The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is publishing its annual analysis of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly seen from gender and militarism perspectives. The analysis demonstrates that despite rhetorical progress, transformative and holistic agendas for peace are being watered down, and new language is being used by Member States to justify ‘business as usual’.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has monitored and analysed the General Debate of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA72) for references to women, disarmament and conflict prevention, as well as to a number of focus countries, and shared a report as part of our accountability work.

In his opening statement, Miroslav Lajcak, the President of the General Assembly stated, “Women’s leadership and participation should be a priority in settings of both conflict and peace.” This message was supported by 128 speakers during the General Debate, who specifically addressed the situations of women in the world.

At the same time, the understanding of ‘prevention’ and women’s role in it was often disturbingly limited, focusing exclusively on adding women to militarised institutions as a measure to prevent sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). “Women did not create UNSCR 1325 to add women to the military but to end war. The time is now to take holistic action on prevention that builds women’s livelihoods and promotes demilitarisation and disarmament,” said Abigail Ruane, WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security programme Director.

On Women, Peace and Security (WPS), WILPF analysis demonstrates that the UNGA72 General Debate lacked an in-depth discussion on implementation, with only five countries referencing the WPS Agenda in their statements and only fifty speakers providing more specific and policy-oriented statements on gender equality and women’s meaningful participation.

Other elements necessary for building peace also lacked a policy-oriented discussion. Conflict prevention was presented as an area where discussion is aspirational rather than oriented towards specific objectives and actions. The discussion on disarmament was also devoid of it analysis addressing the effect of militarism and the spread of weapons on women and their rights.

WILPF’s eighty-pages UNGA72 analysis is divided into several sections, including gender and militarism analysis, review of the situation in WILPF’s focus countries, including Syria, Libya, Yemen, Colombia and Nigeria. It also features all government statements delivered during the UNGA72 General Debate in a form of Gender Index with relevant extracts of statements.

WILPF has monitored the implementation of the WPS Agenda since its first resolution was adopted in 2000, and the annual monitoring analysis of the UNGA General Debate is made in order to demand accountability and action for conflict prevention, disarmament and women’s meaningful participation.

The goal of this report is to demand accountability for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and strengthen policy coherence across other frameworks, including the Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace Agendas. The report also supports policy-oriented advocacy and academic research on Women, Peace and Security, conflict prevention and transitional peace processes and provides an opportunity for local activists in focus countries to develop policy-oriented actions based on the current international climate.

Download the report: Index of Statements Made During the General Debate of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly (19-25 September 2017)

Download the Press Release as PDF: Press Release: WILPF Releases its Gender-Militarism Analysis of the UNGA72 General Debate

For more information please contact: Abigail Ruane, WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security Programme Director, tel: 1.212.682.1265, email: abigail(a)