Aug. 28, 2012

A report including findings and recommendations from LISD's January 2011 co-sponsored workshop, "Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Afghanistan," was issued as UN document A/66/698 – S/2012/89. The January meeting brought together Afghan women leaders, both from government and civil society, representatives of states that currently comprise the Security Council, senior UN officials, NGO representatives and academics. LISD co-sponsored the workshop with the government of the Principality of Liechtenstein.

Recommendations from this workshop were publically presented on February 8 at the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the UN, and at a side event at the 2012 meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women. It was introduced as part of the negotiating process within the UN Security Council related to the renewal of the mandate of the UN Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) in March 2012 and was issued as UN Document A/66/698 – S/2012/89.

The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda of the UN Security Council is considered one of the landmark achievements in its thematic work. In its resolution 1325 (2000), the Council addressed for the first time the impact of armed conflict on women and recognized the under-valued and under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention and peace processes. The thematic work initiated by resolution 1325 has been reinforced and expanded by follow-up resolutions 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), and 1960 (2010), which together form the Women, Peace and Security agenda of the Council. At the same time, integrating this agenda into the country-specific work of the Council has proven very challenging, despite the Security Council’s continued political recognition that gender is central to lasting and sustainable peace and security. The implementation of the WPS agenda on the ground is thus lagging far behind the ambitious conceptual framework that the Council has created over the past decade.

A case in point is Afghanistan, where the UN has been actively involved for many years. While the situation of women has consistently attracted great attention in the international community, the WPS agenda has made only minimal advances. The situation for women overall remains difficult and highly insecure, even after a lengthy international presence and engagement under the umbrella of the UNAMA mandate. This is true for both central aspects of the WPS agenda: on the protection side, sexual violence against women and girls, including abduction, rape and trafficking, is widespread. Women human rights defenders face attacks and intimidation. In some parts of the country, they are effectively prevented from continuing their work, as several high-profile women have been attacked and some of them killed. On the participation side, some progress has been achieved with respect to the presence of women in political positions. But overall, the representation and active participation of women in political processes and economic activities remain limited. There is an acute risk that women will be effectively excluded from peace talks, against the stated beliefs and commitments reflected in the WPS agenda.