10th anniversary of the landmark UN convention on Women, Peace and Security

October 2010 marks two important anniversaries for the United Nations (UN)—the 65th anniversary of the UN’s establishment (24 October), and the 10th anniversary of a landmark UN Security Council Resolution (SCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security (31 October). Australia’s priorities and actions towards implementing and promoting SCR 1325 are outlined below.

On 12 October 2010, the Australian Government committed in a statement (that was also co-hosted with Canada and New Zealand) to the UN's Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committee to develop a national action plan on women, peace and security. This is, in part, consistent with the recommendations made in August 2008 by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, which call for an increase in women's participation and leadership in peacekeeping missions.

A recent UN publication, The World's Women 2010, shows that "progress towards gender equality has been made in some areas, such as school enrolment, health and economic participation. At the same time the report shows that much more needs to be done to close the gender gap in critical areas such as power and decision-making and violence against women."

Australia's overseas development assistance agency, AusAID, incorporates the empowerment of women and gender equality projects into its aid program (especially since the 2006 White Paper on Aid), as well as supporting second-track diplomacy and female leaders in the Asia Pacific region. Australia also regularly hosts regional workshops aimed at improving the awareness and capacity-building of Australia's neighbours on gender-specific issues. Yet, as the Lowy Institute's Blue Panel Ribbon report noted, Australian diplomatic representation needs to be improved in order for Australia to maximise the impact of its aid.

On 25 October 2010 Australia was elected along with seventeen other countries to serve for a three-year term on the prestigious UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) starting on 1 January 2011. Since the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are one of the key themes of discussion at ECOSOC, Australia has the opportunity to highlight the uneven progress made in the Asia-Paficic region on the third MDG which focuses on gender equality and female empowerment.

On 26 October 2010, in New York, the UN Security Council will host its day-long annual open debate (by invitation only) on SCR 1325. The Council will evaluate the implementation of SCR 1325 over the past decade and review a set of global indicators to track its progress. It is expected that Australia will contribute to this debate, even though it is not currently a member of the UN Security Council.

Australia may use these anniversaries as an opportunity to advance its foreign policy goals (such as the bid for a two-year non-permanent UN Security Council seat) in a multilateral forum, and to take further steps towards increasing the participation of women in military, peacekeeping and related fields.

(Image sourced from: www.unifem.org)


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