Women, Peace and Security

Bucharest Workshop on UN Security Council Resolution 1325

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Keynote Speaker


Going to Scale with Success: Institutionalizing Best Practices

What does it really mean to institutionalize UN Security Council resolution 1325? At the Bucharest workshop on women, peace and security, the question was answered in different ways.

One expert introduced international guidelines designed to help relief workers around the world prevent and respond to sexual violence. Another talked about embedding training in human rights and sexual and reproductive health into the police and armed forces in Latin America and the Caribbean. A third spoke about integrating gender equality into the policies and laws of Kosovo. These experiences show how the principles of the resolution are being put into practice through guidelines, programmes and laws. One thing is clear, passionate and committed people are key to the effort.

At the international level

In October 2005, the United Nations introduced international guidelines for gender-based violence in emergency settings. The guidelines were produced by more than 30 UN agencies and NGOs that provide humanitarian assistance. Included is a matrix of interventions that provides harried relief workers with a quick and handy reference that is easy to use. This is not rocket science, said Dr. Wilma Doedens of UNFPA's Humanitarian Response Unit in Geneva, who led the process. These are basic things that everybody should already be doing.

The guidelines cover everything from prepositioning supplies to taking measures to ensure safety for children going to school and women collecting food and fuel. They address emergency preparedness, as well as minimal and more comprehensive responses to integrating sexual and gender-based violence prevention and responses into all humanitarian work. The guidelines are available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

At the regional level

In Latin America and the Caribbean, UNFPA has helped institutionalize elements of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 for the armed forces and police in 14 countries. From Nicaragua to Colombia, this has meant integrating human rights, including reproductive and women's rights, sexual and reproductive health, maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS components into the policies, procedures, protocols, training curricula and health services of uniformed forces.

Luis Mora, UNFPA Regional Adviser in Gender and Masculinities.

Large numbers of people have been reached through these expanded health services, including the families of the forces and remote populations. The military and police can reach very remote areas where no other institutions can go. In some cases, they have created special health units to go to these remote areas to discuss sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence, said Luis Mora, UNFPA Regional Adviser in Gender and Masculinities.

This work did not originate from a regional master plan, Mora said. Rather, it was built on the success of one country leading to success in another. There was a domino effect because one country would share their programme at a regional meeting and others would become interested. The UNFPA programme in Honduras received the highest military national award given to a civil institution. In 2004, it was recognized as a regional best practice by the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The post-conflict period provides a window of opportunity to improve the democratization of institutions which play a key role in the protection of human rights, said Mr. Mora. Because police and soldiers deal with issues such as gender-based violence on a daily level, this is nothing strange. Officials understand the concept of human security. Some countries have signed agreements with human rights ombudsmen to increase accountability. In all these countries, said Mr. Mora, the tendency is to strengthen relations between security forces and civil society.

At the national level

Maddalena Pezzoti, UNMIK's chief of gender affairs

In mid-2003, the Gender Affairs Office of United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) started work to bring Security Council Resolution 1325 to life. The first thing the team decided was that they were not going to lead a separate, parallel effort. They set the goal of gender equality as a vital, non-negotiable element of democracy and helped the provisional government draft a new law to protect women's rights. Then they struggled to bring the law to the political level.

We were never invited to participate in political affairs, said Maddalena Pezzoti, UNMIK's chief of gender affairs, so we invited ourselves. Her team was able to integrate gender goals in the standards implementation plan for Kosovo's future. These include women's representation in elected bodies; the inclusion of a gender equality approach in policies, programmes and services; and the eradication of gender-based violence including domestic violence and trafficking. Indicators to track and measure progress were also devised.

Another achievement is the creation and funding of the position of municipal gender affairs officers appointed in each of the 30 Kosovo municipalities. Since 2004, the head of UNMIK meets Kosovo women leaders from all communities, giving them an opportunity to express their concerns and make proposals directly to the highest UN authority in Kosovo.