Case study

Women, Peace and Security

How we are working within NATO to prevent sexual violence against women

Preventing Sexual Violence

In 2000, the United Nations Security Council committed the international community to a robust set of actions in the area of Women, Peace and Security, as set out in UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325). The UK, along with many UN Member States, have developed National Action Plans (NAP) to help implement UNSCR 1325.

The UK’s NAP focuses on where the UK has most influence, emphasises cross-departmental working, and seeks to ensure that UK action covers the four pillars of UNSCR 1325: prevention of conflict affecting women; protecting women from conflict; participation of women in conflict resolution; and affording women assistance with relief and recovery in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative

In May 2012 the Foreign Secretary launched the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI), in the presence of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie. This initiative is intended to support and compliment the work already underway across the UK government on UNSCR 1325. It aims to strengthen international efforts and co-ordination to prevent and respond to sexual violence, to erode the existing culture of impunity, to increase the number of perpetrators brought to justice both internationally and nationally, and to support states to build capacity.

In his speech launching the initiative, the Foreign Secretary said:

It is my firm conviction that tackling sexual violence in conflict is central to conflict prevention and peace-building worldwide. Where there is no justice the seeds of future conflict are sown, and development is held back.

We will not succeed in building sustainable peace in conflict areas unless we give the issue of sexual violence the centrality it deserves.

The Foreign Secretary will use Britain’s Presidency of the G8 in 2013 to secure a clear statement of intent from some of the world’s most powerful nations to make real, tangible progress on this issue. At the G8 Foreign Ministerial the UK will seek practical contributions of resources and capabilities, and support for a new International Protocol on the investigation and documentation of sexual violence in conflict.

UNSCR 1325 in NATO

Whilst nations have the primary responsibility for national actions, NATO is playing its part in ensuring the full implementation of UNSCR 1325. The Chicago Summit in May 2012 reconfirmed the commitment of NATO Heads of State and Government to the implementation of UNSCR 1325, in recognition of the fact that “Widespread sexual and gender based violence in conflict situations, the lack of effective institutional arrangements to protect women, and the continued under-representation of women in peace processes, remain serious impediments to building sustainable peace”.

In August 2012 Mari Skåre was appointed as NATO’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security. This appointment will help give further impetus to this work by increasing awareness and competence across NATO structures on women, peace and security issues, by supporting the incorporation of gender perspectives in all aspects of planning, exercises and training, and by strengthening our outreach and cooperation with other partner countries, international organizations and civil society.

Mari Skåre said:

We can do many things for the better, we can include women, peace and security in defence planning, we can exchange best practices on how to prevent and combat sexual harassment and violence, we can ensure more women at all levels of the Alliance. But all of this will only come more easily if we change the way people think and perform their jobs.

Published 23 March 2013