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Resolution 1325 comes of age, but what has it achieved?

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October 29, 2021

This weekend sees Resolution 1325 coming of age.  1325 was passed unanimously by the UN Security Council on 31 October 2000.  It is the corner stone of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, recognising the disproportionate impact conflict has on women and girls.  1325 requires states to take into account the special needs of women and girls, and adopt a gender perspective to ensure their participation in peacekeeping operations and negotiations, and post-conflict resettlement plans.

Adoption of 1325 was largely the result of decades of campaigning by NGOs and civil society, in particular international and national women’s groups.  It has been bolstered over the past two decades with further, supporting resolutions, notably Resolution 1889 passed in 2009 which defined more precisely the four pillars of the WP&S framework:  

-       prevention (including prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeeping forces)

-       protection (of women and girls’ physical and mental safety, their economic security and overall wellbeing)

-       participation (in peace-making and at all levels of decision-making institutions, including in UN missions)

-       relief and recovery (to ensure equal distribution of aid to women and girls, and inclusion of a gender perspective in post-conflict efforts)

Two years after 1325 was passed the UN Security Council established the need for National Action Plans to be drawn up by all member states; it was intended these NAPS would set out how each country planned to address women’s peace and security issues in their own state and in countries they supported through aid programmes.[i]  

But how much has been achieved over the past two decades?  Not enough, for example:[ii]  

-       by August 2021 only half (98) of the UN member states had adopted NAPs[iii]

-       representation of women in fora dealing with arms control and proliferation has averaged between 25-35%, and “between 1992 and 2019, women comprised on average, just 13 per cent of negotiators, 6 per cent of mediators, and 6 per cent of signatories in major peace processes worldwide. About seven out of every ten peace processes did not include any women mediators or women signatories.”[iv]

-       in peacekeeping agreements a gender perspective was included in only four out of eleven country-specific situations where security and defence forces were deployed.[v]

-       in 2021, 2,500 cases of conflict-related sexual violence across 18 countries were reported and verified by the UN; 70% of the 52 parties “suspected of committing or being responsible for these atrocities have been listed by the United Nations for five or more years without having taken any remedial or corrective action.”[vi] And “in 2020, sexual violence against children increased by 70% compared with 2019.”[vii]

Progress was further hindered through 2020 and to date by COVID 19 which has seen increased rates of domestic/partner or male-relative violence against women and girls across the globe.  Worst affected have been those displaced by conflict, or living in conflict-affected countries.  For example, “in a survey of 850 refugee and internally displaced women across 15 countries in Africa, 73 per cent reported an increase in domestic violence.”[viii]

However, we have to report on the few improvements that have taken place, for example:

-       In February 2021, women comprised 48 per cent of all Heads and Deputy Heads of UN Missions, compared with only 20 per cent in 2015[ix]

-       Targets set for women’s participation by 2020, under the UN’s Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy were mostly exceeded:

o   18.7 per cent of military observers and staff officers against the 17 per cent target

o   29.1 per cent of individual police officers against the 22 per cent target

o   13.7 per cent of formed police units against the 10 per cent target

o   34 per cent of justice and corrections government-provided personnel against the 27 per cent target

-       The exception was that for military troops:[x]

o   5.2 per cent of military troops against the 6.5 per cent target

Speaking at the UN Security Council’s debate on Women and Peace and Security on 21 October, 2021, Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for “a radical shift in the meaningful participation of women in our peace-making, peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts” which should “remain a non-negotiable priority” for the UN.[xi]

Resolution 1325 may have come of age, but it hasn’t reached maturity yet.  Greater effort is required now to ensure women’s and girls’ safety, and their full participation in bringing peace and security to the world before the end of another decade of lost opportunity.


[i] For example, the UK’s NAP 2018-2022 is available at: FCO1215-NAP-Women-Peace-Security-ONLINE_V2.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)

[ii] Facts and figures:  Women, peace and security:  Facts and figures: Women, peace, and security | What we do | UN Women – Headquarters(dated October 2021, and accessed on 26 Oct 2021)

[iii] ] United Nations Security Council (2021). Report of the Secretary-General on women peace and security (S/2021/827), para. 80. Available at https://undocs.org/S/2021/827

[iv] ibid para. 15.

[v] ibid para. 29.

[vi] Ibid para 37 (and see UN note S/2021/312)

[vii] Ibid para 37 (and see UN note S/2021/437)

[viii] Ibid para 38

[ix] Ibid para. 32 (based on Data from UN Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, and Peace Operations.)

[x] Ibid para 33

[xi] Ibid paras 108-111

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