Six-nation study finds promises on women’s security unmet

October 25, 2010

CAMBRIDGE, MA— A yearlong study in six countries has found that the goals of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, enacted 10 years ago, have not been fulfilled and that implementation is generally poor. The U.N. itself, major industrial powers, other international organizations, and conflict states have all failed to include women in peace processes and peacebuilding, two key goals of the resolution.

The study, “What the Women Say: Participation and UNSCR 1325,” was organized by the MIT Center for International Studies, Cambridge, Mass., and the International Civil Society Action Network, a NGO based in Washington DC. The 50-page study and recommendations are being released on Oct. 28 at 10:00 A.M. at the U.S. Mission to the U.N.

In the six countries—Aceh (Indonesia), Colombia, Israel and Palestine, Liberia, Sri Lanka, and Uganda—researchers found that the governments had essentially failed to take the necessary steps to raise women’s participation. In some of these countries, formal legislation had been enacted but had not been implemented. In others, special advisers or commissions have been created, but the offices are ineffective, politicized, or diverting resources from women NGOs.

“The cases show that by limiting peace talks to only belligerents – state and non-state actors – and marginalizing peace groups, the international community is de facto legitimizing violence. ” said Sanam N. Anderlini, the study’s principal author and co-organizer of the project. “The way things are, as long as women are not a security threat, their concerns and interests will be sidelined. Peace processes are about ceasefires and power deals, not real peace.”

Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, President of the Security Council when Resolution 1325 was passed, called the report “refreshingly open and frank” and its recommendations “practical” and “worthy.”

The study was based on extensive interviews in each country, government documents, press accounts, and the experience of the study team. The work was supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Irish Aid, Forum for Women and Development, Channel Foundation, among others.

The case studies were conducted by Cerue Garlo, Liberia; Shyamala Gomez, Sri Lanka; Suraiya Kamaruzzaman, Aceh; Turid Smith Polfus, Palestine/Israel; Elena Rey, Colombia; and Lina Zedriga, Uganda. (Biographies are available in the full report.)

“The insights these women have brought to the 1325 discourse underscore two related points,” said John Tirman, executive director of the MIT Center for International Studies. “The first is that the Member States are not fulfilling their obligations, which is a serious failing that should concern everyone who believes in the utility of collective security. The second is this is a resolution that is both realistic and innovative, covering half the population of the world. It is important, and it is being ignored.”

The Center for International Studies (CIS) supports interna­tional research and education at MIT. It is the home of MIT’s Security Studies Program; the MIT International Science & Technology Initiative, its pioneering global education program; the Program on Emerging Technologies; and seminars and research on migration, South Asia politics, the Middle East, cybersecurity, nuclear weapons, and East Asia. The Center has traditionally been aligned with the social sciences while also working with MIT’s premier science and engineering scholars. CIS produces research that creatively addresses global issues while helping to educate the next generation of global citizens.