Women, peace, and security: not the final analysis
The quotations above were taken from a roundtable discussion of scholar-activists who played significant roles in the drafting, adoption and/or implementation of SCR 1325.1 The concerns expressed highlight well one of the major tensions that the security framework, as utilized by the WPS network particularly in the context
of SCR 1325, presents for those working in this field. On the one hand, activists must remain committed to the long-term, comprehensive emancipatory goals of the broader women’s movement. This involves being critical of state-based security structures for their gender biases and often contradictory policies that are deeply embedded in their foundational institutions, such as the military and the police. On the other hand, the immediate needs of women in conflict and postconflict situations often demand strategies and approaches that are not necessarily in line with the more strategic goals and may even work against certain components of the larger project of ending women’s subordination worldwide. In many cases, these most urgent needs trump all else. As this book illustrates, the security framework reflects this conundrum. The line between engaging UN security actors and institutions to make feminist critiques and the critique itself being neutralized through engagement with those structures is not always discernable. Employing the security language may be advantageous in the short term, but it also situates many actors in the WPS network in positions where more fundamental critiques challenging the traditional security paradigm become impossible and even unthinkable. So, while the WPS network and Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 have facilitated entry points into the corridors of power, we must proceed with caution. “Simultaneously the power structures that we wish to dismantle are the very structures that set the terms of women’s entry … this revolutionary capacity can also be caught recycling rather than resignifying the terms of the debate” (Kinsella, as cited in Cohn et al. 2004: 137-8).