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State of World Population 2010

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Chapter Eight

And the next 10 years?

Looking back over the last decade—and ahead to the next—United Nations peacekeeping officials and the humanitarian agencies see not only concrete changes and many positive developments in post-conflict societies but also new challenges demanding long-term commitments to the next step, development for all sectors of society while also keeping a focus on women, if rebuilding and healing are to be long lasting. Many of these same challenges are also relevant in humanitarian crises and emergencies, such as the earthquake in Haiti.

A woman stares at the remains of buildings in the hard-hit Carrefour Feuilles neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
©Benjamin Lowy/VII Network

“Security Council resolution 1325 is foundational, as it sets the broad contours of the way forward to meet the specific needs of women and girls, men and boys affected by conflict as well as in the process of post-conflict reconstruction,” says Dr. Nata Duvvury, Co-director of the Global Women’s Studies Programme at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and a leading scholar on post-conflict societies. “Countries are making progress in terms of formulating and implementing policies in line with 1325 but we have no one example where all the dimensions of the resolution are translated into effective policies and, more importantly, transparent accountability mechanisms.

“As such, we are still not in a position to conclude whether we are, in actuality, moving forward to a world of less conflict, though an important study in 2001 found that nations with greater domestic gender equality were less likely to use violence in international crisis. This suggests that less conflict is a possibility if post-conflict societies commit to gender equality as the base for renewal and rebuilding,” Duvvury says. The study, “Gender, Violence, and International Crisis,” by Mary Caprioli and Mark Boyer, appeared in the Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Governments and United Nations peacekeepers alike understand that a new era has dawned and that, while progress may be slow in some places, much is to be gained by supporting women and including them in peacebuilding and reconstruction. United Nations agencies have made the point resoundingly clear: women are key to national development, and they want to be thought of, post conflict, as not just victims in need of protection but as important players in recovery. At the community level, non-governmental organizations, linked across their countries by mobile phones and internationally through the Internet, are creating innovative programmes linked to specific local needs, conditions and cultures. Donor governments are asked to listen to their ideas.

Multinational bodies and regional organizations have also been drawn into action on issues of women, peace and security. The African Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the World Bank were among those that held events on these issues in 2010. The OSCE meeting was specifically focused on “understanding the benefits of involving women in security,” and included the role of women in a wide range of activities from conflict prevention to combating terrorism.

[29] Margot Wallström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict: a five-point agenda

End impunity: For war-affected women, justice delayed is more than justice denied—it is terror continued. The top priority is to push back against the vicious cycle of impunity.  As the Beijing Declaration made clear: No State may refer to national customs as an excuse for not guaranteeing all individuals human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Protect and empower war-affected women and girls: Protection and empowerment are twin pillars of resolutions 1325 and 1820. We are not just protecting women from violence, but protecting them to become agents of change.

Strengthen political commitment and leadership: Security Council resolutions 1820 and 1888 are not ends in themselves but tools in the hands of political leaders. Efforts will be made to broaden the constituency for action—to rally States, the United Nations and regional bodies to own this agenda and feel accountable for its success, as sexual violence must no longer be pigeon-holed as “just a women’s issue.”

Re-think rape as a tactic of war and terror: In contemporary conflict, rape is the frontline. It is a security issue that requires a security response. This must be recognized and realized. Those who tolerate sexual terror do so in defiance of the Security Council, with its power to impose sanctions, refer cases to international courts, and enact robust enforcement measures. Peace negotiations must address sexual violence early and fully to prevent war-time rape from becoming peacetime reality.

Harmonize and amplify the response of the international community: To war-affected women, there is no “1325” or “1820,” no “programmes, funds or entities.” There is simply “the United Nations,” and we must deliver as one in common cause with governmental and non-governmental partners.

As we look back on the promise of the Beijing Platform, and the adoption of resolution 1325, we also look forward to a time when women’s inclusion in peace and security will be not a novelty, but normality. We know that peace will not deliver peace for women if rape persists, that law will not deliver justice for women if no reparations are made, and that seats at the table will not guarantee genuine participation after decades of women’s exclusion. Change must ultimately be felt in the lives of women walking to market in Eastern Congo, collecting firewood outside a camp in Darfur, or lining up to vote in a village of Afghanistan. Their security is the true measure of success.

The chief of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Under-Secretary-General Alain Le Roy, and the Department’s gender adviser, Comfort Lamptey, see some positive trends developing in peacekeeping that bode well for the protection and promotion of women.

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ first female chief police adviser took over in 2010 when Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon promoted Ann-Marie Orler to the top job. Orler, a lawyer and 20-year veteran of the Swedish National Police, had been the department’s deputy police adviser since 2008 and was leading efforts to recruit more women into United Nations policing.

Ameerah Haq, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste and Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), briefs the Security Council.  ©UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Three United Nations peace missions are now led on the civilian side by Special Representatives of the Secretary-General who are women: Ellen Margrethe Løj of Denmark in Liberia, Ameerah Haq of Bangladesh in Timor-Leste and Lisa M. Buttenheim of the United States in Cyprus. As the United Nations moves towards more integrated missions, with peacekeepers and humanitarian agencies working together as country teams, these top officials will be at the forefront of continuing much of the rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance begun by peacekeeping missions, in cooperation with governments. Good civilian policing and the establishment of the rule of law is crucial to post-conflict development, especially for women who have only recently been the beneficiaries of new laws against domestic violence. Four women have also been appointed as deputy representatives in the field.

Le Roy said that the role and numbers of United Nations police officers are rapidly expanding as more countries move to post-conflict situations, troop numbers are drawn down and the ensuring of a legacy of sound civilian policing becomes a priority. Depending on varying country policies, United Nations police officers may patrol, aid in investigations or train local and national police forces. Within five years, United Nations police numbers have risen dramatically. “In 2006, we had 6,000 police in our missions,” Le Roy said. “Today we have more than 13,000. We have doubled in the last three years, and the trend is increasing. And more of them are women.”

“In the last 10 years, our role in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has completely changed,” Le Roy said. “The mandate of peacekeeping is much more complex and with a much wider agenda. We are dealing much more with civil society.” In Burundi, Afghanistan and Nepal, he said, missions have promoted quotas for women in legislatures. “We have pushed to adopt the rape law in Liberia, and a domestic violence law in Timor-Leste,” he said. “In human rights, we see that the legal framework is in place.”

The smooth transition from international to national ownership of peacebuilding is essential, Comfort Lamptey says.  “In countries where the United Nations draws down, civil society, the ministry of gender and others need to ensure sustainability.” And in those countries that have not had international peacekeeping missions, the responsibility lies with governments and citizens, with substantial advice and assistance available from United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, Lamptey adds.

Internationally, Le Roy, said, it will be important to see that post-peacekeeping development is adequately funded, since United Nations member nations are required to pay agreed peacekeeping assessments, but contribute voluntarily to humanitarian and development programs. To facilitate a seamless transition from peacekeeping to the longer-term development necessary for lasting peace, the United Nations established a Peacebuilding Commission, an intergovernmental body, in 2005. In 2006, it was bolstered with a $340 million Peacebuilding Fund to help fragile countries at risk of relapsing into conflict. Five such nations are now being assisted by the commission: Burundi, the Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Since September 2009, Judy Cheng-Hopkins has been the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, directing international operations from New York.

Cheng-Hopkins, who worked in Africa for the United Nations Development Programme for 10 years, later led the World Food Programme’s New York office and was most recently Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, said that her office has a close relationship with UNFPA as an implementing partner because its focuses on women and youth are important to post-conflict rebuilding. She said that many people do not see clearly the links between gender, youth and peacebuilding, yet youth unemployment can run as high as 70 per cent in post-conflict societies, meaning that young people, particularly young men who have emerged from fighting without an education or vocational training or hopes of a job—“idle, angry young men,” in her words—are vulnerable to the temptations of crime or renewed violence. “Youth unemployment in this setting is not even a development issue any more,” she said. “It’s an issue of peace and war.” On women, she added. “Their role as drivers of peace has become one of our main areas of intervention.”

Cheng-Hopkins said the main areas of activity for the Peacebuilding Commission’s operations are security sector reform, including the disarming and reintegration of ex-combatants; national dialogue and reconciliation programmes; the rule of law and transitional justice; bringing back basic services and public administration, and economic revitalization. Such activities correlate directly with the non-recurrence of violence, she said.

“The problem is that after a conflict has happened, there is a 50 per cent chance that it will relapse,” Cheng-Hopkins said. The international response has to be multifaceted and creative. In Sierra Leone as well as Liberia, money from the Peacebuilding Fund has been spent on the introduction of community-wide reparations, to reach women who won’t come forward individually to report rape.

Elisabeth Lindenmayer, a former political adviser and deputy cabinet chief of Kofi Annan when he was United Nations Secretary-General, now directs the United Nations Studies Program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. In January 2010, she led a research team to Haiti (coincidentally when the earthquake struck) that produced the report Haiti: A Future Beyond Peacekeeping, which concluded that new thinking is needed to meet the challenges of nations at seemingly perennial risk. Though the report was limited to Haiti, its message is universal.

“A major challenge facing the United Nations Security Council and the international community is that security continues to be perceived as separate from development,” Lindenmayer wrote. “Certainly, a definition of security as strictly limited to security sector reform and policing is not sustainable. The single largest threat to stability and lasting peace is the lack of livelihood opportunities for Haiti’s poor, either through formal employment or agricultural activities. As long as the Security Council chooses to define peace as the absence of war or conflict, and to deal primarily with only ‘hard security’ issues, the sources of instability and fragility in Haiti will not be adequately addressed.”

[30] UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict

UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, or “UN Action,” unites the work of 13 United Nations entities to address sexual violence during and in the wake of conflict. It is a concerted effort to improve coordination and accountability, amplify programming and advocacy, and support national efforts to prevent conflict-related sexual violence in response to Security Council resolutions 1820 and 1888.

UN Action supports women’s engagement in conflict prevention and enhances their influence over peace negotiations and post-conflict recovery processes. This helps ensure that sexual violence is on the agenda of the justice and security sectors. UN Action seeks to strengthen services for survivors, including health care, legal support and economic assistance to help rebuild their lives.

How it works
  • Country-level action: strategic support at the country level, including efforts to build capacity, and targeted support for joint United Nations planning and programming.
  • Advocacy: action to raise public awareness and generate political will to address sexual violence as part of a broader campaign, “Stop Rape Now.”
  • Learning by doing: creation of a knowledge hub on conflict-related sexual violence in conflict, including data collection methodologies, international jurisprudence and effective responses.

Jordan Ryan is the United Nations Development Programme’s Director of Crisis Prevention and Recovery, and because the organization’s representatives are the leading and coordinating United Nations officials in countries where the United Nations works, the thinking and planning of his team will be reflected globally. Ryan, who, as Humanitarian Coordinator and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Mission in Liberia from 2006 until he assumed his current post in 2009, was on the front line of a large post-conflict recovery effort there. In an interview and written comments for this report, Ryan drew attention to what he sees as the need for new thinking about how to move beyond the international agreements promoting the protection and advancement of women, as valuable as these documents are in setting goals and standards. Long-term commitments to give consistent support to often slow-moving but essential programmes, such as the expansion of education or health care or the development of a credible judiciary, are needed. Donors have to be in for the long haul, he said.

Women police in the Salem Police Station in Monrovia, Liberia, verify crime records.
©VII Photo/Marcus Bleasdale

“This is not only about bringing more women to the table, it is also about ensuring that the gender agenda is comprehensive and that the ‘table’—the structures of governance, including male leadership—are those in which a gender perspective can emerge,” he said. “An all-female police force can do little to protect women if it is not in their mandate or there are no functional security or judicial institutions.”

“Despite all of the advocacy around women’s leadership, a comprehensive post-conflict gender agenda remains to be fully articulated,” he said. “While emphasis is given to issues of representation and sexual violence, far less attention is given to the gender dimensions of land reform, government decentralization and privatization. Supporting women’s meaningful participation in post-crisis peacebuilding requires a three-fold investment: in human capacity, in women’s institutions and in an enabling environment that facilitates their active contributions.”

Donors and governments need a much more visionary approach to building human capacity, he said. “Training and employing women health care workers in rural and urban areas and ensuring that local clinics are adequately resourced are the main challenge in post-crisis countries.”

Returning to the focus of Security Council resolutions and many other declarations and programmes to deal with sexual and gender-based violence, Ryan asks: “Are we asking the right questions? Sexual and gender violence and exploitation are foundational constraints on women’s capacity to exercise their citizenship rights, their leadership roles and contributions to reconciliation. Gender-based violence is also a major obstacle to the realization of women’s economic rights within the household and outside of it.”

“Responses to sexual and gender-based violence and exploitation, however, have been very narrowly defined, under-resourced and inconsistently addressed throughout the peacebuilding frameworks and priority plans,” Ryan says. “In part, this is because very little exists in the way of evidence-based approaches to sexual and gender-based violence prevention, protection, physical and psychosocial recovery. Despite political will, we have no clear answers. We have not anywhere prevented sexual violence, and need caution about current approaches. We are allocating significant resources without understanding context, cause and consequences, intended and unintended.”

Reflecting what women in various countries say about dashed hopes of a reduction in violence when conflict ends, Ryan says this: “Security Council resolutions speak to conflict-related sexual violence as a security issue when used as a weapon of war, while a growing body of research is showing that even after a peace agreement is signed, violence against women increases. We need to understand how and why particular patterns of sexual violence—both on and off the so-called battlefield—are shaped historically and by current context.”

Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery: “Gender-based violence is also a major obstacle to the realization of women’s economic rights within the household and outside of it.”  ©UN Photo/Mark Garten

“Sexual violence cannot be seen only in criminal terms,” Ryan says. “Sexual violence both contributes to and results from the cumulative expression of the horrors and trauma of war. Men need to be the focus of much more attention, he adds. It is an issue coming into focus in Africa, as the work of the Refugee Law Project at Makerere University in Uganda demonstrates. “We need to address the psychosocial challenges facing men after decades of conflict without any kind of ‘normative’ social environment to reintegrate into,” Ryan said.

In transitioning from a military to civilian environment, Ryan concludes that more study is needed on the broad social consequences of war, especially in poor countries. “Decades of studies of returning veterans in the United States have established links between combat trauma and higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, gun ownership, child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, suicide, homicide and criminality,” he says. In developing countries, however, “There is very little literature and limited experience in addressing the psychosocial readjustments of former combatants and soldiers in conflict settings.” He adds that too often research and clinical work has relied on Western analyses and prescriptions.

“Urgent attention—intellectual and programmatic—is needed to address the psychosocial issues of recovery from violence and its perpetration,” Ryan concludes. There is no quick fix. That is also the message brought to this report by many local people in a range of countries who have themselves experienced catastrophic disruptions in their own lives, and are still struggling to understand how they can get to a better post-conflict world.

Nata Duvvury proposes a formula: “Human development and human security should be the twin objectives of recovery, whether from natural disaster or conflict. To achieve these objectives, a transformative agenda ensuring the economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights of all is required. Women and girls, men and boys, as citizens with full rights, are the key actors in shaping and realizing this transformative agenda. Gender equality, and a transformation of gender norms, is at the heart of ensuring full participation. Laws and policies are critical but are not enough. Transformation of gender norms needs to occur within individuals, families, communities, nations and international institutions at large.

"Human development and human security should be the twin objectives of recovery, whether from natural disaster or conflict."

“Of equal importance is that accountability for change rests with not only international bodies and nation states but also with communities and families. Partnerships between women and men, between communities and states, and between states themselves and with international organizations to advance gender equality, citizen rights, human development, and human security are unfolding across the globe; they need to be supported and expanded. With Security Council resolution 1325 as the backdrop, a new way of engagement away from conflict and towards equality is evolving and holds the way forward to dissolve gender, social, economic and political hierarchies.”

“Recovery and rebuilding in post-disaster and post-conflict contexts offer the possibility of not only reconstruction, but also transformation,” Duvvury says. “Crisis situations break down established patterns of interaction, with women often taking on roles and responsibilities outside of their traditional purview. Yet often, the experience is that there is a quick reversal to established gender norms in the reconstruction phase. This poses the challenge that despite gender sensitive approaches being implemented more broadly today, there seems to be still inadequate attention to deeper understanding of the construction of gender norms and the ways in which to transform to more equitable gender relations. In other words it is important not only to create opportunities for women to have voice (for example political quotas) but also to shift perceptions of women’s skills and performance as well as ensure substantive change in their power within institutions.

“The challenge still to be addressed is how to fundamentally shift the power balance in gender relations so that women and men, girls and boys have equal access to resources, ability to control use of resources, and the right to participate. In other words, the process of reconstruction to be renewal and not just recovery requires a focus on transforming social relationships, values, identities, ideologies, and institutions.”

[31] Gender key to successful disarmament

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) are activities designed to facilitate disbanding of military fighters and easing their transition back into society. Activities can involve the turning in of weapons, the physical relocation of ex-combatants, often first in camps and then to other locations, distribution of benefits packages (including clothing, food and cash settlements) for ex-combatants, and development of credit, training or other programmes to assist the reintegration of combatants into their communities.

But armed conflict affects women and men differently. Although each conflict presents specific dynamics, men may have been more active in organized fighting, while women may have had to flee to refugee camps, been subjected to violence, had to assume non-traditional responsibilities and seen their domestic responsibilities intensified in their efforts to secure food, shelter and security for their families.

Women and men have unequal access to resources following conflict. Given existing gender biases and inequalities in most societies, men are often better positioned to take advantage of reconstruction initiatives. Special attention is generally required to ensure that women and girls are not excluded from programmes and that women also benefit from reconstruction efforts. Without these efforts, DDR activities run the risk of widening gender inequalities.

DDR activities that only focus on one segment of society—male ex-combatants—without considering how that group interacts with the rest of society, have had limited effect. Understanding how societies can rebuild, including the gender dimensions of this process, increases the possibilities for lasting peace.

Source:  Gender Perspectives on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, Briefing Note 4, 2001, Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women.

[32] Women as peace-builders

While women are often excluded from formal peace negotiations and only marginally represented in political decision-making structures, the experiences of various conflict-affected countries show that women often engage vigorously in informal peacebuilding and policy-related activities.

Burundi and Nepal are two conflict-affected countries in which women in civil society have been heralded for their efforts throughout peace and post-conflict processes. In both countries, the expansion of women’s public roles and responsibilities during armed conflict laid the ground for the establishment of an array of women’s organizations and networks. In these networks, women engaged in peacebuilding activities during the conflict, mobilized actively for the integration of a gender perspective and women’s participation in the peace negotiations, and continued their advocacy for women’s political participation, rights and needs throughout the post-conflict period.

By the time that the Burundian peace process started in 1998, Burundian women’s organizations had already been mobilizing for peace for several years. In response to the civil war that began in 1994, women came together on a multi-ethnic basis to create a number of associations and two umbrella organizations—Collectif des associations et ONG féminines du Burundi (CAFOB) and Dushirehamwe—which united diverse women’s groups in their advocacy for peace at the grassroots and national levels. Throughout the post-conflict period, women’s organizations and networks have been an important arena for women’s mobilization and action in Burundi.

Nepal saw a wave of women’s political engagement during the peaceful mass protests of 2006 that initiated the country’s peace process, with women from civil society taking to the streets and demanding peace and democracy. Since then, a myriad of active women’s organizations with a diversity of priorities, activities and target groups have been operating there. Although there are no formal linkages for communication between political institutions and civil society groups, many women’s organizations have pushed persistently to get access to political leaders and institutions, using an array of methods (including petitions, media publications, workshops, seminars, signature campaigns and street demonstrations) to be heard. Women’s organizations have also gathered to work for joint causes related to women, peace and security through networks such as Shanti Malika, Women’s Alliance for Peace, Power, Democracy and the Constituent Assembly (WAPPDCA), and WomenAct.

Source: Women’s Organizations: A Driving Force Behind Women’s Participation and Rights, Åshild Falch, 2010, Peace Research Institute Oslo.

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