Implementaton in Syria of the United Natons Security Council Resoluton 1325 on Women, Peace and Security

The internatonal conference “Implementaton in Syria of the United Natons Security Council Resoluton 1325 on Women, Peace and Security" took place on the 8th of December 2016 at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Beirut. It was organized by the Euromed Feminist Initatve and the Embassy of Sweden in Damascus in the

framework of the program “Supportng transiton towards democracy in Syria through preparing for an engendered consttuton building process” funded by Sweden and EU. This program supports the Syrian actvists’ demands for women’s full partcipaton in the negotatons, for installing women’s rights and gender equality as full part of the negotaton agreements and at every step in the transiton, and insttutonalizing them in the future consttutonal arrangement. The conference featured two panels. The first panel discussed the UNSCR 1325 perspectves and the complexity of its implementaton in Syria in the present violent context. The second panel discussed lessons learned from the implementaton of UNSCR 1325 in other countries and widening the process in Syria.

The internatonal conference was an important step in increasing the support to the advocacy work of the Syrian women’s rights actvists. It provided them with expanded space to strengthen their discourse, collectve acton and demands for stopping the military violence in Syria and for women’s full partcipaton in peace negotatons, using UNSCR 1325 as a resource and a politcal tool.

The conference shared regional challenges and achievements in implementng UNSCR 1325, notably in Nepal, Iraq and Palestne, and debated how it can be operatonalized in Syria, in order to support women’s partcipaton in all phases of negotatons and transiton, while highlightng the link with the ongoing consttuton building process. The event was atended by over 100 key stakeholders, including Syrian women’s rights defenders, human rights and civil actvists and lawyers, as well as internatonal and regional actors, UN agencies, internatonal organisatons, diplomats and embassies.

In the opening panel, Ms. Lilian Halls-French, co-president of the Euromed Feminist Initatve welcomed the partcipants and underlined that UNSCR 1325 represents an essental instrument to advance Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda globally, reminding that even if its adopton is not sufficient to guarantee gender equality and inclusion of women’s rights in conflict and post conflict contexts, its implementaton is a basic request to reach these.

Ambassador Peter Semneby, Chargé d’Affaires of Sweden to Syria affirmed the commitment of the Swedish government to strengthen women's rights, representaton and access to resources. He highlighted the aims and objectves of the Sweden’s feminist foreign policy and its role in ensuringwomen’s rights and improving women's partcipaton in decision-making processes.

Mr. Simon Bojsen-Möller, Actng Chargé d'Affaires at the EU Delegaton to Syria emphasized the importance of women’s partcipaton in all aspects of society. He underlined that politcal soluton is the only way to achieving stability and just peace, even though, in the present context of increased violence, the politcal soluton seems to be in a “stand stll”.

The first panel discussed the UNSCR 1325 perspectves and the complex context in which it should be implemented in Syria. Mr. Ibrahim Draji, professor of internatonal law in Damascus discussed how this resoluton is linked to the gender sensitve consttuton making process and gave suggestons on how to integrate a natonal plan for the implementaton of “1325” in the terms of the future consttuton. Ms. Lama Kannout from Syrian Feminist Lobby discussed the necessity of women's partcipaton in politcs and negotatons to reach a politcal soluton based on justce and elaborated what elements are needed for it. She announced the work of the Syrian Feminist Lobby in developing guidelines for the implementaton of UNSCR 1325 in Syria with the support of Euromed Feminist Initatve with concrete suggestons for actons and measures during three phases: the ongoing conflict, the transitonal period and for the rebuilding and reconstructon process. Ms. Roberta Guerrina, professor at University of Surrey pointed out the principles of the UNSCR 1325 and role of the EU in supportng its values and implementaton.

The second panel discussed lessons learned from the implementaton of UNSCR 1325 and widening the process in Syria. Ms. Bandana Rana, member of Nepal government’s high level steering commitee on UNSCR 1325 and an expert member to the UN CEDAW Commitee emphasized the importance of the UNSCR 1325 and shared the experience from Nepal, notably ways of engaging in the process women and men from local communites and decision makers on local and natonal levels. She underlined that UNSCR 1325 is also a tool to change the percepton that women are merely passive victms. She gave some examples of how women have been involved in negotatng peace on local level, but have never been recognized in the formal peace negotaton process. In this sense developing of a natonal plan has helped raise their voices and needs.

Ms. Suzan Aref, coordinator of Cross Sector Task Force 1325 in Iraq discussed how Resoluton 1325 can be used to reduce and end violatons against women. She also spoke about the experience of the Cross Sector Task Force of developing and now implementng the Natonal Acton Plan 1325 in Iraq.

Ms. Leila Al Ali, executve director of Najdeh associaton and co president of Euromed Feminist Initatve shared the Palestnian experience in developing of a natonal acton plan on implementaton of UNSCR1325, stressing that even of UNSCR1325 does not include the situaton of women under occupaton, Palestnian women’s movement has used it to address their issue in a context of Israeli occupaton.

Mr. Mohammad Naciri, UN Women focused on the role of resoluton 1325 in integratng women in peace-building processes and emphasized the readiness of UN Women to contnue to support the efforts of the women’s rights actvists in Syria.

Ms. Sabah Al Hallaq, member of executve board of Syrian League for Citzenship emphasized that the Syrian women represent more than half of Syria's populaton and they cannot be excluded from drawing Syria's future. At the same tme she explained how the totalitarian regime is a challenge to women’s mobilizaton as women’s organisatons cannot be registered in Syria. She underlined that unfortunately the whole culture now is enhancing and giving advantages to military solutons. However, military soluton exacerbates violence, limits women’s partcipaton, and cannot pave a just path for Syrian future.

Conclusions

Rich interactve discussions followed the panellists’ presentatons. It was underlined that the UNSCR 1325 should be seen as a part of the broader Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, and as a result of the decades of internatonal feminist lobby and advocacy work. When referring to ‘1325’ it is recommended to refer as well to the other seven resolutons composing the WPS agenda. This helps to mitgate some of the weaknesses in the text of 1325, in partcular, the focus on women as victms. UNSCR 1325 should also be understood as incorporatng a broader legal and normatve framework, and as such it can enable feminist actvists to support their pre-existng concerns and agendas as well as a tool to further these objectves.

- On the legal side, this framework includes CEDAW, which the language of UNSCR 1325 is drawn from,and in partcular General Recommendaton 30 which provides a more nuanced understanding of women as actors and enables accountability.

- On the normatve side WPS includes the Beijing Platorm for Acton that goes a lot further on key feminist issues, including disarmament and macro security issues and calls for a reducton in ‘excessive military expenditure, the importance of non-violent forms of conflict resoluton and on fostering a culture of peace”.

This makes the focus on the legislatve element of the implementaton of UNSCR 1325 all the more important, which is why the Iraq experience is of partcular use. UNSCR 1325 is instrumental as well for the purpose of achieving transformatve changes through working for changing of discourse on women’s partcipaton.

The development of a natonal plan or guidelines for implementaton of UNSCR1325 provides an opportunity to hold all partes to account. It helps to artculate a beter alternatve to the current measures for including women’s voices and demand accountability for perpetrators of gender basedviolence.

It was recommended to further elaborate the link between gender sensitve consttuton building process and implementaton of UNSCR 1325 in the awareness raising and advocacy actons for women’s partcipaton in all decision making processes.

In other words, UNSCR 1325 has been celebrated as a politcal tool to raise awareness and mobilize for women’s rights, gender equality and women’s full partcipaton; a tool for inclusive dialogue, a tool for furthering women’s rights demands and agenda.

On the level of prioritzing, one of the lessons learned is that the developing of a natonal plan to implement the UNSCR 1325 as well as the gender sensitve consttuton is a priority today. This does not mean that all other burning issues from the Syrian human rights actvists’ agendas should be de-prioritzed; they should rather be implemented together in parallel. In this sense, UNSCR 1325 needs to be mainstreamed in the consttuton by incorporatng the pillars and values of the Resoluton in the consttuton and raising a broader awareness about them. This will support the ongoing work on advocatng for a women’s rights legal framework in parallel with raising of society awareness about women’s rights issues.

Development of natonal plan for implementaton of UNSCR 1325 can be achieved only through a collaboratve and inclusive approach that ensures ownership and partcipaton from local to natonal level.

Euromed Feminist Initatve and the Embassy of Sweden in Damascus will conitnue supportng the efforts of the Syrian women's rights defenders and civil society organisatons in advocatng for the implementaton of in Syria of the UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

The Civil Society

The importance of the integraton of UNSCR 1325, women's rights and gender equality into the agendas and actons of all CSOs and politcal partes was underlined.

Ensuring an inclusive process implies additonal focus on networking and sharing of informaton among coalitons and initatves working on peace and non-violent transiton, in order to broaden the process of raising awareness and effectve utlizing of UNSCR 1325 for having women on decision making positons.

Among the means to strengthen the mobilizaton was pointed out the need to elaborate strategies to reach out to grassroots level and debate women's rights and democracy building at local level, using both 1325 and consttuton building process to debate women’s rights and gender equality.

A special focus was to be put on engaging and integratng young actvists, including among refugees and displaced women.

Engaging and cooperatng with progressive and democratc movements and organizatons, politcal leaders and actvists both inside Syria and internatonally in order to educate on the UNSCR 1325 andits integraton in the consttuton building process.

Developing of the guidelines for implementaton of UNSCR 1325 in Syria by the Syrian Feminist Lobby ill help the work on broadening the knowledge and process of implementaton of 1325 and its connecton with consttuton making process.

UN, EU and Internatonal Community

It was underlined more than once that even if the violence is escalatng the solving of the Syrian crisis annot be military. The United Natons, the European Union and the internatonal community should ncrease all efforts to examine all non-violent, politcal ways of stopping the violence and resolving the yrian crisis.

UN should strengthen their support to the Syrian actors in words and deeds and use all existng UNtools (and especially UNSCR 1325) to protect women from violence, rape and murder; to promote women’s equal representaton and partcipaton in all decision-making bodies throughout the peace negotatons, the transitonal phase and in the reconstructon phase. UN should demand and ensure the partcipaton of 50% women in all negotaton teams and introduce a women’s rights and gender equality perspectve into the overall transiton process towards democracy, including the consttutonmaking process.

Applying UNSCR 1325 is a needed tool for the internatonal community to encourage solidarity and tosupport actvists who are promotng women’s rights as universal human rights.

The EU was recommended to contnue to support the creaton of a space where all democratc and progressive forces have the chance to meet and discuss key issues on their own, including gender ensitve legislaton and developing natonal plan for implementaton of UNSCR 1325.

It is important that EU develops a clear vision for a long-term strategic soluton for Syria that supports onviolent conflict resoluton and applying UNSCR 1325 with the accompanying ones in all processes. EU should apply UNSCR 1325 more effectvely to pressure the partes to include women in their negotaton teams as well as to place women’s rights and gender equality as a priority on their agendas. Ending of arm-trade for Syrian diverse military actors was underlined as crucial. EU and internatonalcommunity should exercise pressure to stop the supply of arms to all partes in the conflict and to rovide protecton for civilians.

EU should use their powers effectvely to provide forums and enhance supportve environment for implementng UNSCR 1325 as well as exercising pressure on all partes to this end.

 This project is co-funded by the European Union