"We can’t leave footprints that last if we only walk on tiptoes": NATO Special Representative Clare Hutchinson on the "Women, Peace and Security" agenda during ZIF workshop

Photo: ZIF


On 12 and 13 February 2018 the Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF) together with the Federal Foreign Office hosted a workshop on the implementation of the “Children and Armed Conflict” (CAAC) and “Women, Peace and Security” (WPS) agendas of the UN Security Council.

The 2018 workshop built on previous initiatives and sought to identify ways to step up implementation of the CAAC and WPS agendas by regional and multilateral organizations. Furthermore, it expanded the current discourse on peace and security by applying a gender-inclusive lens in order to improve its implementation. It focused on gender-sensitive planning and implementation of DDR programs, on the opportunities and challenges posed by engaging with armed non-state actors, and discussed opportunities of gendered conflict analysis.

The workshop brought together members of the UN Security Council, the Groups of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict and on Women, Peace and Security, as well as academics, field practitioners and policy experts from the UN system, regional organizations and NGOs. One of the highlights was also a key note speech by Clare Hutchinson, new NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security. For ZIF, Clare Hutchinson also responded to some questions during an interview along the workshop.

ZIF: What are the most important achievements of the WPS agenda at NATO and its field missions?

I stand on the shoulders of phenomenal women, who have been here before me to put these achievements in place. Now it’s my turn to take the next step and push these achievements forward.

Mentioning just the most important achievements, I will differentiate between political and operational ones. Most important on the political side are the development of the NATO Action Plan on the Implementation of 1325 and the establishment of the Civil Society Advisory Panel as an important step to minimize the gap between the organization and the work happening on the ground. On the operational side I’d like to highlight the deployment of Gender Advisors to NATO missions, such as Kosovo and Afghanistan and the work undertaken by our colleagues in designing training materials on WPS.

ZIF: What are challenges of implementing the agenda?

Much has been achieved, the creation of Gender Advisors posts in all organization is a hugh success, but we must be vigilant to keep them and at the right levels. Leadership and political will also must match the rhetoric of interest. The WPS agenda must be taken seriously at the highest level. Fragmentation of the issues is also a challenge. Sexual violence for instance is a WPS issue – it is not separate and must be addressed within the framework of WPS, otherwise there remains competition for resource, which are already scarce.

Challenges Primarily

  1. Both human and financial, resources are needed commitment needs to be matched with action.
  2. Accountability, is key to moving ahead and getting senior leadership buy-in is critical
  3. Capacity building is needed so we everyone has a solid base of understanding to work from.
  4. Finally partnership will define how well we success or not. We must work together to get this agenda advanced. We cannot work in silos where the issues can be easily marginalized.

ZIF: What are the priorities of your work?

We have to push the understanding of the WPS agenda beyond just gender parity – while parity is one half of the success it is not all and we have to make sure that integration of gender perspectives is also a priority.

Our next priorities are:

  • We will revise our NATO Action Plan on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 as well as other outdated policies this summer. We intend to make the Action plan more measurable and accountable.
  • We will look at providing a wider scope for the WPS agenda and bring attention to other emerging and connected issues including within the agenda.
  • We need to increase partnerships within the field of WPS but also with actors from other areas.
  • Enhance capacity and expand knowledge on WPS.
  • And finally design accountability mechanisms to push the agenda even further.

We need to be bolder and less cautious with the agenda - 18 years is too long to be still asking for permission to talk about WPS. We can’t leave footprints that last if we only walk on tiptoes.