by Jo Rodrigues, Steering Committee Member of the Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada
On April 1, 2014, NATO Foreign Ministers endorsed a revised1 NATO/Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC)2 Policy on Women, Peace and Security. 3 The Policy was developed by partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council as well as Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand.
In May, NATO reached out to civil society from EAPC countries as well as Afghanistan, Australia, Japan, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand, especially women’s groups, to provide recommendations for the accompanying Action Plan.4 The Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada (the Network), put out a call to the membership requesting that those who wished to attend the meeting write a short paragraph outlining a) why they were interested in attending, b) why they would make a good WPSN-C representative and c) what they would do with what they learned. Of those who applied, I was selected to attend.
June 1 – Day 1
The event was organized by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and took place at the beginning of June in Brussels. Ms. Mari Skåre, Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, was on hand to personally great each guest at a small reception as well as Mr. Daniel de Torres, Deputy Head of Operations III, DCAF. Over a few hours attendees from 27 countries5 intermingled with Ms. Skåre, Mr. de Torres, Ms. Skåre’s team of gender advisors and other NATO staff.
June 2 – Day 2
I started the next day with curiosity. How were we going to come up with meaningful recommendations within a few hours? Looking at the agenda we had an hour and a half in the morning and an hour for feedback followed by another hour in the afternoon to work on recommendations with another hour for feedback.6
With 27 countries in attendance and a plethora of perspectives and experiences the task set for the day seemed daunting.
Impressions of the day
Ms. Skåre was in attendance for the full day of consultation which was appreciated by many of us who came. After her initial remarks at the beginning of the day, there were about forty minutes for questions and answers. She took the time to answer with consideration, frankness and acknowledgement of both her perspective as a representative of NATO and for the perspectives offered by civil society representatives. Her team of gender advisors were on hand as well to answer questions we had on the Policy in addition to questions on the current implementation of Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 by NATO.
Methodology for Consultation
Prior to the meeting we had been provided with the policy but not the Action Plan. When we asked for it we were informed vaguely that it was a work in progress and not something that could be presented in time for the consultation.
Mr. de Torres explained that we would work in groups (the groups consisted of who we were sitting with for the morning presentations) and that our recommendations would be given to the Ministers for consideration. Groups consisted of representatives from a variety of backgrounds and expertise. This included representation from organizations and groups like the Institute for Inclusive Security, the Slovak Women Platform, the Atlantic Initiative in Bosnia- Herzegovina, the Afghan Women’s Network and Association for National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325.7
Each working group was assigned to one of the Policy elements (“Cooperative Security”, “Crisis Management and NATO-led Operations and Missions”, “National Contributions”, “Cross-Cutting Enablers”, “Implementation – Monitoring and Reporting Mechanisms”). We were provided with a recommendation template (this can be found in the summary report of recommendations attached) and a facilitator who was either a NATO staff member or intern. The group I worked with developed recommendations on Crisis Management and NATO-led Operations and Missions. We presented our recommendations after our working session and were provided with feedback from everyone present, including the Special Representative. Our coffee breaks and lunch break also provided an opportunity to speak one-on-one with Ms. Skåre and other attendees for pertinent info to be considered and/or debated.
At the end of the day DCAF took our notes to compile and edit. This document of recommendations was then given to the Special Representative and sent to us after a week. At this time we were able to provide further feedback, clarification and comments, although not all of our responses were included in the final document.
At the end of June the Special Representative emailed all participants with the Action Plan endorsed by NATO Foreign Ministers on June 25, 2014.
As expected, the Action Plan did not include all recommendations or capture the nuances identified in the workshop. It was clear, however, that some of our suggestions had been considered and added. For example, for the section on Cooperative Security, we recommended:
Outcome 1: In order to mainstream the Women, Peace and Security policies among NATO and its partners a standing platform including national and international Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) is established.
- NATO members and partners meet regularly to discuss the action plan on WPS, exchange best practices and lessons learnt.
- NATO organises periodic consultations (every 6 months) with CSOs on the NATO WPS action plan.
- NATO organises consultations with local CSOs prior to development or revision of relevant policies and prior to NATO-led operations and missions.
- NATO prioritises the funding of innovative and effective WPS initiatives through the Science for Peace and Security Programme and through the Trust Fund mechanism.
- NATO creates an “acceleration fund” to support members and partners with WPS policy implementation in-country.8
The Action Plan includes or acknowledges some of recommendations. For example:
3. Strengthened overall implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related Resolutions through enhanced cooperation between NATO, Allies and partners.
3.1.3. Number and scope of cooperative frameworks, SPS projects, Trust Funds and other relevant initiatives focussed on, or including elements on, Women, Peace and Security.
3.1.4. Level, scope and number of information sharing and best practices exchanges.
4.1. Conduct targeted and coordinated efforts in the framework of and/or through, inter alia:
– staff-to-staff talks; exchanges of information, lessons learned and best practices; joint strategies and initiatives; training activities for participants from across the relevant organisations; harmonized terminology; local coordinating mechanisms in areas where international organizations are present and where NATO, Allies and partners are carrying out activities.
4.1.1. Number and scope of various types of activities.
4.1.2. Number and role of local coordinating mechanisms between NATO and international organizations.
5.1. Arrange consultative meetings between NATO civilian and military structures and relevant NGOs and other members of civil society.
5.2. Explore the possibility of establishing a civil society advisory panel to NATO and identify a possible terms of reference for such a panel
5.3. Establish local consultative mechanisms with women’s rights
5.1.1. Number, level and scope of meetings with women’s rights groups and civil society actors on Women, Peace and Security issues.
5.1.2. Specific outreach and Key Leader Engagement (KLE) plans that focus on identifying and involving women as actors, both in policy and operational matters.
The Action Plan is not short of actions. In total there are 47 Actions and 33 indicators. Some actions have multiple indicators while others have none. It also does not identify a dedicated budget and is to be implemented over a two year period ending in June 2016.
Attached you will find links to the agenda, recommendations and final Action Plan.
The experience of being together with women and men representing civil society on the theme of Women, Peace and Security was overwhelming, enlightening and invigorating. I left the consultation impressed by the initiatives being undertaken in different countries. I was also encouraged by participants who were impressed by the work the WPSN-C has done over the years. There were remarks of the Network “doing things right” through our advocacy endeavours and interactions with the Canadian government to hold them accountable for progress reports and overall implementation of our Action Plan.
Overall, the representatives from civil society in attendance for the consultation were appreciative of the opportunity to provide recommendations and look forward to consulting with NATO in the future.
2 “The 50-nation Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) is a multilateral forum for dialogue and consultation on political and security-related issues among Allies and partner countries. It provides the overall political framework for NATO’s cooperation with partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic area, and for the bilateral relationships developed between NATO and individual partner countries under the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme.”
3 The preceding policy was released on June 27, 2011. “NATO/EAPC policy for implementing UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and related Resolutions” and the first policy was released in 2007.
4 The Action Plan provides specific actions and indicators to implement the policy.
5 Afghanistan, Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Kyrgyz Republic, Lithuania, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States. Also in attendance: European Network of NGOs in Afghanistan (ENNA) and Women In International Security (WIIS).