Women, Peace and Security

This cross-cutting engagement highlights and addresses the security and other impediments to women’s full participation in peace processes and other areas of political and social life. Along with a range of UN-based partners and supplemented by national and local partners in countries as diverse as Cameroon, the Philippines and El Salvador, we work with governments and civil society groups to create conditions conducive to greater participation by women and the elimination of impunity for the rape and other violence that makes women’s participation more dangerous and risky than it ever should be.

Specific priorities include:

1. Helping the NGO Working Group to increase its impact in the UN system, especially with UN Women and in the Security Council, and largely through implementation of key Council resolutions such as SCR 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security.

2. Ensuring that all UN-affiliated agencies do their part to guarantee women’s full participation in peace policies and political life and end impunity for gender-based violence, understanding more fully the benefits of women’s engagement in efforts to promote social development, end the illicit arms trade, and prevent mass atrocity violence, and more.

3. Working with governments (through publications, policy briefs, blog posts and workshops) to help them better understand the diverse security dimensions and responsibilities that directly impact prospects for women’s participation.

4. Helping key agencies such as the Commission on the Status of Women and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to clarify the security aspects of their more general work to promote gender equality. (We also provide hospitality to representatives of women’s groups who come to New York seeking access to those UN agencies.)

5. Ensuring that UN agencies responsible for conflict prevention and DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration) programs fully understand and implement the gender dimensions of their work.

6. Providing opportunities for young women at UN headquarters to receive mentoring support as they pursue work in the peace and security sector.

Global Action has produced a brief introduction to some of the more recent, tangible contributions that we are making to a world free of gender discrimination and violence. Click here for that brief.


Together, Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960 highlight the importance of women’s participation in preventing conflict, promoting post-conflict peacebuilding efforts and in maintaining international peace and security. The Resolutions complement each other and 1820, 1888 and 1889 are follow up resolutions that strengthen the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The Resolutions are usually implemented on the ground as a complete package by governments, UN agencies and NGOs.

Resolution 1325

In 2000, the Security Council recognized the important role of women in conflict prevention with the adoption of UNSC Resolution 1325, and emphasized that the full participation of women in peace processes can significantly contribute towards the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. “Resolution 1325 marks the first time the Security Council addressed the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women, recognized the under-valued and under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace-building, and stressed the importance of their equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security.” The Resolution urges “Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict.”

Resolution 1820

On 19 June 2008, after a day long debate on women peace and security, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted SC Resolution 1820, which condemns all sexual violence committed against civilians in armed conflict.

The resolution declares that “despite repeated condemnation, violence and sexual abuse of women and children trapped in war zones was not only continuing, but, in some cases, had become so widespread and systematic as to reach appalling levels of brutality.” The text notes that women and girls, in particular, are often targeted by the use of sexual violence, describing this as a “tactic of war” as well as calling rape a “war crime” and in some cases a component of genocide. 1820 goes on to warn that sexual violence “can significantly exacerbate situations of armed conflict and may impede the restoration of international peace and security.”

The resolution demands that all parties to armed conflict immediately stop sexual violence against civilians and emphasizes the need to end impunity for such crimes. It stresses the responsibility of states “to respect and ensure the human rights of their citizens” and to prosecute persons responsible for crimes against humanity or war crimes. 1820 also calls for United Nations peacekeeping forces to be better trained for protecting civilians against sexual violence, and underlines the importance of women participating in preventing conflict, maintaining international peace and security and playing a role in peace building in post conflict situations.

Lastly, the text requests of the Secretary General to submit a report on implementation of the resolution by 30 June 2009 that would include, among other things, information on conflicts in which sexual violence has been widely or systematically employed and “benchmarks for measuring progress in preventing and addressing sexual violence.”

UN Security Council resolution 1888 was adopted unanimously in September 2009, a year after resolution 1820, and endeavours to strengthen it by establishing leadership, deploying expertise and improving coordination among stakeholders involved in addressing conflict-related sexual violence.

Resolution 1888

Resolution 1888 specifically calls for the UN Secretary-General to: Appoint a Special Representative to provide coherent leadership on combating sexual violence , establish teams of experts for rapid deployment to situations of particular concern , identify Women Protection Advisors , ensure more systematic reporting and additional briefings to the Security Council on incidents and trends of sexual violence as well as on measures to protect civilians from sexual violence within specific peacekeeping operations. Identify responsible parties to armed conflict that are credibly suspected of rape and other forms of sexual violence in situations on the Security Council agenda.

Resolution 1888 further calls for: Engaging local and national leaders, increasing Security Council interaction with women and women’s organizations about the needs and concerns of women and girls, increasing the representation of women in both mediation and decision-making processes, as well as in policy and military peacekeeping forces, including the issue of sexual violence at all stages of negotiations , ensuring the systematic mainstreaming of gender issues in all peace operations.

Resolution 1889

UN Security Council resolution 1889 was adopted in October 2009 with the aim of strengthening the implementation and monitoring of SCR 1325. It calls for the establishment of global indicators on SCR 1325, reiterates its mandate for increasing women’s participation and reinforces calls for mainstreaming gender perspectives in all decision-making processes, especially in the early stages of post-conflict peacebuilding.

In particular, resolution 1889 calls for: development of indicators and reporting , increasing women’s participation , mainstreaming gender perspectives , strengthening law enforcement and ending impunity.

Resolution 1960

UN Security Council Resolution 1960 was adopted in December 2010. The Resolution affirms in this regard that effective steps to prevent and respond to such acts of sexual violence can significantly contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security; and expresses its readiness, to take appropriate steps to address widespread or systematic sexual violence in situations of armed conflict.

The Resolution calls for the yearly publication of a list of armed groups that target women for sexual abuse. It urges the Secretary General to establish monitoring , analysis and reporting arrangements on sexual violence in conflict, and better cooperation among UN actors for a system-wide response to sexual violence . Moreover, the Security Council anticipates the appointment of more women protection advisers to peacekeeping missions in accordance with the earlier resolution 1888.