The Complementarity Between CEDAW GR 30 and UNSCR 1325

The Complementarity Between CEDAW GR 30 and UNSCR 1325

October 19, 2015

Last Monday’s side events for the High-Level Review on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 included a panel discussion titled The Complementarity Between CEDAW GR 30 and UNSCR 1325, which highlighted the many ways in which CEDAW can be implemented and how it is being used on the ground to reinforce the objectives of UNSCR 1325.

The discussion began with opening remarks by the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Switzerland to the UN, Mr. Olivier Zehnder, who called for the recognition and integration of CEDAW and the women, peace and security agenda of gender equality by all UN bodies and member states. He highlighted the importance of the role of the National Action Plans of each member state in implementation of the UNSCR 1325, as well as the need to use these existing mechanisms in the fight against gender-based and sexual violence.

This was followed by an overview of CEDAW and the mechanisms it provides by Ms. Pramila Patten who is the Chair of the CEDAW GR 30 Task Force. In particular she noted that the GR 30 applies to a broader range of conflicts and ensures women’s perspectives are addressed at all levels of conflict, including post-conflict reconstruction. Furthermore, it creates a system for state parties to report on their actions concerning the women, peace and security agenda so that the task force can monitor and evaluate implementation. She called for the integration of national, international and refugee law and the involvement of a range of actors including states, international organizations and non-state actors.

The panel then moved towards addressing the use of CEDAW on the ground and Dr. Bushra Salman al-Obaidi, a member of the High Commission for Human Rights in Iraq, described the grave situation for women in Iraq. She described how the National Action Plan in Iraq was created and drafted with the involvement of civil society organizations but lacked binding elements and was not formally ratified. She stressed the need to add binding aspects and accountability mechanisms to these resolutions concerning women, peace and security in order to give them the potency needed to ensure implementation. Dr. al-Obaidi also spoke about the violence women are experiencing at the hands of ISIS and the need to involve women in the fight against ISIS. Moreover, she indicated that training for security forces and civil society to properly respond to crimes of gender-based and sexual violence is also necessary.

Also speaking for women on the ground, Ms. Mary Beth Sanate from Women in Governance illustrated the challenges for indigenous women in India. Describing the violence the indigenous community in the North-East of India faces at the hands of the national military, she called for special provisions in CEDAW to protect the rights of indigenous women. Ms. Sanate also emphasized the role of local women on the ground and the need to focus on their work and provide funding and resources for these organizations on the ground that often have limited funds while doing a majority of implementation.

UN Women’s Guidebook on CEDAW GR 30 was also launched with this event and Ms. Nahla Valji from UN Women was there to speak to the value of the guidebook as a tool for practitioners. She underlined the importance of women’s rights and equality in not only issues of peace and security but also in the development agenda and how integrating gender equality at the heart of these issues makes limited resources go farther, accelerates economic recovery, increases credibility, decreases incidence of sexual exploitation and increases the probability of implementation. Furthermore, Ms. Valji stressed the importance of CEDAW as a framework that allows the women, peace and security agenda to be viewed through the lens of universal rights, in which women’s rights are applicable in all times and all contexts, including before, during and after instances of conflict.

In the question and answer segment of the panel there were constructive interventions by representatives of NGOs including comments made by Ms. Manal Putros Benham, an Iraqi human rights activist who spoke about the work being done by NGOs in Iraq to address the increasing violence against women caused by ISIS in Iraq, including the Declaration of Erbil proclaiming the solidarity of women under violence of extremism and religious extremist violence.

Ms. Valji led the closing remarks with the aspects of CEDAW that distinguish it from UNSCR 1325, the broadened definition of conflict and the accountability mechanisms which create a system of checks and balances. Although the participation of women in conflict resolution gets sidelined as an issue that can come after peace is established, Ms. Valji noted that women’s inclusion in peace talks is the only way to avoid a cycle of fragility. Deputy Permanent Representative Zehnder closed the panel further underlining the importance of this year for the women, peace and security agenda.

This panel was an important reminder to the international community of the challenges that remain for women on the ground who are fighting for peace, justice and equality. In creating mechanisms and guidelines we must ensure that their implementation is feasible and support is given in order to follow through with the promises made to women around the world.

This blog does not necessarily represent the views of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders. Please contact the writer for questions and comments:

By Shabnam Moallem, Research and Advocacy Intern, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders