Event – CGS Seminar Series – The Unhappy Marriage of Two UN Agendas: Women, Peace and security and the Protection of Civilians
15 October 2015
5 PM, DLT, SOAS
The Unhappy Marriage of Two UN Agendas: Women, Peace and security and the Protection of Civilians
Dr Niamh Reilly, National University of Ireland, Galway
Almost 15 years after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the ‘women, peace, and security’ agenda has come to be synonymous with a particular interpretation of the protection aspect of the resolution; i.e., protecting women against conflict-related sexual violence and ending the impunity of perpetrators of such abuses. The unprecedented attention paid to conflict-related sexual violence in recent years in international policy and media is potentially positive. Yet, this focus has also served to narrow the scope and invert the prioritisation of concern of the original resolution. In particular, proponents of 1325 have repeatedly underlined the persistent lack of progress in advancing the resolution’s principal objectives: to increase women’s participation in decision making at every level and to integrate a ‘gender perspective’ across all UN peace and security domains. In this talk, I endeavour to explain and interpret the significance of this turn of events through a lens of current feminist (political) theorising. On the premise that ‘tracing discursive processes … is a way of showing why ideas may succeed or fail’ (Vivien Schmidt 2008), I consider what are the feminist ideas that have succeeded (and why) and which feminist approaches been relegated to the margins of discussion in the unfolding story of resolution 1325. Drawing on discursive variants of ‘new institutionalism’ in international relations, I posit the UN Security Council’s women, peace and security agenda as a ‘sub-institution’ of the Security Council that is discursively deeply entangled with others, notably, the UN agenda on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. The aim is to make visible the limits, possibilities and trade-offs for feminist action that such entanglement entails.