WILPF has been calling for an Integrated Approach to security that puts women’s human security over military state security for over 100 years. And last week, the President of the General Assembly (PGA) held a High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace to move toward a more integrated approach.

Building on the April 2016 Sustaining Peace resolutions by the Security Council (S/RES/2282) and General Assembly (A/RES/70/262), this forum aimed to assess efforts undertaken and opportunities to strengthen the United Nations’ work on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, and continue a UN shift from crisis response toward conflict prevention.

WILPF successfully leveraged this space to push for action that amplifies local women’s root cause analysis for peace: WILPF International Vice President and WILPF Nigeria President Joy Onyesoh represented WILPF at the highest levels across the week in various parts of the forum, and WILPF advocacy recommendations were taken up in discussions across the week.


The High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace brought together representatives of Member States, observers, UN entities, civil society organisations, research institutions with global and regional reach, media and other stakeholders to discuss how to advance sustaining peace through engaging women and youth, fostering conflict prevention, strengthening policy coherence and partnerships, including with civil society, as well as ensuring predictable and sustained financing of peace work.

Onyesoh held a prominent role in the week’s discussions.

As civil society speaker at the opening segment with the UN Secretary-General and President of the General Assembly, Onyesoh called for a “multi-pronged and integrated approach that puts local women’s voices and rights at the center. She drew particular attention to the need for ongoing support for women civil society, effective gendered conflict analysis, addressing violent masculinities and disarmament, and financing that substantially scales up funding for gender equality. “Sustaining peace requires consistent and committed political will to move out of the comfort zone and challenge dominant narratives on gender, conflict analysis and power,” she said.

WILPF International Vice President and WILPF Nigeria President Joy Onyesoh provides civil society statement to the Opening Session of the PGA’s High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace (Photo Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider)

At a high-level dialogue on national experiences around gender and sustaining peace, co-sponsored by Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Germany and Switzerland, Ms. Onyesoh shared how women in Nigeria contribute to sustaining peace through Women’s Situation Room-Nigeria, and highlighted how overcoming barriers to gender equality, including by curbing arms, is key to conflict prevention.

WILPF’s advocacy recommendations were also consistently taken up in discussions across the week.

During the High-Level Segment and Plenary Debate, there was a consistent acknowledgment by speakers of the need to ensure the meaningful participation of women and girls as a method of building peaceful and sustainable societies, whether through education or access to economic, political and other resources and services. For example, the representative of Kenya in this regard highlighted an increased focus on women’s participation and empowerment in the National SDG Plan of Action. The representative of Finland also shed light on the link between arms proliferation and women’s participation and presented Finland’s UNSCR1325 National Action Plan as a good practice of incorporating a gender perspective into arms-control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

Speakers also acknowledged that gender analysis should be incorporated in all aspects of peace and security efforts. As the representative of Sweden pointed out, effective gendered conflict analysis is a political action aimed at changing structural power between governments for gender equality and women’s human rights. Such analysis enables the meaningful participation and rights of at-risk and marginalised communities; enables measures to reverse structural discrimination; or builds democratic engagement for human rights and sustainable peace.

Explicitly or implicitly, many speakers discussed the need to ensure an integrated approach to peace and security, by mobilising different stakeholders and resources to achieve a common goal. Reconsidering the way resources are spent and practices are carried out can significantly mobilise action for change. For example, using an African Union (AU) regional model to build peace was noted as a good practice, as the AU can deploy rapidly in the region, while it would take much longer for the UN Security Council to do so. Also, as Switzerland noted, the Human Rights Council should play a greater role in conflict prevention. Speakers also welcomed building ongoing relationships with civil society.

In comparison to the last year’s conversation on sustaining peace, the need to properly finance efforts to sustain peace was frequently noted during the discussion. This included support for ensuring that 50% of peacebuilding activities go to support gender equality, strengthening funding for civil society, and guaranteeing an allocated budget to implement relevant initiatives. Additionally, participants recognised that focusing on paying for prevention measures is far more affordable than paying for post-conflict rebuilding. For example, the representative of Liberia suggested that rather than investing in bullets and tanks, the world should invest in infrastructure, education and other services, so everyone can benefit from peace.

WILPF International Vice President and WILPF Nigeria President Joy Onyesoh contributes as civil society speaker at the High-Level Breakfast on Gender Equality as a Key to the Sustainability of Peace hosted by Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Germany and Switzerland (Photo Credit: WILPF)

Moving Forward

The two-day forum clearly affirmed a normative shift across UN work and supported by Member State action to shift from crisis response to conflict prevention through action to Sustain Peace. In addition, the adoption of a procedural resolution following up on the UN Secretary-General’s Report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace provided a framework for follow up and accountability to continue attention and action on this issue.

Now, it is important not to lose the momentum.

As part of WILPF’s over 100 years of action for an integrated approach to peace and security, we call for this shift to reorient work around amplifying local women’s root cause analysis for peace. This requires:

  1. Gendered Conflict Analysis: Ensuring consistent conflict analysis across the UN system that takes a gender perspective by amplifying local women’s root cause analysis for peace;
  2. Women Civil Society Partnerships: Prioritising partnerships with women civil society as key stakeholders by taking measures to ensure their meaningful participation through full and equitable access, information, follow up, and justice;
  3. Women, Peace and Security Financing: Significantly scaled up funding for holistic Women, Peace and Security (WPS) implementation and core, ongoing support for women civil society.

Sustaining Peace must make a difference for women. Join WILPF in demanding a power shift and action for feminist peace!

Read WILPF Highlights from the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace in our report

Hungry for more?

Read WILPF’s summary of the November UNSCR 1325 Friends meeting on Synergies between WPS and Sustaining peace
Read WILPF’s summary of the January 2017 PGA Dialogue on Sustaining Peace