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Building accountability for implementation of Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security

Organized by UN Women

5-7 November, 2013

Glen Cove, New York

Working Paper: Implementing Locally, Inspiring Globally: Localizing UNSCR 1325 in Colombia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sierra Leone and Uganda

This working paper is a contribution to the Global Review meeting “Building accountability for national and regional implementation of Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security,” held in New York from November 5-7, 2013 by UN Women.

The paper will incorporate the reflections, debates and analyses that emerge from the Global Review and a final version will be published following the Review.


This study is coordinated by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) in collaboration with UN Women.

Project Team

Researcher and Lead Writer: Eléonore Veillet Chowdhury

Editor: Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

Copy Editor: Dulcie Leimbach

Contributors: Natalia Zakharova

Case Study Authors

Colombia: Martha Carolina Dávila Díaz, Rosa Emilia Salamanca and Gloria Tobón Olarte

Nepal: Bandana Rana, Umesh Pokharel and Apechchhya Rana,

Philippines: Frances Marie Yasmine Pescano; Jasmin Nario Galace (reviewer)

Sierra Leone: Alison Sutherland and Dr. Nana Pratt; Amara Sowa (reviewer)

Uganda: Robinah Rubimbwa and Edwin Ahumuza

Case Study Editors

Mavic Cabrera-Balleza and Eléonore Veillet Chowdhury

Case Study Copy Editor

Dulcie Leimbach

Date of Publication: October 2013

Acknowledgements: The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), a program of the International Civil society Action Network (ICAN) extends a huge thank you to its members and partners in Colombia, Nepal, Philippines, Sierra Leone, and Uganda for their commitment to carry out the data collection and analysis, and to write the localization case studies.

We also thank Natalia Zakharova and Aisling Swaine of UN Women for their invaluable suggestions in the planning stage of the research; and Anna Keye for her work on the initial literature review.

We extend sincere gratitude to the Government of Canada, Cordaid, the Folke Bernadotte Academy, the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Foreign and the Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom and UN Women for their generous support to the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 Program and this publication.

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP), a program partner of the International Civil Society Action Network, is a coalition of women’s groups and other civil society organizations from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, West Asia, Latin America, Eastern and Western Europe. Our work entails advocacy and action for the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1325 and 1820 on women and peace and security including the supporting resolutions 1820,1888, 1889, 1960, 2106 and 2122 at the local, national, regional and international levels.

List of Acronyms

BAP Barangay Action Plan

CEWIGO Center for Women in Governance, Uganda

CIASE Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica

CSO Civil Society Organization

CSW Commission on the Status of Women

DAP District Action Plan

DecSec Decentralization Secretariat, Sierra Leone

DDC District Development Committee, Nepal

GNWP Global Network of Women Peacebuilders

LAP Local Action Plans

LGU Local Government Units, Philippines

LIMPAL Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Colombia

MFPED Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Uganda

MGLSD Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, Uganda

MoD Ministry of Defense, Nepal

MoE Ministry of Education, Nepal

MoFA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal

MoPR Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, Nepal

MoWCSW Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Nepal

MSWGCA Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Sierra Leone

NAP National Action Plan

NOW National Organization of Women, Sierra Leone

NWC National Women’s Commission, Nepal

OPAPP Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Philippines

PCW Commission on Women, Philippines

UNSCR United Nations Security Council Resolution

SiLNAP Sierra Leone National Action Plan

SGBV Sexual and Gender-based Violence

ToT Training of Trainers

VDC Village Development Committee, Nepal

WE Act 1325 Women Engaged in Action on 1325, Philippines

WPA Women and Peace and Security

I. Background and Methodology


Since the adoption of UNSCR 1325 in 2000, progress on implementing women and peace and security (WPS) resolutions has been remarkably slow and inconsistent. Year after year, civil society organizations (CSOs) continue to identify a lack of political will at national levels, a lack of sufficient and transparent funding and a lack of systematic monitoring all hindering effective implementation of Resolution 1325 in their respective countries.1 While finding concrete ways to remove or overcome these barriers, it is important to rethink the dominant implementation strategy itself.

The Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) offers a new approach to finding effective ways to implement UNSCR 1325 and the supporting resolutions. The Localization program of GNWP, which directly engages local authorities, traditional leaders and local women in the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 in local communities, complements the efforts of governments, civil society and other national actors and ensures that the WPS resolutions—and National Action Plans (NAPs)—are owned and carried out at the local level.2 It is a people-based, bottom-up approach to policy-making that goes beyond the local adoption of a law, as it guarantees the alignment and harmonization of local, national, regional and international policies and community-driven strategies to ensure local ownership, participation and links among local communities, civil society organizations and government. It is not designed to increase bureaucratic functions or add more work for local officials. Rather, the program allows local communities to analyze their everyday government functions and policies to see what is promoting or hindering the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 1820. In this way, the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program creates channels for better coordination, cooperation and coherence among national and local stakeholders in the work around the WPS resolutions.

As good practices from the implementation of the Localization program in Colombia reveal, the success of localization as an implementation strategy is not contingent on the existence of National Action Plans on UNSCR 1325 and 1820. In countries that have yet to adopt NAPs, localization becomes an important alternative mechanism for implementing the WPS resolutions in local communities. Effective local action planning on the resolutions may even prompt national governments to reconsider their position on the adoption of a NAP. For countries that have developed and adopted NAPs, the Localization program has proven to be a critical complementary tool that strengthens the implementation of NAPs in local communities. The Localization program has also provided a much-needed boost in implementation in countries where attention on NAPs has waned after their adoption.

Localization as an implementation strategy is based on the premise that local ownership and participation leads to more effective policy implementation in local communities. For women and girls, better implementation means greater participation in decision-making, enhanced prevention and protection from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) as well as greater realization of their human rights. For everyone, it means more sustainable peace and development at subnational, national and global levels.

Objectives of the Localization program

Developed by GNWP and its member organizations in 2010, the Localization program has four main objectives:

1) To promote systematic coordination between national and local government authorities in implementing UNSCR 1325 and 1820, along with National Action Plans (NAPs) on the resolutions, where they exist;

2) To facilitate greater cross-sectoral cooperation and collaboration on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 NAPs among civil society organizations, government agencies, UN entities and other relevant actors;

3) To raise awareness and understanding of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 and related international instruments and national policies among local government officials, religious leaders, community elders, traditional leaders, local women leaders and the respective constituencies of these local actors; to promote local ownership of the resolutions and identify concrete actions toward implementation in local communities; and; and

4) To contribute toward better global implementation of UNSCR 1325, 1820 and the other supporting resolutions on women and peace and security.

To meet these objectives, the Localization program has two principal components; each component entails specific activities.

Component 1: Localization workshops

The first component consists of conducting 2- to 3-day Localization workshops. Participants in the workshops are individuals who make decisions in their local communities—mayors, governors, traditional leaders, indigenous leaders, human rights activists, women’s rights advocates, teachers, police and military officers and religious leaders. By learning about Resolutions 1325 and 1820, and discussing how these important international laws relate to her or his specific sociocultural and political context, each participant takes ownership of the resolutions and makes personal commitments to work toward their implementation.

Although the workshop program is adapted by GNWP members to fit each local context, a typical Localization workshop includes discussions on these topics: concepts of gender and WPS; root causes of conflict(s) for a given country/community; history and content of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 and the NAP (where it exists); the relationship between sustainable development, good governance and peace and security; and local development processes. Following these sessions, participants break into small groups to assess the relevance of the resolutions in the sociopolitical and cultural context of their communities. Collectively, they identify relevant provisions of the WPS resolutions and proceed to draft language that can be integrated directly into community development plans or other local legal or policy frameworks. Participants may also decide to draft local action plans (LAPs) for UNSCR 1325 and 1820 implementation in their districts, municipalities or villages.

At the end of a Localization workshop, each participant also expresses her or his individual commitments to further contribute to the implementation of the resolutions, the NAP and the LAPs. The value of these personal commitments lies in the actions that result soon after the completion of the workshops: for example, a preacher shares the pillars of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 with his congregation; or a woman police officer holds a seminar on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 for her town’s police force.

Component 2: Training of Trainers workshops and development of Localization Guidelines

The second component of the Localization program was designed by the GNWP international coordinating team and GNWP members to ensure the sustainability of the program. The main activities under Component 2 are Training of Trainers workshops and the drafting, adoption and rollout of Localization guidelines.

Typically, once Localization workshops have been held in several regions of a country, a small group of former participants, about 20 to 25, are invited to take part in a 2- to 3-day Training of Trainers. The objective of the session is to further develop the expertise of leading civil society actors, local authorities, teachers and traditional and indigenous leaders on implementing the WPS resolutions locally. With this expertise, participants in the Training of Trainers make up a national Pool of Experts, who can then hold Localization workshops in different regions of the country. This Pool of Experts also goes on to formulate concrete strategies to ensure the operationalization of local and sectoral action plans on UNSCR 1325 and 1820.

The other activity under Component 2 is the drafting, adopting and rolling out of Localization Guidelines. Once again, this activity builds on the momentum of the Localization workshops and the strengthened alliance between CSOs, local government and lead implementing agencies of the WPS resolutions at local and national levels. After Localization workshops, a team made up of CSO experts on UNSCR 1325 and 1820, local authorities that took part in the Localization workshops and experts from key national ministries (such as gender ministries, decentralization ministries, local development ministries and such) draft a practical guide for local authorities. This guide is meant to assist local authorities in mainstreaming the relevant provisions of UNSCR 1325 and 1820/NAPs (where they exist) in local development plans. Once drafted, these guidelines are validated by the participants during the Training of Trainers workshop, as well as by lead implementing ministries and agencies at the national level. Validated guidelines are then endorsed by these key ministries and rolled out throughout the country, ensuring the effective implementation of Resolutions 1325 and 1820 in every city, district, municipality and village.

In both components, the Localization program promotes coordination between national and local government authorities in implementing the UNSCR 1325 and 1820 and NAPs. It also facilitates cooperation and collaboration among civil society organizations, government agencies and UN entities and other relevant actors who support the Localization program in the seven countries where it has already been implemented.3

Figure 1: Components of the Localization Program

GNWP’s Localization program is young. Change seldom happens overnight, especially when the work involves altering deeply rooted beliefs and ideas about the roles of women and girls in local communities, whether they are in conflict, post-conflict, or at peace. Yet that is no excuse for inaction, and in its second year, the Localization program has already been highlighted in the UN Secretary-General 2012 and 2013 Report on WPS as a good practice of NAP implementation that ensures the mainstreaming of women and peace and security commitments in all relevant policy and planning processes, including at the subnational level.4 Now moving into its third year, the Localization program has led to numerous positive outcomes in the countries where it is operating, directly impacting the very individuals that the WPS resolutions are meant to protect and empower: women and girls living in conflict-affected communities.

Figure 2: Localization Program Operational Framework

As a contribution to the Global Review of WPS resolutions and NAP implementation and with the overarching objective to gauge how resolutions and NAPs on WPS are being carried out at national and local levels, this background paper describes in-depth the implementation of the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program in five countries: Colombia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sierra Leone and Uganda. The spirit behind sharing good practices is to encourage all actors involved in the implementation of the WPS resolutionsincluding UN Member States, UN agencies, civil society and the donor communityto support, adapt and adopt Localization as an implementation strategy for the full and effective use of WPS resolutions, NAPs and other national, regional and international policies meant to ensure peace and security.

Localization and its link to the process of decentralization

The Localization program is inextricably linked to the decentralization of power in the countries where it is carried out, and so in the five countries under study in this background paper. It builds on the extent to which the local governance structures are granted autonomy and decision-making power as a result of decentralization processes. Through Localization workshops and the development and roll-out of Localization Guidelines, the Localization program uses the mandates of local authorities and the local governance structures to strengthen capacities to guide them in the integration of UNSCR 1325 and 1820, NAPs (where they exist) and related national policies, such as gender equality, women’s empowerment and sexual and gender-based violence, in their local development plans and policy formulation.

While the strategy of decentralization has been extensively analyzed, there is limited focus on women’s engagement in the process. A majority of research on women’s political participation is confined to the national level, with little acknowledgement of the links across political space, including dynamics between local governance and the state. Women’s direct engagement in national decision-making tends to garner greater attention and resource dedication than involvement in localization processes. It is argued that increased engagement at the national level is the primary mechanism to providing a platform and the tools to enable women’s active participation at the local level. While this assertion is compelling, it offers an incomplete picture of gender politics and obscures the unique role that localization and the promotion of local level policy development can play in women’s empowerment.5

To deconstruct women’s space within a decentralization framework, it is important to underscore the centrality of women’s access to and participation in local governance and its ultimate impact at the national level. Access to local level decision-making is integral to strengthening women’s leverage across the political arena and bringing their specific concerns to the table. Additionally, without active involvement in local governance, the possible overturning of achievements made at the national level toward improving women’s lives and communities remains worrying. Therefore, to maintain national level advances in women’s empowerment, it is important that women be involved in subnational governance. Similarly, when it comes to ensuring effective implementation of state-level policies on gender equality, the localization process is crucial in preventing such legislation from being relegated to “empty rhetoric.”6

Decentralization is often meant to bring a government closer to the grassroots context, allowing local communities to actively participate in decisions impacting their lives. The principle behind this process is especially pertinent to enhancing women’s roles as stakeholders and agents of change.7 Men and women occupy gendered spaces, with women often bearing the responsibility for tasks that are more community or family oriented. Therefore, it follows that a significant portion of women’s needs at the grassroots level would involve accessibility to local services, which “in turn become policy priorities for women.”8 Decentralization thereby becomes the bridge between grassroots women’s needs and national policies. In terms of WPS, decentralization provides tangible opportunities for holding a government accountable to including women in peacebuilding processes, which often results in women’s greater visibility.9 As the good practices highlighted in this background paper demonstrate, localization as a decentralized approach to implementation of UNSCRs on WPS bridges the gap between policies on WPS and implementation on the ground, thus creating a palpable difference in the lives of women and girls.

Despite the clear potential and value of decentralized governance, it is important to note its limitations for women’s involvement and highlight the possibility of overcoming such challenges. Although decentralization enables local governance, it is also more susceptible to prevailing sociocultural power dynamics. Women’s engagement with local structures remains impacted by entrenched traditional biases and perceptions surrounding gender roles, leading to their lower participation or inefficient leadership. In this regard, capacity building, knowledge and awareness-raising and cross-sectoral dialogues that are part of the Localization program become imperative.


To report on effective initiatives of implementation of WPS resolutions and NAPs at national and subnational levels, civil society networks in the five countries in this report have conducted thorough reviews and analyses of written documents, including: NAPs, national policies on WPS, national laws and policies on gender equality, women’s empowerment, sexual and gender-based violence, local development plans, local (municipal, departmental, regional) action plans for UNSCR 1325 implementation, civil society and government monitoring reports of UNCSR 1325 implementation and output documents from training and workshops on the WPS resolutions.10 Country research teams also examined the commitments of national and local authorities to implement WPS resolutions, the guidelines for the local implementation of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 (in the countries where they have been developed) and materials, such as radio and video productions and toolkits that have been used to further the implementation of WPS resolutions and policies locally.11

In this background paper, the good practices of each country have been presented through the different components of the Localization program, which are linked to one or more of the following rubrics: collaboration between national and local authorities; collaboration among government, civil society, UN and other stakeholders; training, awareness-raising and behavior change communication strategies; tools for implementation; fostering local ownership; and how information travels globally, nationally, locally and multidirectionally.12 Although not all the countries in this review reported good practices under all rubrics, all country reports identified these rubrics as complementary components, which underpin the implementation of WPS resolutions and NAPs (where they exist) at the local level.

Key Findings

1. The Localization program has significantly raised awareness of local authorities and traditional leaders on the WPS resolutions in Colombia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

2. Knowing and understanding the WPS resolutions has led to a shift in discriminatory perceptions of women, gender roles and women’s participation in decision-making and peacebuilding.

3. Engaging with religious and traditional leaders was pivotal in changing the community attitudes toward discriminatory practices. This has resulted in revising discriminatory local and/or traditional practices and adopting new local policies for the promotion of women’s rights.

4. Local Action Plans for carrying out the WPS resolutions/NAPs are effective mechanisms to ensure that timely and concrete actions are taken to increase women’s participation in decision-making, to prevent and protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence and to promote a gender perspective. It is crucial that local authorities, traditional and CSOs participate in the plan’s formulation to guarantee ownership and implementation.

5. Key ministries and local authorities have recognized the importance and potential of Localization Guidelines – in the countries where they already exist – to assist them in integrating WPS resolutions/NAPs in their local development plans. These Localization Guidelines ensure wider outreach and sustainability of the Localization program.

6. Training of Trainers workshops have successfully led to developing a pool of experts on the WPS resolutions/NAPs to guarantee local ownership, sustainability of the Localization program and multiplication of the Localization workshops.

7. Collaboration among local government authorities, civil society, UN agencies and the donor community has proved instrumental for full and effective implementation of the WPS resolutions/NAPs in local communities. The contribution of each is indispensable, whether it is funding, securing political buy-in, developing and adopting Localization Guidelines and Local Action Plans or providing expertise on WPS resolutions/NAPs.

8. Engaging with the security sector at subnational levels on issues of WPS, and including the security sector in Localization workshops and Training of Trainers workshops can potentially lead to faster and better response to cases of sexual and gender-based violence.

9. Accessible materials on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 and NAPs in local languages and dialects are necessary tools to guarantee awareness, understanding and implementation of the resolutions/NAP at local levels as well as for effective replication of Localization workshops.

10. Media such as public radio announcements and videos are effective in information dissemination and crossing literacy barriers for creating awareness on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 and NAPs.

11. Since frequent changes in local leadership can hinder the sustainability of the localization program, it is necessary to conduct Localization workshops for at least two election cycles or until Localization Guidelines are fully endorsed by key ministries; and are being used by local authorities on a regular basis.

II. Good Practices

A. Good practices from Colombia

Best Practice from Colombia: Localization Workshops

Good practice in collaboration between local government and CSOs; training, awareness-raising and behavior change communication strategies; and fostering local ownership

In Colombia, the Localization program is a good example of successful collaboration between civil society and local government — with a strong emphasis on local. While the Localization program in the Philippines, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Uganda had the buy-in and support of relevant national-level ministries, in Colombia, the national government has not shown enthusiasm to develop a National Action Plan on the WPS resolutions and national ministries have not been directly involved in the localization work around these resolutions. Instead, departmental- and municipal-level authorities in Arauca, Cauca, Bolívar, Chocó, Santander, Valle del Cauca departments and the Federal District of Bogotá have supported women’s networks in organizing Localization workshops. During the workshops, local officials identified the strengths and weaknesses of their respective community development plans related to WPS issues. In all departments, they concluded that the development plans were lacking in regard to gender and women’s participation.

To address this shortcoming, and without a Colombia NAP, local authorities and women’s rights activists who took part in Localization workshops in September 2012 and follow-up workshops in 2013 have drafted Municipal Action Plans for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and the supporting resolutions for 18 municipalities of the Bolívar, Santander, Cauca and Valle del Cauca departments. In addition, a UNSCR 1325 Sectoral Action Plan for the LGBT community was developed in Popayán (Cauca department) to respond to the violence committed against LGBT individuals by armed groups. For example, lesbians are the targets of particularly hateful crimes: there have been documented cases where armed groups cut off the women’s breasts and rape them when they find out their sexual orientation. The drafting, adoption and implementation of municipal and sectoral action plans not only will lead to enhanced women’s participation in decision-making and respect for the rights of women and girls, but they are also a way to pressure the Colombian government to reconsider its position on drafting and adopting a NAP.

Another important aspect of the Localization program in Colombia is the work done in indigenous communities. The Indigenous Localization Workshop held in October 2012 in the Cauca Department and its follow-up workshop held in Bogotá in September 2013 have led indigenous women to recognize the importance of UNSCR 1325 as a tool to defend their rights and highlight their role in peacebuilding. As a result of discussions on UNSCR 1325, indigenous women have established an Indigenous Women’s Network, which allows women from different indigenous communities in Colombia to reflect on women’s rights in the context of collective rights. It must be noted that an important aspect of the indigenous women’s discussion of an international instrument such as UNSCR 1325 is its application in non-Western cultures. It is critical for this community to have clarity and consensus that the use of nontraditional norms will strengthen their advocacy abilities to protect their individual and cultural rights and not jeopardize their culture. In addition, the members of the Indigenous Women’s Network have drafted an Indigenous Women’s Action Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in their respective communities and developed a set of 21 indicators, based on GNWP’s indicators used for the annual CSO Monitoring Report, to monitor and report on progress in carrying out the WPS resolutions in indigenous communities.

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