DDR & the Women, Peace and Security Agenda

The adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), which celebrated its 15th anniversary just two weeks ago, was a milestone for countless women’s rights organizations and networks, both at UN headquarters and among women peacebuilders “on the ground”.

Resolution 1325 recognizes women’s important contribution to the prevention and resolution of conflicts, considering them not only as victims but as important agents for peace. Integrating both participation and protection concerns, the women, peace and security agenda stresses the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in conflict resolution mechanisms by partaking in all decision-making processes in regards to peace and security. It further emphasizes the need to address pervasive sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflict, including through gender-sensitive training for peacekeeping staff, establishing special protection measures for women and girls, and ending impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence. Resolution 1325 further calls for mainstreaming gender in mission mandates and reports as well as for increasing the number of female special representatives. It also obliges the Security Council to consult with national and international women’s organizations before taking any steps regarding the WPS agenda. Additionally, the uniqueness of S/RES 1325 lies in the engagement of women’s civil society in the open drafting process that preceded its adoption.

The inclusion of DDR in the WPS agenda made slow progress. Resolution 1325 only goes as far as to include a paragraph stating that the Security Council “[e]ncourages all those involved in the planning for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration to consider the different needs of female and male ex-combatants and to take into account the needs of their dependents.” (S/RES 1325 (2000/OP 13))

However, the subsequent WPS resolution 1820 (2008) on sexual violence in armed conflict, which details the zero-tolerance policy for SGBV for all peacekeeping operations and calls for pre-deployment and on-the-ground awareness training, determines that the Security Council and relevant UN agencies have to consult with women and women-led organizations concerning the design and implementation of DDR and SSR programs. This commitment is reiterated in S/RES 1888 (2009), which also introduces specific provisions for the protection of women and children from rape and violence, such as Women’s Protection Advisors and Gender Advisors as part of peacekeeping missions. It particularly calls for measures to address, prevent and tackle sexual violence in DDR and SSR programming.

Finally, resolution 1889 (2009) introduces the term “women associated with armed groups” and “[c]alls upon all those involved in the planning for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration to take into account particular needs of women and girls associated with armed forces and armed groups and their children, and provide for their full access to these programmes.” (S/RES 1889 (2009/OP 13))

Resolution 2106 (2013) reiterates the Secretary General’s responsibility to assist national authorities in ensuring women’s participation in addressing sexual violence and further explicitly states that protection mechanisms for women and girls must be established in cantonment sites as well as “for civilians in close proximity of cantonment sites and in communities of return“ (S/RES 2106 (2013/OP 16 (a))) It also for the first time addresses the need to offer “trauma and reintegration support” to women and children associated with armed groups and ex-combatants.

Resolution 2106 (2013) further addresses women’s participation in SSR efforts, highlighting the importance of gender-sensitive training and a careful vetting process to exclude those that have previously perpetrated or commanded (the use of) sexual violence. Ultimately, resolution 2122 (2013) reiterates that mission mandates must facilitate women’s participation and protection in, inter alia, DDR and SSR processes.

While the repeated mention of gender concerns and women’s participation in DDR and SSR processes is positive, there are plenty aspects left to consider. Generally, women’s and children’s needs, including those of women and child combatants, differ and should therefore be addressed separately in all instances. Specific attention must be paid to reintegration programs, including gender-sensitive reintegration packages and psychosocial support for women ex-combatants and WAAGs who are survivors of sexual violence. Ultimately, regarding the mentions of DDR and SSR in the WPS agenda, the protection aspect outweighs the participation aspect. A stronger focus on the political reintegration of women ex-combatants and WAAGs is therefore highly desirable – which leads back to the core of the agenda, namely recognizing women as agents for peace.

By Nadine Lainer.

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