The collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001 raised great hopes among the people of Afghanistan and the international community of a peaceful, democratic and stable Afghanistan. The country, ravaged by nearly three decades of war, lacked strong working institutions and almost every institution needed to be built from scratch. The Presidential and Parliamentary elections of 2004 and 2005 were watershed events and raised the hope of stabilising the country by ushering in critical reforms in all aspects of Governance including reforming the security sector to enable the provision of peace and security to its citizens.
However, despite the promise of the early to mid-2000s, a peace process with the Taliban did not materialize and conflict continued and intensified. Following the elections in 2014, during which the outcome was disputed, a negotiated settlement led to a peaceful political transition to the National Unity Government (NUG). The new NUG decided to intensify its efforts at establishing a peace process with the Taliban, and focused its peace program more on high level reconciliation and negotiation in order to try to reach a peace agreement.
N-Peace has been providing support to the government of Afghanistan on women’s leadership for conflict prevention, resolution and peace building, and in promoting the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, and related resolutions, at regional, national and community levels. In 2012 two national dialogues on Women, Peace & Security (WPS) issues, including women’s inclusion in Afghanistan’s peace process, and providing space for interaction between Members of Parliament, CSO representatives, members of the High Peace Council and women representatives of the Provincial Peace Councils from some of the most conflict-ridden parts of the country. The network has also facilitated cross-country knowledge sharing, to leverage experience of network members who have led the development of National Action Plans on UNSCR 1325 & 1820 in their own countries. In 2016 the N-Peace network was mobilized to ensure inclusion and participation of women in developing the new conflict analysis and the peace strategy for the High Peace Council
With over 75 ethnic groups across the archipelago of over 17,000 islands, Indonesia has experienced multiple subnational communal violent conflicts. Major struggles include Papua (Papua and West Papua Provinces), East Timor (now Timor-Leste) and Aceh , with the latter resulting in a historic peace agreement between the Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM, the Free Aceh Movement) and the government in August 2005. Other regions affected by internal conflict and communal violence include Maluku and North Maluku, Central Sulawesi, West and Central Kalimantan and the capital City of Jakarta. Major terrorist attacks in recent years have been reported to be connected to the groups Darul Islam and Jemaah Islamiyah.
From 2010-2012, the Women, Peace & Security (WPS) agenda has been the focus of the N-Peace activities in Indonesia, aiming to promote women’s leadership for peace, develop women’s capacities to advance the WPS agenda, and convene consultations towards creating a National Action Plan (NAP) on UNSCR 1325. N-Peace played a critical role in soliciting CSO voice and inputs to the National Action Plan on 1325. N-Peace in 2016 released, a flagship publication the Hidden Pearls, on women peace and security, highlighting the important role women play ending hostilities and sustaining peace.
Myanmar is one of the most diverse countries in Asia, with a wealth of ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural identities. Myanmar’s civil wars and inter-communal violence have resulted in death and injury, displacement, damaged private and public property, disrupted livelihoods and social services, and fragmented family and social relations.
On 15th October 2015, the Government of Myanmar (GoM) and eight Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) signed a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) signaling the start of a new effort for political dialogue to end the country’s armed conflict. The NCA sets-up a Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC) as the key instrument to implement provisions of the NCA, and a Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) to take forward the political dialogue leading to a peace settlement.
Women make up the larger part of civilian populations affected by conflict. They pay higher costs in situations of civilian casualties and displacement, and risk food insecurity, loss of property and lands, and sexual and gender-based violence. Women are also disadvantaged as a result of weaker representation in decision-making at different levels. To-date, women are largely absent from the formal structures of the peace process. The NCA also includes provision for a ‘reasonable number’ of women representatives in the peace process, while civil society organizations and networks are advocating for a minimum 30% quota in all formal structures. Women and women’s organizations play an active role in civil society and in communities, including on protection and peacebuilding.
Since emerging from military rule, Myanmar has pursued an agenda with stated aims to significantly increase economic growth, widen and deepen relationships with ASEAN and the international community, end armed conflict, and make measurable improvements to the lives and prospects of Myanmar’s people. Over this time period, expectations for change amongst Myanmar’s people, manifest in improved livelihoods, access to better services, greater political inclusion and civic participation, have taken root. These expectations for change were reinforced by the results of the 2015 nationwide elections and the overwhelming victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD).
UNDP partners with N-PEACE to identify and nominate women leaders and women’s organizations in-country for their work in conflict prevention, resolution and peace building. Myanmar has been part of the N-PEACE network since 2014, and Myanmar’s nominations won across several categories. UNDP has also supported the participation of Myanmar women in a number of capacity-development and training workshops organized under the N-PEACE umbrella.
Nepal is at a critical juncture of its political transition process. With the constitution promulgated in September 2015 making federalism a key feature of the new Nepal, the country is looking at a unique opportunity for ushering in a new era of governance—transforming the existing institutions while overcoming their deficits in democratic governance and service-oriented public administration. The Constitution has envisaged the federal form of governance with three levels of government: federal, provincial and local, and defines their powers and authorities. UNDP approaches to governance programmes is working at three levels: process, mechanism and outcome. Process refers to the quality of participation necessary “to ensure that political, social and economic priorities are based on a broad consensus in society and that the voices of the excluded, poorest and most vulnerable are heard in decision-making.” Mechanisms of governance include transparent, democratic institutions. The outcomes of good governance include ‘peaceful, stable and resilient societies, where services are delivered and reflect the needs of communities, including the voices of the most vulnerable and marginalized’. UNDP ensures inclusive and effective democratic governance by advocating, advising, fostering impartial spaces for dialogue, achieving consensus and building institutions with the ultimate goal of bringing effective and equitable delivery of service to citizens and reinforcing the rule of law and citizen security. To this end, UNDP helps create an enabling environment for all social partners, including civil societies, to grow in strength and contribute towards national development. Also, UNDP assists in bridging the gap between humanitarian, peacebuilding and longer-term development efforts, helping countries in peaceful settlement of disputes and progress towards democratic governance.
Nepal is the first country in South Asia and second in Asia to launch a National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 & 1820 [2011/12 – 2015/16] in February 2011. The Nepal NAP development process has been celebrated as one of the most consultative NAP processes to date, engaging stakeholders at all levels via 52 district level consultations in the five development regions. Coordinated by the Ministry for Peace and Reconstruction, the NAP contains five pillars; Participation; Protection and Prevention; Promotion; Relief and Recovery; and Resource Management and Monitoring and Evaluation. In May 2013, the Global Network of Peacebuilders, its Nepali members and partners launched the UNSCR 1325 and 1820 Nepal NAP Localization Guideline to promote implementation. Currently, Nepal is working on the second phase of the National Plan of Action on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 with the focus on incomplete actions of the first phase and with special focus on sexual and gender based violence during the conflict
Since 2011, the Women, Peace & Security (WPS) agenda and implementation of Nepal’s National Action Plan (NAP) on UNSCR 1325 & 1820, has been the focus of activity carried out under the N-Peace initiative in Nepal. Leading government and civil society representatives from Nepal have also engaged in cross-country knowledge sharing so network members can benefit from their experience in NAP development and implementation. Since 2013, N-Peace in Nepal has continued to support the implementation of the NAP with a focus on its participation, via a series of dialogues, outreach and advocacy efforts, and training initiatives. In 2015 and 2016, N-Peace special attention was paid to build the capacity of emerging local level women leaders on UNSCRs 1325 and 1820. The selected emerging leaders were also supported through small grants to replicate their learning to their respective communities.
After over a decade of conflict and insecurity in many areas of Pakistan, there is now hope that peace is now returning; alongside the establishment and strengthening of institutions to enhance the rule of law and encourage participation of women, men and children in sustaining peace and building cohesive communities.
However, while many areas of Pakistan have experienced improvements in development, many communities are excluded from its benefits and remain unaware of their basic human rights. This is particularly true of Pakistani women.
Nearly half of Pakistan’s 207.8 million people are female, yet women and girls are amongst the most deprived segments of society. According to UNDP’s Human Development Index, Pakistan ranks as low as 130th out of 159 countries on the Gender Inequality Index, with a score of 0.546. This reflects women’s low participation in education, work and public life. Only 26.5 percent of women have any secondary education, compared to 46.1 of their male counterparts, while female participation in the labour force is 24.3 percent compared to 82.2 percent for men. Only 3 per cent of Pakistanis at senior decision-making levels, including legislators, senior officials and managers, are women.
As a result, many Pakistani women require support to build capacity and participate fully in preventing conflict and building peaceful societies, as well as to realise their rights to fulfil their life aspirations and contribute to their communities.
Despite numerous social and economic impediments, women in Pakistan are actively pursuing peace by reaching across ethnic and religious divides to defuse tensions and rebuild communities.
The essential contribution women make to peace and development in Pakistan seldom receives the recognition it deserves. Yet women’s work to promote sustainable peace is imperative for the country’s development.
For this reason, the N-Peace initiative in Pakistan aims to recognize the work of women and men leaders who, through their efforts, are promoting peace and rebuilding lives at local and community levels. UNDP has implemented N-Peace in Pakistan since 2012. Today, it is a trusted partner in implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda in the country, both at the national level and focusing on areas vulnerable to insecurity in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Balochistan, and the urban centre of Karachi. It has had a central role in encouraging dialogue, creating community groups to enhance women’s engagement in local decision-making, building capacity and networks amongst female lawmakers, enhancing women’s access to justice and security, increasing women’s participation in voting, economically empowering young women and men through skills training and entrepreneurship programmes, and promoting volunteerism.
Capital: Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte
After more than 30 years of violence the armed conflict in Sri Lanka ended in May 2009. However, under the previous Government few meaningful steps were taken to promote accountability and national reconciliation or to meet the political aspirations of the Tamil community. With a population of about 20 million, Sri Lanka's major ethnic groups are the Sinhalese (74 per cent) and Tamils (18 per cent). Over the years, the growth of assertive Sinhala nationalism fanned the flames of ethnic division, and civil conflict erupted in the 1980s against Tamils pressing for self-rule. Most of the fighting took place in the north but the conflict also penetrated the heart of Sri Lankan society in the 1990s. The violence killed tens of thousands and damaged the economy of South Asia's potentially most prosperous societies. There was wide spread concern about the fate of civilians caught up in the conflict zone during the final stages of the conflict, the confinement of nearly 300,000 Tamil internally displaced persons (IDPs) to camps for months afterwards, and allegations of grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law by both warring sides.
The political transition in 2015, with the formation of a national interim government in January followed by parliamentary elections in August, created a new window of opportunity for building peace in Sri Lanka. A joint pledge was made by the leaders of the country’s two largest political parties to ensure "ethnic and religious reconciliation” and undertake further constitutional reforms to promote ethnic unity and uphold the rights of minorities. Sri Lanka reaffirmed its commitment to promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights, by co-sponsoring the Human Rights Council Resolution in October 2015 which committed it to adopting a comprehensive approach to dealing with the past, and set the ground for the Government to move forward with a nationally owned and victim-centric transitional justice process that addresses the needs of the people of Sri Lanka and advances accountability and reconciliation for all. Following the political changes in Sri Lanka, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed in October 2015 re-allowing the Constitutional Council to independently set up key independent Commissions. Following this a new Chairperson and Commissioners to lead the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka were appointed for a term of 3 years.
2016 was a critical year for making progress on the peacebuilding, reconciliation and transitional justice agenda. Some key achievements in 2016 include: completing the consultations on the transitional justice mechanisms, ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, development of legislation on the Office of Missing Persons, development of the National Policy on Durable Solutions for Conflict-affected Displacement, submitting reports to the human rights mechanisms, initiating the constitutional reforms process, developing a National Human Rights Action Plan, approval by Cabinet for a National Action Plan on Sexual and Gender Based Violence, and enacting the Right to Information Act. A quota to ensure 25% representation from the national list for local government was reserved for women candidates was also passed in an attempt to increase women’s political participation at local and national levels in Sri Lanka, which unfortunately continues to remain one of the lowest in South Asia.
Despite these achievements, the implementation of the justice and reconciliation agenda is perceived as being slow and yet to result in tangible outcomes for victims of past violations. In addition, with the ideologies and constituencies of the coalition government not being fully in sync and the establishment of parallel institutions addressing the reform and reconciliation agenda, there appears to be waning appetite to address some of the contentious issues underlying the reform process, including power-sharing, transitional justice, security sector reform and constitution making. In addition, the economic and environmental challenges in Sri Lanka are increasingly seen as priorities over the political reform agenda, with ¼ of the population as ‘nearly poor’, significant foreign debt and recurring natural hazards and extreme weather such as cyclones and drought leaving parts of the population vulnerable to shocks that can easily push them back into poverty. However, the political and economic agenda are very much intertwined as addressing one over another can easily reverse the gains made over the last few years and undermine the agenda for sustaining peace and achieving sustainable development.
N-Peace was reinstituted in Sri Lanka in 2016.
Made up of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines have a long history of subnational conflict and communal violence, with armed groups including Muslim separatists, communists, clan militias and criminal groups. In Mindanao, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) a four-decade fight for self-determination was settled with the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro (FAB) between the MILF and Government of the Philippines in October 2012, laying the grounds for peace and a new political entity. For over 40 years, the government has also faced a protracted guerrilla campaigns by the communist New People's Army (NPA) – the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – and other splinter groups. Threats to the country’s internal security also include growing violence related to clan wars. Since coming to power in 2010, President Benigno Aquino III and his administration have sought to progress a two track national peace agenda; track one, a formal political settlement of all armed conflicts through peace talks and; track two, the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA), meaning peaceful and prosperous communities, which aims to address on the ground causes for armed conflict.