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Women’s Participation in Peace Negotiations: Connections between Presence and Influence

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  1. Introduction

More than a decade after Uni ted Nations Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) was unanimously adopted, the striking absence of women from formal peace negotiations reveals a troubling gap between the aspi rations of countless global and regional commitments and the reality of peace processes. It has been 33 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 30 years since the UN General Assembly’s Declaration on the Participation of Women in Promoting International Peace and Cooperation, 17 years since the UN convened the Fourth World Conference on Women and participating governments issued the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and 12 years since resolution 1325 (2000) made women’s participation in all aspects of peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding part of the remit of the Security Council. This imperative has been reiterated in subsequent resolutions, including 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), and 1960 (2010), and in several reports of the Secretary-General on mediation and on women, peace and security.

Since the first edition of this paper in August 2010, gender equality advocates and government and civil society actors have highlighted peace processes as a strategic entry point for the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000). The decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the 2011 Peace Prize to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peacebuilding processes reaffirmed the centrality of women’s contribution to peace, and the essential connection between democracy, justice, and gender equality. For the first time in its history, the Nobel Committee referred to UN Security Council resolution 1325 in its statement, reiterating the decisive importance of women’s leadership in international peace and security. On 22 June 2011, the UN General Assembly also unanimously approved the first resolution (65/283) on peace mediation that has ever been adopted by this body. This resolution encourages strengthening the position of women in conflict resolution efforts and underscores the need for further engagement with civil society to ensure this occurs.