Belgium reaffirms its commitment to Women, Peace and Security on the 20th anniversary of the landmark UN resolution

To the day 20 years ago, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted the landmark resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. By doing so, the Security Council recognized that armed conflict has a different impact on women than on men. For example, conflict-related sexual violence mainly affects women, women do not participate in conflicts in the same way or are barely involved in their resolution. Women are given far less opportunity than men to weigh in on decision making during peace talks and reconstruction, so their perspectives and specific needs are often not heard and overlooked.

 
Importance of women's participation

The women's peace-security agenda transcends the context of conflict. The pursuit of equal and meaningful participation of women in peace and security processes also applies to broader security issues such as terrorism, disarmament, climate change and COVID-19. Moreover, the protection part of this agenda not only concerns the avoidance of gender-based violence and the punishment of perpetrators, but also touches upon issues such as the socio-economic position of women and girls, children born from sexual violence, stigma, victims' restorative rights (reparations) and a generalised application of gender mainstreaming.

 
Fight for gender equality still to be pursued

On paper, women and girls are today better protected in conflict. But the reality on the ground shows that the goals are far from being achieved. We are witnessing a global conservative pushback against gender equality. It is important to counter this and to continue to strive for full human rights for all women and girls.

 
Fight against sexual violence

As a member of the UN Security Council in 2019 and 2020, our country actively negotiated recent resolutions on the fight against sexual violence and on a better implementation of previous agreements. Belgium consistently advocates a balance between prevention, protection and participation. Furthermore, our country regards the theme of women, peace and security as an integral part of discussions on any conflict.

Belgium insists that peace missions be equipped with experts in the field. Our country is also constantly fighting against impunity for violations of women's rights and better shelter for the victims of such violations. Belgium support for the Multi-Partner Trust Fund of the United Nations for tackling conflict-related sexual violence is part of these efforts.

 
Gender mainstreaming through policy

In order to achieve the objectives of resolution 1325, the UN Security Council called already in 2004 on all member states to develop their own National Action Plan (NAP) on the theme of Women, Peace and Security. Belgium responded to this call and is already implementing a third National Action Plan for the period 2017-2021, in which actions are being taken both within and outside Belgium to improve the perspectives of women and girls in conflict situations.

The Women, Peace and Security agenda also determines to a large extent the Belgian commitment to development cooperation and humanitarian aid. In achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Belgium is not only an advocate of Goal 5 for gender equality, but also of gender mainstreaming across all other goals.

Besides a geographical emphasis on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso and Mali, the National Action Plan also contains thematic emphases. For Belgium, the integration of the gender dimension in its own actions on conflict, peace and security is crucial. The fight against all forms of violence against women and girls, in particular sexual violence, is also a priority.

Both in the EU context and within the framework of NATO, Belgium is committed to the concrete implementation and realization of Women, Peace and Security objectives. A permanent dialogue with civil society is also essential for progress in the field of Women, Peace and Security.