Photograph: Pasqual Gorriz/UN Photo

What's next for the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS)?

Published: 29 Oct 2020

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325. But the important Women, Peace and Security agenda seem to have had a backlash in recent years. 

Since the mid-1990's, NUPI has had a number of researchers focusing on gender, peace and security and what has come to be known as the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of SCR 1325 and represents an opportunity to take stock of current debates and main challenges ahead.

'While the role of women and the conception of gender in peace and security has changed over this period, there seem to have been a backlash with a growing number of UN member states starting to question global commitment to gender equality. For instance, in April 2019, UN SCR 2467 on conflict-related sexual violence became the first WPS resolution not adopted unanimously. To better understand this, more research is needed,' explains Senior Research Fellow Kari Osland, who is project manager for the Support to UN Peace Operations: Ensuring More Effective UN Peace Operations (UNPO) project at NUPI.

The way forward for WPS

What are main challenges and opportuinities for the WPS in the years to come?

In a research paper published 30 October, Senior Research Fellow Eli Stamnes takes stock of the achievements of the WPS agenda since the passing of its founding resolution, and outlines the challenges it now faces.

'The current situation makes it more relevant and necessary than ever to apply a more comprehensive understanding of what gender entails and how it is integral to politics, conflicts and peace efforts,' she says.

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Cannot afford to wait

The research paper outlines the challenges WPS currently faces, like the implementation gap, the global push-back against women’s rights and multilateral cooperation, the rise of a strongly gendered nationalist populism and the political climate amongst UN member states and within the Security Council as well as and the Covid-19 pandemic.

'In this context it seem prudent to concentrate on maintaining the WPS gains achieved over the last 20 years, rather than prioritising a push for the inclusion of further, more progressive elements onto the WPS agenda. There are however reasons to question this assessment,' Stamnes continues.

According to Stamnes, it is crucial that WPS matters are not side-lined in a world weighed down by the Covid-19 pandemic.

'Academics, policymakers and practitioners cannot afford to wait while international institutions deal with more "serious" issues, like a pandemic or other crises, before applying a more comprehensive approach to gender in their analyses. If we are to fully understand what is going and how to address it, this approach must form the basis for the analyses of conflict situations, including the situation in which the WPS currently finds itself. Hence, this should be a priority for the WPS agenda in years to come.'

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