This month, we mark the 20th anniversary of . UNSCR 1325 institutionalized the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda by recognizing the vital role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict, humanitarian response, and in post-conflict reconstruction. The resolution also laid the groundwork for women’s full and meaningful participation for enduring peace and security.
UNSCR 1325 and International Attitudes and Policies
The passage of UNSCR 1325 and nine subsequent UNSCRs addressing WPS created several paths to promote WPS policies at the global and national levels. Combined, the resolutions encourage States to promote and protect women’s access to justice in conflict and post-conflict scenarios.
With the signing of the U.S. of 2017, the United States became the first nation with comprehensive national legislation reaffirming that nations are more prosperous and peaceful when women fully participate in civic and economic life. In 2019, President Trump released the , making women, peace, and security U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. The spirit of UNSCR 1325 also led to the creation of numerous international platforms that reinforce WPS on the ground, including the WPS Focal Points Network, the Group of Friends on WPS, and the Informal Experts Working Group. These organizations, in which the United States is actively engaged, provide hubs of learning through best practices, lessons learned, and idea-sharing. Such sharing of experiences can help nations overcome challenges to the integration of international commitments into domestic policies, and advance women’s participation in national-level peace and security policies and programs.
PM Bureau Contributions to Women, Peace, and Security
The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM) in the Department of State long recognized the positive impact of expanding meaningful opportunities for women to build strong diplomatic and defense partnerships worldwide. These long-term investments in WPS are made through our Global Peace Operations Initiative, International Military Education and Training, and Conventional Weapons Destruction programs.
Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI)
Through GPOI, PM manages the world’s largest peace operations capacity-building program, partnering with 55 countries that contribute personnel to UN and African Union peacekeeping missions. GPOI has long encouraged women’s participation and leadership in peace operations, trained women peacekeepers, and integrated gender-related topics (such as preventing gender-based violence) into training for all peacekeepers. Since 2007, PM trained more than 10,000 women peacekeepers; and in the past 10 years, GPOI partners increased the number of deployed female military peacekeepers by 120 percent, as compared to a 24 percent increase among non-GPOI countries. GPOI also continues the work to remove barriers to women’s participation in training through gender-inclusive facility upgrades, including accommodations, bathrooms, and showers at partners’ peace operations training centers.
Through GPOI, PM also works to ensure the UN addresses failures to protect civilian populations or, worse, such as when peacekeepers sexually exploit or abuse the very populations they are deployed to protect. UN and peacekeeping contributors have an obligation to uphold a zero-tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse – which, sadly, fails too often. To support accountability efforts in 2018, for example, PM worked with the UN to fund and coordinate the first joint U.S.-UN National Investigation Officer (NIO) course to train the officers who investigate conduct and discipline issues, including allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against military personnel serving with a UN peacekeeping operation. Participants from 33 countries in Africa, Latin America, and the Indo-Pacific region have already participated in the NIO course.
International Military Education and Training (IMET)
The PM Bureau manages the IMET program, which provides opportunities for foreign military personnel from 135 countries to receive professional military education at U.S. defense institutions alongside their U.S. counterparts to build expertise, interoperability, and people-to-people ties that deepen security partnerships and enhance mission effectiveness. PM encourages all U.S. embassies and missions overseas to seek out and nominate qualified female candidates for IMET programs in at least the same percentage as they are present in their country’s military. This focus resulted in PM providing education and training to approximately 1,783 women in the past four years.
Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD)
Around the world, women are leading in a key aspect of post-conflict stabilization by surveying and clearing landmines, improvised explosive devices, and other deadly hazards left behind in their communities. These operations not only save lives but allow for humanitarian aid deliveries, reconstruction, and economic development essential to post-conflict recovery.
The PM Bureau funds CWD programs around the world implemented by various non-government organizations (NGOs), through which women work as deminers or are employed to deliver mine risk education to affected communities. For example, PM funded all-female demining teams in Tajikistan since 2014 and a dozen all-female demining teams in Sri Lanka for nearly a decade. In Cambodia, where three decades of armed conflict left the country littered with landmines and unexploded ordnance, and limits access to farmland and development for poor communities, the PM Bureau is proudly supporting local all-female teams of deminers in partnership with the international NGO Norwegian People’s Aid. These all-female teams currently are surveying six million square meters in priority villages to identify hazard areas.
On this 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, the United States is proud to lead the growing community of nations contributing to the international WPS agenda. The PM Bureau works together with the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues to promote WPS as one of our nation’s top priorities. Over the next 20 years, it is our intent the promises of UNSCR 1325 will reach all women around the world, and we are proud to be doing our part to make that happen.
About the Authors: Mr. R. Clarke Cooper is the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Ms. Kelley Currie is the Ambassador-at-Large for the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State.
For more information on how the Department of State supports WPS, you can read the following DipNote entries:
- Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace – and a U.S. Priority – Written by Jennifer Pulliam
- Empowering Women In Peace and Security: A Smart Investment and a Political-Military Affairs Priority – Written by R. Clarke Cooper
- Growing the Number of Women in Peacekeeping Through the U.S. Department of State’s Global Peace Operations Initiative – Written by Varshabhanavi Williams