College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Research boosts role of women in peace processes 

Edinburgh researchers have developed a new resource to help embed women’s rights in peace negotiations in the Arab world and beyond.

A report launched to mark International Women’s Day offers new guidance for women working in peace keeping processes in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

The work is the result of a partnership between Edinburgh Law School’s Political Settlements Research Programme and UN Women – the body within the United Nations that globally champions gender equality, and the idea that all parts of an affected society should be included in its peace process.

The report sets out guidelines that women and gender advocates in the Arab States region can use to access official peace and transition talks.

Guidelines for negotiations

The guidelines offer concrete options for decision-makers and peace mediators to broaden representative participation in formal peace negotiations, researchers say.

UN Women representatives say that while women in the Arab States region have managed to contribute to unofficial forms of peace activities and dialogues, their involvement in formal negotiations and talks has been limited, hindering prospects for inclusive and sustainable peace.

The report,  co-authored with Professor Catherine Turner at the Durham Global Security Institute at Durham University, draws on various case studies of women who have exerted influence to have a seat at the official table and taken measures to ensure women’s inclusion in peace processes.

Twenty years since the adoption of the landmark Security Council Resolution 1325, women around the world still face obstacles in meaningfully accessing peace talks. This is particularly unfortunate as evidence tells us that inclusive peace processes and meaningful participation of women leads to longer-lasting peace and more inclusive outcomes. For the Arab region, women´s integration in mediation processes, is therefore a critical part of ensuring a transition towards sustainable peace and accelerated development.

Susanne MikhailUN Women Regional Director for the Arab States

The guide explores four main strategies for achieving a role peace processes.

This includes having representation in working groups, having a women’s delegation present at talks, having a role in groups that advise mediators, and working with civil society such as non-governmental groups. 

The paper also examines the advantages and disadvantages of each approach with a view to improving the practice of gender inclusion and women’s political participation more broadly.

Inclusion of women in official talks requires mediators to have a clear set of options in front of them.  We hope that by providing these options, with the evidence-base for their relative merits, our research will help international organisations and conflict parties to ensure that official talks include women and are better able to deliver meaningful change and sustainable peace.

Professor Christine Bell Report co-author and Director of Political Settlements Research Programme

Political Settlements Research Programme

UN Women Arab States

Link to report 

UN Women Press Release

[Image credit: chrispecoraro via Getty Images]