UK Government launches new National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security: 2014-2017

Abigail Hunt | Jun 30, 2014

Womankind’s Policy & Advocacy Manager Abigail Hunt reports on the new National Action Plan which was launched at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London…

Yesterday (Thursday 12 June) the Foreign Secretary, Secretary of State for Defence and Secretary of State for International Development launched the UK’s third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (NAP).

The new NAP, operational from 2014 to 2017, was launched at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, and serves as a framework outlining how the government will incorporate the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and subsequent Resolutions into its conflict and peacebuilding-related work.

As a guiding policy document which lays out how the government will reduce the impact of conflict on women and support women’s participation in peace processes, the UK NAP should be ambitious and far-reaching. This is vital to ensure that the UK government is able to fully support women’s central role in preventing and resolving conflict in fragile and conflict-affected countries and ensuring sustainable peace.

Does it make the grade?

Womankind is pleased to see that some of our recommendations have been taken into account in the new NAP. Measures to support the active and meaningful participation of women in peace processes and decision-making are proposed, including at the grassroots level. Emphasis is given to ‘building women’s leadership, networks, ability to organise and political know-how’, and proposals are made to ‘provide financial and technical support for womens’ and girls’ coalitions working to mitigate conflict and build peace’.

We are also pleased to see that the prevention of conflict and all forms of structural and physical violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence, is prioritised. Importantly, the NAP outlines steps to integrate existing government work on violence against women and girls – including by drawing on current work in this area carried out by the Department of International Development.

Cause for concern

Whilst some progressive proposals are made in the NAP, those of us working in policy know that ‘what gets measured gets done’. Therefore it is concerning that many of the proposed indicators are narrow in scope in relation to the wider outcomes outlined in the document. For example, whilst the NAP proposes encouraging women’s participation at the grassroots level, the draft indicators under this pillar will measure women’s participation in formal, largely national-level political processes.

Another concern is that there is no budget attached to the NAP. Predicable and sustainable financing for women, peace and security is essential if the new NAP is to achieve maximum impact. Whilst it is acknowledged that the new Conflict, Stability and Security Fund will resource this work, this financing mechanism is not due to be accessible until 2015 and the proportion of funds to be allocated remains unclear. This is significant, as without a fully costed and earmarked budget it is uncertain that the NAP will be adequately resourced to be effective.

Perhaps the biggest concern is that it remains unclear how the NAP will be implemented. On its first page a commitment is made to ‘developing and publishing an Implementation Plan with baseline data … by the end of 2014’. The current absence of concrete proposals on how the NAP’s objectives will be fulfilled until the end of this year means that limited action may be taken by the government on women, peace and security between now and then.

All considered, there is a very real risk that the UK government’s work in fragile and conflict-affected countries will not live up to its own rhetoric around the need to ‘reduce the impact of conflict on women and girls and ensure they can play their rightful part in ending wars and bringing lasting peace’.

Room for manoeuvre

Despite certain weaknesses there is some room for manoeuvre. The NAP is referred to by the government as a ‘living document’, which means it can be periodically reviewed and improved during its three-year operational span.

Therefore Womankind will continue to prioritise the development and full implementation of the UK NAP in our policy work, by actively monitoring the UK’s Women, Peace and Security-related efforts as well as contributing to shadow reports on its impact and making recommendations for improvement. By doing this, we can ensure that the UK government is able to fully protect women’s rights in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

After all, as Foreign Secretary William Hague said at the NAP launch event, “No solution to a conflict can be sustainable or lasting if it ignores the needs, experience and interests of half a country’s population.”

William Hague speech at the NAP launch event, 12th June 2014

Further information

The full National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security: 2014-2017 can be found here.

The speeches delivered by Ministers at the NAP launch can be found here.

Womankind, GAPS and the Inter-Parliamentary Union will hold an event in Parliament on 17th July 2014 on ‘The Role of Parliamentarians in monitoring implementation of the new UK NAP’. If you are interested in attending this event please contact Abigail Hunt on  abigail@womankind.org.uk


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