A Global Alliance of Regional Women Mediator Networks
Several regional networks of women mediators have been established in recent years: the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa), the Arab Women Mediators Network - League of Arab States, the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network, the Nordic Women Mediators and the Women Mediators across the Commonwealth. Moreover, an increasing number of countries and multilateral organizations are expressing interest in setting up or supporting similar initiatives. These networks are part of a global movement to enhance women’s meaningful participation and influence in peace processes at all levels.
With the aim to ensure strengthened complementarity, cooperation and coordination among the networks, as well as embodying a collective voice to amplify their common goals, the regional networks have decided to launch a Global Alliance, all the while maintaining their respective independence and characteristics.
Global Alliance Concept Note
This concept note seeks to detail the rationale, the goals and the structure of such an Alliance, as well as outlining key aspects of the upcoming launch.
The rationale behind creating a Global Alliance
Almost 20 years have passed since the Security Council adopted resolution 1325, the first and groundbreaking resolution on women, peace and security. For close to two decades, the international community has recognised that women’s participation and influence in peace and security is decisive, not only to ensure respect for women’s rights, but to pave the way for inclusive societies that improve operational effectiveness, build resilience, prevent and resolve conflicts, and sustain peace. Despite broad political consensus on these matters, as well as evidence from both experience and research that testifies to the importance of women’s participation, women continue to be excluded by negotiating parties and by mediators from formal peace processes. Women continue to be sidelined and denied the opportunity to be negotiators among the parties in conflict. Furthermore, women continue to be underrepresented among mediators, in delegations to peace processes and as signatories of peace agreements. Women’s role beyond peace negotiations is equally critical, as part of longer-term efforts to build peace for example by addressing causes of conflict and strengthening local level reconciliation efforts. The ‘sustaining peace agenda’ of the UNSG Guterres, SDG16, and several other policy frameworks are pointing to the need for inclusive and long-term engagement to build sustainable peace, and evidence shows that women play a critical role in achieving this goal.
In the same two decades, civil society, women’s groups and other actors have continuously mobilized to improve this situation. They have succeeded in making their voices heard and their actions have been noted. Women’s groups and networks have contributed substantially to peace and reconciliation efforts in various ways, adding important experience of women’s participation in peace processes, while pushing for a stronger normative framework and its implementation.
UN Secretary-General Guterres has shown strong leadership, pushing for gender parity in the UN and urging the UN system to deploy more women – including as senior mediators. Other organizations, such as the African Union (AU), are also increasing their efforts in this area. There is growing expectation that the persistent gender inequalities will be gradually eliminated.
Recently, the creation of the above-mentioned regional networks of women mediators has added to this development. They are part of a global movement to enhance women’s participation, visibility and influence in peace processes. It is our hope that more networks will join the Alliance in the near future.
As the regional networks have gained traction, and enjoy strong support from the UN system, we believe that there is momentum and value in joining forces to enhance the prospects of achieving our shared goals.
First, a collective voice has stronger impact than an individual one. Despite our respective particularities, we stand together in our common efforts to ensure that women are increasingly an integral part of peace processes around the world, both at the main negotiating table as mediators or negotiators, as part of consultation mechanisms and of longer-term peacebuilding processes. Thanks to the different strengths, insights, and experiences of the different networks, we have the opportunity to pursue the meaningful participation of women in all phases of peace processes in complementary ways.
Second, a collective effort will facilitate the dialogue with international mediation and peacebuilding actors to make sure theory and commitment leads to action.
Third, a Global Alliance will facilitate exchange of information, cooperation and joint activities. The networks and their members have different profiles, expertise and strengths, and it would be beneficial and empowering to all to see where there are possible complementarities and synergies.
Fourth, the networks are in many cases engaged in the same countries, the same conflicts, and the Global Alliance will be able to facilitate coordination between their activities.
Last, but not least, these networks together have more than three hundred members – more than three hundred qualified women in the field of peacebuilding and mediation. The Global Alliance will magnify the visibility of these women’s expertise, experience and contributions to peace.
Objectives of the Global Alliance
The overarching goal of all the regional networks is to increase the participation and influence of women, including young women, in peace processes at all levels, as well as to work for gender-sensitive peace agreements. The Global Alliance embraces the same overarching goal.
In line with this, the networks of the Global Alliance will seek to reach this goal by:
- Sharing information, building synergies and avoiding duplication
- Creating a platform for mutual support between the networks
- Making joint advocacy and outreach where relevant
- Developing joint actions to enhance women’s participation and influence in peace processes at all levels: local, national, regional and international, and in all phases
- Implementing joint actions to secure better gender outcomes in peace agreements and implementation frameworks
- Working and liaising with international mediation actors to ensure that women’s involvement in peace processes is given priority, providing names for senior mediation positions, connecting track 2 and 3 initiatives to the track 1 level, and more.
Structure of the Alliance
The existing regional networks are diverse. They have different goals and ambitions, they are structured in different ways, and have varying criteria for membership. The Global Alliance will not aim at changing the nature of these networks nor replacing them. On the contrary, the Global Alliance seeks to connect them, identify areas for cooperation and develop synergies.
The Global Alliance, much like today, will be informal in nature and will offer a loose framework for dialogue and collaboration. It will not require the set-up of any formal structure or secretariat. The Global Contact Group (GCG) will continue to function as a coordination mechanism for the Alliance. Each regional network nominates up to three members to the GCG in accordance with their own procedures.
All decisions regarding the Global Alliance will be made by consensus in the GCG, after consultations within their respective networks. The lead within the GCG will be on a rotational basis amongst the networks.
If a situation requires that someone speaks on behalf of the Alliance at an event, the GCG will together decide who this will be on an ad hoc basis and any statements issued should be done in a consensus spirit.
Cooperation and partnerships with international mediation actors and peacebuilders
The Global Alliance will seek to cooperate with key international mediation actors to meet its overarching goal of increasing participation and influence of women in peace processes and gender-sensitive peace agreements.
Strategic partnerships: The Global Alliance will partner with the UN system and its relevant departments and branches. The DPPA has been a consistent ally of the regional networks, and the Mediation Support Unit (MSU) is committed to providing strategic and substantive support to the efforts of the Global Alliance and its member networks. This strategic partnership also includes the cooperation with the Secretary-General’s High Level Advisory Board on Mediation.
The Global Alliance will furthermore extend the close dialogue with the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General and continue drawing upon UN Women’s technical advice and substantive support as relevant.
The Global Alliance will furthermore work with other parts of the UN system such as DPO, UNDP, PBSO and others as relevant.
In addition, the Global Alliance will seek to engage other relevant international mediation actors and peacebuilders in its advocacy and outreach activities.
Operational partnerships: The Global Alliance may draw upon operational partners for logistical and operational support on a case-by-case basis as agreed upon by the Global Contact Group. The existing operational partners of some of the member networks may be contracted to assist in the implementation of specific activities. The Global Alliance may also cooperate with other operational partners as relevant for a given activity.