- * Article published in RCCS 96 (March 2012).
This is a longer revised version of the text “UNSCR 1325 (...)
1The unanimous approval of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on “Women Peace and Security” was met with enthusiasm by various sectors of the academic and activist communities, which praised its uniqueness and importance (Rehn & Sirleaf, 2002; Hill et al., 2003).
2The Resolution's importance can also be measured by the number of times it has been translated since being approved – at the time of writing it has been translated into over 100 languages (Peace Women, 2012) – and by its relevance to activist work carried out by civil society organizations. According to the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, one of the key organizations in the creation and approval of Resolution 1325, most of the respondents to a 2005 questionnaire on civil society activity (out of a total of over 100 participants in two workshops devoted to the Resolution) confirmed that they were using the Resolution in their work, despite the fact that most did not know exactly how it was being implemented by other civil and governmental organizations (2005: 83-84).
3In fact, not only has this Resolution raised the level of awareness and debate regarding women, peace and security in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), but it was also the first time the UNSC acknowledged civil society's, and particularly women's, participation in formal peacekeeping processes and operations (Hill et al., 2003). Its Preamble underlines this aspect by “reaffirming the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building” (UNSC, 2000), and stresses the responsibilities of the UN member states and security council in launching “effective institutional arrangements to guarantee their protection and full participation in the peace process” in order to “significantly contribute to the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security” (ibidem).
4Resolution 1325 also identifies a set of actions to be taken by UN member states in order to address the needs and roles of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding. The first recommendation (Article 1) – suggesting its importance within the framework of the Resolution – concerns the representation of women: it determines the need for member states to “ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict.” Articles 2, 3 and 4 emphasize the role and contribution of women at various decision-making levels in peace processes, in conflict resolution, and within the United Nations. These articles are complemented by references to the importance of gender mainstreaming (Articles 5 and 6), which has the purpose of facilitating increased representation and participation of women at all levels and spheres of conflict prevention and management, and in peacebuilding. For many feminists, 1325 is a landmark precisely because of this factor, as it acknowledges women as agents with their own agendas and concerns (Rehn & Sirleaf, 2002; Cohn, 2004).
5The appeals regarding the need to consolidate the mechanisms for women’s protection (UNSC, 2000, Articles 8-10), which reinforce representations of women as particularly vulnerable to violence, are complemented by recognition of their agency in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding processes (especially at the local level), and therefore the need to support them (Articles 2, 4 and 8a). This construction of women as agents of peace, which permeates the Resolution, has been criticized as being essentialist and counter-productive as it fails to consider women as equal participants in the political process (Cohn et. al., 2004: 137).
6Resolution 1325 has also been praised for consolidating broader meanings of security and peace (Porter, 2008; Cohn et al., 2004). It implicated states in the provision of security with regard to women (Article 10) through the prosecution of those responsible for war crimes, including crimes of a sexual nature and others that mainly affect women and girls (Article 11), and by including the “different needs of female and male ex-combatants” in “the planning for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” (Article 13) and in “Security Council missions” (Article 15).
7While Resolution 1325 has some intrinsic value for attempting to recognize the experiences of women and girls in war and post-war situations and for seeking to improve their situation (stating that security also depends on the attention given to gender relations), despite its good intentions, it has helped to inscribe, institutionalize and reproduce assumptions and concepts which condition the pursuit of gender equality, peace and security, at both the national and international level. Therefore, it serves merely as a first step towards the recognition of the connections between gender, violence and security, failing to change the way we understand each of these concepts or the way they operate within the United Nations, its member states and non-governmental organizations dedicated to gender issues (such as women's groups).
8This article aims to contribute to the growing body of academic work in the field of feminist perspectives in International Relations (IR) – despite the abundant criticism and resistance which exists within the discipline. These perspectives converge in the claim that international relations are a product and producer of another type of relation: gender-based power relations. This is why the word relations in the field of IR deserves to be highlighted (Sylvester, 1994). Gender is important for the study of international relations in conceptual, empirical, methodological and normative terms, and constitutes a “political theory which coexists with and interacts with the political movement dedicated to eradicating the problems that women experience because of their sex” (Sjoberg, 2006: 43).
9According to the feminist motto “the personal is political and international” (and vice-versa) (Enloe, 1989), this article seeks to understand the connections between the sphere of (inter)personal violence and the international context in which the Resolution is applied, taking as a reference the expressions of gendered armed violence in non-war contexts, in which around 87.8% of all lethal armed violence in the world occurs (Geneva Declaration, 2011).
- 1 For a more detailed analysis of the influence of each school of feminist thought on the text of Res (...)
10In fact, like other documents, Resolution 1325 is “produced by and productive of particular concepts, discourses of gender, violence, peace and security” (Shepherd, 2008: 14), rooted in different feminist traditions.1 The analysis of these concepts is crucial not only to understand the ambit and implications of Resolution 1325, but also to identify what was not included and therefore remains outside the document, and more importantly, to recognize what could have been different. The limitations of the Resolution, which will be analyzed in detail below, are related to: 1) the notion of gender present in it (focusing on women and, more specifically, on women as victims or peace-makers); 2) the conception of instances of threat exclusively as instances of war or post-war, which generally considers only the short term and not the broader processes in which violence occurs; 3) the idea of security as something that centers provide to peripheries through paternalistic policies (such as the increased representation and participation of women at all levels of decision-making in conflict-resolution, post-war reconstruction and peace-building processes), gender mainstreaming, and even repressive policies.
- 2 By gendered violence or gender violence, terms used synonymously throughout this article, we mean a (...)
- 3 Small arms are conventional weapons meant for personal use. They include revolvers, semi-automatic (...)
11This article is partly inspired by the work of Laura Shepherd (2008) on the conceptualization of gender relations and security underpinning Resolution 1325, though it seeks to deepen and broaden the understandings of violence included in and excluded from it. By emphasizing the connection between zones of peace and zones of war, this article gives special attention to one of the aspects of the production and reproduction of violence which is omitted by the resolution: gendered2 armed violence in non-war contexts. Armed violence serves as an example of the lack of definition of the boundaries between zones and times of ‘peace’ and war (though it is not the only one, as not all violence implies the use of weapons). We highlight this type of violence because it has been facilitated by the dissemination of small arms,3 due to their portability, accessibility and utility in various civil contexts. As we will see, these weapons are instruments of (aggravated) violence in both the public and ‘private’ sphere, not only in war or post-war contexts, but everywhere (for example, in situations of domestic violence). They are also used, in a somewhat more pronounced way, in contexts marked by significantly high levels of armed violence (organized or otherwise), such as in urban areas of Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, and also in the USA.
- 4 A few examples: “gender perspective” (UNSC, 2000: Articles 5-6), “gender considerations” (Article 1 (...)
12Despite the recurrent use of the term “gender,”4 “women and children” and “women and young people” are identified as the main targets of the Resolution (UNSC, 2000: Preamble). This identification of women as the targets of the Resolution and the concomitant omission of men from the document reveals and reproduces a conception of women and gender as equivalent, ignoring the relational dimension of gender (relations of inter- and intra- masculinities and femininities), which we understand as the system of signification which creates social hierarchies based on associations with male and female traits (Wilcox, 2010: 64).
- 5 Mats Utas uses the concept of tactic agency – short term answer to the social structure – as the op (...)
13Women, like children, are represented as the “vast majority of those affected adversely by armed conflict” (UNSC, 2000: Preamble) – although this is not empirically supported (Jones, 2000) – and described as “increasingly targeted by combatants and armed elements” (ibidem), which excludes them from the role of combatants or perpetrators of violence, as analyzed by D'Amicco & Weinstein (1999), Moser & Clark (2001), Sjoberg & Gentry (2007) and Mackenzie (2011). Women are also identified as having “particular needs” and requiring “special forms of protection” (UNSC, 2000: Preamble), particularly in response to “gender-based violence.” The persistent coupling of “women and children” reinforces representations of women as helpless dependent beings (Enloe, 1990) and as society's cultural depositaries (Puechguirbal, 2004: 11). As Shepherd states, these representations fix “bodies in relation to a biologically determined narrative of sex difference that universally subordinates the female and requires that the female be weak” (2008: 106). Therefore, Resolution 1325 helps crystallize the image of women as victims, neglecting their contribution to violence and their possibility of expressing a tactical agency5 through which they deal with violence and uncertainty (Utas, 2005).
14These representations are complemented by other equally simplistic images that (using Shepherd's expression) “fix” the identification of women to informal political activism (UNSC, 2000: Preamble and Article 2), and to which other problematic recommendations are linked, such as the increased participation and representation of women in formal and informal power structures (Articles 1, 3 and 4). The reference to the importance of women's participation “in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building” (Preamble) (which, in the text, precedes the representation of women in formal politics and is therefore presented as more significant) is constructed by recognizing the connection between women and these activities. This recognition is based on the homogeneous representation of women as caregivers, mothers, peaceful and inherently pacifist. This essentialist equation between women and peace reproduced by 1325 is also mythicized (Enloe, 1989; Pettman, 1996; Cockburn, 2001; Goldstein, 2001; Moser & Clark, 2001), and despite its potential usefulness in the short/medium term in enabling marginalized groups to come together and create projects for social change (Spivak, 1987), it may be harmful to the emancipatory goals of the feminist struggle (Butler, 1999) by reinforcing the gender stereotypes which are at the basis of the “war system” (Reardon, 1985).
- 6 According to Michael Kimmel (2005), more than being just perpetrated in the name of male hegemony, (...)
15Men, on the other hand, are never explicitly mentioned in the Resolution. This coincides with Connell's observation concerning the debate on the exclusion and marginalization of women from the decision-making centers in which “men are implicitly present as the power-holders” (2005: 1806). Despite the apparent omission, men and (some) masculinities are implicitly represented in the discourse of 1325, either as the main perpetrators of violence (“combatants,” perpetrators of “gender-based violence,” namely gendered violence in which women are the victims), or as responsible for the protection of “women and children.” Regarding this last point, the main addressee of the Resolution, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, personifies the male subject par excellence as responsible for ensuring the protection of the women under 1325 (victims of war and of post-war violence) (UNSC, 2000: Articles 2-5, 16, 17). This (sub)text hides the fact that most men lack access to power and that many (most?) do not use violence to assert6 themselves. It also masks the violence that men (particularly the youngest or most excluded) frequently experience in a context of war and elsewhere (Barker & Ricardo, 2005; Munn, 2008).
16We believe it is necessary to make these aspects visible so as to deepen the understanding of the structural inequality between the sexes and the way gender constructs underpin war and violence (Cockburn, 2010), but also in order to perceive, in a broader sense, the role of structural violence (discrimination, inequalities, exclusion, economic crisis) in the reproduction of gendered violence (as we will see below). By ignoring the experiences of other women and other men in different structures of social differentiation (such as class, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation and age), Resolution 1325 can also be considered a means of reproduction of “white western heterosexual feminism.” Its silence on local, national, and global power structures such as capitalism, neocolonialism and imperialism (manifested, in their most extreme form, in foreign military interventions), analyzed by post-colonial feminists (Spivak, 1987; Eisenstein, 2004; Pratt, 2009), reveals this bias.
17In the Preamble to the Resolution, there is no reference to violence. 1325's field of action is very clear: it is “war” or “armed conflict” (UNSC, 2000) which causes flows of “refugees and internally displaced people” (UNSC, 2000) and opposes civilians to “combatants and other armed elements,” impeding the maintenance of long-term peace and security (UNSC, 2000: Preamble). In turn, and as a result of this understanding, peace and security are defined as the absence of armed conflict, and the Resolution suggests that “durable peace and reconciliation” will prevent future violence (ibidem).
18This perspective ignores the contributions made by feminist thought in International Relations to the way formal peace in itself can support and aggravate power differences (Enloe, 2000). The Resolution’s equation of violence and war excludes from its scope other cultures and structures of violence that allow space for the emergence of war and violence, which in turn may add elements or contribute to the reproduction of gender differences (Shepherd, 2008: 123). Based on the notion that one of the sources of violence is patriarchy (Reardon, 1985), as well as on the study of actual violence experienced by women, some feminists (Moser & Clark, 2001; Moura, 2007 and 2010) established a continuum (geographic, temporal and of scale) (Cockburn, 2001) between the different types of violence and injustice, underlining their connections and challenging the utility and perversity of distinctions between war and peace.
- 7 Our starting assumption is that the connections between firearms and violence are not only importan (...)
19Violence perpetrated using firearms is one of the examples of the existing relation between gendered violence in zones and times of “peace” and of war. The focus on this type of violence is appropriate and necessary for a number of reasons. A substantial part of the violence, insecurity and morbidity around the world is associated with and facilitated7 by the dissemination of firearms (resulting from their portability, accessibility, easy use and low cost), not only in war zones, but also in contexts of peace, particularly in so-called “developing” and “developed” countries which are relatively stable in political terms, but have significant levels of interpersonal, criminal and domestic violence involving firearms. In fact, most firearm deaths and injuries generally take place in countries that are not involved in declared armed conflicts. The global character of armed violence is also evident in the production and trade (legal and illegal) of drugs and small arms/light weapons, as well as in militarization processes, gender power asymmetries and social exclusion that mark scenarios of war, peace and post-war to different degrees.
20Currently, there are 875 million small arms in the world, 75% of which are owned by civilians (Small Arms Survey, 2013). The civilian population is also the main victim of armed violence: it is estimated that every year between 200,000 and 270,000 people lose their lives in firearm-related incidents in countries which are formally at peace – around double the number of deaths that occur in situations of war (Geneva Declaration, 2011). According to the report “The Global Burden of Armed Violence 2011,” which analyzed data from 186 countries, about 12.2% of all lethal armed violence took place in contexts of armed conflict, while 87.8% of deaths occurred in non-war situations. The number of people around the world with physical and emotional scars resulting from this type of violence is much higher.
- 8 In accordance with the World Health Organizations (WHO, 2001), epidemic levels are reached whenever (...)
21The distribution of armed violence varies across regions, countries and spaces. Areas of Central and South America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa are the most heavily affected regions (Geneva Declaration, 2011), where firearm-related mortality rates may reach epidemic proportions.8 Countries that are emerging from armed conflict, especially those in situations characterized as violent peace, are often the ones most affected by armed violence. According to a study which analyzed 30 post-war countries, the homicide rate tends to be 25% higher than normal in the first 5 years after a civil war (Collier & Hoeffler, 2004: 12).
- 9 This dissemination is frequently the result of processes such as the end of operations of the armed (...)
- 10 Some of these transformations have to do with patterns of violence (particularly the “privatization (...)
22In fact, the period following a war is not necessarily accompanied by a reduction in violence, lethal or otherwise, and the level of criminal, social and political armed violence is often maintained, influenced by the dynamics of the war economy (such as the trafficking of goods or people, begun during the war and continued because it is profitable for the leaders of the “parallel” economy) (Rausch, 2006) or motivated by the characteristics of the post-war period. In the latter case, the social dissemination of firearms9 and a change in attitudes towards these weapons10 and towards violence in general may facilitate particular expressions of armed violence, such as domestic violence, gang- or crime-related violence, war-related acts of vengeance, human rights violations committed by security forces and ethnic conflicts, among others (Muggah, 2006; Cukier & Sidel, 2006). El Salvador is frequently cited as a prime example of this, as its homicide rate increased drastically after the conflict was over: between 1990 and 1995, homicides increased from 79 to 139 per 100,000 inhabitants (Briceño-León, 2002: 13). In Mozambique, there was also a significant increase in violent crime, especially armed violence, in urban centers in the southern parts of the country (Leão, 2004) after the withdrawal of the ONUMOZ (United Nations peacekeeping mission), peaking in 1996 and 1997. Initiatives such as the 1995 government plan to combat crime – which included the establishment of riot police units in areas particularly affected by violence, the reintroduction of district divisions for police, and increased cooperation between police forces and neighboring countries (Operation Rachel) – sought to respond to these problems (Santos et al., 2011).
23In regions affected by epidemic rates of armed violence, this type of violence also tends to be concentrated in specific areas of territory. Cities tend to be the focus of what some authors (Briceño-León, 2002; Koonings & Kruijt, 2005 and 2009) call the “new violence” (to explain the transition from repressive and politicized state-sponsored violence during a dictatorship to dispersed violence within the microsocial fabric), and may become scenarios where mechanisms of legal and democratic organization coexist with manifestations of state and non-state criminal violence. In some of these contexts, the combination of social and economic asymmetries and high levels of unemployment, unplanned urban growth, low-quality infrastructures and general impunity have given rise to high concentrations of violence in urban territories circumscribed by scenarios of institutionalized peace, facilitated by the increased availability and non-regulation of firearms.
24Even in countries or regions where rates of armed violence are not so high, insecurities stemming from the use, perception and fear of firearms have significant effects on the lives of people in the form of criminal violence (organized crime, street crime, domestic violence, etc.), whether institutional or self-inflicted. In Canada and Switzerland, for example, as in other industrialized countries, there are more firearm-related suicides than firearm-related homicides. In the former, 633 armed suicides and 137 armed homicides were registered, just for 2002, while in Switzerland (one of the countries with the highest rates of armed mortality and morbidity in Europe), there were 36 armed homicides and 412 armed suicides (Cukier & Sidel, 2006). In both cases, the victims were predominantly men. The role of firearms in situations of domestic violence is also worthy of attention, as we will see in further detail below. In France, where there are roughly 20 guns per 100 citizens, 1 in 3 women murdered by their husbands is shot (Henrion Report, 2001). In the case of Canada, access to firearms is one of the five main risk factors related to female homicide in situations of domestic violence (Killias et al., 2001).
25In non-war scenarios characterized by high levels of armed violence committed by civilians or state agents (such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Venezuela, South Africa and the United States, to give some examples), as well as in contexts with lower rates of armed violence, the all-important relationship between firearms, gender constructs/relations and security is frequently underestimated or completely overlooked.
26As regards victimization, although men are the main direct victims (WHO, 2001; Cukier and Cairns, 2009), women are also victimized by “wars” between armed gangs (formal, informal, criminal or “official”), particularly through gendered violence. In El Salvador, for example, the country with the highest rate of female homicides in the world (129.46 per million inhabitants) (Flores, 2010), the majority of female victims of firearm-related violence are murdered in public spaces, and the deaths frequently occur after rape at gunpoint (Ormusa, 2009). Also in Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico, where 370 women were murdered between 1993 and 2003, 137 of these were raped prior to being killed (Amnesty International, 2010).
27Moreover, various gender-oriented studies into firearm-related violence have shown that firearms play a significant role in violence against women, both in the home and in nearby public places (Wintemute et al., 2003; Vetten, 2006; Hemenway et al., 2002; Moura, 2007). Contrary to what might be expected, these studies, carried out in different geographical contexts, reveal important similarities. They demonstrate that firearms are particularly dangerous if they are accessible to an acquaintance of the victim within the household, irrespective of who they belong to or whether they were acquired for self-protection. In Brazil, in 2004, 42% of the female victims of homicide were murdered with firearms, mainly at home (ISER, 2005). In Canada, 25% of the female victims of domestic violence were shot (Cukier and Cairns, 2009: 22). In Norway, since 2000, 80 women have died at the hands of their current or former partners, and in one third of these deaths firearms were used (Masters, 2007). In Switzerland, between 2000 and 2004, 859 women were murdered in domestic incidents, of which 365 were with a firearm (Office Fédéral de la Statistique, 2006). A recent study in Portugal revealed that, between 2007 and 2009, there were 191 recorded cases of domestic violence in which firearms were used (Moura et al., 2013). A national survey carried out in partnership with the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV) showed that 30.7% of the 101 women who had resorted to the association and chose to answer the questionnaire claimed that the person responsible for the violence owned or had access to a firearm. The percentage of victims that said they did not know whether or not their partner had access to a firearm at home was also significant (39%). Not knowing means having to deal with that doubt and, therefore, the eminent discovery of its existence.
28Furthermore, even when women are not directly targeted by armed violence, they frequently have to bear the burden of its emotional and socioeconomic effects, having to patch together fragments of lives and societies that have been destroyed by it (Moura, 2007). In Brazil, groups made up of relatives of victims of armed violence, mostly women and especially mothers, are an example of this. Together with other social movements and agents in civil society, these groups fight for justice and memory and against violence (Moura et. al., 2010).
29Regarding the sex of aggressors, similarly to contexts of “formal” war, it should be pointed out that, although the visible part of this violence is masculine and predominantly young (Dowdney, 2005), only a small minority of young males actually get involved in armed violence (Jütersonke et al., 2007). The use of firearms is frequently related to cultural-based views of masculinity in which firearms are associated with virility. Some boys see weapons as a powerful way of obtaining status, power and access to material goods and women (Barker, 2005). As well as constructing their identity vis-à-vis other men, boys also form a significant part of their identity in their intimate relationships through violence perpetrated against their female partners. In line with this violent (and armed) form of masculinity, some adult men acquire guns as an integral part of the construction and perception of their roles as protectors (Kimmel, 2005). On the other hand, many men and boys have become active in the struggle against armed violence, campaigning for greater regulation of the international sale of small arms and better legislation on the right to own firearms, and sometimes join campaigns to eradicate violence against women (such as the “White Ribbon” campaign created by Canadian men to oppose men’s silent complicity in violence against women). At the same time, some women and girls also support armed masculinity and violence either by acquiring weapons and/or directly participating in armed conflict themselves, or by encouraging men to participate and subtly reinforcing stereotypes which associate men with violence and protection through the glorification of firearms and demand for weapons as a way of obtaining material goods and status (Moura, 2007; Moura & Roque; 2009).
30The fundamental idea which we want to underline is the following: the connections between violence in non-war or formal peace scenarios and extreme forms of violence in war situations frequently originate in the prevalence of gender ideologies and technologies such as small arms, which glorify aggression as an appropriate expression of power and protection. Armed violence and the ownership and use of firearms are, therefore, also a product of gender constructions, based on the exacerbation of a hegemonic and militarized form of masculinity associated with familiarity and fascination with firearms (Connell, 1995: 2012), and on the persistence of subaltern groups of male and female subjects over whom male power is exerted.
31We have argued that the dominant conceptual framework through which violence is usually understood actually contributes to the (perceived) non-existence of that violence, preventing us from recognizing its full extent and ubiquity. According to Vanessa Farr,
Framing gun violence as “abnormal” [...] prevents us from seeing that armed conflict is not anomalous but takes place on the extreme end of a continuum of violence. It hides the fact that the abuse of women and other oppressed people in times of peace is only a less intense expression of the full-scale violence that erupts in times of war – which means that war is not so much an aberration as an exaggeration, in organized form, of the violence, often facilitated by prolific guns, that exists even in nonwarring societies. (2003: 4)
32As we have seen, forms of gendered armed violence may coexist in countries that have recently emerged from war, in troubled areas with significantly high levels of armed violence (organized or otherwise), particularly in urban areas, and in stable countries, which may have much lower levels of armed violence but are nevertheless affected by it, in either the public or (more frequently) private sphere. Despite its local nature, armed violence is a global phenomenon due to its prevalence as well as its dependence on and connection with scenarios of war, peace and post-war where the legal and illegal trade in drugs and small arms, militarization, gender power imbalance and social exclusion are on the increase and exacerbated. However, with this example, we do not wish to conceal other dimensions of armed violence (as Resolution 1325 does), or minimize the importance of structural violence in maintaining gendered violence, both in times of war and of peace.
33As Cynthia Cockburn states,
[…] patriarchal gender relations predispose our societies to war. They are a driving force perpetuating war. They are among the causes of war. This is not, of course, to say that gender is the only dimension of power dimension implicated in war. It is not to diminish the understood importance of economic factors (particularly an ever-expansive capitalism) and antagonisms between ethnic communities, states and blocs (particularly the institution of the nation-state) as causes of war. (2010: 140, our underlining)
- 11 The “neoliberal order” refers to an approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassic econ (...)
- 12 We are not arguing for an automatic understanding of the relation between structural and direct vio (...)
34Hence, we must emphasize that Resolution 1325’s silence on power structures at the global, regional and national level (ranging from the neoliberal11 order and military complexes to new and old forms of colonialism) is also compounded by its silence on other forms of gendered violence. This neglect contributes to the naturalization of micro-level violence, experienced at the interpersonal level by both women and men worldwide, thereby constituting one of the mechanisms of perpetuation of spirals of violence.12
35By omitting structural violence and the gender order that sustains it from the causes of violence against women, the Resolution situates “the problems” in clearly identified parts of the world, and attributes their origins to local issues in the “violent” periphery. This localization gives rise, in turn, to security policies which are also localized – in the supposedly “peaceful” and orderly centers, as we will discuss next.
36In the context of Resolution 1325, security is conceived as the prerogative of United Nations member states (UNSC, 2000: Preamble; Article 11) and, ultimately, of the United Nations Security Council, which is granted “primary responsibility […] for the maintenance of international peace and security” (Preamble).
37Besides being the prerogative of the member states and of the United Nations Security Council, security is also associated with peace in the title of the Resolution, and understood as the antithesis of “armed conflict” (Preamble) and especially as the protection of women. The “prevention and resolution of conflicts and peace-building,” in the figures of the peacekeeping and peacebuilding forces and gender mainstreaming (Preamble) for which the United Nations Security Council is responsible, take place in war zones and are associated with member states’ internal affairs, as opposed to the international sphere. Similarly, efforts to increase female participation and representation are mainly directed towards states and, more specifically, towards the processes of conflict prevention and resolution. By articulating what should be required from member states regarding the protection of women (i.e., that they “ensure increased representation of women” [Article 1], “provide candidates to the Secretary-General” so he can “appoint more women as special representatives” [Article 3], “provide to member states training guidelines and materials on the protection, rights and the particular needs of women” [Article 6], and “increase their voluntary financial, technical and logistical support for gender-sensitive training efforts” [Article 7]), Resolution 1325 constructs the international sphere as “the negotiator of gender equality, in opposition to conflict-torn domestic domains that may have more pressing agendas” (Shepherd, 2008: 125).
38The prioritization of the protection of women during and after the conflict, as well as the delimitation of spatial boundaries for armed conflict and the provision of peace and security are extremely problematic. The emphasis on the need to protect women in the context of armed violence ignores the fact that women are not more vulnerable in times of war per se: they become more vulnerable because of preexisting inequalities, originating from gender power hierarchies, which are also present in so-called peaceful societies (Puechguirbal, 2010: 176). It also ignores the way various types of violence structure the lives of individuals worldwide, and the situations where women actively participate in the subordination of other women and men. As stated in the introduction to a volume of the International Feminist Journal of Politics dedicated exclusively to the analysis of Resolution 1325,
Women continue to be represented in UNSCR 1325 and related mainstream policy documents solely in gendered terms. An articulation of the intersections between gender and other social categories and structures along which oppression, marginalization and violence occur (including nationality, class, ethnicity, religion, sexuality and age) is completely absent and even actively prevented in such representations. This has particular consequences for how women’s agency is perceived […]. A critical feminist approach thus should not only demand that gender (rather than women) becomes an integral part of conflict analysis and conflict resolution, but also remain wary as to how ‘gender’ is used and with what political implications. (Pratt & Richter-Devroe, 2011: 494; 496)
39Moreover, the construction of “member states” as security providers (and the state as the key peacebuilding entity) reinforces the idea that this is the model of political organization par excellence, and that states are the ultimate authority on security, while overlooking their role as producers of violence, particularly against their own civilians (Youngs, 1999). Member states which are called on to provide “voluntary financial, technical and logistical support for gender-sensitive training efforts” are also perceived in opposition (and as hierarchically superior) to “states in which armed conflicts take place" (i.e., those discussed by the Resolution) and to which the adjectives “indigenous” and “local” (Articles 8 and 15) are applied.
40Furthermore, by identifying the international community of states as the model and the main agent responsible for peace, security and the defense of the rights of women, the international sphere is perceived as external to conflict (Shepherd, 2008: 126) and distinct from the national zones where violence is located. By camouflaging the power relations in play at the global and regional level and their role in the production of violence (both direct and structural or symbolic), this association between the international stage and conflict perpetuates the division and hierarchical relationship between the international and national spheres.
41The association of security provision with peacekeeping, peacebuilding and gender mainstreaming policies also raises a series of questions regarding feminist approaches to IR. Peacekeeping operations have been criticized not only for being unable to keep the peace (given that peace transcends the absence of conflict), but also for contributing to the perpetuation of patriarchal structures and cultures, in some cases involving the exploitation of women and girls (as well as men and boys) in local communities, and the reproduction of spirals of violence resulting from difficulties in fulfilling expectations with regard to income-generating mechanisms (Olsson & Tryggestad, 2001). Moreover, the analysis of key UN documents on peace operations reveals the “masculine norm” underpinning these processes. These, as N. Puechguirbal explains,
privilege physical toughness, heterosexual macho bravura, the denigration of women and femininity, an exclusionary focus on issues affecting men and, in a Foucauldian sense, disciplinary approaches to multifaceted problems […] and hence deny the agency of women, maintaining them in a subaltern position and preventing them from contributing more actively in peacebuilding and conflict resolution processes. (Puechguirbal, 2010: 174)
42Post-war reconstruction processes have also been analyzed as based on and reproducing inequalities (not only gender-based), and as being generally accompanied by violence (Ayoob, 2002: 38). Sometimes, armed conflict situations actually allow gender barriers to be challenged: men's and women's roles may be redefined as a result of mobilization for war, while the social turmoil created by armed conflict – especially as a result of the recruitment of male relatives for the war effort and the loss of others, but also due to female participation in violent groups or the migration of women (Murguialday & Vázquez, 2001) – may allow women the opportunity to experience other roles besides the ones underlying the patriarchal division of functions.
43As stated by Christine Chinkin,
Concepts of reconstruction and rehabilitation may be misnomers in the case of women. Both concepts assume an element of going back, restoring to a position or capacity that previously existed. But this is not necessarily what women seek. […] The goal should rather be societal transformation – not restored dependence and subordination. (Chinkin, 2004: 32)
44Finally, the concept of gender mainstreaming (one of the main focuses of the Resolution) warrants special consideration. Defined as a norm which intends to apply “a gender perspective in all policies and programs, so that an analysis of its potential effects on women and men can be made before any decisions are taken” (United Nations, 1995: 116), in the context of 1325, gender mainstreaming is understood primarily as synonymous with protecting women and guaranteeing them greater participation in peacekeeping operations (and less as the analysis of the differentiated impact of post-war policies). These understandings not only essentialize women as peaceful civilian victims, under the protection of male soldiers, militarized states and male representatives in the United Nations Security Council, but also silence gender attitudes which glorify male violence, consent to violence against women and support socioeconomic gender inequalities which affect men and women in contexts of armed conflict, post-war and peace. This ultimately signifies the negation of female agency and the perpetuation of stereotypes such as women-pacificists-victims and men-aggressors-protectors. Another problem of gender mainstreaming is its alignment with international neoliberal norms which seek to integrate women into western markets, including in armed conflict or post-war contexts (True, 2011: 85). As a result of the internalization of these norms by western countries, gender inequality is essentially seen as a problem of developing countries.
45In the light of these critiques, and given that 1325 has already been integrated as an instrument of international governance within the United Nations system, as well as in the mandates of regional organizations (Magallón, 2008: 71), this Resolution can be considered a product of a conservative policy and approach regarding the gendered aspects and effects of armed violence. It also contributes to the deepening of the unequal power relation between the center and the periphery, “where ‘zones of conflict’ are assisted by the ‘international community’ to integrate into global mechanisms of production and consumption, thereby securing not only the conflicts in question but also the reproduction of a neoliberal world order” (Shepherd, 2008: 399).
- 13 The institutional and political model frequently called the liberal peace project assumes the objec (...)
46Thus, Resolution 1325 can be seen as a liberal tool of consensus generated around peacebuilding processes,13 based on the resolution of problems of the “dangerous” “undeveloped” periphery by the central elites and by mechanisms of global governance, thereby justifying hegemonic projects (neoliberalism and liberal peace). More than an effect of power, gender violence is therefore instrumentalized for hegemonic operations and projects (Nayak & Suchland, 2006). These mechanisms mask processes of gender violence and peacetime violence that are not exactly materialized in the idea of “women as victims or pacifists.” Following this line of thought, Harrington argues that, in the framework of peacekeeping missions, 1325 is mainly an instrument for dealing with the new post-Cold War realities of international security, rather than an instrument for changing them. She also questions the instrumentalization of gender discriminatory practices, such as 1325, which do not take into account other factors of structural violence and especially its effects in maintaining global hierarchies, explaining that the mandate to eradicate gender violence and empower women can ultimately justify external military intervention (Harrington, 2011).
47Moreover, and despite addressing issues regarding the participation of women in international institutions and processes (UNSC, 2000: Articles 1, 3 and 4), the special emphasis on the need to support national and local initiatives, especially in areas traditionally associated with women (Articles 8, 13 and 15), such as reconciliation and justice, may reinforce the association of the female sex with the domestic domain, reestablishing the public-private division.
- 14 These are: Australia (2012); Austria (2007); Belgium (2009); Bosnia-Herzegovina (2010); Canada (201 (...)
- 15 Countries of the global South (such as Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nepal, Democratic Repub (...)
- 16 In full: “Portugal interprets Resolution 1325 in a comprehensive way, which, besides addressing arm (...)
48These preconceptions regarding women, war and the international sphere are perpetuated by the actions and initiatives carried out by governments and civil society organizations to implement and supervise Resolution 1325. For example, the National Action Plans (one of the main instruments for the implementation of 1325) of most of the thirty-five countries14 which have adopted them to date (mainly countries of the global North)15coincide in terms of sector priorities; they adopt and promote a gender perspective with regard to their foreign policy, namely through: i) the promotion of gender integration in all phases of peace missions, including post-war reconstruction and peacebuilding operations; ii) the inclusion of gender and UNSC 1325 issues in the sensitization and training of peacekeeping forces; iii) the promotion of women’s human rights in conflict and post-conflict zones, and support for women’s participation and representation in peace negotiation and treaty implementation processes; and finally, iv) promotion of gender equilibrium and the integration of gender issues in the planning and execution of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) activities (Gumru & Fritz, 2009; Sheriff & Barnes, 2008). Of these, only two countries, Portugal and the Philippines, mention measures to be taken at the national level in order to address gender violence in the internal sphere, centered on the regulation of small arms and light weapons. In the first case, there is only a vague reference16 in the Action Plan Framework section (Portuguese Government, 2009: 4), which is not fleshed out in the program part of the Plan. In the second case, there is a specific objective regarding gendered armed violence in the country, more specifically the promotion of investigation into female victimization as a result of the use of firearms, and the evaluation and reinforcement of laws concerning the ownership and use of firearms, both nationally and internationally (Philippines Government, 2009: 4 and 5).
49By contesting the analytical separation between declared war and other violent practices, such as the phenomenon of the territorial over-concentration of armed violence in contexts where there is formally peace (Moura, 2010), we run the risk of generating misinterpretations concerning the type and level of security policy that is better suited to deal with gendered armed violence. We do not mean to subscribe to the notion that all domains of life should be securitized, or that a militarized response is justified to combat it, as has frequently occurred in the post- 9/11 world. We are aware that national and urban policies designed to contain threats such as drug-trafficking, terrorism and “undesirable” elements (migrants and delinquents) have in many countries found renewed inspiration in this context of beefed-up internal security. These policies have in some way become an internationally legitimized application of what L. Wacquant describes as being, in the USA, a paradox of the neoliberal penal system: it aims to create “more State” in the areas of law enforcement, courts and prisons in order to solve the generalized increase in objective and subjective insecurity, which in turn is caused by “less State” in the economic and social spheres of advanced first world countries (Wacquant, 2009).
50Our argument in this article, in contrast, stresses the need to politicize gendered armed violence in non-war contexts both nationally and internationally, as opposed to the emergency scheme approach. Thus, we wish to draw attention to the structural, cultural and ideological foundations of violence and politicize them. This is the opposite of the theories and policies that justify military intervention in the name of human rights protection (“Responsibility to Protect”).
51The policies and programs pursued by states and civil society to combat armed violence, particularly in contexts characterized by high levels of urban armed violence, have mostly focused on public expressions of armed violence of a criminal nature. Consequently, repressive strategies for fighting violence have been favored, such as the approval of tougher prevention measures and the adoption of more rigorous policing models (Small Arms Survey, 2007). The debates in Brazil and El Salvador about the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility, the routine use of elite troops to patrol the shanty towns of Rio de Janeiro (Justiça Global, 2004) and the introduction of the Mano Dura (“strong hand”) and Super Mano Dura policies in El Salvador and Central America – which aimed to repress street gangs, but led to the detention and accusation of suspected gang members on the basis of physical appearance alone (Carranza, 2005) – are examples of these populist penal strategies. In 2007, the Mérida Initiative was put into action by the USA. It was a large-scale project inspired by Mano Dura, based on the transfer of weapons and preparation and training of police and military forces in Mexico and Central America, which fostered repression and human rights violations (Fitzpatrick Behrens, 2009).
52Besides this, and unsurprisingly, given that men make up the majority of users and victims of armed violence worldwide, prevention policies and programs have been directed almost exclusively at men and boys, giving little or no attention to the role and impact of armed violence on women and girls. As women are not considered the main risk group in armed violence, investigation initiatives and political proposals have been inadequate to map out the complexity of women’s involvement in this type of violence or to reveal the full impact of these initiatives and proposals on women. However, the continuum of violence experienced by women and girls in these contexts is a synthesis of the main social ingredients of violence and its cultural base. Therefore, alongside an in-depth knowledge of the involvement of men and boys in armed violence, a clear understanding of the needs, rights and vulnerabilities of women and girls is essential for a general reduction of armed violence.
53In the absence of guided research, investment in the social and economic roots of armed violence (including its role and connections to models of masculinity and femininity), efforts to prevent, investigate and prosecute violent acts, and attention to violence survivors, repressive measures such as the existing prevention policies are doomed to fail or become counterproductive.
54In this sense, we argue for a broad application of 1325 regarding gender and armed violence. One of the main implications of effectively taking into account the continuum of (armed and gender-based) violence in non-war contexts is the fact that states will have to be responsible for creating nationwide policies designed to combat and prevent armed violence in the domestic sphere. As with other human rights agreements, UNSCR 1325 may be symbolically important, giving weight to campaigns that seek to change or reinforce national laws and policies. From a national and local point of view, the recognition of armed gendered violence would involve, for example, support for research and the development of local policies and programs with the objective of curbing and preventing this type of violence (supply and demand) in conjunction with international measures. Another crucial aspect is the improvement of national legislation regarding the right to bear firearms, through the introduction of stricter criteria which would exclude people with a history of domestic (or community) violence from obtaining licenses. In this context, the harmonization of gun-control and domestic-violence legislation is of the utmost importance (Masters, 2007), as countries that have harmonized laws, such as Canada and Australia, have seen a significant decrease in homicide rates, especially amongst women (40% and 57%) (Hung, 2004; Mouzos and Rushforth, 2003).
55Another implication concerns states' responsibility in the international sphere regarding the promotion of and support for the development of policies and legislation to prevent the dissemination of light weapons, small arms and armed violence, namely by supporting the International Arms Trade Treaty, the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons and its respective regional declarations, as well as national legislation on armed violence. In addition, structural violence in the contradiction identified by Wacquant should be taken into account, as should the lack of attention given to access to education, justice and job opportunities, as well as the pernicious results of security privatization.
56In short, by adopting this feminist approach, we want to make visible the mechanisms that produce violence and insecurity, and their expressions at the macro- and micro-social levels, rejecting the formal dichotomy between war and peace (and, consequently, between different forms of violence, and the agents and spaces involved so as to acknowledge “minor” forms of violence). We also want to highlight the dangers inherent in the dichotomous approaches that characterize mainstream analyses of armed violence in scenarios of peace, which set up an opposition between expressions of armed violence that receive great attention and are the object of (generally repressive) public security policies, on the one hand, and, on the other, expressions of micro-level violence that are less direct, and as a result of their marginalization perpetuate vicious cycles of armed violence, making it difficult to devise more effective ways of preventing and combating it.
57Resolution 1325 refers exclusively to scenarios of war and post-war, which are perceived as the sites of real and significant threats to women and girls. This observation is corroborated by a close analysis of the measures included in the various National Action Plans produced to date, which reveal that attempts to implement 1325 have mainly focused on foreign policy, neglecting these countries’ internal needs and responsibilities. In other words, most National Action Plans refer to countries other than the ones which drafted the Plans in the first place. However, threats and insecurities experienced by women, girls and subordinate men, particularly those that stem from the dissemination and use of light weapons, are common in various contexts besides war zones.
58Whether in contexts of war, post-war or formal peace, the availability of firearms and the ease with which they circulate contributes significantly to higher levels of violence, and also masks the indirect impacts of armed violence. By recognizing the existence of these contexts, characterized by the presence and frequent use of firearms and the perpetuation of a war system that maintains and reproduces the marginalization of women and violence by and against men (generally poor and young), we have shown the restrictive and perverse nature of the traditional definitions of war and peace, and emphasized the need to broaden the horizons when analyzing violent phenomena and designing mechanisms for preventing and combating violence in those places. If these types of violence were taken into account, Resolution 1325 would be broadly interpreted so as to be also applied to “peaceful” states, particularly those with high rates of armed violence. This would oblige states to consider Resolution 1325 beyond the field of foreign policy, reflecting on its meanings and implications in the respective national contexts, and taking into account the continuum of manifestations of violence.
59Despite the Resolution's possible transformative capacity, given its potential to rethink and change the way security is conceived, its revolutionary capacity “recycled more than redefined the debate on women, violence and security” (Cohn et al., 2004: 137). In other words, the Resolution's contribution is limited by the definitions and concepts which guide and structure it, and does not change the way in which gender, violence and security are understood and applied. By ignoring the abovementioned expressions of violence and the established relations between war and peace, by favoring the experiences of some women at the expense of others and neglecting men, and by confirming the responsibility of the international community (materialized above all in the United Nations Security Council) to guide belligerent countries towards peace, Resolution 1325 continues to be insufficient in terms of its scope and ambition, and perpetuates the war system which it is supposed to confront and dismantle.
60More specifically, the reinforcement of the initiatives planned to prevent and combat the dissemination of small arms, traditionally aimed at young males, the support given to national civil disarmament projects and campaigns for the destruction of small arms, as well as progress in the training and accountability of security agents and armed forces, are important steps in the prevention and inhibition of social armed violence (Santos, Moura and Roque, 2008).
61If Resolution 1325 could be interpreted in this perspective, going beyond the traditional conception and spectrum of intervention supported by the UN member states, it would become a more appropriate tool for strengthening violence prevention in our societies, as it would more precisely reflect the global reality of gendered armed violence, without being restricted to contexts of declared war.