United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) recognized the disproportionate impact of violent conflict on women and girls, and the critical role that women play in peace and security processes. Passed in October 2000, UNSCR 1325 called for strategies to protect women and girls in conflict, and to engage women in all mechanisms, at all levels, and in all stages of conflict.
Today, the WPS Agenda is a legal and political framework for gender in international security that is based on four pillars for policy-making: prevention, protection, participation, and relief and recovery. Implementation is usually measured in each of these four pillars. The United Nations Security Council has passed nine additional resolutions since 2000, which have updated WPS’s concepts and definitions, and reinforced the continuing importance of UNSCR 1325.1 Together, these resolutions and an emerging set of global norms guide the work of security organizations like NATO, steering them toward gender equality and the promotion of women’s participation, protection, and equal rights under law.
In 2007, NATO and its partners formally adopted UNSCR 1325 as allied policy, and they have since developed a set of strategies, action plans, and institutional mechanisms to implement it across all of the Alliance’s activities. NATO is considered a leading regional security organization when it comes to implementing UNSCR 1325, but as WPS celebrates twenty years, it is at risk of losing momentum in NATO. The Alliance is winding down its Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, the first mission to have gender perspectives incorporated into the entire planning cycle, and it is not entirely clear that lessons will be learned. The risk is that NATO comes to see WPS as “outdated” before it has achieved its objectives in Afghanistan, and before WPS has been widely understood and internalized by NATO officials.
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Dr. Lisa Aronsson is a Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Center for Strategic Research at National Defense University.