GNWP welcomes the Agreed Conclusions of CSW57
By Afifa Faisal
After months of relentless lobbying efforts and two weeks of intense deliberations, the Agreed Conclusions, the outcome document of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57), was adopted with consensus on 15 March 2013. The adoption of the Agreed Conclusions was celebrated by women’s rights organizations around the world, and government delegations and UN representatives who support their views. Its adoption by member states was of particular significance this year after last year’s CSW failed to produce an outcome document.
With the priority theme of elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, CSW57 was one of the most highly attended sessions in recent history. Thousands of women’s rights advocates and organizations from around the world gathered in New York to participate in hundreds of side events organized during the two-week-long session. However, despite the seemingly unified commitment to end violence against women and girls, the process was very challenging with a broad range of political interests and agendas impeding the negotiations. A number of contentious issues were voiced by member states during the lengthy informal consultations, with language on sexual and reproductive health and rights, custom, tradition and religion, and peace and security among the most intensely debated.
Women’s rights organizations struggled, but ultimately succeeded in lobbying for language on the linkage between violence against women and peace and security, women human rights defenders, sexual and reproductive health, and small arms and light weapons. The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) welcomes the following inclusion of language on women, peace and security within the adopted Agreed Conclusions of CSW57:
The Commission recalls Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000, 1820 (2008) of 19 June 2008, 1888 (2009) of 30 September 2009, 1889 (2009) of 5 October 2009 and 1960 (2010) of 16 December 2010 on women and peace and security and all relevant Security Council resolutions on children and armed conflict, including resolutions 1882 (2009) of 4 August 2009 and 1998 (2011) of 12 July 2011 on armed conflict and post-conflict situations. [PP8]
The Commission urges States to strongly condemn violence against women and girls committed in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, and recognizes that sexual and gender-based violence affects victims and survivors, families, communities and societies, and calls for effective measures of accountability and redress as well as effective remedies. [PP13]
The Commission also recognizes the persistence of obstacles that remain for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, and that the prevention and response to such violence requires States to act, at all levels, at each and every opportunity in a comprehensive and holistic manner that recognizes the linkages between violence against women and girls and other issues, such as education, health, HIV and AIDS, poverty eradication, food security, peace and security, humanitarian assistance and crime prevention. [PP20]
The Commission recognizes that illicit use of and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons aggravates violence, inter alia, against women and girls. [PP25]
Ensure that in armed conflict and post-conflict situations the prevention of and response to all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence, are prioritized and effectively addressed, including as appropriate through the investigation, prosecution and punishment of perpetrators to end impunity, removal of barriers to women’s access to justice, the establishment of complaint and reporting mechanisms, the provision of support to victims and survivors, affordable and accessible health care services, including sexual and reproductive health, and reintegration measures; and take steps to increase women’s participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding processes and post-conflict decision making. [PP34l]
Ensure accountability for the killing, maiming and targeting of women and girls and crimes of sexual violence, as prohibited under international law, stressing the need for the exclusion of such crimes from amnesty provisions in the context of conflict resolution processes and address such acts in all stages of the armed-conflict and post-conflict resolution process including through transitional justice mechanisms, while taking steps to ensure the full and effective participation of women in such processes. [PP34m]
Underline commitments to strengthen national efforts, including with the support of international cooperation, aimed at addressing the rights and needs of women and girls affected by natural disasters, armed conflicts, other complex humanitarian emergencies, trafficking in persons and terrorism, within the context of actions geared to addressing and eliminating violence against women and girls and the realization of the internationally agreed goals and commitments related to gender equality and the empowerment of women, including the Millennium Development Goals. [PP34p]
Support and protect those who are committed to eliminating violence against women, including women human rights defenders in this regard, who face particular risks of violence. [PP34z]
The Commission emphasizes that ending violence against women and girls is imperative, including for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and must be a priority for the eradication of poverty, the achievement of inclusive sustainable development, peace and security, human rights, health, gender equality and empowerment of women, sustainable and inclusive economic growth and social cohesion, and vice versa. [PP35]
Throughout the CSW57 negotiations, GNWP played a substantive role in ensuring that women, peace and security issues were addressed in the outcome document. It co-sponsored a number of events which set the tone for advocacy by identifying the challenges faced by women in conflict and post-conflict situations and presenting recommendations to address these issues.
At the panel on “UN Security Council Resolution #1325 – What lies ahead?, co-sponsored with the Permanent Missions of Armenia and Estonia to the UN, GNWP International Coordinator Mavic Cabrera-Balleza spoke about how the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 has become an effective strategy in ensuring the implementation of National Action Plans on UNSCR 1325 and 1820, particularly in local communities directly affected by conflict. During the panel discussion on countering violent extremism, GNWP emphasized the vital role of women in conflict prevention and peace building at both the informal and grassroots and official and national levels. In another event on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Latin America, GNWP in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Chile to the UN, shared how the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program in Colombia serves as an alternative mechanism in a country where there is no National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 and 1820. In a panel discussion on the use of media to combat violence against women, co-sponsored with Fork Films, Peace is Loud, World YWCA and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, GNWP stressed the need for women to reclaim the media and produce and distribute media materials that would serve grassroots women’s interests.
At the official negotiations, the Permanent Mission of Chile to the UN introduced the language on the illicit use of and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. With support from the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), the language was retained. GNWP provided the Permanent Mission of Chile to the UN with the details on this issue .
In addition to organizing several side events, GNWP co-facilitated the Conversation Circle (thematic caucus) on Peace and Security / Violence against Women. This was a significant lobbying opportunity for identifying and recommending additional women, peace and security language that should be included in the Agreed Conclusions. GNWP, in collaboration with like-minded organizations, reviewed past Agreed Conclusions as well as relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, and shared their language inputs with the nearly 100 women peace activists and women human rights defenders who attended the conversation circle. As a result, GNWP significantly influenced the Agreed Conclusions from the women, peace and security perspective.
While the Agreed Conclusions of CSW57, particularly its inclusion and emphasis on women, peace and security, is an important step in ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Agreed Conclusions were not as strong and outcome-oriented as GNWP would have liked. For example, the insertion of the word “recalls” in place of “reaffirms” for Security Council resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960 weakens the language on women, peace and security within the Agreed Conclusions. This calls for strengthening efforts to support advocacy and action for the implementation of Security Council resolutions on women and peace and security at the local, national, regional and international levels.
Following the conclusion of the CSW57, GNWP is in the process of drafting a statement that will contain its reflections and recommendations for a better and stronger CSW.