I mitten av juli deltog Operation 1325:s kommunkatör Charlotte Lind vid The Global South Units konferens om internationell medling, i Rio de Janeiro i Brasilien.
I mitten av juli deltog Operation 1325:s kommunkatör Charlotte Lind vid The Global South Units konferens om internationell medling, i Rio de Janeiro i Brasilien. Där presenterade hon Operation 1325:s projektet Medlingslabbet för forskare och civilsamhällesaktiva från bland annat Tyskland, Schweiz, USA, Canada, Mexiko, Brasilien och Colombia.
The Global South Unit är en del av BRICS Policy Center. Centret är ett samarbete mellan staden Rio de Janeiro och universitetet Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). The Global South Unit sprider kunskap och forskning om internationell medling med fokus på det globala syd till politiker, diplomater, policyrådgivare och cilvilsamhälle. Att fokus ligger på det globala syd beror på att internationell medling oftast styrs av nord-länder, som är mer resursstarka på den internationella arenan. Därför behövs mer forskning och kunskapsspridning med fokus på det globala syds perspektiv.
Konferensen kretsade kring inkluderande fredsprocesser och flera forskare argumenterade för att vi nu ser en utveckling på global nivå mot en större inkludering av flera olika samhällsgrupper i fredsprocesser. Frågan om inkludering problematiserades också då det finns många frågor som kräver svar. Den stora utmaningen för inkludering är de strukturella hinder som står i vägen – hur hanterar vi dem? Och hur ska vi argumentera för kvinnors inkludering på bästa sätt, så nästkommande generationers kvinnor blir hjälpa av det arbete vi gör idag? Mer forskning behövs och civilsamhället måste fortsätta sitt oförtröttliga arbete. Tillsammans kan vi arbeta fram svaren.
Läs mer om Global South Unit här:
Nedan går att läsa presentationen av Medlingslabbet som gavs vid konferensen. Medlingslabbet syftar till att kvinnor från civilsamhället i sex länder ska kunna delta i fredsarbete på formell nivå och där dela med sig av sina erfarenheter för att stärka ett framtida fredsavtal. Bilden ovan var en del av presentationen. Den illustrerar hur formella fredsprocesser kan samverka med civilsamhällesaktörer. Läs hela presentationen av Medlingslabbet som gavs vid konferensen här:
Operation 1325’s presentation at the Third Academic Conference on International Mediation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 17-19 July 2017
Good morning everyone, First of all, thank you very much for this opportunity to be part of this great learning experience and for giving me this chance to present the work of my organization Operation 1325 on how we support women as mediators.
My name is Charlotte Lind and I live and work in Sweden for the civil society organization Operation 1325.
Even if I’m a strong believer in women’s rights, hearing your presentations on inclusion, I understand that I’m not the only one who finds inclusion to be a complex question. So thank you very much for sharing both your knowledge and questions.
Purpose of Operation 1325
Operation 1325 works for the implementation of The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Through advocacy and training, Operation 1325’s objective is to increase women’s influence at all levels of peace processes and in conflict resolution.
Insider mediators and the Mediation Lab
Within our project The Mediation Lab the purpose has been to strengthen and support women from the civil society sector with experience in negotiations and mediation so they are able to participate as active mediators on the diplomatic level of peace processes.
We brought together women from six different countries to share their experience with each other and to receive further training on mediation.
The women come from Colombia, Palestine, Turkey, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. They meet for a conference held in October last year, organized by us in partnership with the Swedish Institute in Alexandria, Egypt, where the conference was also held.
All together they were 18 women and I will introduce you to three of them.
Angela Cerón from Colombia is the Director, Iniciativa de Mujeres Colombianas por la Paz, the Initiative for Women for Peace. She, as well as the other women from Colombia that participated in the Mediation Lab, was a part of the gender subcommittee connected to the Colombian peace process between the government and FARC.
Ayla Akat Ata from Southeast Turkey, is a lawyer and a former parliamentarian where she represented BDP, Peace and Democracy Party. She is one of the spokespersons for the organization TJA, Women’s free congress. Alya is one of those people who makes you remember why our work and support is so very important. Ayla has been in prison because of her political activism. She is now out of prison but waiting for a sentence.
Amal El Basha, from Yemen, is a prominent advocate for women’s rights, has a background in the public sector in Yemen as well as in the UN system. She is the chairperson of Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights, an advisor for the International Coalition for the Criminal Court, and a former advisor for the Ministry of Human Rights in Yemen. Amal El Basha has conducted trainings and evaluations on gender and human rights. She has received training from the International Criminal Court. She lives in Egypt right now due to the conflict in Yemen.
How to identify women insider mediators in civil society.
A question I have received from some of you on Monday after I had presented what I was going to talk about, is the question on how we found these women.
My colleague Alexandra Iriarte was the project leader, said to me she thought the part of identifying the right women was the most difficult part of the project. But based on input from reference groups, civil society actors, Swedish embassy focal points on gender and UN Women she was able to identify the right women.
Why did we think this project was necessary?
Women may be welcomed at the activist scene and in mobilizations for peace, but the door closes at the decision-making point.
The structural exclusion from peace processes has a negative effect on the outcomes of peace. We know that when women are excluded from the process, it has less of a chance of becoming a lasting peace.
Being a feminist peace organization, Operation 1325 wants to change this. When women are included in peace processes there is a 20 percent increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least 2 years, and a 35 percent increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least 15 years. Therefore, we advocate for an inclusive peace.
Another problem with the way international peace negotiations are carried out today was also discussed by the participating women at the conference held in Egypt.
At the diplomatic level, mediators from the UN or the EU or other international institutions are called to mediate. They are not involved in the conflict and therefore regarded as “neutral” and impartial. But as you all know, the idea that an external mediator is neutral and impartial is not shared by all.
For instance, In the case of Libya, several women at the conference suggested that UN mediators entered negotiations with an agenda, and were thus not seen neutral.
In Iraq, women expressed their mistrust when mediators intervened in the process. They felt there was insufficient understanding when international mediators became involved in domestic issues.
So any outside intervention needs to be considered within the wider political agenda. One has to question the legitimacy, morality and motivations of the outside actor, that usually has a western perspective, and how it influences a process.
So the ambition of the Mediation Lab, was to prepare the women to take the step onto the diplomatic level as insider mediators to have their voices heard.
As insider mediators are both affected by and live within the conflict framework, and will have to live with the consequences of the agreement, they can also create local ownership of a peace process.
What you see on this picture, that is from the Berghof Foundation, are ways of interaction between international organizations and insider mediators to support each other and strengthen each other’s work.
Just to mention few of the ways insider mediators can be of support is to communicate early warnings, offer contextual advice and feedback and to co-mediate.
How women/CSO’s facilitate instead of complicating the process
Now, at this stage I need to address the criticism leveled at insider mediation and civil society actors in peace resolution. One critique that has been raised here during these past two days is that the participation of civil society makes it more difficult to reach a peace agreement. The increase in the number of actors takes more time, inclusion adds to the number of opinions and ideas to consider, power hierarchies may be questioned, and preconceived concepts, contested.
However, there are studies that argue that involving women does not burden the process; an inclusive process promotes the likelihood of reaching, implementing, and sustaining an agreement.
High level diplomats as door openers
Going back to the conference in Egypt, the key note speaker was the Swedish diplomat Birgitta Holst Alani, a recent advisor to the UN’s Special Envoy to Syria. She is one of the members of the Swedish Women Mediation Network, put together by the Swedish government agency, Folke Bernadotte Academy. The network is supposed to serve at the track 1 level of diplomacy and support and promote women’s inclusion.
The conversation between her and the participating women dealt with topics such as how mediators should or should not influence, who selects mediators, what institutions invite whom, and how the women at the Syrian Women Advisory Board were selected. So high level diplomats can serve as mentors for women from the civil society and also open doors and create opportunities for these women.
Influence rather than seats at the table
This takes me to the last thing I want to say, that there are more ways to create influence, then just having a seat at the table, which women’s demands for participation is often phrased as, or talked about as.
But other ways to alter women’s influence, besides having high level diplomats acting as door openers, could be for the lead mediator to be engaged in a gender-coaching program, or be provided with training in gender-sensitivity, or parties can agree to use a gendered language. So, as my final note, action from the parties, facilitators and mediators who already have a seat are also important to alter women’s influence and women’s influence must be encouraged by all stakeholders at all stages of the process.