UN Resolution 1325

January 23, 2007 at 10:10 pm Leave a comment

In parallel with the large human rights event there was a double session on UN resolution 1325. I got the second of these at 11.30am. There were around forty people. As I’ll report, Cora Weiss took up the approach Mary Robinson had called for.

The first speaker was Liss Schanke from Norway, whose government is committed to the principles of 1325 domestically as well as supporting it internationally. Liss told us about the work they are doing in India, where because the constitution requires it, there are many women and minorities in local and state elections. Liss’s agency helps train them. “There are many facts you know about India”, she said, “but I am sure you don’t know that India has over one million elected women, more than in the rest of the world put together”. She was right.

She and later speakers, from Mexico and again from Norway, talked about the political realities as well. “Who gets what, why and how: that’s the game of politics”, said Liss. It applies to women just as much as men. This was one of the themes of the session. The point was made strongly by Cora Weiss (who I’ll introduce in a second). She said it had been a hard lesson. Hard-right women had been put into positions of influence in the UN and promptly reversed policy even on gender issues. She named names. It is not enough to elect more females on the lines of 1325, they need to have been educated in the issues and, critically, supported by organised women’s networks, otherwise they are just as prone to being corrupted by office as men.

Cora Weiss helped write 1325 from her small office overlooking the UN. She told us how they got the resolution through, how an assembly of mainly men didn’t dare vote against it so they adopted it unanimously so that they didn’t need to vote for it! But how it was now international law and it applied to internal public organisations in every country of the world, not just international ones. It is thus an instrument waiting to be used. “It does not say ‘shall’, it does not say ‘got to’, but it IS the law”.

But how are we to move towards realising it? Cora emphasises the long, necessary road of public education. For her it was a practical measure to help realise sweeping change. To drive this change forward, she said, what is needed is “Participation, critical thinking and a holistic approach that engages with the issues, especially the ones you do not learn about at school.” A good description of what we are trying to do at openDemocracy.

Cora also set out her programme. She didn’t speak for long but as you can see it was clear and to the point.

There four threats to world peace:
• Climate change
• Competition over natural resources
• Marginalisation of many people
• Militarism

To deal with them people have got to get out of their boxes. The movement to implement 1325 should be a strategic one, therefore, to make connections, influence power, be practical and keep the larger vision.

In this way Cora Weiss carried forward the approach set out by Mary Robinson with her explicit call for a “strategic approach”.

Anthony Barnett

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Entry filed under: Diversity and equality, General, Peace and justice.

What are women saying? Ending violence against women

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