15th Anniversary of the UN SC Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security”: by Lamya Shalaldeh (OPT)

Impunity/Accountability, Israel / OPT, Op-ed, Women’s rights and gender justice

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Political Will is what Creates International Peace and Security

The 31 October marks the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security”. This is an opportunity to take stock of the results achieved since the adoption of this resolution and how these results have been reflected in women’s lives. How do women today participate  in the efforts to achieve international peace and security and how far has the zero impunity policy been translated into reality by bringing perpetrators of crimes against women to justice?

Having followed the implementation of this resolution I tend to conclude that most States have dealt with the resolution as a guiding and not as a binding and applicable resolution. This, although it is stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations that “Security Council resolutions are binding”. In addition, most States have not dealt with the resolution as a national necessity. .

Some success has been achieved by States who have dealt with the resolution as a tool to raise awareness and increase education. In some countries, women’s civil society organizations have also with some success relied on the resolution to enhance the participation and status of women. Nevertheless, this is not the general picture of the situation at a global level.

Although the resolution stresses accountability and zero impunity for perpetrators of international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, this is seldom applied although such crimes are extensively committed in many conflict zones, particularly, in the Middle East. This is due to the lack of political will of  third-party States on one hand, and the paralyzed Security Council on the other, which is unable to refer particular cases to the International Criminal court due to the  veto of some of its permanent members.

The resolution itself also has some weaknesses. For instance, it does not refer to the status of women under occupation despite making reference to the Geneva Conventions and their Protocol I – and amendment protocol relating to the protection of victims of international conflicts – which implicitly refer occupation as an “international armed conflict”. Nevertheless, the text of the resolution does not make any mention of occupation.

In light of the above and in order to overcome the weaknesses resulting from the practical application of the resolution, I would recommend that a follow-up and monitoring mechanism be created by the Secretary-General of the United Nations under which periodic reports must be submitted to the Security Council on the commitments, achievements and failures of member States in their implementation of the resolution. However, the subject of accountability and zero impunity for perpetrators of international crimes will remain wishful thinking unless the mechanism of decision-making within the Security Council, when it comes to referring particular cases of such crimes to the International Criminal Court, is modified. Accordingly, I suggest that the permanent members of the Security Council should refrain from using veto, when it comes to the prosecution of war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity, in order to activate and to put the mechanisms of accountability into effect. This would contribute to putting actions behind the approach rather than encouraging perpetrators of international crimes to continue committing them.

International law, rules and principles will remain wishful thinking unless States begin to show political will to apply and commit to these rules through actions rather than words. Without this political will to action, no significant progress will be made at the level of human rights, participation of women and translation of equality and human dignity language, included in international agreements and conventions as well as various resolutions and announcements, into reality.

By Lamya Shalaldeh