Submission – Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and the Response from Civil Society

The WPSN-C recently submitted a short note to the 2015 High Level Review on Security Council Resolution 1325. The submission is reproduced below.

Submission – Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and the Response from Civil Society

Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security

Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (C-NAP) was released in October 2010 and covered the period from October 2010 until March 2016.1

The C-NAP is structured around the pillars of prevention, participation, protection, and relief and recovery. It includes five commitments including increasing the participation and decision-making of women in situations of armed conflict; increasing the effectiveness of peace operations to protect and promote the rights and safety of women and girls; improving the capacity of Canadian personnel working in these areas; ensuring that relief and recovery efforts take into account the differential experiences of women, men, boys and girls; and improving accountability of the peace operations leadership on these issues.

The C-NAP includes 28 specific actions and 24 indicators. However, many of the actions do not have indicators and none have expected targets.

Civil Society Response to the C-NAP

Civil society representatives welcomed the Plan when it was released, noting however that it came rather late following the global call for WPS NAPs. They also raised concerns regarding details in the Plan. For example:

  • The lack of gender perspective, unclear or lack of definition of gender equality and lack of analysis of root causes of armed conflict means that the C-NAP only addresses symptoms of the problem rather than addressing the systemic issues.2
  • The lack of specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART) indicators. As well, there are no targets making it difficult to assess if anticipated progress has been achieved.3
  • The absence of a budget. In order to make progress on WPS objectives, human and financial resources are required.4
  • The lack of an on-going mechanism to involve and consult with Canadian civil society.5
  • The C-NAP does not address the reasons why women are poorly represented in decision-making bodies.6

C-NAP Implementation and Civil Society Response7

Despite commitments in the C-NAP to produce annual reports and carry out a mid-term review, the Government of Canada (GoC) has been consistently tardy in providing public reports on C-NAP progress. The first two reports (covering April 2011-March 2012 and April 2012-March 2013) were only made available in early 2014. As of March 2015, the third report (covering April 2013-March 2014) had not been released. As well, the mid-term review was only started in July 2014 and as of March 2015 it has not been released.

The two progress reports that have been released as of March 2015 list initiatives undertaken by Canadian government departments and include detailed annexes with information relevant to the indicators.8 The reports are positive and paint a complimentary overview of Canadian activities. These include several diplomatic interventions (including at the level of the G-8 Foreign Ministers), training for Canadian military and police personnel, and funding for large and small initiatives (including $18.5 million to support initiatives to address sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo).

Civil society organizations welcomed the public reporting on the C-NAP and applauded the GoC for funding the specific initiatives outlined in the reports. Canadian statements on the importance of ending sexual violence in conflict were also welcomed. Nevertheless, there were also criticisms of the reporting, including:9

  • Overall it is difficult to pull out what has changed as a result of the C-NAP. The reports focus on activities carried out and there is little analysis of progress. The reports are difficult to read. Even though there is data on specific funding initiatives, it is not possible to get an idea of what the government has actually invested in this area and if this amount is increasing or decreasing.
  • Even though the reports include data on the indicators, there is no analysis of what these indicators reveal. The reports do not include year-to-year progress comparisons, so it is difficult to see where there have been improvements in the indicators.
  • It is difficult to identify what resources the Canadian government is actually investing in WPS initiatives. According to one analyst, the two C-NAP progress reports suggest that while Canada “has been actively supporting aid programs in support of the UN resolutions…aid efforts in this area remain relatively small and fragmented in terms of how they are both implemented and reported.”10
  • There is a lack of analysis of root causes and insufficient requirements for qualitative analysis on the systemic challenges that require addressing.

Civil society representatives have also noted that there are broad inconsistencies in Canada’s foreign policy, development investments and defence policy that fail to support the global WPS agenda, including:11

  • Canada’s failure to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty;
  • Canada’s unwillingness to fund the full range of reproductive health services to survivors of violence including regarding pregnancy as called for in UNSCR 2122; and
  • The lack of strong Canadian statements and actions in support of women’s participation in peace processes.

Conclusions and Implications for the Global Study

As civil society representatives monitoring our government’s commitment to and actions on the women, peace and security agenda, we have the following insights:

  • While having a National Action Plan is an important step, it is not a sufficient indicator of meaningful progress. It is important to ask: Does the NAP make robust and meaningful commitments to advancing the goals of the WPS agenda? Are there financial and human resource allocations that support the achievement of these goals?
  • National Action Plans should include specific and sufficient resource allocations. Canada’s National Action Plan does not have a budget. Government departments are expected to implement the Plan with regular budgetary resources. There are no specific allocations for funding, no funds to support women human rights defenders and women’s organizations working for peace in conflict-affected areas, no resources for Canadians working on these issues and no way of tracking whether resources dedicated to women, peace and security objectives by the government have increased or decreased since the start of the NAP.
  • Reporting on NAP implementation should be timely, public and results-based. While the Government of Canada has provided public reporting on the NAP, this reporting has been extremely slow. When the reports have been released, information in the reports has often been out of date. The Canadian reports also tend to list activities and it is difficult to understand what has actually been achieved or accomplished.

Note: This brief has been compiled by the WPSN-C Steering Committee and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of all the members of the Network.


1 Minister Cannon Launches Canada’s Action Plan for the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. (2010, October 5). http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2010/324.aspx?lang=eng

2 Tiessen, R. & Tuckey, S. (2014). “Loose Promises and Vague Reporting: Analyzing Canada’s National Action Plan and Reports on Women, Peace and Security.” in Worth the Wait? Reflections on Canada’s National Action Plan & Reports on Women, Peace & Security, https://wpsncanada.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/worth-the-wait-report.pdf

3 GNWP (ed.) (2013). Women Count – Security Council Resolution 1325: Civil Society Monitoring Report Canada 2013, (2013, October). http://www.gnwp.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Canada-2013.pdf

4 Woroniuk, B. & Minnings A. (2014) Worth the Wait? Reflections on Canada’s National Action Plan & Reports on Women, Peace & Security. Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada (WPSNC). https://wpsncanada.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/worth-the-wait-report.pdf and GNWP (ed) (2013). Women Count – Security Council Resolution 1325: Civil Society Monitoring Report Canada 2013.http://www.gnwp.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Canada-2013.pdf

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 See also “Women and Armed Conflict” Chapter in Network of NGOs, Trade Unions and Independent Experts (2014). Progress on Women’s Rights: Missing in Action. A Shadow Report on Canada’s Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2014/11/Progress_Women_Beijing20.pdf

8 2011-2012 Progress Report – Canada’s Action Plan for the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. (2012, March). http://www.international.gc.ca/START-GTSR/women_report_2011-2012_rapport_femmes.aspx & 2012-2013 Progress Report Canada’s Action Plan for the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. (2013, March). http://www.international.gc.ca/START-GTSR/women_report_2012-2013_rapport_femmes.aspx

9 Woroniuk, B. & Minnings, A. (eds.) (2014). Worth the Wait? Reflections on Canada’s National Action Plan & Reports on Women, Peace & Security. Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada (WPSNC). https://wpsncanada.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/worth-the-wait-report.pdf

10 Swiss, L. (2014). “Canadian Foreigh Aid in Support of Women, Peace and Security 2011-2013,” in Worth the Wait? Reflections on Canada’s National Action Plan & Reports on Women, Peace & Security. Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada (WPSNC). https://wpsncanada.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/worth-the-wait-report.pdf

11 See Open Letter to the Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, coordinated by the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict. May 22, 2014 https://wpsncanada.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/campaign-to-stop-rape-sexual-violence-in-conflict-open-letter-to-minister-baird-may-22-20141.pdf

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