The State of Security and a Call for the Prevention of Armed Conflict: Women, Peace and Security Fifteen Years OnMonday, October 19th, 2015
by GW Professor Aisling Swaine
This week, the UN Security Council hosted a “High-Level Review” to consider progress made towards meeting its commitment to overcome the historic exclusion of women and their concerns from its purview. The event marked fifteen years since the Security Council adopted a ground-breaking resolution, Resolution 1325 (2000), that for the first time, recognized and strived to advance the overlooked, but critical role women can play in global efforts towards conflict resolution and peacemaking.
In the UN Security Council on Tuesday, we heard from the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq. Their representative described how in the last decade, a century’s worth of progress on women’s rights has simply come to a halt as a result of the cycles of conflict there. These women provide life-saving aid to families trapped in areas that international organizations and the government itself cannot reach. This is in a context where they risk becoming one of the over 3000 women that they estimate to have been captured by ISIS.
As part of its review process, the Security Council commissioned an independent Global Study on the Implementation of Resolution 1325. Also launched by the UN this week, the study assesses progress over the past 15 years on securitizing the world in ways that equally reflect both men and women’s rights and concerns. The study points towards much progress. It also points towards much that remains to be done.
Global trends on the prevalence of armed conflict bear grim tidings. The current era is characterized by a-symmetrical conflicts, where factionalized and fragmented modes of warfare means that more and more civilians are deliberately targeted. In these conflicts for example, we see variant ways that women, men, girls and boys are forced into combatancy and subjected to a myriad of harms, the propensity for and impact of such experiences determined by gender roles and norms. Terrorism and counter-terrorism as strategy predominates, and new technologies, such as the use of drones, enable a remote controlled warfare that appears unapologetic of the collateral damage it causes to civilians.