at least we can strive to achieve more in the next 12 months to make the 20th anniversary one of a list of achievements. Thank you.
UNSCR 1325 was interviewed by the UK Ministry of Defence military lead officer on WPS, Lieutenant Colonel Rachel Grimes MBE.
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