Cultural Salon on “Towards a National Plan to Implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325”

Baghdad, 3 May 2012

On 3 May 2012, a panel discussion entitled "Towards a National Plan to Implement the Security Council Resolution Number 1325 " was conducted in Baghdad, at “Safia Al Souhail Cultural Salon”. The purpose of the meeting, which brought together gender experts from international NGOs, government ministry staff, women’s rights activists, and academics, was to discuss UNSCR 1325 on Women and Security in the context of Iraq’s restructuring efforts. Drawing from local and international experiences, the conference aimed to foster the creation of a network of organizations and the development of a national action plan to implement the resolution.
Speakers to the meeting, which was attended by 70 persons, included the Iraqi Secretary of State for Women Affairs, members of the parliamentary coalition supporting women in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, the Deputy Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in Iraq, the Representative of the Secretary-General of the Arab League in Iraq, and H.E. the representative of the European Union in Iraq, and H.E. Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden, and H.E. Ambassador of the Republic of Algeria, and members of offices for democratic support and human rights in a number of embassies in Iraq, and concerned civil society organizations.
UNSCR 1325, adopted in 2000, formally acknowledged the changing nature of warfare, in which civilians are increasingly targeted, and women continue to be excluded from participation in peace processes. UNSCR 1325 addresses not only the inordinate impact of war on women, but also stresses the pivotal role women should and do play in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace.
Since 2003, Iraqi women’s organisations made extensive efforts to empower the role of women in political and social life. The Transitional Administrative Law of 2004 specified that women must occupy a minimum of 25 % of all seats in parliament and other elected bodies. During the January 2005 election – the first after the overthrow of the Ba’th regime – women won 31 % of parliamentary seats and 28 % of the seats in local councils.
However the lack of awareness on the UNSCR 1325 has had a negative impact on peace building initiatives in Iraq, particularly with regard to women’s involvement. The government ministries and agencies responsible for women’s rights require more understanding of its contents. Despite the existence of a quota system in Iraq and Kurdistan for government positions as well as the actions taken by the Ministry of Human Rights to protect Iraqi women in adherence with CEDAW and other international agreements, women are still consistently left out of decision making processes in many areas related to peace and security.

Participants agreed on a list of recommendations to encourage female participation in conflict resolution and security issues in Iraq, in particular calling for:
- the definition of a comprehensive national action plan including a precise and timeline mechanism to implement UNSCR 1325 and help in measuring Iraq’s level of adherence to it. Considering that the Resolution 1325 is not binding, cooperation between government, parliament and civil society is needed to push for its activation as a pivotal instrument to increase participation and respect of women at all levels of decision making and institution building of security.
- the activation of UNSCR 1325 in the context of amending existing laws related to peace-building and security issues; as well as legislating new laws to enhance participation of women into decision making processes including, but not limited to, a quota system at various levels of government and security. Special focus should be done on implementing legislation of international agreements ratified by the government which emphasize women’s rights.
- legislative initiatives to increase participation of Iraqi women not only in planning but also the solution of peace-building and security issues. Appropriate reallocation of resources and gender sensitive budgeting is also crucial to making necessary progress for Iraqis’ security.
- the development of a wide-range information and awareness campaign on UNSCR 1325 targeting the Iraqi Council of Representatives, members of the Federal, Kurdish, and local governments, humanity departments of Iraqi universities, religious and community leaders and other civil society organizations, in order to promote the tenets of the resolution and reinforce the cultural legitimacy of gender mainstreaming in Iraq’s ongoing post-conflict and security-building process.
- the creation of a network of Iraqi NGOs and CSOs which includes academics and media representatives to coordinate their efforts and actions and ensure the foundations of a monitoring and oversight body.
- international support through international agencies and NGOs which could provide funding, capacity-building and technical assistance and promote information-sharing on best practices and lessons-learned from relevant local and international experiences.