The WPS Agenda 25 Years After Beijing

UN Women Expert Group Meeting: Expert Paper

Authored by: Anne Marie Goetz, Rob Jenkins

Categories: The Field of Women, Peace and Security
Sub-Categories: International Agreements, International Law
Country: USA
Year: 2019
Citation: Anne Marie Goetz and Rob Jenkins, “The WPS Agenda 25 Years After Beijing,” Expert Paper, Sixty-Fourth Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 64) ‘Beijing +25: Current Context, Emerging Issues and Prospects for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights’ (New York, New York: UN Women, September 2019).

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Executive Summary

In some respects, it is difficult to see the women, peace and security agenda as anything but a success in the quarter century since the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) placed “women and armed conflict” (Section E) squarely in the mainstream of international policymaking. Gender issues have become embedded in the normative and institutional architecture of the United Nations and many other international bodies, and is reflected in the emergence of explicitly feminist foreign policies in a number of countries (Sweden, 2014; France, 2018; while Canada and the Netherlands claim to follow feminist principles in their overseas aid programs). The CEDAW committee now assesses national performance in bringing gender equality into security and peacebuilding work (following the 2013 General Recommendation 30). The Security Council has adopted nine resolutions instructing parties to armed conflict to engage women in conflict prevention and resolution, protection and recovery, and affecting everything from how sanctions committees do their work to the role of key peace and security agencies. Detailed “Action Plans”, Rules of Engagement for peacekeepers, and bureaucratic structures to channel gender expertise into key decision-making and implementation bodies, such as the Integrated Mission Task Forces that oversee the establishment of peacekeeping operations, have been put in place. Other multilateral institutions have followed suit, with the African Union, for instance, setting up a network of women mediators working under the AU’s Special Envoy for women, peace and security. Over 80 countries have developed National Action Plans on resolution 1325 to engage women and gender perspectives in domestic and overseas peacebuilding efforts. Considering the marked male dominance of national and international institutions of peace and security, the inclusion of gender equality concerns in the mandates of peacekeepers, mediators, and humanitarian actors is a remarkable achievement.

On the other hand, there are persistent shortcomings in implementation that no amount of multi- stakeholder coordination seems to address. This paper addresses persistent challenges (insufficient funding, inadequate representation of gender equality in peace-making, and weak institutionalization), and reviews emergent challenges (the illiberal drift in the geopolitical landscape, the rise of China, and the changing nature of conflict). It concludes by reviewing the surprisingly important impact of one response to some of these problems (the Security Council’s Informal Experts Group).