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Implementation of the UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in the Arab States

The United Nations Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security was adopted on 31 October 2000 (S/RES/1325). Participation is one of the four pillars of the UNSCR, stressing the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. Comparative studies from across regions show that women’s decision-making power with regard to peace and conflict impact the likelihood of war. 

Since the Arab uprisings, a number of countries in the region have experienced heightened political unrest and unprecedented violent struggles, with women and girls bearing the heaviest brunt of the systematic violence committed in conflict areas. 

A 2013 UN Women reportfound “a lack of policies and actions” aimed at reducing the impact of armed conflicts on women, and little enforcement, monitoring or reporting on the relevant provisions of UNSCR 1325 among countries in the Arab region.

The e-Discussion will remain open over a period of 5 weeks (10 December 2015 – 24 January 2016). iKNOW Politics structured this e-Discussion along three main blocks, as shown below. Each block consists of a related set of questions. Respondents are invited to send contributions to as many questions as they see fit throughout the duration of this e-Discussion. 

Please click here to read the full concept note of this e-Discussion.

Access the Consolidated Reply here and the full report following this link.


QUESTIONS 

1. ADVANCING THE WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY AGENDA (WPS)                             

- To what extent has UNSCR 1325 been implemented across the Arab States? What are the main implementation gaps and challenges?

-What progress has been made in promoting women’s leadership and participation at all levels in the implementation of UNSCR 1325?  What are the main limitations preventing women from having a greater role? 

-What are the most effective mechanisms and structures within Parliaments to advance the implementation of UNSCR 1325 (e.g. caucuses)? 

2. STRATEGIES AND MONITORING                                    

-Are there particular budgetary constraints related to the WPS? What mechanisms are in place to allocate budget to the WPS agenda? 

-What accountability mechanisms need to be developed to ensure monitoring and reporting on UNSCR 1325?

- National Plans of Action (NPAs): what good practices exist in the Arab States and beyond and what is the role of parliaments in calling for NPAs through their oversight function? 

 3. PARTNERSHIPS AND CAPACITY BUILDING

- What role do civil society and women's organizations play in the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and how can Parliamentarians cooperate with these stakeholders? Please share concrete examples. 

- What type of capacity-building efforts are effective and which venues/formats are best to enhance cross-regional learning and exchanges of best practices?

- Are there topics that need particular attention and capacity building in light of the recent conflicts (i.e. refugee crisis, increased radicalization and extremisms)? Are there any example already available? 

 

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Meriem.Trabelsi's picture

As of December 2015, 55 states have put in place a National Action Plan (NAP) on UNSCR 1325, which addresses the issue of women, peace and security. Only two out of these 55 are Arab countries: Iraq and Palestine. Given the wide spread and the increasing intensity of conflicts and violence in the Arab region, it is absolutely crucial that states not only provide peace and security for their women, but also ensure inclusive peacebuilding processes based on women’s full participation. Iraq has successfully taken the first step towards achieving this goal by setting up a NAP. Being the first country of the Arab world to create such an action plan for women, peace and security, Iraq sets a path to its neighbors as its implementation could provide valuable good practices and lessons. Below is the contribution of Basma Al Khateeb on behalf of the Iraqi Women Network, a network of 80 civil society organizations specialized in women, peace and security in Iraq, addressing the questions of the role of civil society in the implementation and of UNSCR1325 and the monitoring of this process in Iraq:

Over four decades, women in Iraq have been prominent victims of armed conflicts starting from the Iraqi-Iranian war 1980-1988 to the Gulf War in 1991, the US invasion in 2003 and the subsequent armed conflicts. This reflected negatively on the status of women in decision-making positions, especially by excluding them from negotiations in the process of resolving disputes, national reconciliation and government formation. All political blocs participated with all their religious and liberal trends in the exclusion of women from positions of sovereignty as women were excluded from the three governing bodies (Presidency Council, Presidency Council of Ministers, and Council of Representatives) as well as the Supreme Judicial Council and the Supreme courts (the Federal Supreme Court and the Federal Court).

Many civil society organizations promote national reconciliation, despite the lack of substantial support from political leaders. These organizations have conducted several initiatives to reach the various religious and ethnic groups of both sexes, to remind them of the importance of living together, and encourage the principles of peaceful coexistence and tolerance in the areas experiencing high levels of sectarian violence. The organizations have carried out trainings in the fields of conflict resolution, dialogue and development programs. The presence of effective and sustainable local organizations represents a positive reality in Iraq after 2003. Women have achieved significant gains. For example, among the significant results achieved successfully by the women’s movement was that the Iraqi constitution, which adopted a quota system ensuring the participation of women by no less than 25%. This quota was also adopted in the provincial elections of 2009. Women persisted to participate actively in the elections and the referendum on the constitution, in spite of security threats and the escalation of conflicts, although there is a minimization in their active participation in negotiations between political forces to resolve conflicts and the restoration of security and peace.

Local NGOs have led successful campaigns to prevent violence against women in Kirkuk and for the empowerment of illiterate women, based on Security Council resolution 1325, which states that women are to participate in peace and security operations. They have organized non-violent campaigns by collecting signatures and organizing sit-ins. And in spite of these limited activities, they show the ability of the civil society to work so as to build bridges of trust between citizens to reduce sectarian divisions fostered by politicians. Furthermore, they have had a clear impact on the government adopting the concepts of gender and violence based on gender, gender-sensitive budgeting, and their inclusion in strategies and national plans and legislation.

Iraq adopted a national action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 on 6 February 2014. The drafting of the NAP began on 2012 by non-governmental organizations defending women's rights in partnership with the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, aiming to implement Resolution 1325 in Iraq.

A multi-sectoral working group (including non-governmental organizations, the Federal Government, the Kurdistan Regional Government, media, academia and the private sector) developed a plan over a period of two years. However, when the Government revised the plan, it took the initiative to make amendments without returning to its partners in the multi-sectoral working group, as it deleted many articles that were agreed upon previously. It was also observed that the adopted plan lacked statistical indicators demonstrating the escalating violence, especially for the period of 2003-2009 and beyond. Furthermore, the plan did not include the National Security Council resolution 1820 on the criminalization of sexual violence as a means of warfare. It also did not include the list of resolution 1325 recommendations, adopted by the Security Council.

As active civil society actors, we are to prioritize the following in our journey to achieving sustainable peace and security for all, through lobbying, advocacy and training: 

·         the practices of oppression and sexual violence against women and girls by ISIS militant groups 

·         the role of women in political participation and national reconciliation 

·         women in the political reform process 

·      amendment of discriminatory legislations against women 

·      support the role of non-governmental organizations in the area of gender, violence against women, and peace-building

Gabriella.Borovsky's picture

By Gabriella Borovsky, Policy Specialist on Political Participation, UN Women

The UN’s recently published Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 – “Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Keeping the Peace”– highlights a number of useful findings and case studies that are highly relevant to this e-discussion, particularly on the critical role and value-added of not just women’s presence in peace negotiations, but of their political leadership in both ending violence and building peace.

For example, the study highlights:

(i)  The role of prominent women leaders in the negotiations that led to the historic deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme (and thereby prevent a war), including Federica Mogherini and Helga Schmid (Europe) and Wendy Sherman (U.S.)

(ii)  Beyond representation in numbers, research also shows that women help “shift dynamics” by bringing a particular leadership quality – of consensus, public debate, and sense of the imperative to conclude talks and implement agreements – to the negotiation table, suggesting that women’s involvement in the process leads to better outcomes.

(iii)  Indeed, analysis by the Graduate Institute in Geneva (2011 to 2015) of 40 peace processes since the end of the Cold War shows that strong peace agreements were more likely to be reached in cases where women’s groups were able to exercise a strong influence on the negotiation process, and the agreements were more likely to be implemented.

(iv) A number of case studies illustrating the above are included in the study, including from Yemen, where women’s participation in past national dialogue processes led to broader reform of the electoral and legislative legal frameworks to promote greater women’s representation in other spheres of public life.

One can also glean from the Global Study the role Parliaments can play in sustaining peace. Parliaments are a vital part of delivering transitional justice: from Bosnia, to Libya, to Kosovo to Croatia, parliaments have enabled restitution for women victims of conflict (particularly of gender-based and sexual violence). Another example: Sierra Leone’s parliament adopted recommendations of the country’s truth and reconciliation commission, which “included gender-specific legal and institutional reforms, including the repeal of all discriminatory legislation, enactment of gender-progressive laws and ensuring that at least 30 per cent of candidates for public elections are women,” and “as a direct result of the truth commission’s recommendations, three women’s rights Acts were passed by Parliament addressing key aspects of gender inequality.”

Peace building also seems to impact upon women’s representation in political spheres; the study points out that “several of the countries with the highest [political] representation of women globally are also those emerging from conflict, including Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Croatia, Iraq, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Rwanda, Serbia and South Sudan.” This is due to many countries having adopted special temporary measures (i.e. quotas) for women’s representation “during and after the peace negotiations.”

Finally, consultations held during the Global Study’s drafting included the following recommendation: “Gender ministries or national institutions for the advancement of women, women parliamentarians and gender caucuses, and women’s organizations should participate in peacebuilding priority setting, decision-making and oversight.”

ArturoDeNieves's picture

BY RADHIKA COOMARASWAMY, LEAD AUTHOR OF THE GLOBAL STUDY ON UNSCr 1325

What progress has been made in promoting women’s leadership and participation at all levels in the implementation of UNSCR 1325?

Women’s increased political participation pushes the implementation of resolution 1325. We can see this highlighted in the example of women’s participation in peace agreements. In Burundi, women succeeded in including provisions on freedom of marriage and the right to choose one’s partner into the peace agreement. In Guatemala, women’s organizations coordinated with the woman representative at the table to introduce commitments to classify sexual harassment as a new criminal offence and establish an office for indigenous women’s rights. However, one of the main findings of the Global Study it is that women’s participation has broader positive effects on peace and security. For example, when women participate in peace processes as witnesses, signatories, mediators or negotiators, they do more than bring women’s issues to the table; we see a 20 per cent increase in the probability of a peace agreement lasting two years. This percentage increases over time, with a 35 per cent increase in the probability of a peace agreement lasting 15 years. Women’s participation and empowerment also accelerates economic recovery, strengthens our peace operations, improves our humanitarian assistance, and can help counter violent extremism. Women’s participation in peace and security isn’t just good for women – it’s good for all of us.

What are the main implementation gaps and challenges? And what role does civil society play in the implementation of UNSCR 1325?

The Global Study makes clear that we now have strong normative frameworks in place for women, peace and security – and what is missing is political will and financing for implementation of these frameworks. Women involved in political decision-making can help to change the attitudes of their governments about the global priorities for peace and security, to insist that women be included in conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding, and to ensure that women peacebuilders around the world are adequately funded and supported in their work. A vibrant civil society is core to advancing the women, peace and security agenda, and women politicians can help to protect the space for their activism when it comes under threat. Most importantly, I would highlight that implementing the women, peace and security agenda is not solely the responsibility of women, and cannot be achieved without the partnership of men – as an agenda that benefits societies as a whole, men must also increasingly become political advocates and leaders in implementing resolution 1325. 

Meriem.Trabelsi's picture

One of the hindrances to implementing 1325 in the MENA region is that some societies attributed to themselves to cloak the occurrence of sexual violence in conflict. The purported belief in the “purity” of the perpetrators was often used as the rationale for not recording and documenting sexual violence. Communities that carried out acts of sexual violence and rape on enemy women did not want to associate themselves with their crime, lest they be considered “impure” for violating the enemy, lest word get out of impregnating an enemy. On the side of those subjected to violence, the culture of silence, honour and the severe disrespect of their defilement prevented speaking out and documenting sexual violence in conflict. In the process, a culture of victimhood prevailed – where women who were subjected to violence found themselves in difficult positions vis-à-vis their home societies – either not being accepted back into their families because of the “defilement” or the ostracism that comes from a post-war society that slips right back into a state of violence – where fresh waves of violence worsen their condition.

Even as Resolution 1325 acknowledges a very clear structure with respect to integrating women in the world of peace negotiations, post-war reconstruction and in addressing women’s rights in a conflict setting, there were apparent loopholes that continue to require attention. In the upcoming review of the Resolution, these limitations need to be looked at critically.

Primarily, Resolution 1325 suffers from the very anomaly that any generic legislation that addresses a diverse social group suffers from: an overarching umbrella strategy for many subgroups with divergent elements that make a one-size-fits-all approach insufficient. The problem in translation to analysis and policy has been the perception that sexual violence is a war strategy and must be addressed that way – but the fact of the matter remains that conflict-related sexual violence is a combination of several factors and nuances, of which war strategising is only one. A critical look at how the Resolution can be made in order to approach the nuanced issue with a wide and pragmatic lens to address different conflicts with a specific approach. There is also an urgent need to re-envisage the manner of understanding gender as a social construct, and how it is politicised in the context of a conflict – factors which do contribute to conflict-related sexual violence.

Second, the confinement of Resolution 1325 to the domain of armed conflict looks at armed conflict in isolation of the state of affairs in peacetime. Sexual violence occurs in a peacetime and wartime continuum, with the amplification in the latter context. The backdrop that peacetime provides for sexual violence is built into the structure of societies – manifesting in the form of structural violence. Structural violence has tremendous implications for conflict-related sexual violence, and can, to some extent (not in isolation of, but rather in conjunction with, other factors) explain conflict-related sexual violence.

Third, the renewed look at the Resolution should be centred around gender, rather than around women alone. While it is understandable that sexual violence against women is indeed a cause for concern, the ignorance of men as targets on the one hand, and the exclusion of men in the rhetoric, policy and legislation addressing war-related sexual violence have contributed to the inability to address the issue. This lack of inclusion has become reason for men not to engage. Sometimes, this culminates in the classification of the issue as an element of “women’s agenda”, which isolates the issue from the big picture. The end result, therefore, has been piecemeal strategizing.

Another issue that Resolution 1325 brings up is that it has not looked at the structure of the international security domain – i.e., the units in charge of handling conflict and implementing peace in war zones. The security sector has an inherent military masculinity quotient that is either ignored or not taken into account as it rightfully should, in order for a wholesome approach to the prevalence of sexual violence. In the process, there is an obvious exclusion of the presence of machinery to address sexual violence in conflict – what it does, instead, is to confuse the capacity to act or question with the structural machinery that should address such issues.

sarahdouglas's picture

By Sarah Douglas, Policy Specialist on Peace and Security, UN Women

One of the most significant obstacles to the implementation of the WPS agenda in all of the regions is the lack of financing. Your discussion above mentions NAPs but we have found that very few NAPs have dedicated budgets and even fewer have funding directly from the government in question. Furthermore, many parts of the UN system are failing to meet the Secretary-General’s target of allocating a minimum of 15 per cent of all peacebuilding and recovery funding to gender equality. In 2013, UN Women, UNDP and the Peacebuilding Support Office jointly examined over 300 UNDP projects in six countries, including Iraq. In Iraq, only eight per cent of all funding went to projects whose principal objective was gender equality. Further study also revealed that investments in gender equality are usually in the social sphere (i.e. health, civil society support, education) while gender equality is funded even less in the security and political arenas. 

Be it in National Action Plans, UN Development Assistance Frameworks, Peacebuilding Priority Frameworks or other planning documents, gender equality advocates in the region must push for specific targets and indicator and appropriate funding and resources to implement those commitments. Needless to say, the political and security challenges facing women in the region are enormous. But, without sufficient funding, staffing and capacity, it will be impossible to surmount the many obstacles to women’s participation in peace and security. 

Pamela.Husain's picture

By Pamela Husain, Women, Peace, Security and Humanitarian Advisor, UN Women, Regional Office for the Arab States

I.          ADVANCING the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS) 

  To  what  extend  has  UNSCR  1325  been  implemented  across  the  Arab  States?  What are the main implementation gaps and challenges?

Officially there is only one NAP (Iraq), with a few more in the planning (Jordan, possibly Palestine).  The LAS regional Strategy has been developed in order to bring the member states around the obvious issues created by the several conflicts in the region, without raising discussion on a specific country.  Instead, it raises the issue that there are conflicts impacting the region, either in terms of direct violence within a population or response to such violence by a neighboring country.  It highlights the regional impact of these conflicts, and the need, therefore, for a regional response and commitment.

The main challenge faced is primarily attitudinal – if country X is not in conflict, it does not need a NAP.  The perception that 1325 applies only to countries in conflict is slowly changing, but requires continued advocacy.  Similarly, there is a need for the MS to remember that they are also MS of the UN, and therefore have an obligation as part of the international community with obligations to support implementation as well.

Another major challenge is the traditional (non)relationship between government and civil society, and more specifically engagement with women as equal and valued representatives of civil society.  Although there have been significant efforts from UN Women and the Special Envoys in Yemen and Syria, for example, the actual engagement by the governments with the women has been less than ideal. 

What progress has been made in promoting women’s leadership and participation at all levels in the implementation of UNSCR 1325?  What are the main limitations preventing women from having a greater role? What are the most effective mechanisms and structures within Parliaments to advance the implementation of UNSCR 1325 (e.g. caucuses)?

At this point in time, with the abolishment of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Iraq, there is limited national presence and advocacy for this agenda within Parliament.  A review of the NAP is scheduled and will hopefully identify new or renewed partnerships that will provide the impact and influence needed.

In Jordan, the new NAP will be under the stewardship of the National Commission for Women.  Jordan has a strong reputation for its engagement of the commission and other national women’s machineries and it is anticipated that this will be an inclusive and participatory process.

What is essential is that there are both men and women MPs willing to promote the agenda.  This is not just a gender agenda, but a national human rights agenda that must be owned by all duty-bearers.  Particularly in a patriarchal society, it is critical to have male as well as female champions of the cause, as women in government are sometimes place-holders for men, rather than independent actors.  Also, it is important to recognize that while there are many women who are activists for GEWE, there are also many who are more traditional and do not promote the same agenda.  Similarly, not all men are opposed to GEWE, and such advocates must be supported equally, to persuade their colleagues.

II.         STRATEGIES and MONITORING

Are there particular budgetary constraints related to the WPS Agenda?  What mechanisms are in place to allocate budget to the WPS agenda?

Most of the discussions revolve around how to pay for the NAP implementation, and the overall WPS agenda.  Unless GRB is well instituted in a country, it is difficult to insert funds for the WPS activities.  Often, in a country in conflict, donor willingness to provide direct budget support is less, and therefore mechanisms such as trust funds must be created – a time consuming process that reduces national ownership of the peace process. 

In terms of the broader WPS agenda, there is not a strong psycho-social culture in the Muslim world for dealing with the impacts of conflict on women and girls, and training of partners is often required.  Similarly, negotiation and mediation skills are required in order for women to participate fully and professionally in the peace processes.  All of this capacity building requires more funds and time than often available at the time needed.

Finally, it is important that the mechanism(s) are accessible by both government and civil society.  In this regard, the role of UN Women to coordinate donors to work within these parameters and criteria is essential.

What accountability mechanisms need to be developed to ensure monitoring and reporting on UNSCR 1325?

Each NAP should have its own monitoring and evaluation plan linked to the implementation plan.  What is more important is who is doing the monitoring, and how are the reports shared.  Shadow monitoring by civil society is essential, and placing the reports from both government and civil society within the public domain will ensure transparency.  Linking this process to GRB reporting would provide the full picture of a government’s adherence to its gender commitments.

National Plans of Action (NPAs): what good practices exist in the Arab States and beyond and what is the role of parliaments in calling for NPAs through their oversight function?

As discussed in the concept note, the LAS strategy and plan are a good practice that should be considered by other regions.  Recognizing the regional impact of conflict and identifying how each country can contribute to mitigating that impact is a process that could be considered by Europe, for example, as it strives to cope with the current influx of refugees and migrants.  The role of parliaments, both nationally and within an inter-parliamentary process, is essential to the process.  It is too soon to know if the LAS model will be successful, but it has provided the platform for dialogue and partnership-building – essential keystones to peace processes.

III.        PARTNERSHIPS and CAPACITY BUILDING

What role do civil society and women’s organizations play in the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and how can parliamentarians cooperate with these stakeholders? Please share concrete examples.

As mentioned, within the Arab States region, there are few examples.  Civil society and women’s organisations have played a key role in pushing the agenda, promoting the role of women in peace processes, and raising awareness overall of the impact of conflict on women and girls.  It remains to be seen what Iraq and Jordan will do with their respective NAP processes.

What type of capacity-building efforts are effective and which venues/formats are best to enhance cross-regional learning and exchanges of best practices?

Bringing together those directly involved, rather than relying on foreign experts, is critical.  Sharing experiences ensures relevance and practicality, and avoids discussing theories only.  Fora that provide platforms for stakeholders to meet would be most effective.  Often, due to the security, it is essential that these take place in a third country, which is expensive but more effective.

Are there topics that need particular attention and capacity building in light of the recent conflicts (i.e. refugee crisis, increased radicalization and extremisms)? Are there any examples already available?

Within the region, all of these discussions are valid and require knowledge-based planning.  Research is scattered, and needs to have a more measured approach.  There are cultural presumptions that need to be either confirmed or amended, such as the natural maternal instinct of women making them good peace brokers.  The lack of discussion on the engagement of men and boys both as advocates for women’s participation as well as to prevent their entry into radicalization and extremism is notable.

When a nation is shattered, communities torn apart, and families divided, you must take a holistic approach that recognizes the full scope of need, not just one segment.  Women are the foundation, but a house is not complete without support beams, walls and plaster – the same applies for communities and nations.  

It would be interesting to bring together those engaged in deradicalisation with those potentially at risk and those trying to mitigate. That is a discussion that might yield insights into the issues of radicalization and extremism.  At the same time, research into the root causes should be undertaken, so strategies proceed on the basis of facts and data, rather than intuition and presumptions.

 

 

Sally.ElMahdy's picture

By Sally G. El Mahdy, Regional Political Participation Advisor, UN Women, Regional Office for the Arab States 

1.      ADVANCING THE WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY AGENDA (WPS)                            

-      To what extent has UNSCR 1325 been implemented across the Arab States? What progress has been made in promoting women’s leadership and participation at all levels in the implementation of UNSCR 1325?  

As discussed in earlier posts, only two UNSCR National Action Plans (NAPs) have been developed in the Arab region (Iraq and Palestine). However, there are different aspects that can contribute towards the implementation of UNSCR 1325 other than NAPs. UN Women managed to boost women’s voices and representation in peace and transitional processes through: 

1.      Working with national counterparties and Civil Society Organizations to align their forces and lobbying efforts to increase women’s representation in peace negotiations, political dialogues, constitutions’ development and governments following peace agreements. For example, in Libya six women were members in the Constitution Development Assembly and a women’s track was introduced to the formal political dialogue composed of 25 active women.  In addition, a Syrian Women’s Initiative (SWI) was created composed of more than 40 women activists (representing different ethnicities, backgrounds, geographical locations, political affiliations, etc.). This SWI managed to form a parallel track to the official political dialogue and created a vivid space for women’s voices, which leveraged their lobbying power.

2.      Engendering peace and transitional outcome documents through running professional gender audit of the produced documents (draft constitutions, Peace Agreements, etc.). The recommendations of these gender audits were formally conveyed to the relevant national committees/entities and mechanisms were set for CSOs’ representatives to follow up on the adoption of these recommendations;

3.      Providing safe spaces for active and diverse women to articulate/develop their unified Women’s Minimum Agendas for Peace (Libya, Syria and Yemen) and to lobby for at the highest levels (International Member States and UN Organizations); 

- What are the main implementation gaps and challenges? What are the main limitations preventing women from having a greater role?  

Main implementation gaps and challenges revolves around the following: 

1.      Lack of sufficient funds to secure safe convening spaces for women to get together and unit their efforts;

2.      Lack of political will to support the implementation of UNSCR 1325 articles, especially those relating to engaging women in peace and transitional processes;

3.      Difficulties to build solidarity and trust among women due to diversity in political affiliations, ethnicities, backgrounds, etc.

4.      Societal and cultural barriers that hampers women’s active engagement in the political and public spheres;

5.      Radical movements rise and the widespread of conventional and women’s ‘unfriendly atmosphere.”

6.      Women’s lack of knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to be politically active;

7.      Rise of armed conflicts and its impact on women’s security and freedom of mobility. 

-What are the most effective mechanisms and structures within Parliaments to advance the implementation of UNSCR 1325 (e.g. caucuses)?  

Parliaments can be vehicles to boost the implementation of UNSCR 1325 through three main channels: 1) Legislative: developing gender sensitive laws that attend to the different articles of the UNSCR 1325, including the introduction of quotas for women in peace negotiations and transitional entities; 2) Monitoring the government’s implementation of the UNSCR 1325 related laws; and 3) enlightening the public/commoners of the UNSCR 1325. 

To this effect, two parliamentary caucuses were launched and operationalized in 2015/2016. One is an Arab States’ Regional Parliamentary Caucus and the other is an Algerian National parliamentary Caucus. Both caucuses have essences of the UNSCR 1325 at the core of their operational by-laws and yearly action plans that fundamentally work towards achieving gender equality.   

2. STRATEGIES AND MONITORING                          

-Are there particular budgetary constraints related to the WPS? What mechanisms are in place to allocate budget to the WPS agenda?  

Yes there are clear budgetary constraints related to WPS. The majority of funds are directed towards humanitarian responses including economic assistance. Yet, insufficient funds are allocated to ensure attending to UNSCR 1325 four pillars: 1) enhancing participation; 2) ensuring protection (especially against GBV and sexual violence); 3) prevention (especially engaging women in early warning), and recovery and relief 9to ensure women are meaningfully engaged in the transitional period following peace agreements. 

-What accountability mechanisms need to be developed to ensure monitoring and reporting on UNSCR 1325? 

There is a dire need to: 

1.      Develop agreed upon and contextualized indicators for each pillar of the UNSCR     1325;

2.      Build the capacities of national machineries to be able to measure progress against pre-set indicators;

3.      Utilize UN convening power to link national institutions with CSOs to harmonize efforts towards effective implementation and follow up of the UNSCR 1325; 

- National Plans of Action (NPAs): what good practices exist in the Arab States and beyond? 

One of the good practices was gathering representatives of women machineries across the Arab region for a capacity building workshop on developing NAPs. In this two day workshop, representatives were guided, through on the job training, on how to develop applicable, cost effective and coordinated NAPs. 

 3. PARTNERSHIPS AND CAPACITY BUILDING

- What role do civil society and women's organizations play in the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and how can Parliamentarians cooperate with these stakeholders? Please share concrete examples.  

For the effective implementation of UNSCR 1325, work should be done on two levels: the policy and the grassroots levels. For the grassroots level, CSOs and women machineries are instrumental as they have the leverage in reaching out for the wider and diversified population. Throughout UN Women work on UNSCR 1325, CSOs, women machineries and women activists have been at the core of the planning and operational process to ensure generating the buy-in from the grassroots level as well to utilize societally acceptable speech when advocating and lobbying for UNSCR 1325. 

- What type of capacity-building efforts are effective and which venues/formats are best to enhance cross-regional learning and exchanges of best practices? 

1.      Regular capacity building on advocacy, awareness raising, lobbying, negotiation, mediations etc. are needed for CSOs and women activists to carve a space for their active engagement in the peace and transitional processes;

2.      Exchange of experiences (south-south and South-north) proved also to be of great benefit as they lay down the best practices (to be contextualized and applied) and the lesson learnt (to be avoided). 

- Are there topics that need particular attention and capacity building in light of the recent conflicts (i.e. refugee crisis, increased radicalization and extremisms)? Are there any examples already available?  

1.      Trust building and solidarity;

2.      Negotiation and mediation;

3.      Mediation at a high policy level;  

4.      Negotiation and mediation with armed groups 

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National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security are practical policy tools as well as compliance and enforcement mechanisms that bring a set of commitments of a certain state into actionable and measurable format. The first state to ever launch a NAP was Denmark in 2005. To date, we count 57 NAPs (about 30% of countries), with 25 in Europe, 17 in sub-Saharan Africa, 9 in Asia and the Pacific, 4 in the Americas and 2 in the Middle East and North Africa. These two, as mentioned above, are Iraq and Palestine. A recent webinar offered by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) addressed the same issue as this e-discussion while focusing on the African context instead of the Arab. These key recommendations and challenges, which were identified in the African context by the panelists of the webinar, could be used in the Arab context.  When drafting a NAP in a Middle Eastern or North African country, these key considerations should be taken into account:

1.    Strong political will, leadership and commitment are key

2.    Who should be involved?

3.    Monitoring and accountability tools are needed

4.    Budgets and committed funding

Here are a few recommendations to be taken into account when NAPs are being drafted:

1.    Strengthen and engage civil society

2.    Strengthen prevention, including through demilitarization 

3.    Dedicate clear budgets, indicators and realistic time-frames

4.    Strengthen accountability through linkages with international frameworks, such as the SDGs and CEDAW

In practice however, many challenges persist in many countries where NAPs are put forward, such as Nigeria for instance, including:

1.    Lack of financial resources

2.    Lack of awareness among state institutions and key stakeholders

3.    Inadequate mechanisms for coordination and reporting

4.    Emergence of violent extremism targeting women

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In 2012, the League of Arab States (LAS) produced a Regional Strategy on the Protection of Arab Women in Peace and Conflict. In theory, LAS did most of the heavy lifting for the Arab countries in terms of identifying priority actions under the three main themes of UNSCR 1325: participation, prevention and protection. In practice, only two states transformed these measures into NAPs, while the remaining Arab countries continue to lack the political will. 

A closer look at the action items reveals that a number of Arab countries have already taken some steps to implement similar actions. For example, efforts are undergoing in Egypt to draft a law to fight sexualized and gender-based violence to ensure perpetrators do not go unpunished. In Tunisia, the legal system was drafted in a manner that allowed for more women participation in parliament. Yet, such steps are neither systemic nor institutionalized as UNSCR 1325-related Actions. Moreover, they are often initiated to address a context-and-temporal-specific problem. 

Arab countries should be encouraged to examine their own existing policies that seek to politically, economically and socially empower women and match them with WPS agenda priorities. This can be a good point of departure for discussions around developing a NAP. Furthermore, each of these policies already has its own funding stream which may at the short term, be a solution for financing constraints.   

What are the most effective mechanisms and structures within Parliaments to advance the implementation of UNSCR 1325 (e.g. caucuses)?  

Introducing new formal structures within parliaments might require a modification of the Rules of Procedures, thus; it is a challenge. Hence, informal arrangements might be easier to implement and can be more effective. These include: 

. In parliaments where women representation is high like in Egypt and Tunisia, an inter-party women caucus can be set up. Not only it would ensure that MPs from different political parties discuss issues of relevance to UNSCR 1325, it can also serve as a platform to educate other MPs on the importance and relevance of the Resolution. Members of the caucus will be able to lobby their colleagues on parliamentary committees where they serve as members. But a prerequisite for success is to ensure that women MPs are equipped with the necessary advocacy and lobbying skills.

. In parliaments where women representation is low or non-existent, a like-minded group can be established. This step, however, should be preceded by an awareness raising campaign among members of parliament about UNSCR 1325. International or national NGOs may take the lead on this initiative.  

. The Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union can act as a forum for regional experience sharing on WSP agendas and best practices. 

Are there topics that need particular attention and capacity building in light of the recent conflicts (i.e. refugee crisis, increased radicalization and extremisms)? Are there any example already available?  

Women and girls are best positioned to predict signs of conflicts and radicalization of other family members. Their inability to frame and report such signs represent a missed opportunity to meaningfully engage women in bottom-up conflict prevention efforts. Hence, women and girls in conflict settings should be trained on “counter-radicalization” narratives to be able to suppress extremism once it emerges in their families. 

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By Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Assistant Secretary General of the League of Arab States, former Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Jordan, former Senator to the Jordanian Upper House of Parliament and former Regional Director for the Arab States Regional Office of UN Women (previously known as UNIFEM)

Although we celebrate  the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Security Council resolution on women, peace and security, Da’esh continues with their criminal goals in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other areas, by seizing territories, destroying civilization and culture. Furthermore, they have taken hold of a wide spectrum of media coverage with the skill of brilliant media figures, stigmatizing our region as bloody lawless states. Each headline of terror and every image, report or video posted on their sites depict the horror of this extremist terrorist group, which claims to act in the name of Islam. As her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah said in one of her speeches that Muslims embrace the religion of love and peace; the religion of compassion and understanding. As for extremists, they have no religion but hearts filled with evil and no consideration whatsoever for the sanctity of human life.

While the United Nations also celebrate in 2015 the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Security Council resolution on women, peace and security, and its report on actual achievement of security and peace, we are watching horrifying images of women and girls, and of those fleeing wars and conflicts.

While women of the world are celebrating fifteen years since Resolution 1325, the image of Iraqi and Yazeedi women being sold into slavery, raped and killed, still linger in our heads, and the image of Palestinians and Syrians children dead and displaced, remain in the eyes of the world engraved forever in its conscience. 

Many international reports have indicated the amount of violence and destruction caused by the wars of this Century.  According to UNESCO  report entitled "The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflicts and Education", the United Nations was created in 1945 to free the world from the scourge of wars, and promised a future where man lives safely, free from the shackles of fear. Unfortunately, a vast difference still remains between our world and the world envisioned by the drafters of the Universal Declaration, and a long distance away from achieving our shared goals in the field of education. It is imperative to acknowledge that we all fail to address the enormous challenges imposed by armed conflicts, which continue inflicting devastation on millions of lives of the world's most vulnerable people.

The UN High Commission for Human Rights has decided to cease attempts of recording the death toll in Syria until further notice due to the complex situation there.  In July 2015, the Commission announced that the death toll in Syria exceeded a hundred thousand people mostly of women and children. That was the last time the Commission made such announcements.

If we know that of the 192 UN member states, only 21 have implemented Security Council Resolution 1325 on setting out national action plans so far, we could say that the League of Arab States constituting 22 Arab member states, was the first international organization that took the initiative to set out a Regional  strategy and action plan for women, security and peace in implementation of not only this resolution, but also of all the resolutions adopted by the Security Council on women, security and peace, and I am proud to be the one who draw this  Regional strategy. 

Whereas the media plays a significant role in conflict and dispute arena, it has become important for women to look for new mechanisms in order to unite the efforts of women activists and women's organizations, involved in peace and security building. It is suggested to create an interactive media platform to serve as a regional and international forum, to convey the voice of women in conflict zones and their various needs, during the current phase and later on the regional and international levels.

This platform can provide a wide range for knowledge-sharing and exchange of expertise and information, network-building through several means, including interacting with a variety of media platforms that aim to reach the largest possible audience through print and audiovisual media, digital interaction means, and social media websites, in addition to direct interactive dialogue sessions to seek creation of a persistent international public opinion for the protection of women and girls in conflict and dispute zones, as well as to convey the heinous crimes perpetrated in conflict and dispute zones by terrorist mobs, and to document the violations in conflict, dispute, and occupation zones.

Finally, we can say that unfortunately the aspired peace and security have not been achieved in any of the UN resolutions, in particular, those relevant to the protection of women and girls. Therefore, do we need a new UN resolution to protect women in times of conflict, before we can implement the other resolutions?  

Meanwhile, we have to acknowledge that the threat of extremism against women's rights takes us hundred years back, as terrorism and extremism have reached far beyond the geographical boundaries. No country is or ever will be safe. It is a global threat whose impact not only affects the Arab region but also the entire world; a fact that emphasizes the need for concerted international efforts to confront terrorism.

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Contribution from the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) and UN Women Country office in Jordan

Jordan has long been a regional and global leader in international peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts, primarily as a provider of peace and security expertise to countries in conflict. In addition to being the top contributor of UN Police Officers to Peacekeeping Missions, Jordan has consistently remained one of the top ten contributors of UN Peacekeeping Troops over the past ten years[1], having sent an estimated 61,611 officers to serve in UN peacekeeping missions since the establishment of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in 1992.

Despite some advances, Jordan continues to face challenges with regards to mainstreaming gender equality principles into its peace and security engagement and architecture. Only 40 women peacekeepers have been deployed over the last 10 years, out of a total 61,611 troops, making Jordan fall short of the the Department of Peacekeeping Operations target of 20% women in all peace contingents. The inclusion of women in Jordan’s peacemaking delegations and community-based conflict resolution forums, and the level of gender expertise provided to these forums remain low. Further, Jordan faces significant internal challenges: there is growing evidence of increased domestic violence, early marriage and other types of GBV among refugee women and girls – particularly as international aid and humanitarian support diminishes [2]. Lastly, while Jordan has remained stable amidst regional tensions, it is not immune to radicalization threats. Presently, Jordan is the largest contributor of foreign fighters in Syria in proportion to its population [3]. Radicalization poses a serious threat to women as well as men in the MENA region: the spread of extremist and exclusionary ideology has resulted in women’s exposure to various forms of violence and exploitation, particularly in Iraq and Syria. Unfortunately, extremist ideology is increasingly disseminated online and is currently spreading within minor segments of Jordanian society, thereby threatening the status of women in Jordan.

Responding to these challenges, Jordan began the process of drafting a National Action Plan (NAP) on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security (UNSCR 1325) and its subsequent resolutions in 2010, when the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) established the National Coalition for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325. In 2012, the JNCW submitted its first draft of a Jordanian NAP; however, due to limited awareness efforts and the need for greater local engagement in the drafting process, this draft has remained under review by the Government of Jordan for three years. In 2015, the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) with the assistance of UN Women Jordan, has renewed efforts to implement UNSCR 1325 in Jordan through the development and adoption of a new NAP. 

The following document shares the Jordanian experience to date, and summarizes lessons learned through the Jordanian NAP process thus far. The experiences are divided along three blocks, in line with the concept note of the iKNOW e-Discussion: (1) Advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS); (2) Strategies and Monitoring; and (3) Partnerships and Capacity-building.  

Advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Jordan

The Jordanian experience suggests three key elements that are crucial for advancing the women, peace and security agenda: 

 1. A strong commitment at the governmental level. During the recent Global Gender Summit held at the margins of the UN General Assembly in September to mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and its Platform of Action, Jordan announced its commitment to “accelerate the adoption of national action plan to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security and all subsequent resolutions.” The current, renewed NAP drafting process builds on this commitment and engages an ‘all of government’ approach. 

 2. The presence of strong leadership to mobilize and sustain the NAP process. In Jordan, this role is fulfilled by the JNCW as the national women machinery, together with the Steering Committee (still to be formed) composed of high-level government representatives, and with support from an advisory body – the National Coalition for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325– with representation from government ministries, United Nations partners and civil society organisations. Strong leadership from the JNCW and the National Coalition for the Implementation of 1325 has been instrumental in the mobilization of stakeholders and in moving the national planning process forwards. 

3. An inclusive and participatory process is key to successful NAP drafting that will result in successful implementation. In Jordan, 10 consultations are planned as part of the participatory NAP design process. Seven of the consultations will take place at a governorate level (covering 10 out of 12 Jordanian governorates), and 2 will take place on the national level. One consultation will be held with Jordan’s refugee population.

An inclusive process can serve as a first step towards the localization of the WPS principles as set out by the Security Council. Several international examples—among them Sierra Leone, Bosnia and Herzegovina—highlight the significance of NAP localization in advancing the WPS agenda. Yet localization often begins after the adoption of the NAP, during its implementation phase, or sometimes as its second iteration. In response, the Jordanian process aims to ground its NAP development process in efforts to localize it to the Jordanian context. This approach envisions using NAP consultations as a space for participants to build relationships and form groups that will drive local implementation of the NAP. The approach also aims to foster activism among local champions of the women, peace and security agenda and enhance their capacity to lead the localization process by identifying promising community leaders and inviting them to trainings, discussions and workshops, and by engaging them through other communication channels such as social media and WhatsApp groups. As this approach is still at an early stage, the JNCW and UN Women continue to search for more ideas and innovative solutions to drive localized NAP planning.

The local advancement of the WPS agenda may require an adjustment or re-framing of the content of the NAP in order to best accommodate the needs of diverse communities in Jordan. While broad consultations might fulfill this need to some extent, flexibility may be required in order to focus on issues that are relevant to local communities and will genuinely engage Jordanian citizens.

 A further challenge in advancing the WPS agenda is maintaining the focus of discussions on peace and security concerns and not on the broadly-conceived topics of gender equality and women’s rights. This is particularly true in Jordan where WPS as a normative framework for action and advocacy is relatively new. To this end, we anticipate that peacekeeping, peacebuilding/conflict prevention and refugee issues will constitute central pillars of the Jordanian NAP. Since 2011, the massive influx of refugees from Syria, Iraq and other neighboring countries has put a significant strain on Jordanian resources: Jordan’s refugee population is estimated to be anywhere between 700,000 and 4 million[4], severely limiting the government’s ability to provide quality social services to vulnerable groups—chief among them youth and female-headed households—and meanwhile raising the concern of conflict-related sexual violence. Women and girls remain adversely affected by conflict, making them more vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation; providing access to justice to conflict-related sexual violence survivors that have fled conflicts in neighbouring countries is another difficult issue that must be addressed in the Jordanian context. While these challenges are most relevant to WPS in Jordan, Jordan’s status as neither a conflict nor post-conflict country often results in less related topics such as women’s economic and political participation overshadowing discussions on women, peace and security. The upcoming stakeholders’ dialogues therefore aim to draw attention to the issues that are most relevant to Jordan’s WPS agenda.

While creating a NAP is a key step in advancing the WPS agenda, other concrete measures can also be undertaken to further the agenda while the adoption of the NAP is pending. For example, in Jordan, UN Women is partnering with Jordan’s national security protection actors through the provision of gender and protection-related training to ensure they are better equipped to tackle and address issues of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) both domestically and in their peace and security work internationally. This serves to both sensitise the security forces to issues of SGBV and to ensure that their daily interactions with civilians in Jordan and internationally are undertaken in a manner that reduces the risk of SGBV and promotes confidential and more consistent reporting and response. Such a two-pronged approach—i.e. combining work on the NAP with concrete activities yielding tangible results directly advancing the WPS agenda—provides a more comprehensive and integrated approach to implementing UNSCR 1325 and subsequent resolutions in the country.

Strategies and Monitoring

In terms of developing strategies, budgets and monitoring mechanisms for WPS, it is important to have strong expertise and – if possible – technical support.

In the Jordanian context, there are several good practices of note:

1. A three-way cooperation between the JNCW (the national machinery for gender equality with strong expertise in gender issues in the Jordanian context), UN Women (providing international legitimacy and technical support) and the Institute for Inclusive Security (providing specific, technical expertise on NAP design and implementation processes). These three bodies will serve as the technical experts in supporting the national Steering Committee. 

2. The establishment of a Steering Committee (still to be formed in Jordan), composed of high-level government officials. The Steering Committee is the primary decision-making body, and leads the process of NAP adoption, as well as its implementation and localization at later stages. Furthermore, it grants a sense of direction and stronger ownership of the NAP process to key stakeholdersand ensures that political will in the country is well understood, and that national priorities are adhered to.

3. The establishment of an advisory body – in Jordan, the National Coalition for the Implementation of the UNSCR 1325. With wider representation than the Steering Committee, the role of the advisory body is to support and guide the NAP development process in Jordan. At this stage, there are several notable lessons learned from the Jordanian experience:

 -The members of the advisory body should be selected based on their expertise and/or commitment to WPS or related issues. Ensuring diverse composition of the advisory body is important to guarantee that all perspectives on WPS are heard and represented.

-In order to ensure balance and a sufficient level of expertise within the advisory body, a mapping of stakeholders and subsequent consultations with said stakeholders to select most suitable focal points within each institution/organization are needed. In the Jordanian context, this exercise was limited due to time constraints: while the advisory body —consisting of approximately 40 member organizations and 5 supporting agencies—was originally established in 2010, the renewed NAP drafting efforts initiated in 2015 required an expedited assembly of representatives from each member organization, thereby constraining the JNCW’s ability to thoroughly consult with each organization about selecting focal points with long-term abilities to represent their organizations on the advisory body.

-It is important to establish a Terms of Reference, which outlines the advisory body’s role and responsibilities. 

 4. The creation of a Secretariat for UNSCR 1325 within JNCW – that is, staff specifically dedicated to WPS/UNSCR 1325 implementation within the process’ leading body – to ensure coherence and continuity of the process. 

Partnerships and Capacity Building

Including civil society organisations in the advisory body is essential. CSOs bring in valuable expertise, as well as useful perspectives on WPS, and are essential stakeholders in NAP planning, drafting and implementation process.

Regional and international expertise and experience sharing is critical. This can be achieved both through seeking international technical support and expertise (as in the IIS expertise provided to Jordan), and through North-South and South-South exchanges. In the Jordanian context, two visits to conduct such exchanges are planned: one to Finland, and one to Egypt, to attend an Arab League meeting and participate in regional knowledge-sharing.

Such exchanges help ensure regional coherence and cooperation on WPS. They can also serve to increase capacity and understanding of WPS through sharing lessons learned and best practices, and increase national stakeholder’s commitment to the NAP, by giving the opportunity to share it with other states.

Building partnerships within the country is also crucial. As mentioned above, identifying champions for local NAP implementation, and ensuring their continued engagement is key. Engaging various stakeholders – from government officials, to civil society representatives, to youth and women leaders, to religious and community leaders – is necessary for an inclusive and participatory NAP process. Establishing a well-balanced advisory body and conducting broad stakeholder consultations are good practices in this regard.

Understanding the needs and context for WPS in the country is a key element of capacity building. In the Jordanian context, the study on gender dimension of radicalization and deradicalization, as well as consultation with refugees will serve to increase understandings of local challenges to WPS agenda.

[1] Statistics on Jordan’s contributions to UN Peacekeeping Efforts derived from the UN Peacekeeping Operations contributors page (http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/resources/statistics/contributors.shtml) and archive (http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/resources/statistics/contributors_archive.shtml)

 [2] 2015, Five Years into Exhile, Care Jordan. http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/carepercent20fivepercent20yearspercent20intopercent20exilepercent20execpercent20summarypercent202015percent20printpercent20finalpercent20recut.pdf

[3] Statistics derived from an Economist graph from September 2014:http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2014/09/daily-chart-2

[4] While the number of registered refugees in Jordan stands at 664,102 (UNHCR statistics), Jordan’s refugee population is estimated to be much higher. The Jordanian government estimates that the refugee population could be anywhere between 1.5 and 4 million—constituting anywhere between 16-30% of Jordan’s population. Official results from the 2015 census will be published in February 2016 and will provide a more accurate estimate. (Taken from UNHCR’s Jordan profile: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e486566.html, and Ansamed News: http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/nations/jordan/2016/01/11/jordan-population-reaches-9.5-million_848607cc-e401-4d57-9c81-0da7ec64e6a5.html)

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 By Nana N'dow, Inclusive Political Processes Consultant at UNDP

To date, there are 49 countries that have adopted a National Action Plan for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. National Action Plans, or NAPs, serve as a tool for governments to articulate priorities and coordinate the implementation of Resolution 1325 at the national level. A study conducted by NATO has shown that member countries with a NAP report parliamentary activity related to the women, peace and security agenda as opposed to only one third of responding countries without one. NAPs are therefore essential for the adoption of parliamentary initiatives related to the women, peace and security agenda. They can also provide a useful opportunity to amplify women-led civil society’s voices and insights in governmental action on peace and security issues.

Very interesting links:

http://www.dcaf.ch/Publications/Involvement-of-Parliaments-in-Advancing-the-Women-Peace-and-Security-Agenda-in-NATO-Member-Countries

http://www.peacewomen.org/assets/file/national_action_plan_development_toolkit.pdf