Women, Peace and Security
NATO, UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions
NATO and its partners are taking action to promote the role of women in peace and security. This demonstrates their commitment to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and related Resolutions (1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122 and 2422). These Resolutions recognise the disproportionate impact that war and conflict has on women and children and highlight the fact that historically women have been left out of peace processes and stabilisation efforts. They call for full and equal participation of women at all levels ranging from conflict prevention to post-conflict reconstruction, peace and security. They call for the prevention of sexual violence and accountability to end impunity for incidents of sexual violence in conflict. Together, these resolutions frame the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
- NATO and its partners are committed to removing barriers for women’s participation in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building, and to reducing the risk of conflict-related and gender-based violence.
- NATO Allies and partners in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) launched work in this area in 2007 with the adoption of a specific policy to support implementation of UNSCR 1325.
- Over the years, the policy has been updated, related action plans have strengthened implementation and more partner countries from around the globe have become associated with these efforts.
- At the 2014 Wales Summit, Allied leaders acknowledged that the integration of gender perspectives throughout NATO’s three essential core tasks (i.e. collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security) will contribute to a more modern, ready and responsive NATO.
- Gender is an important focus of NATO’s cooperation with other international organisations – in particular the United Nations – and civil society.
- NATO is also taking action within its own organisation and structures to promote gender equality and the participation of women.
- The NATO Secretary General has appointed a Special Representative to serve as the high-level focal point on all aspects of NATO’s contributions to the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
More background information
According to the United Nations, before the Second World War, 90 per cent of casualties in conflicts were combatants. Today, the majority of casualties are civilians, especially women and children. Not only are their needs ignored during times of conflict, but women are often excluded from efforts to make and keep the peace – despite representing half the population.
The continued under-representation of women in peace processes, the lack of institutional arrangements to protect women and the widespread use of sexual- and gender-based violence as a tactic of war, remain major impediments to building sustainable peace.
The UN Security Council called on the international community to take action to address these issues through UNSCR 1325, adopted on 31 October 2000, which was followed by seven additional Resolutions (1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122 and 2422).
NATO is actively seeking to incorporate gender perspectives within the analysis, planning, execution and evaluation of its operations and missions. These efforts increase operational effectiveness and have already made a tangible difference to the lives of women in Afghanistan and in the Balkans.
Gender-related issues are an important focus of work in NATO’s cooperation with partner countries, both in the preparation of troops that will deploy in NATO-led operations and in wider cooperation on defence capacity building. Such initiatives are already bearing fruit. For example, a Trust Fund project in Jordan supports the development of service women in the Jordanian Armed Forces through improved training facilities, enhanced education and training material and policy initiatives. Some of the country’s women soldiers were deployed as female engagement teams as part of the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan.
A number of gender-related projects under the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme are engaging civil networks of experts from Allied and partner countries to share knowledge and develop solutions on issues of common interest. These include, for example, initiatives to provide a set of comprehensive indicators to evaluate how well the principles of UNSCR 1325 are implemented as well as to map the integration of women within different countries’ armed forces. Another project focused on how to handle gender-related complaints in armed forces, resulting in a comprehensive handbook on how to prevent and respond to gender-related discrimination, harassment, bullying and abuse.
NATO works on these issues together with other international organisations, including the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the African Union.
NATO is also seeking to promote greater gender equality and increase the participation of women in defence and security institutions within the organisation itself and its member states. At NATO Headquarters, initiatives are being taken to increase the number of women at decision-making levels as well as to promote the advancement of women and make greater use of their potential in both political and military ranks.
NATO and its partners’ active commitment to UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions resulted in a formal NATO/EAPC policy to support the implementation of these Resolutions, first issued in December 2007.
A first action plan to mainstream UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions into NATO-led operations and missions was endorsed at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010 on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of UNSCR 1325.
The policy and action plan were revised in 2014. This paved the way for more practical cooperation with NATO’s broad partnership network beyond the EAPC framework. In total 56 Allies and partners signed up to their implementation. Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates participated actively in their development, and New Zealand later associated itself with this effort too. Progress reports are issued every six months.
The basis of the policy: UNSCR 1325 and the Strategic Concept
The policy is based on the key pillars of UNSCR 1325: participation of women in conflict prevention, management and resolution; women’s participation in peace-building; protection of women’s and girls’ rights; and prevention of conflict-related sexual- and gender-based violence. The policy draws on both internal and external NATO resources for implementation.
Aligned with NATO’s fundamental and enduring purpose to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means, the policy aims to ensure that a gender perspective is mainstreamed into policies, activities and efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts. Due regard will be given to the social roles of men and women and how these may lead to different risks and security needs as well as translate into different contributions to conflict prevention and resolution.
The policy focuses especially on the three essential security tasks of the Alliance as set out in the 2010 Strategic Concept – collective defence, crisis management (including NATO-led operations and missions) and cooperative security – and on national contributions.
In line with the policy, the action plan concentrates on 14 outcomes and several actions, whose implementation and responsibility are shared between NATO International Staff, NATO Military Authorities and relevant national authorities.
Other cross-cutting aspects, such as human resources policies, education, training and exercises and public diplomacy, are also addressed and play an important role in enhancing the policy’s implementation within the Alliance.
Working with partner countries
In the context of their partnership programmes with NATO, partners are encouraged to adopt specific goals that reflect the principles and support implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions. They are also encouraged to make use of the training and education activities developed by Allied Command Transformation, which has ensured that a gender perspective is included in the curriculum of NATO Training Centres and Centres of Excellence as well as in pre-deployment training.
Though the Alliance has no influence on measures or policies taken at national levels, it is required that all personnel – whether from Allied or partner countries – deployed in NATO-led operations and missions and serving within NATO structures are appropriately trained and meet required standards of behaviour. Several countries have initiated gender-related training for subject matter experts and raised general awareness on UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions ahead of national force deployments.
Work among Allies and partner countries is not only about developing gender awareness in crisis-management or peace-support operations. An increasingly important focus is on strengthening gender perspectives, and promoting gender equality and the participation of women in defence and security institutions as well as the armed forces.
Gender perspective in operations
UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions are also being implemented in crisis management and in NATO-led operations and missions. The Alliance has nominated gender advisers at both Strategic Commands – Allied Command Operations and Allied Command Transformation – as well as in subordinate commands and the operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Gender advisors support commanders to ensure that a gender perspective is integrated into all aspects of an operation. An important milestone was reached in May 2015, when NATO’s first ever female Commander was appointed to NATO’s headquarters in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Along with having more female personnel on the ground, these measures have had a positive effect on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in theatres of operation. For instance, in Afghanistan, female soldiers are able to connect with members of the population otherwise closed off from their male colleagues. Gender advisers have also sought to promote public awareness and ensure that the gender perspective is incorporated in operational planning documents throughout the chain of command, as well as in documents outlining NATO’s current and future partnership with Afghanistan.
In 2015, NATO and its partners adopted, for the first time, Military Guidelines on the protection of, and response to, conflict-related sexual- and gender-based violence. Gender-related issues are also increasingly being incorporated in exercises. For example, NATO’s Crisis Management Exercise in 2015 included – for the first time ever – a gender perspective as one of its objectives. These annual exercises are designed to practise the Alliance’s crisis management procedures at the strategic political level, and involve civilian and military staffs in Allied capitals, at NATO Headquarters, and in both Strategic Commands.
The implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions cuts across various divisions and governing bodies within NATO Headquarters, as well as in the Strategic Commands. All these entities together are responsible for monitoring and reporting the progress made by the Alliance. For this purpose, a Women, Peace and Security Task Force was established under the guidance and responsibility of the Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security. A specific body was also set up to advise the Military Committee.
In sum, the mechanisms at NATO’s disposal to implement the UNSC Resolutions are:
- The Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security serves as the high-level focal point on all aspects of NATO’s gender-related work. This position was created in 2012, and made permanent from September 2014. It is currently held by Ambassador Marriët Schuurman;
- A task force bringing together civilian and military staff across the Headquarters;
- A gender office (NATO Office on Gender Perspectives) and an advisory committee of experts (NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives) on the military side, tasked with promoting gender mainstreaming in the design and implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, programmes and military operations;
- A working group led by Allied Command Operations to assess means to further incorporate UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions into operational planning and execution;
- Gender advisers deployed at different levels of NATO’s military command structure, including operational headquarters;
- A number of relevant committees that develop and review specific and overall policy;
- The NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme promotes concrete, practical cooperation on gender-related issues among NATO member and partner countries, through collaborative multi-year projects, training courses, study institutes and workshops.
NATO is taking steps to ensure that its own organisation and structures reflect the principles advocated by UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions, in particular in policies for recruitment and human resources.
A first diversity action plan was approved in 2012 by the North Atlantic Council, the principal political decision-making body within NATO. It sought to promote gender diversity goals by taking action to identify and remove barriers to women within NATO’s policies and programmes; to attract and retain women, especially in senior leadership positions; and to create policies and services that meet the needs of women working in NATO’s civilian staff. A new action plan for the 2015-2018 period is currently being developed.
In 2014, the Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security and the Human Resource Policy and Diversity Officer launched the NATO Women’s Professional Network (NWPN) and Mentoring Programme. The aim of the NWPN is to promote a common corporate culture and give training, development and mentoring opportunities to women. The Mentoring Programme seeks to help increase the pool of qualified female candidates and to break down structural barriers that may exist between different services and types of staff.