Interviewer: Ghazal Rahmanpanah

On 14 October, findings and recommendations from the Independent Global Study on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 will be presented to UN leadership, Member States and civil society by lead author Radhika Coomaraswamy. We spoke with Madeleine Rees, WILPF Secretary General, about the Global Study, its recommendations, and what it all means for the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. 


Pictured: WILPF Secretary Genernal, Madeleine Rees; Photo credit: Rowan Farrell

1. October 2015 marks the 15th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 and the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Why is it important for you to be here and what are your goals?

Women have always organised on the issue of conflict and conflict prevention. WILPF has mobilised for women’s power to stop war for 100 years. But with Security Council Resolution 1325, women have been better able to globalise our activities and bring them more coherently into the international arena.

As we know only too well, it has not been easy. Obstacles are constantly thrown in the way, not least by the United Nations itself. But that is why it is important to keep engaging.

At our 100th, we said that the launch of the report would be the next opportunity for women to mobilise. That is happening in New York – despite the change of date and incredible difficulties that has caused. In this month of Women, Peace and Security events, we will build on the key messages from the study: participation, ending militarism, controlling arms, addressing gendered power structures and working for peace.

We must not forget that we promised to ourselves that we would not be restrained by what the UN does and say. They may invite us, consult with us, or not. But either way, we will organise and take action ourselves.

2. What has your role been in the development of the Global Study on UNSCR 1325? Why is civil society’s participation so important?

Without the participation of civil society, there would be no Global Study, at least not this one. The civil society consultations form the backbone of the report, which has consciously tried to ensure that it is the experiences of women that have dictated its content.

My role has been to provide input on areas where WILPF and I have particular expertise, including as part of the High Level Advisory Group on UNSCR 1325. The civil society consultations including before, during, and after WILPF’s 100th I think were very influential in framing much of the content. There is a great deal in the study as a result on human rights, militarisation and arms control, as well as conduct of peacekeepers.

3. What have we learned from the Global Study? What are critical priorities for peace and gender justice moving forward?

The most obvious message is that more must be done to work on conflict prevention and to move away from the militarised default position on crises. Support for feminist foreign policy feeds into this and we, as civil society, should organise to promote and demand it from our governments. Integral to all of this is how funding works not just for civil society organisations but more broadly in terms of how to address root causes.

4. What can people do to take action?

The Global Study is just another beginning; we must use it as we did with UNSCR 1325, to build on our movement for fundamental change and peace. We must engage, from the grassroots to the multilateral system, with governments and international systems in order to build on the Global Study and ensure commitments transform into concrete action that increases our coherence and confidence within our own ability to force sustainable change.