Women at the United Nations
On 10 December 1948, at the initiative of Eleanor Roosevelt, the United Nations Charter was supplemented by the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.This was tantamount to a spiritual revolution. It was a woman who extended the formal-legal alliance between states with a previously unconsidered component: the appreciation of each individual human life.
With this, politicians and citizens were made aware that prosperity, freedom and peace can only be achieved if each individual is regarded as valuable and equal, regardless of nationality, colour, religion or gender.
Originally, the UN had been founded as an anti-war alliance against the Axis of the Second World War. Among the founders were Joseph Stalin and Chiang Kai-Shek who were, in addition to the monstrous atrocities committed by the war powers, responsible for the death of millions of their own people.
Most of the other leaders from Central and South America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and United States were guilty of unimaginable cruelty towards the indigenous populations and religious minorities in the countries their armies had conquered.
Despite the ratification of the UN Charter, US President Harry Truman had no problem ordering the dropping of atomic bombs on innocent people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It would be “begging the question” to ask whether the heads of the states of the United Nations at that time were willing and able to make a viable contribution to the welfare of the Jewish and Arab population for the future in Palestine, in the adoption of UN Resolution 181.
Subsequently, the fate of the people of Israel and Palestine was decided by the tactical, strategic interests of the great powers, who bear responsibility for the inevitable consequences of those decisions, to this day.
Eleanor Roosevelt, niece of Theodore and wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, knew the mechanisms of power only too well. Her conviction has been summed up as that “men go into politics to pursue their own careers, while women enter politics to change society“. She therefore regarded it as an obligation for women to take an active part in all political decisions.
A mother of six children, she had recognized a fundamental contradiction between the needs of human beings and the norm of politics. This contradiction can be seen as the root of conflict. Children from ‘warm-hearted families’ learn to treat each other with kindness and respect, to listen, obey, to share, to be honest, not to use violence and to seek success through achievement. As soon as they are old enough to go out on their own, they gain a perception that much of reality is determined by aggression, competition, greed, manipulation, self-deception and egomania. They get strongly influenced by the image of military prowess, including the unnatural concept that giving one’s life for a country is a blessed act.
Family values, the ‘feminine qualities’ of love and care, are often discarded or are interpreted as weakness. They may often be replaced by the ‘masculine logic’ that a strong leader is characterized by rationality and assertiveness. Few realize that strong leaders may have a tendency to megalomania.
In several respects the world has not advanced much from its condition in 1948. Today – 70 years later – racism, land appropriation, arbitrariness, exploitation, the elimination of political opponents, warfare and a long list of atrocities committed by human beings are still the daily diet.
Seventy years of unresolved status have also strengthened the militant wings among both Israelis and Palestinians who want to enforce, by all or any means, their own vision of borders.
For the moderate, gentle, peaceful citizens, hope of a respectful and sustainable peace agreement becomes more and more distant. Politicians use distrust and fear as a tool to gain support, and this, combined with the clear absence of international diplomatic presence, forces the polarization of societies, enhances mistrust and fear, and these in turn lead to violent action at both state and civil levels.
The United Nations Organization has, however, changed significantly in these 70 years. While there are still many states represented by leaders not unlike those of 1945, women and men at the UN have worked tirelessly to implement the aims of the Charter. Highly meaningful resolutions that the Security Council has adopted include: UNSCR 1325
This resolution affirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping and humanitarian response.
In post-conflict reconstruction (PCR), it stresses the importance of equal participation of women, and their full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.Resolution 1325 urges all players to increase and welcome the participation of women, and incorporate gender perspectives into, all United Nations peace and security efforts.
It provides the women of Israel and Palestine with an instrument for actively shaping their own future. They need no longer wait for an external or foreign government to make a decision. They, who are immediately affected, can influence the political discourse, break open the cycle of fear and violence, and reach to the heart of their populace.
Eleanor Roosevelt broke a taboo when with the “Declaration of Human Rights” she held a mirror to the face of the politicians of their time, in which they could see the dishonesty and ugliness that are inevitable by-products of violence, militarism and nationalism.
The 1325 women’ can now break the taboo by demanding and supporting policies of dialogue, trust-building, acknowledgement and reconciliation.
The 1325 women can give a voice to the parents who want a life for their children in which the potential of each one can be realized peacefully, and the pursuit of love, wisdom and knowledge is recognized.
We will support those politicians whose words are consistent with international law and humanity.
We will demand a true, practical, generous and automatically lasting peace treaty and create the presence, the context, the situation to ensure that the necessary, definitive measures are implemented in the future.
Do you want to participate?
Summary: The UNSCR 1325
The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution S/RES/1325 on women, peace and security on 31 October 2000.
The resolution was passed unanimously in October 2000 after extensive lobbying by the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (NGO WG) and United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM; now succeeded by UN Women). Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, then Minister of Women’s Affairs in Namibia, initiated the resolution when the country took its turn chairing the Security Council. Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, representing Bangladesh at the Council, also made significant contributions by using Bangladesh’s role as Council President to bring attention to women’s contributions to peace and security. Chowdhury has remained a vocal and active advocate for full implementation of Resolution 1325. The NGO Working Group played a critical role in successfully lobbying the Council to hold open sessions on women, peace, and security, consulting with Council members on the resolution, and providing them with applicable information.
The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action contained an entire chapter focused on women, peace, and security. During the 1990s, the NGO community was increasingly concerned about the negative impacts of war on women, particularly widespread sexual violence seen in civil wars in Bosnia, West Africa, and Rwanda. Activists were also upset that women faced significant barriers to entering peace talks and the negative impacts that women experienced post-conflict. The Beijing Conference’s 5th anniversary (Beijing+5) provided critical momentum for progress on women, peace, and security issues at the UN.
The resolution’s history and passage is notable for the level of involvement by NGOs and civil society, who helped draft the resolution. The two-day debate on the resolution was also the first time the Council dedicated a discussion to women.
In 2009, Resolution 1889 called on the Secretary-General to develop a set of indicators to track the implementation of Resolution 1325. The indicators are used for UN programming, but have also been adopted by member states and NGOs. The indicators developed are the four pillars of prevention, protection, participation, and relief and recovery.
- Prevention focuses on preventing sexual and gender-based violence, as well as gender awareness in conflict prevention and early warning systems. This includes preventing sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeeping forces.
- Protection involves improving women and girls‘ safety, physical and mental health, economic security, and overall well-being. It also focuses on improving the rights of women and girls and their legal protections.
- Participation refers to promoting women’s participation in peace processes, increasing the numbers of women at all levels of decision-making institutions, and increasing partnerships with local women’s organizations. Participation also includes increasing women’s participation in the UN in senior positions, as Special Representatives and in peacekeeping missions and operations.
- Relief and recovery efforts should ensure the equal distribution of aid to women and girls and incorporate gender perspectives into relief and recovery efforts.