Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace and Security’s Submission to the Foreign Policy White Paper (2017)

Australia needs a transformational foreign policy, particularly on issues of peace and security, if we want to “deal with the world as it is” and influence the way the world responds to tension and all forms of violent conflict. The advancement of women’s right, the achievement of gender equality and ensuring the participation of women in conflict prevention and all peace and post-conflict processes will bring about a more balanced approach to addressing and preventing recurring conflicts, as well as peacebuilding efforts.

The Australian Government has taken a global leadership role on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, and in 2012 launched the inaugural Australian National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) 2012 – 2018 (‘NAP’). Australian foreign policy must be aligned to the agreed and binding principles of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda under international law, including the suite of eight United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) on WPS and should prioritise an approach which reframes peace and security from a focus on defence to a focus on conflict prevention and human security (including the economic and social dimensions of security).

This submission recommends the Australia government to identify WPS as a foreign policy priority and that it fully incorporates the pillars of the WPS agenda into the strategic planning of Australia’s foreign policy. These pillars are: prevention, participation, protection, relief and recovery, and mainstreaming.

Read the full submission: PDF  Word

Open Letter to Permanent Representatives to the UN: Recommendations on the Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security (WPS)

Today, Tuesday 25 October 2016, Russia is hosting the annual United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, which will focus on how Member States, regional organisations and the UN are working towards the commitments and recommendations made during the 2015 High-level Review of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000).

In advance of the debate, the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security brought together 254 organisations from 55 countries to write an Open Letter to Permanent Representatives to the UN, urging Member States to provide details on the progress made on their political, financial and institutional commitments.

You can read the letter here which outlines key recommendations for the Security Council, specifically in regards to:

  • Women’s participation in prevention and resolving conflict and post conflict rebuilding
  • Addressing humanitarian crises through a gender lens
  • Strengthening justice, accountability and the rule of law
  • Developing and implementing National Action Plans on 1325
  • Financing the WPS Agenda

The Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace and Security is proud to be a signatory to this Open Letter, which has now been sent to the New York missions of all Member States and published online.

 

The Coalition calls on the Australian Government to Condemn Sexual Violence against Women and Children in South Sudan

Following the release of a UN report on human rights violations in South Sudan on 11 March 2016, which detailed harrowing accounts of sexual violence committed against women and children, the Coalition wrote to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP (copied to Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja AM). In this letter the Coalition urged the Australian Government to confirm its commitment to prioritising the Women, Peace and Security agenda in foreign policy by making a public statement drawing attention to these ongoing atrocities.

The UN report was produced by an assessment team sent to South Sudan by the UN High Commissioner from October 2015 to January 2016, in accordance with a resolution by the Human Rights Council in July 2015. The extreme brutality of sexual violence committed against women in South Sudan detailed in the report is alarming. The scale of sexual violence is particularly shocking; from April to September 2015, the UN recorded more than 1,300 reports of rape in just one of South Sudan’s ten states, Unity. The assessment team also documented reports of abductions of women in Unity, Upper Nile and Central Equatoria states. Some women and girls were forced to marry their aggressors, while credible sources also indicated that groups allied to the Government were being allowed to rape women as a reward in lieu of wages. The report concluded that the prevalence of rape is part of an intentional strategy to terrorise and punish civilians.

Following our letter, the Coalition was encouraged that Australia spoke out in the interactive dialogue on South Sudan at the Human Rights Council condemning abuses being perpetrated routinely by all parties in South Sudan. This included specific reference to the practice of rewarding Government-allied troops with abducted women in lieu of wages.

The Coalition looks forward to seeing the Australian Government continue to prioritise the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in foreign policy, including urging further action to improve security for women and girls in South Sudan.

Launch of the Third Annual Civil Society Report Card on Australia’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

On Wednesday 8 June 2016, Dr Alan Ryan (Executive Director of the Australian Civil-Military Centre) launched the Third Annual Civil Society Report Card on Australia’s implementation of its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

Launched at a roundtable jointly hosted by the Dialogue Steering Group (WILPF, ACFID, the Australian Committee of UN Women and the ANU Gender Institute), this civil society shadow report aims to independently review, support and advocate for the Australian Government’s continued commitment to this agenda.

The report card can be found on the ACFID website here.

L-R: Rachel Livingston (Office for Women, Prime Minister and Cabinet), Bradley Orchard (Director National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security Office of the Chief of the Defence Force), Sally Moyle (Principle Gender Specialist, DFAT), Susan Hutchinson (WPS Coalition Steering Committee Member), Joanna Pradela (Head of Policy and Advocacy, ACFID), Alan Ryan (Executive Director, ACMC)
The Panel Speakers (L-R): Rachel Livingston (Office for Women, Prime Minister and Cabinet), Bradley Orchard (Director National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security Office of the Chief of the Defence Force), Sally Moyle (Principle Gender Specialist, DFAT), Susan Hutchinson (WPS Coalition Steering Committee Member), Joanna Pradela (Head of Policy and Advocacy, ACFID), Alan Ryan (Executive Director, ACMC)

 

 

World Humanitarian Summit: Briefing on Gender Equality in Conflict Settings

The UN Secretary-General’s Report, One Humanity Shared Responsibility, highlights that over 80 per cent of humanitarian assistance, requested by the United Nations, goes towards meeting life-saving needs in conflict settings since major civil wars have increased from 4 in 2007 to 11 in 2014 and peacekeeping missions now last three times longer than in the past. The economic and financial cost of conflict is estimated at USD14.3 trillion, or 13.4 per cent of the global economy. The international community is in a constant state of crisis management which is unsustainable.

It is for the above reasons that the Agenda for Humanity identifies Global leadership to prevent and end conflict as Core Responsibility One. To move beyond perpetual crisis management and achieve the goals of humanitarian assistance which is to save lives and ameliorate suffering, immediate crisis response, rehabilitation and longer term development support must be integrated with effective conflict prevention and long term peacebuilding. This requires an approach to humanitarian assistance which recognises and prioritises the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

This briefing paper underscores the importance of a gendered approach to humanitarian action and assistance in conflict settings. Effective conflict prevention and long term peacebuilding is needed to replace the perpetual crisis management and to reduce the magnitude of the humanitarian assistance currently needed.

Australian Civil Society Coalition on WPS – Briefing for Humanitarian Summit

The Women, Peace and Security Agenda: Where are we now?

It has been 15 years since the United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), which recognised the importance of women’s equal and substantive participation as actors for peace and security. Since that time, there have been seven subsequent resolutions, operationalised through the development of National Action Plans at the country-level. As of December 2015, fifty-five countries have created National Action Plans for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and associated resolutions.

Despite the international recognition of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, more action is needed. We know women’s leadership and substantive participation is essential for sustainable peace, yet, women are still being excluded from peace talks.

The Coalition welcomes the commitment to promoting peace, justice and strong institutions as one of the 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, reference to women, peace and security is conspicuously absent. Goal 16 contains twelve targets; none of these explicitly consider gender.

It is proposed that some indicators currently being developed under Goal 16 be disaggregated by age and sex. However, worryingly, there are no proposed indicators which directly focus on women’s experiences of, and needs in relation to, peace and security or measures for women’s participation in peace talks and post-conflict reconstruction.

The Coalition calls on the Australian Government to adopt, and to advocate for other governments to adopt, an approach to Goal 16 which recognises existing commitments and places women, peace and security at the centre of its efforts.

The Coalition urges the Australian Government to lead by example, by adopting four key approaches to inform action under Goal 16:
(a) Make connections between Goal 5 and Goal 16 in implementation.
(b) Draw on existing frameworks such as UNSCR 1325 and subsequent resolutions, the Beijing Platform for Action, and UNSCR 1325 global indicators to implement and track progress against Goal 16.
(c) Utilise and resource existing commitments and mechanisms such as the Australian National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security in implementing the Global Goals.
(d) Recognise the instrumental role of civil society to the women, peace and security agenda.

Further information can be found in the Coalition’s full briefing: The Women, Peace and Security Agenda: Where are we now?

Interim review of the Australian National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security welcomed by the Australian Civil Society Coalition for Women, Peace and Security

On 8 April 2016, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Women announced the release of the independent interim review of the Australian National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2012-2018 (‘the NAP’), conducted by the independent Humanitarian Advisory Group.

The Australian Civil Society Coalition for Women, Peace and Security (‘the Coalition’) welcomes the release of this independent interim review and its 16 practical recommendations for action.

The Coalition calls on the Australian Government to implement all 16 recommendations in order to improve the effectiveness of the current NAP and to inform the second iteration of the NAP from 2019.

Read the Coalition’s full response here.