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Women, peace and security in the Asia-Pacific

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in collaboration with the Embassy of Sweden, Singapore organised a panel seminar to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the UNSCR 1325: Women, Peace and Security. The event was held at the Residence of the Swedish Ambassador on 1 December 2015. It was attended by about 60 representatives from public, private and people sectors. His Excellency, Håkan Jevrell, Swedish Ambassador to Singapore and Dr Ralf Emmers, Associate Dean, Associate Professor and Head of the Centre for Multilateralism Studies, RSIS delivered the welcome remarks. The event was chaired by Dr Alistair D. B. Cook, Research Fellow and Coordinator for the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme in RSIS.

The blueprint for WPS is rooted in the UNSCR 1325. The resolution was an international monumental step in recognising women’s critical role in peace and security. The panel seminar was held to move forward the WPS agenda in the Asia-Pacific by understanding how far countries and organisations in the region have progressed in implementing UNSCR 1325, the impact of the resolution on women and children in the region and also its implications during periods of natural disasters.

The panellists shared interesting insights on the WPS agenda based on experiences in their respective fields and how, in their opinion, the region could progress further in implementing UNSCR 1325.
The first panellist, Ms Pia Bruce, Executive Director for National Committee for UN WOMEN Singapore, provided a comprehensive overview of the pillars of UNSCR 1325 and what has been done thus far by the organisation to implement the resolution. The second panellist, Ms Janet Lim, a Fellow of the Singapore Management University, Executive-in-Residence for the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and the former UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations (2009-2015), highlighted the areas that the public, private and people sectors need to focus more on to effectively implement UNSCR 1325. She also highlighted some challenges faced by females who are displaced from their hometowns, live in refugee camps, are smuggled or trafficked to neighbouring countries.

The third panellist, Associate Professor Mely Caballero-Anthony, Head of the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies and former Director of External Relations at the ASEAN Secretariat (2011-2012), presented a contextualised account of the implementation of UNSCR 1325 to ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific region. She also underlined agreements in ASEAN that could be used to further the women-related peace and security initiatives. The fourth panellist, Ms Olivia Forsberg, Disaster Risk Management Advisor for Plan International, discussed the challenges faced by Civil Society Organisations such as Plan International in implementing the UNSCR 1325 in conflict and disaster-affected areas in the region. The final panellist, Dr Tamara Nair, a Research Fellow of the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies addressed the importance of implementing the UNSCR 1325 even in the absence of a conflict situation and the need for a regional action plan to implement the resolution in ASEAN countries. Most importantly, she highlighted that women are at times both, victims and actors in armed conflicts and violence.

There were four key themes relating to the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and furthering the WPS agenda in the region that came out of the panel seminar. They included the need to take a multidimensional approach in implementing UNSCR 1325 in the region; the importance of raising awareness on UNSCR 1325 and the WPS agenda at regional, national and community levels; the significance of empowering women to respond to crisis; and the necessity to have a comprehensive definition of conflict, peace and security. Moreover, all panellists shared their perspectives on the future of UNSCR 1325 in the Asia-Pacific.

The panel was an excellent opportunity for people from governments, policy think tanks, educational institutions, international and non-government organisations to come together to share their experiences and views in the interest of achieving a common goal to further the WPS agenda in the Asia – Pacific.