Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality, IANWGE
Inter-Agency Network on IANWGE/2002/INF.3
Women and Gender Equality February 2002
New York, 26 February - 1 March 2002

Report of the Brainstorming Meeting
on the preparation of the Secretary-General's Study
on Women, Peace and Security

18 December 2001, Labouisse Hall, UNICEF, New York

Opening Session

Mr. Danilo Türk, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Political Affairs, welcomed the participants to the brainstorming meeting. The study on the impact of armed conflict on women should be viewed in a larger context: its objective raised a fundamental question of whether the world and the United Nations could be changed. He was inspired by the statement made by the Secretary-General during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo on 10 December 2001 where the Secretary-General posed the main question whether the United Nations could offer a new vision based on the centrality of human life. As a symbol of this new vision, the Secretary-General told in his statement the story of an Afghan girl who went through the horrors of armed conflict.

The meeting should reflect on conflict-related issues listed in the outline of the study. But it should also address the culture of violence against women, which affects women not only in times of war but also during peace.

Ms. Angela E.V. King, Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, in her opening statement pointed out that, during the past year, a constituency had been built in order to support the aims of Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. A group called "Friends of Women, Peace and Security" (or "Friends of 1325") comprising representatives of Member States was set up at the initiative of Canada, in order to broaden the support among UN Member States for Security Council resolution 1325. At the inter-agency level, the Inter-agency Task Force on women, peace and security, comprising 18 members from the UN system has been established, prior to the adoption of the resolution. Gender mainstreaming efforts have been made at both the intergovernmental and the Secretariat levels.

Security Council resolution 1325 called on the Secretary-General to prepare a study on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, the role of women in peace-building and the gender dimensions of peace processes and conflict resolution. The resolution also called for a report by the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the results of the study.

Ms. King stated that the Inter-agency Task Force had met on several occasions to discuss a system-wide action plan to implement the resolution and to establish deadlines. On 31 October 2001, the first anniversary of the resolution, the Security Council organized a panel discussion on the implementation of resolution 1325 with high-level participation from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), the Department of Disarmament Affairs (DDA) and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). She pointed out the positive work of the Gender Affairs Units in the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

Overview of the focus and approach of the study and areas of further review

The study on women, peace and security, as called for by Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), is being prepared within the framework of the Inter-agency Task Force on Women, Peace and Security. Two consultants engaged to work on the study, Ms. Dyan Mazurana and Ms. Sandra Whitworth, provided an overview of the outline (as distributed). The study will focus on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls; the gender dimensions of peace processes and conflict resolution; and the role of women in peace-building. While the study will document the vulnerability of women and girls in armed conflict, it will focus on the role of women as key actors in peace processes. The study will follow a rights-based methodology grounded in international humanitarian and human rights law. It is planned that eight external experts will be selected to provide additional information on issues where the consultants/researchers anticipate a need for expert assistance.

The study on women, peace and security coincides with complementary activities, a study and case studies from peace missions being prepared by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and a manual of standard operating practices for peacekeeping missions the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). The findings of the three activities will be reflected in the report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council.

During the ensuing discussion, the participants raised the following issues:

  • The input of women's NGOs working on the ground in areas of armed conflict should be sought and reflected;

  • The study should include practical examples of how a gender perspective is integrated in current peace processes. It would be highly desirable that the recommendations of the study include practical prescriptions on how to mainstream gender in all phases and levels of peace processes;

  • The current discussion on Afghanistan should be closely followed as a test case for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325;

  • The role of a culture of peace and preventive diplomacy should be highlighted. Actual examples of good practices to achieve long-term prevention would be useful;

  • The obstacles to putting an end to a culture of violence against women, which applies in times of peace and war, need to be addressed;

  • It was also proposed to establish a resource group to consult on future drafts prepared by the consultants/researchers and external experts particularly with a view of seeking inputs from various regions and expand geographic distribution of contributors. Another brainstorming session is scheduled to take place during the next session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2002 with greater participation;

  •  It is important to highlight the role of women who are key players in areas such as defence, banking, international finance, etc.

Briefing on the current stage of UN efforts in Afghanistan, Mr. Türk focused on new institutional elements of Mr. Brahimi's work such as the creation for the first time of an Integrated Mission Task Force (IMTF), which included Gender Experts and enhanced inter-agency coordination. The goal of the UN Integrated Mission in Afghanistan will be to support the indigenous process in Afghanistan, with a light UN presence in the early phases of the operation. In programmatic terms, the human rights component of the Bonn agreement will be strong and it is anticipated that future work will be needs-driven rather than imposed. Ms. McAskie (OCHA) referred to the principled common programme that was the guiding force for UN activities in Afghanistan in the past, which included a gender perspective. Nevertheless, she warned there was a danger that the ongoing processes relating to Afghanistan would not be gender mainstreamed. Ms. King also gave additional information on how the various agencies were assisting Afghan women in having their voices heard.

Group Discussions

Working Group 1
Secretary-General's study and expected outcome requested by the Security Council

Facilitator: Carolyn Hannan

The working group discussed the context, focus, and approach of the study as well as the process for its preparation and the best ways to utilize it.


With regard to the context in which the study is being prepared, the working group pointed to the existing tension between the Security Council and the General Assembly concerning some structural as well as substantive issues. Thus, in order for the study to be endorsed widely, there is a need to engage various Member States into the preparation process and secure their support. The role which the "Friends of 1325" could play in this regard, was highlighted. The possibility of distributing the study simultaneously as a Security Council and General Assembly document was also discussed.

The group also stressed the importance of timing. After the events of September 11, there has been a general increase of interest in the work of the UN. This could represent a "window of opportunity" for the UN to step up its work on peace and security issues. In this respect, the group stressed the need for the study not to focus only on UN's role in Afghanistan but also on its work in other areas of conflict (e.g. East Timor, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territory etc.).

Focus and approach

The focus of the study was considered too ambitious, broad, detailed and complex. There was agreement that the study should be made more concise and that Section I needed to be shortened. The group pointed out the need for the study to focus on concrete and practical recommendations, which should not be repeated in different parts of the document, as well as on obstacles, which might exist in the implementation of such recommendations.
According to the working group, the study needs to pinpoint some "good practices" and recommend the preparation of a separate compilation of best practices, supplemented by manuals and handbooks to be disseminated widely. The working group also emphasized the need for the study to identify "living examples" of steps taken or which need to be taken in order to integrate women in peace efforts in conflict-ridden countries.

Another aspect underlined by the working group is the issue of accountability. The need to set up an on-going monitoring process, with a precise time-frame, to assess progress made in the implementation of the study's recommendations was highlighted. It was stressed that the study should allow constant feedback from governments, United Nations and civil society organizations in order for the recommendations to be seen as being in continuous evolution.


With regard to the process for the study's preparation, according to the working group, different experts representing various constituencies and geographical areas should be involved. It was suggested that a review panel or resource group of experts from all regions, including activists working at the grassroots level, should be set up in order to review all the drafts of the study.

Furthermore, throughout the preparation of the study, brainstorming meetings could be organized, including a brainstorming meeting before the production of the final report which would allow Member States, NGOs, organizations of the United Nations system and grassroots groups to give inputs to the recommendations of the study. The group also suggested to organize a working session during the upcoming 46th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2002, to seek inputs on the study from the women who will gather in New York for the Commission on the Status of Women event.

Utilization/Follow-up to the study

According to the group, the study should be disseminated widely to the media, community groups, NGOs, academia and other groups. The study could also be presented at the various upcoming United Nations events (e.g. the Rio+10 Summit to be held in 2002, the CSW panel on women's equal participation in conflict prevention, management, conflict resolution and in post-conflict peace-building to be held in 2004 etc.)

Links between the study and the Secretary-General report

The group also discussed how the study could feed into the Secretary-General's report mandated by Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. The group agreed that, upon completion of the study, a brainstorming meeting should be organized in order to discuss the preparation of the Secretary-General's report. The study will provide the basis for the Secretary-General's report, but the recommendations to be included in the report will have to focus especially on the work of the Security Council.

Other issues

The working group suggested that the study should focus on women's role as active players rather than as merely victims of conflicts, particularly in regard to their role in conflict prevention. It also pointed out the need to reflect on the changing nature of war, which is particularly brutal to women civilians and, in this regard, the necessity to revisit the Geneva Convention. The group also discussed the need for the study to recommend the training of the military and UN peacekeepers on gender issues.

During the presentation of the working group discussion, a participant to the Brainstorming meeting suggested the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women be informed about the study and the Committee's perspective on it be sought.

Working Group 2

Focus of the report to the Security Council
Facilitator: Aster Zaoude


The outline of the Secretary-General's report should highlight key issues and recommendations from the study mandated by Security Council resolution 1325 (2000). However, it should also reflect the findings of the complementary studies conducted by UNIFEM and DPKO's case studies so that the Secretary-General's report would not become an executive summary of the study on women and armed conflict but would focus on the Security Council's role with respect to the implementation of its resolution 1325.

The report should also include a set of specific recommendations to the Security Council on policy-making, institutional aspects and monitoring mechanisms based on initial benchmarks to be provided by the three studies. The report should illustrate the United Nations responses to crises situations and point to basic principles that should guide a transition process from war to peace, through the recovery and reconstruction.


The discussion on the content of the report focused on three topics. On the topic of policy-making, it was stressed that gender issues should be incorporated throughout the entire peace process, with special emphasis on national capacity-building, from emergency situations to reconstruction. From the inception of UN missions, gender should be fully integrated in the mandates of the missions. Women should be included in reconnaissance mission teams and during all stages of the UN mission and at all levels, particularly in high-level positions. The participants thought it important to look into the existing international legislation and Security Council resolutions to identify a legal framework and precedence in Security Council decisions that regulate gender mainstreaming. Equally important is to assess whether women's concerns raised in previous mission reports have been followed up. A checklist could be devised to assist the Security Council in reviewing, in a comprehensive manner, whether a gender perspective is fully integrated in periodic mission reports.

With regard to institutional issues, the point was made that gender components should be systematically institutionalized. The current practice is that Ms. King briefs each Special Representative of the Secretary-General on how to incorporate gender perspectives. In all missions there are gender focal points and in some missions there are gender units. The participants emphasized the importance of including a gender team/adviser in each mission. It is critical that a gender perspective be systematically integrated throughout the entire peace process, including peace accords, elections and the enactment of new Constitutions and laws. Inter-agency coordination should be promoted.


In relation to the issues on monitoring, the view was expressed that the Security Council should receive annual progress reports on resolution 1325, including participation of women in peace-keeping missions, at the Special Representative of the Secretary-General level, and gender-specific peace action plans. Existing checklists should be engendered and expanded for reference by the Security Council. Coordination among United Nations entities on progress reports was considered essential; however, DPA and DPKO should take the lead in reporting. In order to have gender issues reviewed by the Security Council regularly, the idea was put forward to set up 31 October as the annual anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000). It is important that the Security Council not only promotes gender mainstreaming in peace and security but also applies gender concepts in its discussions, decisions and reporting.


As to the methodology of the report, the participants were of the view that it should be digestible, presenting best practices and should be organized around key issues. It was also mentioned that the Report should not focus on the vulnerability of women but on their positive role in crisis management and peace-building, in building a culture of peace and preventive diplomacy.

During the discussion, it was suggested that the report should be written with the leadership of DPA and/or DPKO.

Working Group 3
Gender and peace accords/negotiations

Facilitator: Felicity Hill

The participants discussed the integration of gender, if any, in various peace accords/negotiations. Guatemala, where women were involved in the peace accords, was discussed, in particular information provided by Luz Mendez on the Guatemalan peace process. The participants mentioned that with respect to Ireland, since the "legitimate entities" were political parties, women formed a political party. Similarly, in Somalia, women were told that only "tribal groups" were to participate, and thus formed a tribe.

Other examples were mentioned, including with regard to Bougainville, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, Liberia, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Dayton Agreement, Uganda, Mano River Region, Burundi, South Africa, Western Sahara and Eritrea. To get further information, a suggestion was made that the consultants look at the International Peace Academy (IPA) Conciliation Resources. The United Nations Department of Political Affairs (DPA) indicated that the DPA desk officers would have knowledge/experience in respect of the peace accords/negotiations in which they had been involved, including information on successes, problems and lessons learned, which could be useful. DPA offered to give the names of the desk officers. The USAID compilation of peace accords case studies was also mentioned as a source of information.

Participants emphasized the essential role of the UN in promoting standards to be met in respect of the integration of gender in peace accords/negotiations, and educating and building capacity on those standards. As part of this, the UN itself must demonstrate its commitment by staffing women at high levels.

Mention was made of the delicate role of the UN, whereby host governments have at times threatened not to cooperate if the UN pushed too hard for the involvement of civil society in peace accords/negotiations or consulted too openly with them. In order for the UN to play a strategic role in enhancing the profile of women and their capacity to gain access to peace processes, participants stressed the need for the UN to become more accessible to civil society by simple information mechanisms, such as by making the fax numbers and phone numbers of relevant UN staff available.

Participants emphasized the need for long-term capacity building in order for women to enter and understand the negotiating environment, "speak the same language", and in order to change the traditional negotiating language and environment. In order for long-term change, a participant indicated that it was important to ensure that national laws and constitutional changes reflected the needs of women.

Participants stressed that it was important that individuals in training programmes and those at the peace table should represent diverse groups, and bridge the divide between elite and grass roots levels. Participants mentioned that UN Funds and Programmes could promote the integration of gender in the agendas of their executive committees, and by educating and helping donor countries to see needs and opportunities.

Working Group 4
Gender and humanitarian law and standards in armed conflict

Facilitator: Jane Connors

The group identified a number of issues relating to gender and humanitarian law and standards in armed conflict with regard to which discussion was held. It was considered that it might be useful if the study were able to make recommendations in respect of some of the following issues:

The group considered that certain concepts and definitions, which in international law including international human rights, international humanitarian, international criminal, and international refugee law have very specific meaning, would need to be broadened in order for them to be fully useful from a gender perspective. In this respect, mention was made of the terms conflict/war, aggression, combatants and justice. With respect to the first two, the role of States and non-State actors as well as failing States was raised. With regard to combatants/soldiers, and without wishing to encourage the consideration of women and children as combatants, it was acknowledged that being defined as a combatant gave certain rights to the individual in the peace processes, which were denied those not identified as such.

There was mention of child soldiers, where the army provided a structure where society had broken down. The concept of justice was also discussed in so far as it had possible diverse meanings ranging from the traditional courts of law, amnesties or to very specific local understanding of justice. When discussing the concept of justice additional elements arose such as, addressing what it is that people want and which people is justice being sought for as well as which people were posing demands.

The role of peacekeepers, civilian police and humanitarian workers was raised including the responsibility both of the UN and of the States that provide them, for any illicit acts these might commit. The responsibility of providing-States to adequately train the forces and other personnel they provide was underlined. The role of the International Criminal Court was mentioned in this regard.

The dichotomy of implementation of existing standards as opposed to development of new ones was considered. The historical moment in which the existing standards were adopted was raised and whether they continue to be valid today. Some of the challenges posed to implementation of existing standards were highlighted; these included the changing nature of warfare, both in terms of the diversity of combatants, who now include children, and the diversity of weapons. It was considered of great importance to divulge knowledge of the standards to combatants and civil society. The importance of raising the level of awareness of the standards was reiterated.

It was acknowledged that monitoring of war situations and of the conduct of the armed forces by women's groups had been rare with one of the challenges here being that involvement in this context might imply acceptance of war and conflict.

The question of increased criminality was discussed, both from the perspective of an increase in organized crime, trafficking in persons, drugs, weapons, etc., and an increase in general crime, violence against women and property related offences. It was suggested that a comparative study be undertaken to assess the impact of armed conflict in criminal activity (e.g. by comparing a country with a long tradition of peace such as Switzerland with a conflict-ridden area such as Northern Ireland).

Extra-territorial jurisdiction and enforcement of standards were raised. Reference was made to how international standards can be used and have been used albeit rarely, in this regard the Pinochet case was alluded to. Reference was also made to how standards, rules and regulations would only be respected if they somehow provided an added advantage to the combatants.

The meaning of the standards themselves was considered. It was pointed out that the international legal standards were empowering to the powerless and meaningful to the powerful. It was acknowledged that even if respect for the standards was not always obvious States have an aversion to being considered remiss in their respect for formalities. It was pointed out that certain countries even while in the midst of war or in total unrest still prepared reports to human rights monitoring bodies and presented them to the human rights treaty bodies (i.e. The Democratic Republic of Congo presented a report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women).

Finally the question of citizenship and participation both in the conflict and post-conflict was discussed. It was pointed out that women had often been denied full participation or citizenship since this was a right linked to an individual's capacity to participate in the defence of their country. Since women were not considered combatants, they were frequently denied the possibility of participating in the peace process, where usually only combatants have the right to sit at the negotiating table. This brought the discussion round full circle to the broadening of concepts in order to integrate gender fully into issues of peace and security.

Final Plenary Session

The DPKO representative noted that the on-going study on "mainstreaming a gender perspective into multi-dimensional peace operations" was intended to serve as an operational tool to prepare standard operating procedures on gender related issues. She also mentioned the on-going training activities of DPKO, including a gender awareness training module for field personnel and special training (pilot project) on international humanitarian law in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

With regard to the UNIFEM study, it was reported that five field visits had been completed, with another visit planned for January to West Africa. The UNIFEM report should be available by early spring.

The participants agreed on the following timeline for the preparation of the study on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls:


19 December 2001 Meeting of Friends of Women, Peace and Security
Arria formula meeting: Women of Afghanistan

January 2002 Meeting of Inter-agency Task Force on women, peace and security
(2nd week)

January 2002 Meeting with CEDAW experts

4 February 2002 Presentation of first draft of study

18 February 2002 Comments from Inter-agency Task Force on the first draft provided to

early March Brainstorming meeting on study during the 46th session of the
Commission on the Status of Women

18 March 2002 Presentation of revised draft of study, incorporating comments received
and inputs from DPKO and UNIFEM

1 April 2002 Comments from the Inter-agency Task Force on the revised draft provided to consultants

30 April 2002 Presentation of final version of study by the consultants

June/July 2002 Review and final clearance

Closing remarks

Mr. Türk emphasized that it was important to ensure the continuity of the discussion on women and peace inside and outside the UN, especially if the United Nations is intended to bring about a real change.

Ms. King highlighted the on-going need for consistent gender mainstreaming in all bodies of the UN. She closed the brainstorming meeting by thanking the donor countries and United Nations entities, which contributed funds to the study, namely Australia, Finland, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, UNFPA, HABITAT, OCHA, UNHCR and UNICEF.

List of Participants


D. Türk DPA Tü
Angela King OSAGI/DESA
K. Ruecker Status of Women Canada
Beatrice Maille Permanent Mission of Canada
C. Vincent UN World Food Programme
Jane Connors DAW/DESA
M. Morales DAW/DESA
D. Simonovic Permanaent Mission of Croatia
A. Zaoude UNDP
C. McAskie OCHA
Aques Marcaillou DDA
K. Paser DPA
Carolyn Hannan DAW/DESA
Michio Sarumida OSAGI/DESA
Johnna Klinge OSAGI/DESA
Sylvia Hordosch DAW/DESA
Janette Amer DAW/DESA
M.P. Durrant Permanent Mission of Jamaica
O. Francis Permanent Mission of Jamaica
Wang Donghua Mission of China
Michelle Cervantes UNHCR
Nathalie Dault Mission of Canada
Sarah Sullivan Amnesty International
Karin Gardes IOM
Emanuela Calabrini UN-DESA/DAW
Christelle Mmatju Ngo Working Group on Women Peace and Security
Charlotte Bunch Center for Women's Global Leadership
Fellicity Hill WILPF
Pam Spees Women's Caucus for Gender Justice
Anne S. Walker International Women Tribune Ctr. - NGO Working Group on Women Peace and Security
Andrei Abramov DESA
Pegay Kerry US Mission
Amina Ibrahim OHCHR
Bacre Noiaye OHCHR
Cheryl Stoote DDA
Tanya Karanasios OCHA-PDSB
Funmi Olonisakin Office of SPSG for Children and Armed Conflict
(Senator) Rosemary Crowley Australian Mission
Robyn Mudie Mission of Australia
Samira Naz Bangladesh Mission
Nathania Verlaque-ÜstünFor Elizabeth Ruzicha-Dempsey UN-DPI
Vanessa Chan Singapore Mission
Aina Iiyanbo UNIFEM
Geeta Narayan UNICEF
Sunaina Lowe DPKO
Harrietta Von-Kattenborn DPKO
Lotta Tahtinen UN-NGLS
Jong Ning Chinese Mission
Noreen Khan UNICEF
Doris Mpoumou WEDO
Meg Gardinier Hague Appeal for Peace212 687 2663
Kyung-wha Kang Rok Mission
Khadija Hashi UNFPA
Bryan Schroder U.S. Mission
Patricia Kennedy WFP
Bettina Cadenbach German Mission
Amparo Angiano Mission of Mexico
Kristin Hafseld Mission of Norway
Doris Mpoumou Women's Environment and Development Organization
Emmanuelle d'Achon Permanent Mission of France Emmanuelle.d-achon@diplomatic

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