Open Letter on the SC Open Debate on WPS and the High Level Review of UNSCR 1325

5 October 2015

Open Letter to Permanent Representatives to the UN: Recommendations on the Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security and the High Level Review of SCR 1325 (2000)

Dear Ambassador,

Earlier this year, over 110 civil society organizations from around the world wrote to you calling for real action, increased political will, and implementation of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) commitments. Fifteen years after the establishment of the WPS agenda, despite progress at the policy level, women continue to remain largely excluded from peace, security and political processes; civil society organizations, women leaders and women human rights defenders are increasingly targeted; and there is minimal dedicated funding to implement the agenda.

At this month’s Open Debate and High Level Review of SCR 1325 (2000), we urge Member States to reiterate their commitment to advancing sustainable peace that can solely be achieved by promoting and respecting women and girls’ human rights’ and meaningfully integrating women within all efforts to prevent, resolve, and rebuild from conflict. In your statement to the Security Council, we urge you to specifically outline how the following priority areas will be addressed and implemented through financial, technical, and political means:

  • Prioritizing women’s meaningful participation, including women’s civil society leaders and women human rights defenders, in all peace and security processes, as well as efforts to combat, reduce and prevent terrorism and violent extremism. This requires:
    • Inclusion of women and gender experts in negotiation parties’ delegations and supporting incentive mechanisms to promote their participation;
    • Attendance and participation of civil society organizations in formal, consultative processes parallel to peace negotiations, all international and regional peace and security convenings, and donor conferences;
    • Increasing the recruitment, retention and professionalization of women across all justice and security sector components including in peacekeeping operations; and
    • Ensuring strategies to protect civilians are designed and implemented in consultation with local women, making sure diverse groups of women are represented including those displaced and with disabilities, in order to identify and address their specific needs and safety concern
  • Emphasizing conflict prevention by employing holistic approaches that aim to address the root causes and drivers of conflict and cycles of violence including violent extremism, and not just their impacts on women, men, girls and boys. This requires:
    • Engaging women in key political and decision-making processes, including in the development of any strategies or approaches aimed at preventing conflict; addressing the needs of local communities; and providing ongoing financial support for local women’s civil society organizations;
    • Dedicating efforts to address gender-based violence by providing lifesaving and non-discriminatory GBV response services including health, psycho-social support, legal and safety services in line with international humanitarian law;
    • Supporting the development of gender-sensitive security and justice sectors that are accessible to women and girls, uphold the rule of law, and implement non-discriminatory laws, policies and practices;
    • Demanding accountability and reparations for all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including GBV and civilian casualties, by armed groups, security forces including UN mandated troops, and contractors; and
    • Strictly enforcing the Arms Trade Treaty to curb the flow of small arms and light weapons where there is a risk they could be used in violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including sexual and gender based violence.
  • Developing, implementing and reviewing existing Regional and National Action Plans (NAP) on WPS and ensuring they are robustly monitored, well-funded, and inclusive of civil society. This requires:
    • Formalizing a consultative process to include civil society and relevant actors in the NAP design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation process; and
    • Establishing an interagency coordination system for comprehensive NAP implementation that offers clearly assigned roles and responsibilities, as well as strong, results-based monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
  • Pledging to provide multi-year, large-scale financial support for WPS, in line with SCR 2122 (2013), including through existing funds and new mechanisms. This funding should advance the implementation of WPS NAPs; be accessible to civil society organizations at national, provincial and local levels; as well as ensure core funding within the UN is dedicated for such efforts. This requires:
    • Increasing Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to gender equality and women’s empowerment programs including support for civil society organizations through the provision of accessible, long-term, sustainable and dedicated core financial support;
    • Dedicating specific funding to advance women’s inclusion in efforts to counter violent extremism; and
    • In line with Critical Area E of the Beijing Platform for Action, reducing excessive military spending and redirecting this expenditure to efforts advancing women’s rights and WPS implementation.
  • Advocating for UN System Leadership to deliver on WPS over the next decade. This requires:
    • Actively supporting the Security Council’s systematic integration of WPS as a cross-cutting issue;
    • Supporting and funding the recruitment of gender expertise, specifically in leadership capacities, both at UNHQ and in the field;
    • Incorporating WPS into the Terms of References of UN leadership, including within special envoys and representatives and senior mediators; and
    • Ensuring that immediate and effective measures are put in place to ensure implementation of the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, across all peacekeeping and special political missions, and with regard to all military and civilian staff;

As civil society organizations committed to ensuring more gender sensitive and inclusive peace and security processes, we will be carefully monitoring the outcome of the High Level Review and tracking the implementation of pledges made. We hope we can count on you to move this agenda forward and in years to come. Thank you very much for your time and attention to this important matter.

Yours Sincerely,

1325 Action Group, Nepal

1325 Network Finland

1325 Policy Group

ActionAid International

Amnesty International

Alianza por la Solidaridad, Spain

Association Dea Dia, Serbia

Association for the Protection of Women’s Rights, Azerbaijan

Association of War Affected Women, Sri Lanka

Athena Consortium

Baghdad Women Association

CARE International

Center for Development of International Law

Center for Women’s Global Leadership

Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights

Democracy Today

Echoes of Women in Africa

Education Center on the human rights of women, Morocco

Equidad de Género: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia. México


Femmes Africa Solidarité

Femmes Cote d’Ivoire Expérience

Femmes et Droits Humains, Mali

Forum for Women and Development, Noway

Foundation United Women Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Gender Agency

Gender and Mine Action Programme

Geneva Call

Global Gender Program

Global Justice Center

Global Network of Women Peacebuilders

Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC)

GPPAC Eastern and Central Africa Region

Hawa Organization for Relief and Development, Iraq

International Alert

International Alliance of Women

International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict

International Peace Research Association

International Planned Parenthood Federation

International Women’s Development Agency

International Women’s Rights Project

Iraqi Al-Amal Association

Iraqi Women Network

Iraqi women league

Isis-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange


Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation, Sweden


MenEngage Alliance

Muslims for Progressive Values

Nairobi Peace Initiative – Africa

Nataj Organization for capacity development of woman

National Council of Women of Australia

NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security

Older Women’s Network Australia


PAX for Peace


Pacific Women’s Watch, New Zealand

Positive Change for Cambodia

Promundo, Brasil

Protect the People

Regional Center for Strategic Studies


Society Without Violence, Armenia

Sonke Gender Justice, South Africa

Soroptimist International of UK


The Institute for Inclusive Security

Union Internationale des Avocats/ International Association of Lawyers

UN Women National Committee UK

Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

Widows for Peace Through Democracy


Woman Problems Research Union – Woman’s Institute, Azerbaijan

Women’s Action for New Directions

Women’s Action Network – Sri Lanka

WomenEnabled International

Women for Women International

Women for Progress Center, Iraq

Women Graduates-USA

Women’s International for League for Peace and Freedom

Women, Peace and Security Academic Collective

Women Peacemakers Program

Women’s Refugee Commission

Women’s UN Report Network

Women Watch Afrika

World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy

Youth to End Sexual Violence

The NGOWG on Women, Peace and Security advocates for the equal and full participation of women in all efforts to create and maintain international peace and security. Formed in 2000 following the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), the NGOWG now focuses on implementation of all Security Council resolutions that address this issue. The NGOWG serves as a bridge between women’s human rights defenders working in conflict-affected situations and policy-makers at UN Headquarters.

The NGOWG coalition members are: Amnesty International; Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights; Femmes Africa Solidarité; Global Justice Center; Human Rights Watch; International Rescue Committee; The Institute for Inclusive Security; MADRE; Refugees International; Open Society Foundations; Oxfam International; Women’s Action for New Directions; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; and Women’s Refugee Commission.