Reform or More of the Same? Gender Mainstreaming and the Changing Nature of UN Peace Operations

Authored by: Karen Barnes

Categories: The Field of Women, Peace and Security
Sub-Categories: Peacekeeping, UN Resolutions
Region: No Region
Year: 2006
Citation: Barnes, Karen. "Reform or More of the Same? Gender Mainstreaming and the Changing Nature of UN Peace Operations." Working Paper Number 41, York Consortium on International and Security Studies, 2006. Accessed January 30, 2017.

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First, this paper will provide a brief overview of the various reforms that were initiated by the UN in the area of peace and security during the 1990s, with a focus on the potential of the concept of human security to redress the marginalization of gender issues. Second, the paper will examine the changes in thinking about security and development that have occurred since the passing of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security and what impact this has had in terms of bringing gender issues into the mainstream of the UN’s peacebuilding agenda. The mainstreaming project has had some limited success, particularly at the rhetorical level and in progress driven by the establishment of a gender advisor within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and in various peacekeeping missions. However, it has 3 also often had the paradoxical effect of marginalizing gender issues even more. A rhetorical commitment to gender mainstreaming often disguises the reality that due to a lack of political will, organizational accountability, and competing or contradictory discourses, rather than being mainstreamed gender issues become lost along the way and what results is tokenistic gestures that contradict the essence of what mainstreaming seeks to achieve. In conclusion, this paper will argue that attempts to reform UN peace operations to bring about a sustainable, equitable, and inclusive peace cannot succeed unless the obstacles to fully ‘securitizing’ gender issues are addressed.