Based on the premise that gender is a foundational pillar on which security can be built, RESDAL acts as a bridge to link regions from across the world in the pursuit of furthering this goal.
International Peacekeeping Operations
Providing an in-depth analysis from a Latin American perspective of progress in mainstreaming gender into peace operations.
International Peacekeeping Operations
The program initiated by RESDAL in 2008 on the role of gender in peacekeeping operations (see National Case Studies section) represented a pioneering research on the incorporation of women in the armed forces in eleven Latin American countries. While the SCR 1325 and related material were originally neglected, in three years they were incorporated in the regional agenda. The confirmation of an existing interest, and of the region’s rapid advances, lead RESDAL to undertake case studies, with the premise that, beyond the military, there was a need to incorporate the views of Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, women, Congresses, academia and civil society to further develop the topic.
Following this idea, RESDAL widened the focus to understand how a peacekeeping mission can contribute to building a gender perspective, and the way in which military contingents are involved in such a process. According to RESDAL, gender in peace operations is related to the resolution of conflicts and the democratisation of societies. As such, the contributing countries participating in peace missions can bring a vital input, even if the road ahead is still long. For a contributing military contingent, the incorporation of a gender perspective involves, among others, a revised military education, the participation of female personnel, and awareness of such issues amongst Defense and Foreign Affairs authorities. Some of these issues are long-term and related to reforms of military institutions, while others can be targeted within a regional framework, and in relation to the responsibilities assumed upon forming part of a UN operation.
RESDAL started in 2011 a significant research program partially implemented directly in the field, visiting three of the most important United Nations peacekeeping missions currently ongoing: MINUSTAH (Haiti, 2011), MONUSCO (Democratic Republic of Congo, 2012), and UNIFIL (Lebanon, 2014).
The first fieldwork was conducted in 2011 on MINUSTAH (Haiti) and in 2012, with the financial support of the MFA, on MONUSCO (the Democratic Republic of Congo).
Research findings highlighted the similarities and differences between both case studies and made it possible to bridge the two regions. It is worth noting that the DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) and the SRSG were greatly helpful in the development of both missions.
The international conference held in April 2012 in Buenos Aires, was a turning point in terms of regional awareness and to build relations between states, governmental and non-governmental organisations, and UN women. The presence of MINUSTAH and MONUSCO representatives at the same conference, with that of the Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet (actual Chilean President), contributed to the success of the conference, whilst for the first time Latin American countries questioned their contribution to peacekeeping missions with reference to concrete cases, specific data and accounts of field experiences. The case studies on MINUSTAH and MONUSCO presented at the conference allowed for: a reflection on the military component of MINUSTAH, which later lead to the appointment of gender focal points in all contingents; a direct contact being established between Latin American countries and the Ministry of Gender of the DRC; the edition of a joint report between RESDAL and MINUSTAH’s Gender Unit; and the drafting of a report on MONUSCO to be presented to the missions of different countries in New York between March and May 2013.
Case studies have proved not only to be useful tools for practices in the field, but also to contribute to a reflection that is useful for the international community as a whole, for they acknowledge the role peacekeepers play in promoting a gender perspective. Studies that are based on information drawn from fieldwork, that provide a basis for effective comparisons, and specifically include the role of the military, are novel and constitute a contribution to the promotion of this perspective at international level, as well as for the regions in question. Experience has shown that such studies duplicate naturally for the actors (especially contingents) that live in the environment of the mission being studied spontaneously want to take part in it. So far, the missions analysed represent different cases: Haiti is a context in which there is no national military force of its own and the United Nations peacekeeping mission is the actor responsible for sustaining security. On the other hand, the DRC represents a prime example of a case of failure to protect civilians, especially women and girls. The peacekeeping mission, whilst being large in size, is not enough to contain the magnitude of the forces operating on the territory, and it operates in a context of an ongoing internal conflict which characteristics require that the military receive more preparation in order to carry out its duties successfully.