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Special Report
Last Updated: 01/07/2010
Security Sector Reform in Nepal: A Discussion of Gender Dimensions with Reference to UNSCR 1325
Krishna Hari Pushkar

Key Words: Nepal, UNHCR 1325, Security Sector Reform, Gender, Peacebuilding

Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, on women, peace and security was passed unanimously on 31 October 2000. This is the first resolution ever passed by the Security Council that specifically addresses the impact of war on women, and women's contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. The resolution acknowledges the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace building, and stresses on the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security in domestic as well as in international arenas. Accordingly, 1325 is a one of the most important international roadmaps for security, compelling all member state to consider UNSCR 1325 as guiding principle while working on security sector reform.

This resolution is mandatory, as it compels UN member-states to adopt essential women sensitivity approaches in entire dealings with ongoing/ post conflict or transition or peace process phases. Nepalese women face serious exclusion from pre- peace processes to post conflict situations and from past security apparatus to the reformed present structure of the national security mechanism. This illustrates a pathetic ground reality. Recently, however, some political efforts have been introduced in favor of 1325, but it is yet to materialize properly in meaningful and productive ways.

The general concept of Security Sector Reform is to achieve the efficient and effective provision of state and human security within a framework of democratic governance, in accordance with the will and interest of the nation. It is a continuous process, but the importance of SSR may talk differently in different situation.

Particularly, the SSR issues comes as a one of the most preferred agenda items in post conflict situations while shifting security governance from transition towards sustainable peace. SSR is also considered as a democratization process which includes transformation of institutional values, culture, and structure in accordance with contemporary needs and standard. It helps to strengthen the institutional effectiveness and forces to stepping towards better governance and develop effective mechanism to reach near the people with impression of people centric agent. It secures inclusive representation, and build favorable environment for social justice, create harmony and promote rule of law in favor of people and national interest. It focuses on the inner and outer justice, civic engagement, and works to correct impunity by using necessary reconciliation approaches. The SSR may establish the “culture of respect” towards legitimated rights of the people, especially for excluded and marginalized groups, which includes women. It talks about the rational inclusion and meaningful participation not only the state's forces, but also non-state actors, armed groups as well as the civil society and marginalized group too.

The ultimate goal of the SSR is to optimize, reengineer, and restructure the security sector, mostly to make it more effective and efficient in the sense of its orientation towards the citizens. The rationale of SSR helps to assure peoples’ ownership over the security system. It may be helpful in the creation of sustainable peace, mutual trust, harmony and professional coalition within and among government, people, and security personnel for security related better productivity.

What is the existing position of 1325? In Nepal, most of the women and children are the victims of war and struggling for survival. They and their problems are not being handled as per the letter and spirit of UNSCR 1325. Sadly, women are excluded in peace process, women and children are ignored in post conflict concentration, excessive exclusion exists in the security structure, the endangered and ignored situation of conflict-affected women and children are found in terrible situation and being away from the mainstreaming of post conflict affairs, poor institutionalization of women and children related qualitative and quantitative statistics, and there is a general crisis and confusion of accountability towards 1325. There are no particular or integrated authorities who are responsible to enforce 1325 properly, so the responsibility shifting problem exists in practice. Honestly, as of this writing, 1325 is limited in indoor academic discussion with NGOs-INGOs, and has a very nominal presence among governmental agencies.

Causes of poor implementation: Traditional-feudal social custom, male-master social grown-up, excessive women exclusion in security system and defense apparatus, poor governance and crisis of democratization, male-moderated political culture and peace process, poor integration and non-convincing and ineffective sensitization about 1325. There is also a crisis of practicability for a rights-based approach in public domain. The women are deprived from basic needs and majorities lives in hapless social system, the societal supposal is “Security is for Male’’. Scarcity of women friendly security dealing and delivering system, lack of women and gender sensitivity skill, ominous of pro-women public awareness in peace and conflict affairs and growing gaps between theoretical and practical understanding of violence, discrimination and exclusion etc may have the great causes of existing ceremonial status of 1325. Lack of resources and continuity in policy and administrative affairs, poor commitments of stakeholders, dishonesty towards the women centric issues and intentional ignorance of women’s privileges related to 1325. Also, the poor and ineffective coordination for enforcement of 1325 and confusion over accountability among states’ institution etc are the major causes of poor implementation of 1325 in Nepal. Moreover, the internalization deficiencies among big political leaders have remained very challenging and pose a major obstacle for the honest implementation of 1325 in Nepal.

Attempts towards the 1325: We are witnessing the beginning of women inclusion parameters and commitment through various legal and policy tools. In the political sphere, these include: compulsory women representation, administrative-institutional provision (MWCSW and its wings), positive discriminations, quota, trainings, developmental-women centric development programs, budgetary- gender budget, security and other apparatus of state-special provision for recruitment and promotion and women cells, etc. These imply the introduction of privilege and immunities, reservation, quota, and positive discrimination and empowerment packages for women in governmental system, nongovernmental and corporate sector, expansion of women and gender related issues in internal and external multilateral agencies (Median, I/NGOs, civil societies, political parties etc), transformation of tradition values, attitudes and believes in favor of women and children sensitivity in accordance with the universal standard and practices. In the legal sphere, women friendly and privileged judicial, security and administrative systems have been developed with special arrangement in parliament, court, police, medical center, administration office and public prosecutes office too. We have also seen balanced women representation of women in local peace committees, 1325 centric sensitization activities for high command security official, efforts to build action plan for 1325 could considered as positive efforts towards the enforcement of 1325. NGO’s efforts to market 1325 among multi-stakeholders, research, intensive workshops on the issues are also found productive. The institutionalization of 1325 into various rights and humanitarian organization are also seen as positive aspirations to achieve the motto of 1325.

Status of women in national security agencies: In Nepal, the total number of Police is 56077 consisting only 2962 women police and among the number only DIG-2, SSP-1, SP-4, DSP-15, INSP-40 and rest women police officials are in junior posts (Representation of women is 5.28%). The data presents that very low presence of women in influencing level/position in Nepal Police. In Nepal Arm Police Force; total number is 31262, among them 632 are women (Officer 13, junior officer 38 and rest are others). The representation of women in the APF is 2.02%. Similarly, the National investigation department has found less than 2% women representation. One of the most sensitive situations exists in Chief District Officer level that post is considered as chief security official at district level of Nepal government where women representation level is zero. The Nepalese Army has also had the very minimum of women’s representation – a negligible amount in policy influencing positions, except for some technical areas. There is also zero representation of women in offensive field operations, search operations, and also in peace keeping forces.

Even with this low presence of women, however, the women employees of security apparatus are being victims in many ways. Most of the time they feel tensed and frustrated. They have been suffering with plenty of physical and psychological violence including rape, torture, professional violence and other forms abuses in inside and outside the institution. There is no effective practices to handle women related specific grievances. The gender concern and sensitivity in national security and post conflict situation are found comparatively ignored as anticipated by 1325. Therefore, special efforts and roadmaps are needed to address 1325 while working in security sector reform of Nepal.

How to address 1325 in upcoming efforts of security sector reform in Nepal? There are plenty of effective tools of democratization and SSR including justified inclusion approaches for women in every level of decision making from pre-conflict to post conflict situation, issues based multi-sectorial mainstreaming, balanced participation, and gender sensitive policy analysis rule imposition while working on security sector reform. Special advocacy and exercises of international and international laws related to women need to enforce into practice during conflict or posting conflict situation by continuous pressure and active involvement of rights based agencies. The special women and gender friendly environment and focuses are needed to institutionalize while dealing the issues during the ongoing conflict or post conflict situation. Especially: visits, observation, trainings, coaching, counseling and frequent awareness raising programs are needed to introduce among its all concerned stakeholders to adopt 1325 into inner and outer ecology of security organism. Productive integration and mainstreaming of women and children issues in political, judicial, administrate, security and development affairs need to consider seriously to achieve the goal and motto of 1325.

Along with the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), the SSR is crucial to address the women concerned issues in post conflict situation of Nepal through the uses, and mobilization of various actors. Nepal is under state of confusion of accountability that who are responsible to enforce the 1325, so a certain line and staff agencies need to assign by law for implementery and supervisor power along with detail ToR authority and resources.

Finally, Nepal is now in restructuring phase so the situational democratization of security related mechanism and spheres are essential to address by upcoming constitution and laws on women, peace and security concern in accordance with the letter and spirit of UNSCR 1325.

UNSCR 1325 and SSR have significant relevance to each other. So, the meaningful incorporation of 1325 into the national security and defense mechanism of Nepal may be expected to have a positive impact in favor of women in conflict or post conflict situations.

Mr. Pushkar is a Peace and Conflict Management Expert and Under Secretary of Government of Nepal: