Blog: The WPS Agenda | Why Partnerships Matter?

30 Jun 2020

Blog: The WPS Agenda | Why Partnerships Matter?

Elizabeth Atyang-Eilor

As we approach the 20th Anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 (2000), it is natural to reflect on the history and the journey that culminated into the adoption of this landmark resolution, that was founded on the Namibia Plan of Action on Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in Multidimensional Peace Support Operations (adopted in Windhoek in May 2000). UNSCR 1325 contains four pillars: participation, prevention, protection, and resolution and recovery.

On October 31, 2000, UNSCR 1325 was adopted unanimously. This was the first time that the UN Security Council devoted a resolution for women during peace and conflict. Despite UNSCR 1325 being an essential first step towards reaching equality between women and men, more should have happened since its signing. In Africa too, there is a growing realisation among women's organisations and development circles that the 20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325 is not a celebration nor a stock-taking exercise, but a time to roll up our sleeves and work on the unfinished business with an urgent need to address the most serious problems. 

The AU’s initiative “Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020” as one of the flagship projects of the wider developmental blueprint of Agenda 2063 calls for urgent action by all member states to resolve conflict through peaceful means. In some African countries, conflict continues with no regard to the call for a global ceasefire made by the UN Secretary-General, and reiterated by the AUC Chairperson to create the space for mobilisation towards an effective COVID-19 response.  

In his message, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that for many women and girls, the COVID-19 threat looms largest where they should be safest – their own homes.  “We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19,” he said.  However “they can trap women with abusive partners.” 

As we commemorate this important resolution that promotes the participation of women in matters of peacebuilding, the lessons that have been learnt over the last two decades in building resilient societies is that inclusivity is key. Deliberate steps must be taken to bring women to the peace table, expand assistance for gender-related post-conflict reconstruction, strengthen women’s groups in conflict-affected countries, mandate time-bound goals and accountability mechanisms for implementing the resolution, protect displaced women from sexual abuse, engage women in security sectors, and member states should finance these initiatives.  All these require partnerships and collaboration; community engagement; inclusion of women in decision-making and formulation of people-centred approaches are critical to successful containment of COVID-19 and the impact of conflict.

On April 19, 2017, at the first UN-AU Annual Conference held at the UN Headquarters in New York, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat endorsed a Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security as a basis for collaboration through joint mechanisms and regular consultations.

In a Joint UN-AU Communique SG/2239 of April 19, 2017, the UN Secretary-General and the Chairperson reiterated their strong commitment to working hand in hand towards achieving the continent’s development goals.

In the context of this partnership, the UNOAU and the AU is promoting the implementation of UNSCR 1325 through various initiatives and activities aimed at addressing the issues affecting Women in Peace and Security (WPS) and hindering gender equality benefitting many African women mediators with capacity building training.

We have indeed come a long way, but there is still some distance to travel, and the partnership between the UN, the AU and our member states will grow stronger as we work together to build back better. We welcome you to support the UN-AU partnership, and together we shall strategically defeat the invisible enemy COVID-19 and leverage the opportunities to address the unfinished business.