Chair’s Summary of the I Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network Meeting

(Alicante, Spain, 26 and 27 April 2017) IntroductionThe Women, Peace and Security National Focal Points Network is a cross-regional forum of representatives from governments as well as regional, and international organizations.The Network provides space to exchange experiences and best practices on women, peace and security (WPS) from the national and regional perspective and was created as a tool to improve […]

(Alicante, Spain, 26 and 27 April 2017)

The Women, Peace and Security National Focal Points Network is a cross-regional forum of representatives from governments as well as regional, and international organizations.
The Network provides space to exchange experiences and best practices on women, peace and security (WPS) from the national and regional perspective and was created as a tool to improve national and regional performance in this field.
In the September 2016 joint communique of the Foundational Meeting of the National Focal Points Network in New York, members affirmed their commitment to advance women’s participation in decision-making about peace and security, as well as women’s
participation in national-level peace and security policies and programs. They acknowledged that member states hold the primary responsibility for integrating WPS commitments into domestic policies and normative frameworks, and reaffirmed their
commitment to promoting the development and implementation of national action plans and strategies on WPS. Recognizing the need to articulate the impact of national action plans more effectively, the focal points decided to continue developing strategies for
enhanced design and implementation of high-impact national action plans .

To further realize this commitment, the first meeting of the National Focal Points Network, held in Alicante (Spain), on 26th and 27th April 2017, focused on National Action Plans (NAPs) for WPS. NAPs are a recommendation generated by UN Security Council
Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) as one tool to systematically integrate gender into national, regional, or international peace and security efforts. Countries are encouraged to develop NAPs to take the larger goals of USNCR 1325 and subsequent resolutions and
contextualize them into national domestic or foreign policy objectives.

The two-day meeting brought together over 100 national focal points, government actors, and civil society representatives from 61 countries. Following plenary sessions on the morning of the first day, participants broke into three working groups on topics of
emerging importance to NAPs: addressing structural barriers to gender equality, civil society engagement in NAP design and implementation, and preventing or countering violent extremism and NAPs. The second day featured discussions with international and regional representatives, a session on high-impact national action plans, and closing remarks centered on actions and next steps for the Network.

Opening Plenary Sessions
The opening plenary featured welcoming remarks from Mr. Miguel Oliveros, Director of Casa Mediterráneo, followed by opening remarks from Mr. Ildefonso Castro, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Spain. Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi, Permanent
Representative of Spain to the United Nations, then moderated a discussion with:
· Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Nigeria
· Ms. Diosita T. Andot, Undersecretary for Peacebuilding and Development and Director of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Philippines
· Ambassador Selma Ashipala-Musvayi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Namibia
· Mr. Yannick Glemarec, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme for UN Women

The wide-ranging discussion underscored the continued importance of the WPS agenda, especially when traditional security responses are no longer sufficient to address modern threats and instabilities. Ambassador Oyarzun emphasized how critical NAPs can be toward realizing UNSCR 1325, and encouraged focal points to return to their posts and build support for this agenda, sensitizing ministries such as Interior, Defense, and President’s office who may not be directly working on these issues. The representatives from Nigeria, the Philippines, Namibia, and UN Women then shared national or organizational experiences with NAPs or national gender, peace, or security policies.

Senator Jummai spoke about the Nigerian NAP and noted how the concept of security was expanded in the second revision to include issues of violent extremism, trauma healing, and disarmament and demobilization, as well as the inclusion of local or zonal
action plans to further localize these issues. Ms. Andot reflected on the Philippines experience and the launch of their third NAP in 2017. The latest version also incorporated emerging domestic concerns such as ethnic and intercommunal violence, terrorism and
organized crime, and makes special efforts to support women’s organizations and economic empowerment programs. Namibia’s upcoming NAP, said Ambassador Ashipala-Musvayi, was created through intragovernmental brainstorming sessions. She
also noted that Namibia’s comprehensive gender policies have helped address structural barriers to women’s participation in the security sector. Namibia’s representative offered to host the WPS Focal Points Meeting in 2019. Finally, UN Women’s Mr. Glemarec
touched on the need for NAPs to be flexible to be able to more readily address emerging peace and security concerns.

Following this, a grounding session was held on emerging trends and national action plans. Ms. Adela Díaz Bernárdez, Director of the Human Rights Office, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Spain, opened the session with context around why these topics were selected and the goals for the day’s working group sessions. Then, Mr. Mirsad Jacevic, Vice Chair of Inclusive Security, provided a bigger picture of the status of NAPs on WPS around the world – more than 65 NAPs created or in process to date, with
more than 20 countries on their second or third plan. Three speakers then introduced the focus topics of the working groups and provided greater context to these issues in their own experiences:
· Structural barriers to gender equality: Ms. Jennifer Wittwer, Policy Adviser and Military Liaison Officer, Peace and Security Section, UN Women
· Civil society engagement in design and implementation of NAPs: Ambassador Mara Marinaki, European External Action Service Principal Advisor on Gender and on UNSCR1325/WPS
· Preventing or countering violent extremism and NAPs: Ms. Mariame Sy, Director of Africa and Asia Division, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Senegal

While not exhaustive, the following summarizes key points and recommendations from these remarks and working group sessions. There were several trends and recommendations that emerged from across the working groups. In the plenary report out, all rapporteurs noted the need for better collaboration across international and regional bodies, national and local governments, and civil society organizations.

Representatives also stressed the importance of cultivating political will and champions for the 1325 agenda, particularly among security sector institutions, and noted that gender equality and a gender perspective should be seen as a holistic framework across various dimensions including human resource management, operational planning and conduct, special measures to reduce exclusions to women’s participation, and strategic direction in peace and security agencies. One intervention that may persuade these actors is the generation of a larger body of rigorous empirical research, a point championed by focal points and representatives over the course of the two-day meeting. This research, and all NAPs, should also directly consider the diversity of women and girls’ experiences in conflict, both in terms of intersectionalities and underrepresented populations as well as the very different roles women play during conflict. Finally, each working group stressed how critical it is to have civil society engagement throughout NAP creation, implementation, and evaluation.

Addressing Structural Barriers to Gender Equality
The working group was facilitated by Ms. Jennifer Wittwer, with interventions from Ms. Hafida Benchehida, Algerian Senator and CITpax Advisor on Mediation, Ms. Abeda  Osman, Director General for Human Rights and Women’s International Affairs of Afghanistan, and Minister María Luisa Martino, Director of the Women’s Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina .

Representatives recognized that NAPs on WPS have the potential to address structural barriers that prevent women’s participation in the domain of peace and security. The working group discussed a range of challenges and strategies relating to structural
barriers to gender equality, with a particular emphasis on barriers within the security sector, although some also referred to mediation and diplomacy. The group agreed that key challenges included communication around the WPS agenda, both in terms of the lack of knowledge of 1325 and the lack of effective exchange between diplomats, agencies, and civil society. Another challenge that was noted was the difficulty of integrating a gender perspective into peace and security efforts and its effect on operational outcomes and leadership.

Representatives shared a number of strategies and examples of how nations and organizations were able to address structural barriers. Strategies included the provision of broader and more strategic training within peace and security agencies to help close the
communication and political gaps at all levels. Secondly, the working group felt that WPS measures should be institutionalized within legislation, doctrine, and planning and business processes, and where necessary, include targets, quotas or special measures to
achieve specific goals and eliminate discriminatory practices. Another important aspect of institutionalization was also the need to embed the WPS principles into each government’s approach to human resource management of personnel in the peace and
security agencies, by ensuring equal access to all opportunities regardless of gender.

Representatives also stressed that it is critical that, in addition to mainstreaming within institutional policies, senior leaders need to promote and thoroughly implement WPS principles in their work, demonstrating their commitment through leadership. Also, that
they should promote and implement gender integration and diversity as a way to improve comprehensive approaches and operational effectiveness.

Civil Society Engagement in Design and Implementation of NAPs
The working group was facilitated by María Villellas, Researcher at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, with interventions from Ambassador Patricia Flor, Director- General for International Order, the United Nations and Arms Control at the Federal
Foreign Office of Germany, Ms. Ashmia Sesay, Senior Legal Officer from Sierra Leone, and Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, International Coordinator of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders.

Participants reaffirmed the importance of identifying and promoting partnerships with civil society and local organizations working on women, peace, and security issues. They welcomed the critical contributions civil society provides to the development and
implementation of high-impact NAPs. The working group acknowledged the benefits an inclusive approach to the design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation processes of NAPs brings to often limited time and resources. Participants also referred to the importance of the involvement of civil society representatives from the start of a NAP, not just including them via a one-off consultation after drafting. This sustained participation also helps create a sense of ownership among civil society representatives who are often the primary implementers of NAP activities. Inclusive and collaborative approaches of WPS implementation also call for stronger connection of the agenda with a variety of existing monitoring and reporting systems, including the Universal Periodic Review and the CEDAW Committee, using its General Recommendation 30.

The working group on civil society engagement noted significant challenges to sustained civil society engagement and support, such as a lack of dedicated funding for participation and difficulty institutionalizing their contributions throughout a NAP
process. They discussed interventions to address these challenges including measures to formalize civil society representation in NAP committees or working groups, and the importance of civil society’s self-selection. This can help address the perception of “civil
society on demand,” as one participant said, inviting whoever can attend a NAP meeting at last moment. Institutionalizing participation also reduces the reliance on the presence or advocacy of good actors within government to extend an invitation, and instead makes participation part of standard practice. Finally, another challenge highlighted was that most civil society engagement happens at the national level, but implementation is more likely to occur outside the capital. One potential solution is the creation of NAP steering committees at both national and local levels which can both provide input and feedback on NAP activities.

Preventing or Countering Violent Extremism and NAPs
This working group was facilitated by Ms. Ann-Sofie Stude, Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security of Finland, with interventions from Ms. Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni, Office Director at the Institute for Security Studies from Dakar, Ms. Véronique Joosten,
Deputy Director for Human Rights and Democracy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, and Ms. Mary Kaburu, Principal Gender Office at the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs of Kenya.

Participants emphasized the importance of aligning national WPS strategies with any related plans and policies aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism (abbreviated as P/CVE for the purposes of this summary). There was a significant
discussion on the terminology around violent extremism, as focal points noted their countries refer to these strategies or activities using a wide variety of terms – P/CVE, insurgency, counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, stabilization, etc. While there was no
determinative recommendation on whether and how gender should be integrated into a nation’s P/CVE policy — or conversely, how these topics should be included within a NAP on WPS — focal points emphasized the importance of policy coherence and harmonization between them. An important distinction, one participant noted, is that a P/CVE plan may consider drivers of violent extremism for both men and women, and interventions that address the full community, where the NAP on WPS looks more
conscientiously at women, girls, and gendered approaches. Representatives noted that when plans and strategies do not include a gender perspective they risk gaps in design, implementation, and ineffective use of limited resources. The working group also
discussed the need to cultivate champions within security sector institutions to ensure all of the right actors are at the table during the formulation of these plans. They suggested providing persuasive operational-effectiveness arguments and capacity building for
security actors tasked with drafting or operationalizing policies. Multiple participants noted that the process of creating a NAP can become a productive opportunity to educate and persuade security actors of the importance of including a gender perspective, and provide practical guidance for what that means in the context of policies, plans, and strategies.

The working group recommended conducting or collecting research at national and subnational level to better understand the specific roles of women in the prevention of and participation in violent extremism and ensure responses are localized and contextspecific. While religion was discussed as an important consideration in understanding how to prevent or counter violent extremism, participants also noted important drivers such as limited economic opportunity, insufficient educational systems, political instability, and youth bulges – all of which need to be better understood from a gender perspective. Finally, participants echoed the importance of civil society participation, noting that civil society engagement in the design and implementation of P/CVE
programming was critical to providing timely, ground-tested and community-sensitive responses to violent extremism.

NAPs from the Regional or International Perspective
Focal points can also champion the WPS agenda at regional and international levels. The second day began with a panel featuring international and regional organizations reflecting on regional NAPs, their internal policies, and programs in place to address peace and security. Ms. Carolyn Schwalger, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations moderated a discussion with representatives from ECOWAS, NATO, UN Women, and Union for the Mediterranean, who shared concrete examples of their initiatives and some challenges to fully implementing UNSCR 1325. All speakers reiterated the need for coherence and coordination between international, regional, and national policies on WPS. Ms. Onyinye Onwuka, from ECOWAS, and Ms.
Hildur Sigurdardottir, from NATO, provided details of their regional and organizational plans on WPS , highlighting how these strategies have helped to institutionalize a gender perspective into their work. Ms. Hanny Cueva-Beteta, from UN Women-Asia and Pacific, featured findings from a recent symposium and report reviewing the region’s 9 NAPs for common themes and emerging topics such as violent extremism, climate change, and humanitarian crises. Finally, Ms. Fatiha Hassouni, from the Union for the Mediterranean, spoke about the organization’s upcoming ministerial meeting and dialogue, which will bring together stakeholders from across the region to discuss issues such as coordination on national strategies, research on violent extremism, and policy responses to migration and the refugee crisis.

The Importance of High-Impact NAPs
Throughout the discussions, participants emphasized that national strategies must have direct impact on the lives of men and women around the world. Presenter Mr. Jacevic of Inclusive Security highlighted several key elements as features of high-impact NAPs
· Cultivating political will within all implementing bodies and at all levels;
· Ensuring coordination across responsible government agencies and implementing partners;
· Engaging civil society throughout design, implementation, and evaluation stages;
· Dedicating funding to NAP implementation, including costing measures; and
· Building technical skills and devoting resources to monitor and evaluate

Ms. Paula Molloy, Deputy Director of the UN Coordination and Conflict Resolution Unit at the Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, and Ms. Kika Babic- Svetlin, Senior Adviser at the Agency for Gender Equality of Bosnia and Herzegovina, provided examples
of how, after assessing their previous NAPs, they identified improvements for the next iteration of the NAP. Advances included using a theory of change to identify the overall objectives and desired effects, streamlining and reducing indicators to focus on real impact, and making the NAP design process more inclusive by expanding the actors involved in its design beyond traditional peace and security agencies. Mr. Redouane Houssaini, Head of the United Nations Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
Morocco noted that, although Morocco does not have a NAP on WPS, the government is conducting WPS programs such as those in the framework of the Med-Med initiative in partnership with Spain and other members of the initiative. He agreed that a NAP would be a helpful tool to coordinate activities across the government. Throughout the discussion, participants noted that it is critical that NAPs report publicly and regularly through mechanisms such as parliamentary hearings, shadow reports, or international

Concrete Actions and Closing
As the meeting closed, participants were asked to consider potential commitments and suggestions they would like to recommend to their governments in regard to NAPs and policies on WPS. After reflecting and discussing with colleagues, participants shared their
thoughts with the full plenary. Commitments included:
· Pledge to continue speaking with our security colleagues and seek coherence on P/CVE policies (Finland)
· Continue working on localization and encouraging donor country partners to look at ways to develop local ownership (Global Network of Women Peacebuilders)
· Review monitoring and evaluation framework to incorporate some of the insights from the meetings, such as fewer but more specific indicators (Kenya)
· Incorporate elements of diversities and differences (Thailand)
· Consider how best to provide a long-term commitment and support to civil society (Norway)
· Institutionalize civil society engagement and relationships throughout the NAP (Canada)
· Incorporate new and emerging themes within next NAP (Norway)

A request was made that the next Focal Points Network meeting includes a session on establishing or re-establishing NAPs for those who do not have an active plan. At the close of the event, Spain’s Director of the Human Rights Office was joined by a
representative from UN Women and a representative from Germany to talk about the next steps for the network. UN Women informed, it will host the secretariat for the Focal Points Network in New York, and mentioned the recruitment process underway of a staff person to support the network. Among other tasks, the Network coordinator will:
· Establish and maintain a database of focal points
· Produce regular newsletters to promote new research, best practices, and funding and capacity building opportunities; and mapping national and regional WPS actions and initiatives
· Provide technical and logistical support for the biannual and expert meetings

UN Women also noted that the secretariat will need sustained engagement and funding from member states moving forward to support these activities. Spain will organize a follow-up Network meeting in New York in the autumn of this year and emphasized the importance of building a real Network through which Focal Points will be able to share information and exchange best practices. The representative from Germany confirmed their commitment to serve as host for the next Focal Points Network meeting, likely to be held in April/May 2018 in Berlin. They intend to build on the strong progress made in Alicante towards exchanging best practices, common challenges, and possible solutions, and will again include a broad set of actors including civil society organizations

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