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UN weighs how to carry out resolution recognizing women's role in peace, security

Security officers stand along 1st Avenue in front

Security officers stand along 1st Avenue in front of the United Nations Building during the General Assembly meeting, Midtown Manhattan (iStock)

UNITED NATIONS -- The UN Security Council is poised Tuesday to weigh how to better carry out a landmark resolution adopted 15 years ago that recognizes the role of women in peace and security.

The open debate on Resolution 1325 comes as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Women release a 417-page report outlining the progress and shortcomings of the world body and its member states in carrying out the measure.

It was designed to recognize the role of women and girls as both subjects and actors in global peacekeeping. Such roles range from those of negotiators -- keeping in mind that experts say war and conflict have greater impact on women -- to peacekeeping troops.

"Since 2000, when Security Council Resolution 1325 was adopted, the United Nations has recognized that women's leadership and gender equality are key to international peace and security," said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women. "This is now an accepted global norm. . . . It is clear that we still have many skeptics to convince, doors to open, arguments to make and numbers to show to those who resist the role and power of women for peace."

She spoke on the eve of the UN Security Council's high-level meeting, presided over by Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, that could produce a draft resolution on how to better implement the resolution. It comes as the UN marks a number of milestones since the measure's passage in 2000.

Those include provisions in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which lists specific crimes against women that may be prosecuted as crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Other benchmarks are the appointment by Ban of a special representative on sexual violence in conflict and a larger percentage of peace agreements where women are negotiators than before 2000 -- just 11 percent from 1990 to 2000, and 27 percent since 2000.

Another major milestone occurred in May when Ban announced that a woman, for the first time in the history of the 70-year-old organization, would head a peacekeeping force.

Major General Kristin Lund, of Norway, is chief of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, which consists of more than 900 troops and police.

Still, only 3 percent of UN peacekeepers are women, Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

Despite the indications of progress, the authors of the most recent study note, "Obstacles and challenges still persist and prevent the full implementation of the women, peace and security agenda."

The report, Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace, notes with regret that a relatively few number of prosecutions are ever launched against perpetrators of sexual violence, even among the UN's own peacekeepers.

The authors further said that only 9 percent of negotiators on 31 major peace agreements between 1992 and 2011 have been women, this despite another finding that women's significant participation in negotiations results in longer-lasting truces.

It also notes that only 54 countries in the UN's 193 member states have launched national action plans on how to improve women's participation in security and peacekeeping.

"We recognized the world has changed a lot since 2000," said Radhika Coomaraswamy, lead author of the study, who said one of the key recommendations of the study urges nations' leaders to shift focus onto the prevention of conflict rather than on the use of force.

"There was the need to revive and see how we move this agenda forward in line with those changes."


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