Engaging systematically with civil society on Women, Peace and Security
‘This is almost revolutionary!’ This was the reaction to the information that NATO is establishing a mechanism to secure sustained dialogue with civil society on its policy in pursuit of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
Over the years, women’s rights organisations, human rights advocates, female community leaders, academic institutions and think-tanks, and other civil society actors and organisations have developed quite a strong expertise on the protection of women against violence and their rights, and the positive role women can play to prevent and resolve conflicts.
In fact, the coming into existence in 2000 of the ground-breaking Resolution 1325 is in large measure a result of civil society’s work. Since then, many devoted civil society organisations have pushed for the implementation of Resolution 1325 and the adoption of additional, related resolutions which today together make up the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
So, there is nothing new about civil society’s commitment and engagement in this area. Also, NATO has already benefitted from the experience and expertise of civil society, notably in Kosovo and Afghanistan. There civil society actors have provided valuable feedback to the NATO-led operations.
What is new is NATO’s structured and systematic engagement with civil society at the policy and implementation level. The mechanism to facilitate this dialogue and engagement is the Civil Society Advisory Panel on Women, Peace and Security. The Panel will meet regularly with the Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security and NATO staff working in this area to provide feedback on, and input to, NATO’s work to implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Through its insights and recommendations the Panel will become an important asset to NATO’s work to move this agenda forward.
Ultimately, civil society organisations will have a voice to also hold NATO to account and improve its work in this area. The results will be shared and discussed across NATO’s Secretariat and command structures, including units which are engaged in integrating gender perspectives in areas such as building defence capacity, integrity of armed forces, training, curbing the illicit use of small arms and light weapons, combatting terrorism and violent extremisms, and other areas. The results of discussions with the Civil Society Advisory Panel and its recommendations will also be shared with Allied and partner nations.
The Terms of Reference of the Panel were approved by Allied nations in April this year. A large number of partner nations that support the NATO Policy on Women, Peace and Security have also associated themselves with those Terms of Reference. The Special Representative is currently working to assemble the membership for the first two years of the Panel which is then expected to hold its first meeting in the fall of 2016.