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Trick or treat? The UN and implementation of security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security.

The adoption in October 2000 of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women. Peace and Security is regarded as a groundbreaking achievement in putting women's rights on the peace and security agenda of the UN. Critics have suggested that the adoption of this resolution has made little difference in terms of changed policies and practices. I argue, however, that it has nevertheless made a difference. The adoption of Resolution 1325 is the expression of a new norm in the making. Furthermore, it illustrates how cross-cutting thematic issues such as "women, peace, and security" today are placed on the agenda and nurtured by the UN Secretariat in close cooperation not only with member states, but, just as important, with networks of nongovernmental organizations and individual experts. Keywords: Resolution 1325, women's rights, agenda setting, norm development, nongovernmental organizations.


On 31 October 2000 while New York was making its final preparations for the evening's Halloween celebrations--the members of the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (hereafter, Resolution 1325). (1) After years of knocking on doors at the offices of member states' delegations in New York, a strong lobby of women advocates from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and from within the UN system had finally succeeded in placing issues relating to women, peace, and security on the agenda of the Security Council. For the first time in the history of the UN, women's interests and concerns in relation to peace and security matters were formally discussed and acknowledged within the UN organ that has "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security." (2) At the time of its adoption, Resolution 1325 was celebrated as a major breakthrough for women's rights in the peace and security arena, and has since been referred to as a groundbreaking resolution.

The women's lobby was not alone in campaigning for the adoption of Resolution 1325. Altogether, three key groups of mutually dependent actors were involved in the successful outcome of the campaign: a UN-initiated interagency network of women's advocates; a group of member states that would later become known as the Friends of Women, Peace and Security; and a transnational advocacy network of women's and human rights NGOs. Through their combined efforts, these three groups of actors proved effective in placing the women, peace, and security issue area on the UN agenda. The case of Resolution 1325 thus provides an interesting illustration of how the "third UN" has come to "routinely engage with the first and the second UN and thereby influence UN thinking, policies, priorities, and actions." (3)

In this article, I trace the historical background and process leading up to the adoption of Resolution 1325 in October 2000, and take a look at where we stand today in terms of its implementation. It is commonly agreed that, in close cooperation with the UN women's machinery, (4) the international women's movement played a pivotal role in lobbying for Resolution 1325. I argue that internal processes in other parts of the UN, as well as developments in international relations more generally, were just as important determinants for the resolution's adoption. Today, these determinants continue to influence the normative status of the women, peace, and security issue area, along with the actual implementation of Resolution 1325.

Resolution 1325 as Trick?

In true Halloween spirit, the adoption of Resolution 1325 was conceived as a real "treat" to the women of the world on the part of the members of the Security Council. Resolution 1325 stresses the importance of women's "equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution" (Preamble). Its acknowledgment of women's agency in relation to peace and security matters rather than viewing women solely as victims in need of protection is perhaps one of the most important attributes of the resolution. Its eighteen provisions cover a broad range of issues and concerns that apply to the levels of the headquarters and member states of the UN as well as to the operational level of the organization's activities. The provisions can roughly be separated into three main categories:

1. Representation. The resolution urges member states to increase the representation and active participation of women at all decisionmaking levels in national, regional, and international institutions and mechanisms for conflict prevention, conflict management, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding.

2. Gender Perspective. A gender perspective should be adopted in the planning and implementation of peace operations and peace negotiations--including gender-sensitive training of personnel, an expanded role for women as peacekeepers, and increased attention to local women's peace initiatives, needs, and interests in mission areas.

3. Protection. The resolution emphasizes the need for increased attention to the protection and respect of women's rights, including protection against gender-based violence in situations of armed conflict and initiatives to put an end to impunity for such crimes.

In the years that have passed since the adoption of Resolution 1325, a growing body of literature has painted an increasingly less optimistic picture of the resolution and its implementation. (5) The underlying thread is one of disillusionment and impatience. This literature has three striking characteristics. First, it is mainly written by women who in different ways and capacities form part of the advocacy network of women's and human rights NGOs, the UN women's machinery, or both. Second, it takes the form of descriptive reports and anecdotal accounts. Third, it points to discrepancies between political commitment and actual implementation. Such discrepancies are often explained in terms of lack of political will and accountability mechanisms, along with organizational inertia and discriminatory attitudes toward women. (6) Going through much of this literature, one might generally get the impression that Resolution 1325 has made little difference in terms of strengthening women's interests in the peace and security arena. Rather than being a treat, Resolution 1325 is portrayed as yet another "trick" played by the members of the Security Council in an effort to appease women activists.

... Or Treat?

While appreciating the frustration and impatience of dedicated gender advocates and advisers eager to see rapid changes and results, I would argue that the adoption of Resolution 1325 has indeed made a difference in putting women's interests and concerns on the UN security agenda. What seems to be missing, however, in much of the current analysis and debate on Resolution 1325 is an acknowledgment of the broader political and legal restraints on its rapid and full implementation. The majority of treaties and conventions that currently form part of international law once started out as ideas and normative ideals that were launched, nurtured, and promoted under the auspices of the UN. Since the very founding of the world organization, idea mongering has probably been one of its most important contributions. Indeed, Richard Jolly, Louis Emmerij, and Thomas G. Weiss argue that some of the ideas and concepts launched and nurtured by the UN have become issues on the international arena with remarkable speed. (7) I would argue that women, peace, and security, as expressed through Resolution 1325, is one such concept or issue area. With the adoption of this resolution, a formal barrier was broken in terms of acknowledging a link between the promotion of women's rights and international peace and security--between traditionally soft sociopolitical issues and hard security. Such an acknowledgment is a necessary prerequisite for new norms to emerge. (8)

Today, the women, peace, and security issue area has become part of the formal UN discourse on security. In the Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit, the member states "stress the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding," before continuing:
  We reaffirm our commitment to the full and effective implementation
  of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000 on
  women and peace and security. We also underline the importance of
  integrating a gender perspective and of women having the opportunity
  for equal participation and full involvement in all efforts to
  maintain and promote peace and security, as well as the need to
  increase their role in decision-making at all levels. We strongly
  condemn all violations of the human rights of women and girls in
  situations of armed conflict and the use of sexual exploitation,
  violence and abuse, and we commit ourselves to elaborating and
  implementing strategies to report on, prevent and punish gender-based
  violence. (9)

The commitment of the member states toward women, peace, and security was further reiterated in the formative resolutions of the Peacebuilding Commission of late 2005. (10) An even more recent example of member state acknowledgment was the adoption in June 2008 of Security Council Resolution 1820, a follow-up resolution to Resolution 1325 focusing specifically on sexual violence in situations of armed conflict. (11) Among other things, this resolution stresses that sexual violence, when used systematically against civilians as a tactic of war, "may impede the restoration of international peace and security."

It could be argued, of course, that the examples listed above are predominantly of a rhetorical character and count for little unless implemented in practical policies. Still, women, peace, and security has appeared as a normative, issue that is increasingly difficult for member states to shun. This is a remarkable development given the historically strict divisions between soft and hard issue areas within the UN. Women's issues have traditionally been relegated to the domains of soft policy, and thus were not something to which the Security Council was required to pay attention. The adoption of Resolution 1325 marked a change in these attitudes.

Contextualizing Resolution 1325

The Changing Concept of Security

Resolution 1325 was not adopted in a vacuum, but in a particular historical context in UN affairs as well as international relations more generally. Even if Resolution 1325 can be seen as part of an ongoing, internally driven UN process dealing with the promotion of women's rights, the campaign leading up to its adoption was undoubtedly also influenced by external developments in international relations. A changed international security architecture, the changing nature of conflict, and the widening of the concept of security, together with the increasingly influential role of NGOs in international relations, were all factors that contributed to the resolution's eventual adoption.

The end of the Cold War led to great upheavals in international politics, which also had consequences for how security was defined and which matters landed on the Security Council's agenda. During the Cold War years, few, if any, questions were raised in the Security Council regarding the principle of state sovereignty, and there was little thematic discussion about what constituted threats to international peace and security.

Events surrounding the Gulf War of 1991 led to renewed optimism and enthusiasm about the collective security concept and the role of the Security Council in securing world peace. A large number of new UN operations, including humanitarian interventions, were launched in conflict-ridden and unstable countries. (12) Although difficult operational experiences would soon dampen enthusiasm, (13) in some respects significantly, by the end of the 1990s a change had nevertheless occurred in how the security concept and legitimate intervention in intrastate conflicts might be defined. State sovereignty and the principle of nonintervention in domestic affairs were no longer seen as absolute principles. (14) Instead, debate arose about the need to broaden the security concept to also include considerations of human security. (15) The nature of conflict shifted from being primarily interstate to primarily intrastate. Increasingly, civilian populations appeared to be both the target and the means of warfare. This was perhaps best illustrated through the huge streams of refugees and internally displaced persons in conflicts throughout Africa and in the Balkans, together with a seemingly exponential growth in the use of sexualized violence as a weapon of war, predominantly directed against women. (16) The changing reality on the ground changed the agenda of the Security Council, leading to the emergence of a new type of Security Council resolution.

The Emergence of Thematic Resolutions

In UN language, Resolution 1325 is characterized as a "thematic resolution." (17) This type of resolution gained ground in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Only a few years earlier, it would have been difficult to imagine that the Security Council might discuss thematic issues that were not directly linked to one or more specific conflicts. (18) It would have been even more difficult to imagine that the Security Council would treat gender issues in relation to international peace and security, let alone to adopt a resolution on the subject matter. Traditionally, there has been little interest among the most powerful member states of the Security Council to discuss issues other than those directly linked to their primary concerns--ongoing conflicts or immediate threats to international peace and security. To the extent that broader concerns were ever brought up, these were seen in direct relation to the primary ones. The changing nature of conflict also led to a change--to some extent reluctant--in the attitudes of members of the Security Council toward thematic issues such as women, peace, and security. (19)

The Legal Status of Resolution 1325

The extent to which the Security Council makes international law--and thus the extent to which resolutions such as Resolution 1325 are legally binding on member states--is a highly contested issue in the scholarly literature on the UN. (20) Referring to Article 25 of the UN Charter, many NGOs and their representatives point to the binding nature of resolutions adopted by the Council. (21) Also, owing to its unanimous adoption, Resolution 1325 has been hailed by NGOs as having particular political and normative strength. (22) Consequently, much criticism has been voiced from these quarters for the slow implementation of the resolution by member states. Diplomats, on the other hand, do not seem to regard Resolution 1325 as being of a legally binding nature. (23)

Generally, a distinction is made between Council resolutions adopted under Chapter VI (noncoercive measures) and resolutions adopted under Chapter VII (coercive measures) of the UN Charter. Resolutions under Chapter VII are invoked when a breach of the peace is believed to have occurred or a threat to international peace and security is thought to exist. Such resolutions are regarded as binding on member states. Resolutions adopted under Chapter VI, including thematic resolutions such as Resolution 1325, are of a noncoercive nature. Rather, they carry a normative imperative that is intended to influence behavior (in the short or long term) at both the international and national levels. (24) Through Resolution 1325, the Security Council did not really decide on anything other than to "remain actively seized of the matter." The Council members address the member states, the secretary-general, and the UN system using words and phrases such as "urges," "encourages," "invites," "calls," and "expresses its willingness." In a UN context, this is not particularly strong language. Perhaps the unanimous Security Council vote in favor of Resolution 1325 can be explained by this: the issue area was seen by the members of the Council at the time as having low priority and few, if any, serious implications for them in practice. Sanam Naraghi Anderlini remarks, in any case, that "in all likelihood, Council members were not fully aware of the way in which women's groups in civil society, governments, and the UN system would keep Resolution 1325 alive." (25)

The UN and Promotion of Women's Rights

From an organizational perspective, Resolution 1325 emerged as yet another building block in what Devaki Jain has described as "a continuous sequence of UN events uncovering different meanings surrounding an idea of gender equality." (26) These events had until October 2000 predominantly been confined to the parts of the UN system that are often referred to as the "development pillar." Dorota Gierycz explains this as the outcome of the divisions of functions within the UN Secretariat. Peace and security matters were allocated to the political departments and the intergovernmental bodies they serve (such as the Security Council). Women's issues were allocated to the social and developmental departments of the UN. (27) These latter departments had a long history of working closely with women's NGOs and individual activists.

The UN's work to promote women's rights can be dated back to the founding of the organization in 1945, and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. The UN Charter reaffirms the "equal rights of men and women" and states that human rights and fundamental freedoms apply to all "without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion." (28) The final text of the Charter did not come about without a fight, however. First drafts made references to "men" only. It took considerable efforts by women's organizations to lobby female delegates to have this changed. (29) As Torild Skard notes: "Some female delegates were not preoccupied with women's issues, and those who were, did not always define 'feminism' in the same way or agree on strategic choices." (30)

Direct references to women were also included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948. But perhaps most important of all for the promotion of women's rights was the establishment of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) as early as 1946. (31) The wording in the UN Charter, together with the early establishment of the CSW and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, set normative and international legal standards that women activists both inside and outside the UN system could build on in their work to strengthen women's rights. (32) This work took a big step further when the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted in 1979. (33)

Under the auspices of the CSW, a series of international women's conferences were organized during the period from 1975 to 1995, focusing on various aspects of women's rights such as political participation of women and women in development. (34) Though "women and peace" also appeared as an item on the agenda of these conferences, the 1995 Beijing conference was the first to make "women and armed conflict" a priority issue area, and it also gathered together the largest number of NGOs at any such UN conference at that time. These NGOs actively lobbied conference delegates while many member states also included NGO representatives in their official delegations to the conference. The 1995 Beijing Platform of Action defined "Women and Armed Conflict" as one of twelve "critical areas of concern." Accordingly, this conference is regarded as a very important precursor to Resolution 1325.

In the years that followed, initiatives to implement the Beijing Platform of Action were discussed on several occasions and within different organs of the UN. In March 2000, a Special Session of the General Assembly, the Beijing + 5, was organized in New York to take stock of progress with implementation of the platform. At this meeting, it was generally agreed that something had to be done to raise awareness of women's interests and rights in relation to peace and security matters.

Another important precursor to Resolution 1325 is the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. Until the 1990s, women's rights had hardly been addressed by the human rights machinery in Geneva. (35) At the 1993 conference, however, the women's lobby once again joined forces to put the issue of wartime rape and other forms of violence against women on the agenda. Raped women from the Balkans were brought in to testify before diplomats, and journalists were brought along to report to the public from these meetings. One of the outcomes of this conference was the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, which affirmed that women's rights are human rights, and that violence against women is a violation of human rights. (36)

Setting Women, Peace, and Security on the Agenda

The UN Secretariat

The UN women's machinery most closely linked to the CSW has undoubtedly played an important role in promoting women's rights and the women, peace, and security issue area. This machinery has traditionally been comprised of individuals with a particular concern for women's political and social rights. Their close relations with the international women's movement and peace activist organizations can probably explain why the literature on Resolution 1325 has paid relatively little attention to advocacy and policy processes for women's rights taking place within the "security pillar" of the UN.

In the 1990s, UN peacekeeping operations underwent tremendous changes, and a large number of peace operations were established with comprehensive and multifunctional mandates. The UN entered a challenging phase in terms of both resource allocation and its ability to plan and conduct peace operations effectively. Several efforts were made by secretary-generals Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Kofi Annan to redefine and conceptualize the various peace and security instruments of the UN. Two publications stand out as significant reference documents during this period: An Agenda for Peace and the Brahimi Report. (37) However, both of these documents were gender blind, as were the policy debates that followed their launching.

Women who worked closely with the political and security departments of the UN were disturbed by this lack of gender sensitivity. To rectify this situation, the UN Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) initiated a series of meetings that brought together experts from both inside and outside the organization as well as representatives from member states. The first meeting was held in New York in December 1994. (38) Also, toward the end of the 1990s, the Lessons Learned Unit at the Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), in close cooperation with the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues (OSAGI), carried out a study on UN peacekeeping and gender mainstreaming, of which the preliminary findings were presented and discussed at a workshop in Namibia on 31 May 2000. (39) This workshop would prove to be important for the further advancing of women's rights in the security field. It resulted in both the Windhoek Declaration and the Namibia Plan of Action on "Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in Multidimensional Peace Support Operations," two documents that served as important formal inputs to the open debate in the Security Council in October 2000 and the subsequent adoption of Resolution 1325 a week later. (40)

It was no coincidence that Resolution 1325 was adopted in the month of October. This was the month of Namibia's Security Council presidency. The Namibian government had a strong ownership stake in the Windhoek Declaration as well as positive experiences with the highly gender-sensitive UN operation in its country ten years earlier. (41) This, in combination with intense lobbying activities by a group of women's NGOs, set the stage for Namibia to choose women, peace, and security as the topic of the month for its presidency. (42) The women's NGOs lobbied Namibia in particular, because they saw the benefit of a non-Western country taking on the sponsorship of a possible Security Council resolution on women, peace, and security. (43)

Friends of Women, Peace, and Security

The emergence of new norms or issue areas on the UN agenda is dependent on the willingness of one or more member states to take on the kind of political leadership that Namibia showed during its Security Council presidency. In addition to Namibia, Bangladesh and Canada were among the most active member states in the early phase of the campaign for Resolution 1325. It was during Bangladesh's Security Council presidency in March 2000 that the Council issued its first ever statement on the occasion of International Women's Day, emphasizing "that peace is inextricably linked with equality between women and men." (44) In this statement, the members of the Council also reaffirmed that "equal access and full participation of women in power structures and their full involvement in all efforts for the prevention and resolution of conflicts are essential for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security."

These states were soon to be joined by the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In 2000, under a Canadian initiative, they formed the Friends of Women, Peace and Security group, or Friends of 1325, which is still active. During the 1990s, it became increasingly popular to form "Friends of" groups whenever groups of member states wanted to promote one or more issue areas. (45) The purpose of Friends of 1325 is to "promote the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, through: (i) information sharing; (ii) advocacy to promote women, peace and security issues within and outside the Security Council; (iii) working toward concrete action to implement SCR 1325." As of June 2008, this group consisted of thirty-one member states, and its work is still coordinated by Canada. (46)

Many of the most active members of the Friends of 1325 got involved in the work to promote women's rights in the peace and security field already in the early to mid-1990s. Canada and the UK worked closely with the DPKO in developing training manuals in gender sensitivity for peacekeeping personnel while the Nordic countries provided funding for the previously mentioned DPKO study on mainstreaming a gender perspective in peacekeeping operations. Until the position of DPKO gender adviser was included in the regular budget of the department, it was funded by voluntary contributions from the Nordic countries. Many of the same member states were also involved in funding the DAW-initiated series of expert meetings on "Women and the Agenda for Peace." What these member states also brought with them was a culture of dialogue and cooperation with the NGO community. Many meetings, seminars, and conferences on various aspects of women, peace, and security have been organized in New York during the course of the years by NGOs. Such activities have typically been fully funded or cofunded by members of Friends of 1325. Diplomats at the UN missions of member states such as Norway and UK talk about "good working relationships" and "well established links," particularly in relation to the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security.

The NGO Advocacy Network

The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security seems to have been particularly influential in lobbying for Resolution 1325 and its implementation. The forerunner of the working group was the Women and Armed Conflict Caucus. This group of international NGOs, coordinated by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), took a lead in drafting the outcome document at a 1998 CSW conference discussing the Beijing Platform of Action. Acknowledging the slow pace of implementation of this platform, the activists decided to shift strategy "from getting armed conflict on to the UN 'women agenda' to getting 'women and armed conflict' on the main agenda." (47) In March 2000, the caucus became the NGO Working Group on Women in Armed Conflict, which in May changed its name to the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. (48) The NGO working group was formed to advocate for a Security Council resolution on women, peace, and security and was instrumental in drafting the text for such a resolution and providing Security Council members with relevant information about the issue area. Working closely with the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), it invited a number of women from conflict zones to New York to speak before the members of the Security Council in an Arria formula meeting (49) organized a day before the open hearing that preceded the adoption of Resolution 1325. (50) After the adoption of Resolution 1325 in October 2000, the working group took on an advocacy and watchdog role in relation to the actual implementation of Resolution 1325. (51)

This NGO group has continued to work closely with member states since the adoption of Resolution 1325. It meets regularly with the most relevant member states and is regarded as an increasingly professional lobbyist. The NGO working group is routinely invited as an observer to all meetings of the Friends of 1325. While it focused during its early years primarily on the "usual suspects" of gender-friendly states, over the past few years it has broadened its relations to include other member states. It has also built strong links to UN entities such as OSAGI, and has observer status at meetings of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Women, Peace and Security. (52)

In addition to general lobbying activities directed toward member states and the UN system, the NGO working group has also established cooperation with regional organizations such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and has conducted training courses on Resolution 1325 for OSCE member states.

Current Status of Implementation

Effective implementation of thematic resolutions such as Resolution 1325 rests on committed efforts on the part of the entire UN system and its member states. At the time of writing, the results are quite mixed in relation to Resolution 1325. Certain parts of the system and a handful of member states have made good progress through their own action plans. (53) At the other end of the spectrum, there are member states that give the resolution little emphasis. The slow pace of implementation of Resolution 1325 does not necessarily have to do with discriminatory practices against women, as is often claimed. At least, that is not the only explanation. It generally takes a long time to change anything at the UN. Also, progress on issue areas such as women, peace, and security often falls victim to larger controversies of power politics. As one UN diplomat representing the Group of 77 (G-77) put it, when asked why he thought the implementation was moving so slowly: "It is not because it is about women. I think we all agree that it is important to do more for women. But it is because this resolution comes from the Security Council." (54) This reference points back to the discussion on the legitimacy and the legislative status of the Security Council, and thus also to the legal status of Resolution 1325. Many G-77 countries have criticized Resolution 1325 because they perceive it as being representative of a larger package of liberal ideas primarily promoted by the affluent countries of the North. Such charges have been a continual source of conflict in the UN over the past decade, especially in relation to the debate on UN reform. And many observers claim that this North-South divide has been reinforced since 11 September 2001 and the subsequent war on terrorism, making it more challenging to promote thematic issues such as women, peace, and security. (55)

Another reason frequently cited to explain the slow implementation of Resolution 1325 is the UN's ponderous organizational culture and traditional ways of thinking and acting. (56) This is especially evident in the established practices concerning the appointment of special envoys, special representatives of the secretary-general (SRSGs), and special advisers. Few women are found in these categories of UN positions. As of March 2009, for example, only one of eighteen UN operations directed and supported by the DPKO is headed by a woman. (57) Those who occupy these positions tend to be men of a certain age group, with relatively similar diplomatic or political careers behind them. There is also a tendency toward recycling: once you have secured a top position in the UN system, you are sure to get another. The recruiting process is closed and informal, making it difficult for women to gain entry. (58)

Positive Steps

Those who work inside and close to the UN system largely support allegations that the implementation of Resolution 1325 is moving slowly. Nevertheless, they report of positive signs of progress, especially in the last few years. One diplomat notes that
  if you looked three years ago, and you asked any of the SRSGs, or
  even any of the senior people in DPKO, what the resolution meant to
  them, they probably wouldn't have been able to tell you. Whereas I
  think now, if you talk to anybody, they understand the resolution,
  and they know what they need to do. and they are actually trying to
  do something with it. (59)

An increasing number of Security Council resolutions include direct references to Resolution 1325 or to women, including peacekeeping mandates and situation-specific resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter. (60) This was also the case when the Security Council and the General Assembly adopted concurrent resolutions establishing the UN Peacebuilding Commission. These resolutions do not contain direct references to Resolution 1325, but language on women and gender is well integrated. (61)

The major challenge in terms of implementation of Resolution 1325 seems to be the lack of accountability mechanisms. This has been emphasized both by former secretary-general Kofi Annan and current secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in their latest reports to the Security Council on women, peace, and security. (62) Many have advocated for the adoption of a new resolution that is more specific regarding accountability and priorities, much along the lines of what has been achieved in relation to the resolutions on Children in Armed Conflict. (63) Until recently, such an idea enjoyed little support among diplomats and bureaucrats in and around the UN. However, with the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1820 in 2008 on sexualized violence, a first step may have been taken toward the development of a more systematic framework for implementation of women, peace, and security. Though devoid of accountability mechanisms, this latest resolution is nevertheless more focused and employs more forceful language than Resolution 1325.

For its part, the UN Secretariat adopted in 2005 a System-Wide Action Plan on Resolution 1325, whereby all departments, funds, and programs that make up the UN family committed themselves to follow up and report on initiatives that are relevant to the resolution. The system-wide plan has been criticized for simply listing activities as well as for its alleged lack of strategic thinking. Following a review of the implementation of this plan involving thirty UN entities, and consultative processes with the NGO community, the original plan has been transformed into a results-based programming, monitoring, and reporting tool for 2008-2009. (64)

Responsibility for the follow-up and coordination of this new reporting tool rests with OSAGI. The Inter-Agency Task Force on Women, Peace and Security has been established to assist the special adviser in her work. In addition to a broad variety of UN entities, non-Secretariat entities such as the Commonwealth Secretariat and the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security also attend file meetings of this task force as observers. This is an important forum for discussion and further policy development within this particular issue area.

One UN entity that has perhaps come furthest in implementing Resolution 1325 is DPKO. In November 2006, DPKO adopted a policy directive on gender equality in peacekeeping. An internal action plan on how to implement Resolution 1325 has also been adopted. All peace operations established after 2000 have a gender adviser, Gender Unit, or gender focal point in their field headquarters. DPKO has also established a Gender Team at its headquarters in New York. This team consists of four persons headed by a senior gender adviser. (65). The DPKO's Gender Team is better staffed than other units within DPKO that handle thematic issues. Its work is framed around four pillars: (1) development of policy and operational tools; (2) support to gender units in the field; (3) knowledge management and partnerships, including participation in the Inter-Agency Task Force on Women, Peace and Security; and (4) recruitment of women to peacekeeping operations.

The recruitment issue is perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing the UN. It is currently in great need of qualified personnel for its various peace operations around the world. In both the UN and its member states, discussion continues about how the recruitment pool can be expanded and, in this connection, women remain an untapped resource. Women make up only a little more than 1 percent of UN military personnel, approximately 4 percent of police personnel, and around 30 percent of international civilian personnel. Member states are now being urged by the UN to recruit more women for their respective national defense and police forces, which in turn would allow them to contribute more women to peace operations. Whereas the NGO community has been very vocal in lobbying for increased recruitment of women to peace negotiations and high-level decisionmaking positions within the UN, the same NGOs have not been particularly active in lobbying for an increase in the number of female military and police peacekeepers. This could perhaps be explained by the fact that many of these NGOs originated as part of the peace movement.


Women, peace, and security has, in recent years, become an acknowledged issue area on the security agenda of the UN. Given the traditionally strict divisions between soft and hard issues within the world organization, I have argued that this acknowledgment has been achieved in a surprisingly short time and is the result of a successful campaign by a triangle made up of women's activists within the UN, a handful of member states, and a group of NGOs. From an organizational point of view, the women, peace, and security issue area emerged as yet another building block in the work of the UN's development pillar to promote women's rights. Still, particular circumstances in international relations allowed for this to happen when it did. Also, processes within the UN's security pillar were instrumental in the materialization of Resolution 1325. These processes have been largely overlooked in the literature on Resolution 1325.

Critics might argue that recognition of Resolution 1325 has been primarily at the rhetorical level. Broad political and diplomatic acceptance of the resolution's message is important, but means little without the actual implementing of the resolution in practice. Indeed, we are still a good distance away from a situation where women's direct participation and the inclusion of women's interests become an integral part of peace negotiations and peace processes. Nevertheless, women, peace, and security has emerged as an issue area that can no longer be overlooked by either the UN or its member states. Accordingly, it is regarded by many as a new norm in the making.

What seems to be clear, in any case, is that the triangle of actors--the women's lobby within the UN, the member states, and the NGOs--that once successfully campaigned for the adoption of Resolution 1325 will continue to play an important role in having it implemented both at UN headquarters and in the field.


Torunn L. Tryggestad is a researcher and PhD candidate within the Gender, Conflict and Peacebuilding Research project at the International Peace Research Institute (PRIO) in Oslo. Her research is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The author wishes to thank Helga Hernes, Kristin Scharffscher, Inger Skjelsbaek, and the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. She also acknowledges Ane Sydnes Egeland for her valuable research assistance, and John Carville for his excellent copyediting.

(1.) UN Security Council, Res. S/RES/1325/2000, 31 October 2000.

(2.) Article 24, UN Charter.

(3.) See Thomas G. Weiss, Tatiana Carayannis, and Richard Jolly, "The 'Third' United Nations," Global Governance 15, no. 1 (2009): 127. For an introduction to Inis L. Claude Jr.'s distinction of the "first and the second UN," see Inis L. Claude Jr., Swords into Plowshares: The Problems and Prospects of International Organization (New York: Random House, 1956); Inis L. Claude Jr., "Peace and Security: Prospective Roles for the Two United Nations," Global Governance 2, no. 3 (1996): 289-298.

(4.) The term UN women's machinery refers to UN entities with a particular concern or responsibility for women's issues, including the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI), the Division for the Advance ment of Women (DAW), the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (IN-STRAW). The main consultative bodies in relation to Resolution 1325 arc the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE) and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Women. Peace and Security.

(5.) See, for instance, Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, Women Building Peace: What They Do, Why It Matters (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2007); Cynthia Cockburn, From Where We Stand: War, Women's Activism and Feminist Analysis (London: Zed Books. 2007); Elisabeth Porter, Peacebuilding: Women in International Perspective (London: Routledge, 2007); and Sheila Meintjes, Anu Pillay, and Meredeth Turshen, "There Is No Aftermath for Women." in Sheila Meintjes, Meredeth Turshen. and Anu Pillay. eds., The Aftermath: Women in Post Conflict Transformation (London: Zed Books, 2001), pp. 3-17.

(6.) See, for instance, Angela Raven Roberts, "Gender Mainstreaming in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Talking the Talk. Tripping Over the Walk," in Dyan Mazurana, Angela Raven-Roberts, and Jane Parpart, eds., Gender, Conflict and Peace keeping (Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), pp. 43-63.

(7.) Richard Jolly, Louis Emmerij, and Thomas G. Weiss, The Power of UN Ideas: Lessons from the First 60 Years, United Nations Intellectual History Project series (New York: UN, 2005), available at

(8.) See Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink, "International Norm Dynamics and Political Change." International Organisation 52, no. 4 (1998): 887-917; and Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998).

(9.) 2005 World Summit Outcome. Doc. A/60/1, Chap. III, Peace and Collective Security, par. 116.

(10.) See concurrent resolutions of the UN Security Council, Res. S/RES/1645 (20 December 2005), and the UN General Assembly, Res. A/RES/60/180 (30 December 2005).

(11.) UN Security Council, Res. S/RES/1820 (19 June 2008). Resolution 1820 is listed under the heading "Women, Peace and Security" on the Security Council Web page, available at

(12.) Mats Berdal, "Ten Years of International Peacekeeping," International Peacekeeping 10, no. 4 (2003): 5-11; David M. Malone and Karin Wermester, "Boom and Bust? The Changing Nature of UN Peacekeeping." in Adekeye Adebajo and Chandra Lekha Sriram, eds., Managing Armed Conflicts in the 21st Century, Cass Series on Peacekeeping (London: Frank Cass, 2001), pp. 23-36.

(13.) The UN operations in Somalia (1992-1993: 1993-1995), the Balkans (1992-1995), and Rwanda (1993-1996) stand out as particularly negative experiences.

(14.) For an early discussion, see Jarat Chopra and Thomas G. Weiss, "Sovereignty Is No Longer Sacrosanct: Codifying Humanitarian Intervention." Ethics and International Affairs 6, no. 1 (1992): 95-118.

(15.) See, for instance, The Responsibility to Protect, Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (Ottawa, ON: International Development Research Centre, 2001).

(16.) Helga Hernes,"De nye krigene i et kj[empthy set]nnsperspektiv" (The new wars in a gender perspective), Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift 24, no. 1 (2007): 24-33; Inger Skjelsbeak, "Sexual Violance in Times of War: Mapping Out a Complex Relationship," European Journal of International Relations 7, no. 2 (2001): 211-237.

(17.) "Thematic resolutions" are different from the "conflict-specific resolutions" normally adopted by the Security Council. As indicated by the term thematic, the former set of resolutions focus on a specific topic or concern that is a cross-cutting trait of most modern-day conflicts. The first thematic resolution to be adopted by the Council was on the protection of children in armed conflict (Res. S/RES/1261/1999).

(18.) David M. Malone, "Introduction," in David M. Malone, ed., The UN Security-Council: From the Cold War to the 21st Century (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2004), pp. 1-15; Peter Wallensteen and Patrik Johansson, "Security Council Decisions in Perspective," in David M. Malone, ed., The UN Security Council: From the Cold War to the 21st Century (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2004), pp. 17-33. For a useful overview of thematic resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, see Cora True-Frost, "The Security Council and Norm Consumption," New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 40, no. 1 (2007): 115-218.

(19.) China and Russia are generally the two most reluctant members of the Security Council when it comes to discussing and adopting resolutions on thematic issues. For more on this, see, for instance, Security Council Update Report No. 3, "Women, Peace, and Security" (11 June 2008).

(20.) See. for example, Bruce Cronin and Ian Hurd, eds., The UN Security Council and the Politics of International Authority (London: Routledge. 2008); Jose E. Al-warez, "Legal Perspectives," in Thomas G. Weiss and Sam Daws, eds., The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). pp. 58-81; Stefan Talmon. "The Security Council as World Legislature," American Journal of International Law 99, no. 1 (2005): 175-193; Christine Chinkin, "Normative Development in the International Legal System," in Dinah Shelton, ed., Commitment and Compliance: The Role of Non-binding Norms in the International Legal System (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 21-42; and Sydney D. Bailey and Sam Daws, The Procedure of the UN Security Council, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998).

(21.) Article 25 of the UN Charter states that "the Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present charter."

(22.) An unanimous vote in the Security Council means that all fifteen members of the Council vote in favor of the resolution in question, including the five permanent members: China, France, the UK, Russia, and the United States. The ten nonpermanent members of the Council at the time of the adoption of Resolution 1325 were Argentina, Bangladesh. Canada, Jamaica. Malaysia. Mali. Namibia, the Netherlands. Tunisia, and Ukraine; Membership of the Security Council, available at (accessed 3 September 2009).

(23.) This view was repeatedly conveyed to me during interviews and conversations with UN diplomats in November 2006, June 2007, and November 2008.

(24.) Cora True-Frost, "The UN Security Council Marks Seventh Anniversary of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security with Open Debate," ASIL Insight 11, no. 29 (2007), available at (accessed 29 May 2008).

(25.) Anderlini, Women Building Peace, p. 197.

(26.) Devaki Jain, Women, Development and the UN, United Nations Intellectual History Project series (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005).

(27.) Dorota Gierycz, "Women, Peace and the United Nations: Beyond Beijing," in Inger Skjelsbaek and Dan Smith, eds., Gender, Peace and Conflict (Oslo: International Peace Research Institute, 2001), pp. 14-31.

(28.) Preamble and Article 1 of the UN Charter.

(29.) Charlotte Bunch, "Women and Gender," in Thomas Weiss and Sam Daws, eds., The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 496-510. For more on the role of women's NGOs and activists, see also Cockburn. From Where We Stand; Porter, Peacebuilding; and Jutta M. Joachim, Agenda Setting, the UN and NGOs: Gender Violence and Reproductive Rights (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2007).

(30.) Torild Skard, "Getting Our History Right: How Were Equal Rights of Women and Men Included in the Charter of the United Nations?" Forum for Development Studies 35, no. 1 (2008): 37-60.

(31.). The CSW was first established as a subcommission of the Human Rights Commission, but was made an independent entity after pressure from, among others, the NGOs. Eleanor Roosevelt was among the women who initially opposed the idea of a separate commission. For more on the disagreements among women activists during the early years of the UN, see Skard, "Getting Our History Right."

(32.) Jain, Women, Development and the UN.

(33.) Today, 186 countries--over 90 percent of the UN member states--are parties to the convention; available at htt://

(34.) The UN women's conferences were held in Mexico City (1975), Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985), and Beijing (1995).

(35.) Bunch, "Women and Gender." p. 504.

(36.) Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, Doc. A/CONF. 157/23 (12 July 1993).

(37.) See An Agenda for Peace: Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking and Peace-Keeping, Report of the Secretary-General, UN Doc. A/47/277-S/24111 (17 June 1992), available at; "Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations" (Brahimi Report), UN Doc. A/55/305-S/2000/809 (21 August 2000), available at

(38.) See "Gender and the Agenda for Peace," report from expert group meeting, 5-9 December 1994, DAW, UN Doc. GAP/1994/1. Two more expert meetings were organized: in the Philippines in 1995 (with UNESCO) and in Santo Domingo in 1996 (with INSTRAW and PRIO).

(39.) Both the conference and the report were entitled "Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in Multidimensional Peacekeeping Operations." The final report is available at

(40.) See Judith Hicks Stiehm, "Women, Peacekeeping and Peacemaking: Gender Balance and Mainstreaming," in Louise Olsson and Torunn L. Tryggestad, eds., Women and International Peacekeeping, Cass Series on Peacekeeping (London: Frank Cass, 2001), pp. 39-48.

(41.) See, for instance, Louise Olsson, "Gender Mainstreaming in Practice: The United Nations Transitional Assistance Group in Namibia," in Louise Olsson and Torunn L. Tryggestad, eds., Women and International Peacekeeping, Cass Series on Peacekeeping (London: Frank Cass, 2001), pp. 97-110.

(42.) The importance of personal relations between individuals such as the late Angela King (OSAGI), Leonard Kapungu (DPKO Lessons Learned Unit), and then Namibian minister of foreign affairs Theo-Ben Gurirab should probably not be underestimated either.

(43.) Cockbum, From Where We Stand, p. 141.

(44.) Statement to the press by Security Council president, Ambassador Chowdhury, press release SC/6816, 8 March 2000.

(45.) See, for instance, Teresa Whitfield, "Groups of Friends," in David M. Malone, ed., The UN Security Council: From the Cold War to the 21st Century (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2004), pp. 311-324.

(46.) Nell Stewart, first secretary. Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations, personal communication with the author, 13 June 2008. The current members of the group are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia. Croatia. Denmark. Finland. France, Germany. Guinea, Jamaica, Japan (observer), the Republic of Korea (ROK), Liechtenstein, Mexico, Namibia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, the UK, and the United States.

(47.) Cockburn. From Where We Stand, p. 140.

(48.) The founding members of the NGO working group were Amnesty International, International Alert, the Hague Appeal for Peace, the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, the International Peace Research Association, and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Later, the Women's Caucus for Gender Justice also became involved. An updated list of current members is available at

(49.) The term Arria formula refers to informal meetings outside Security Council chambers, where members of the Security Council are able to listen to the views of outsiders (usually NGOs) on a particular topic or conflict. The meeting format is named after Diego Arria, the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN who initiated the first meeting in 1993. See James A. Paul, "Working with Nongovernmental Organisations," in David M. Malone, ed., The UN Security Council: From the Cold War to the 21st Century (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2004), pp. 373-387.

(50.) The strategy of bringing in women from the field to testify before members of the Security Council resembles the strategy chosen by the women's lobby at the 1993 UN Conference on Human Rights.

(51.) The mission of the NGO working group is "to collaborate with the United Nations, its member states and civil society towards full implementation of SCR 1325, including ensuring the equal and full participation of women in issues relating to peace and security. Using SCR 1325 as our guiding instrument, the NGO Working Group promotes a gender perspective and respect for human rights in all peace and security, conflict prevention and management and peacebuilding initiatives of the United Nations," available at (accessed January 2008).

(52.) GinaTorry, former coordinator of the NGO working group, interviewed by the author, Oslo, Norway, November 21, 2008.

(53.) As of May 2009, the following sixteen member states have adopted national action plans: Austria, Belgium, Chile, Cote d'Ivoire, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Liberia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, and the UK. In addition, regional organizations such as the African Union, the European Union, NATO, and the OSCE have adopted resolutions and strategies for the inclusion of the provisions of Resolution 1325 in their respective work for peace and security.

(54.) Interviewed by the author. New York, June 4, 2007.

(55.) See Wallensteen and Johansson, "Security Council Decisions in Perspective."

(56.) See, for instance. Porter, Peacebuilding; and Raven-Roberts, "Gender Main-streaming in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations."

(57.) Available at

(58.) For more on this, see Manuel Frohlich, "The Ironies of UN Secretariat Reform," Global Governance 13, no. 2 (2007): 151-160; and Camille Pampell Conaway and Jolynn Shoemaker, Women in United Nations Peace Operations: Increasing the Leadership Opportunities, Women in International Security (WHS) (Washington, DC: Georgetown University, July 2008); available at

(59.) This view was expressed and supported by a number of gender advisers and diplomats (with women, peace, and security in their portfolios) in interviews and conversations during field trips to New York in November 2006, June 2007, and November 2008.

(60.) See True-Frost, "The UN Security Council Marks Seventh Anniversary;" and Women, Peace and Security, Report of the Secretary-General, UN Doc. S/2008/622 (25 September 2008).

(61.) The provisions of Resolution 1325 have also been well integrated into the country-specific work of the Peacebuilding Commission, particularly in the strategic peacebuilding frameworks for Burundi and Sierra Leone.

(62.) See "Report of the Secretary-General on Women, Peace and Security," UN Doc. S/2007/567 (12 September 2007); and Women, Peace and Security, Report of the Secretary-General, UN Doc. S/2008/622 (25 September 2008).

(63.) The first resolution on Children in Armed Conflict was adopted in 1999. Since then, the Security Council has adopted annual resolutions--each more specific and concrete in its provisions--on this issue. The resolution adopted in July 2005 (Resolution 1612) was groundbreaking in authorizing the establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism. In addition, a working group has been established, which benefits from the support of a task force made up of UN entities such as UNICEF, UNDP, and DPKO. The secretary-general also provides regular progress reports on the implementation of these resolutions; Security Council Cross-Cutting Report No. 1, "Children and Armed Conflict" (15 April 2009).

(64.) See "Report of the Secretary-General on Women, Peace and Security," 2008.

(65.) In 2008, the position was upgraded to the category of senior gender advisers toward the significance of the issue area.
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Title Annotation:United Nations
Author:Tryggestad, Torunn L.
Publication:Global Governance
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2009
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