On 18 November, the UK published its third Annual Review of the UK Government National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. The UK was one of the first states to create a National Action Plan (NAP) of this kind, which aims to implement Security Council resolution 1325 and subsequent Women, Peace and Security resolutions.
Mark Simmonds MP, Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), addressed a meeting of the Associate Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security (APG-WPS) to report on the recent review of the NAP covering 2010-2013. Attendees also heard from civil servants from across Whitehall who will be inputting into the development of the next NAP to be launched in March 2014.
The following key areas were highlighted:
- Gains made in the three focus countries and one focus region (Afghanistan, DR Congo, Nepal and the Middle East and North Africa region) have helped further a range of UK foreign policy goals
- Vital to maintaining "sustained global action" has been the UK's leadership at the UN Security Council
- The FCO's Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, formed last year, is widely seen as putting the UK at the forefront of this issue
- Tackling violence against women and girls will continue to be a key priority for the Department for International Development (DFID)
- The withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 will be a critical period for the Ministry of Defence's work on women, peace and security
- A priority for the next NAP will be developing greater coordination across government and between the various UK initiatives
Civil society organisations present, including UNA-UK, raised a number of concerns. Central to the discussion however was the issue of women's participation. It is vital that the women affected by the UK's programmes should be adequately consulted and their views incorporated in the next NAP, as well as adequately protected should such participation threaten their security.
In September, Gender Action for Peace and Security, of which UNA-UK is a member, submitted a response to the UK government for its review of the 2010-2013 NAP. It also produced a number of further recommendations for the development of the next NAP.
Last week the APG-WPS co-hosted a meeting with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the UN on tackling violence against women and girls in emergencies, ahead of a major DFID conference on the issue.
Photo: © DFID. Community activists in DR Congo, one of the bilateral focus countries of the UK's National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.