NEW ZEALAND: Action must be the key word in National Plan for women

20 October 2015, 10:50 UTC | New Zealand
© Barry Batchelor/PA

Amnesty International has welcomed the adoption of an action plan by the New Zealand government as a crucial opportunity to promote and protect women's rights in situations of armed conflict, but said it must be fully backed and resourced by the Government in order to make a tangible difference to women.

At the United Nations last week New Zealand launched their National Action Plan (NAP) on Women Peace and Security, a document that explains how New Zealand will implement the ground-breaking UN Security Council Resolution 1325. This resolution recognises the devastating impact of conflict on women as well as the crucial role women play in preventing, ending and rebuilding from conflict.

Amnesty International has taken time to review the plan in detail and found that while there are important strengths to it, the plan fails to set clear and specific targets, commitments and resources to support women in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

“New Zealand’s National Action Plan is certainly a step in the right direction, as it provides an official framework for action to strengthen both the protection and empowerment of women in conflict settings."

Carsten Bockemuehl, Advocacy & Research Coordinator at Amnesty International in New Zealand.

“New Zealand’s National Action Plan is certainly a step in the right direction, as it provides an official framework for action to strengthen both the protection and empowerment of women in conflict settings," said Carsten Bockemuehl, Advocacy & Research Coordinator at Amnesty International in New Zealand.

“But it's only the beginning of a long journey. It is now crucial for New Zealand to walk the talk and translate its commitments on paper into tangible results for women on the ground.”

Amnesty International strongly welcomes that the National Action Plan will see New Zealand troops and police trained, prior to deployment, on human rights and the protection needs of women and girls – such as in the deployment of troops to Iraq.

The aim to increase the number of New Zealand women participating in international peace efforts, including UN peacekeeping, and promote their access to senior levels of decision-making is also a welcome move.

“However, there is a lack of specifics in this plan over what meaningful action New Zealand will take to support women outside of New Zealand, in countries affected by conflict. The absence of clear targets and dedicated funding, for example to support local women in the Pacific, is a cause for real concern,” said Carsten Bockemuehl.

“Women civil society leaders and human rights defenders across the Pacific conduct crucial work in the struggle for peace. However, it’s a sad reality that they remain largely excluded from formal decision-making and processes to prevent conflict. The Pacific also continues to suffer from the highest rates of sexual and gender-based violence in the world. Let’s use this National Action Plan as a tool to change that.”

Amnesty International believes that there is a real opportunity for New Zealand to make a difference and calls on the Government to prove it is genuinely committed to implementing this plan and empowering women in conflict.

"The real test will be how this plan is carried out on the ground. This must not be simply another document that gathers dust on a shelf but be used as a tool for change. As such, it requires adequate resources and support from the highest levels of government,” said Carsten Bockemuehl.

"As an elected member of the UN Security Council, New Zealand must show strong leadership and support for women. This is something Amnesty International will be monitoring and holding the Government to account."

Background

The UNSC Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security is a landmark document adopted in 2000 to strengthen women's involvement in the prevention and resolution of conflict. The resolution recognised that women and girls disproportionately suffer the effects of armed conflict, and that women have an important role to play as leaders and decision-makers in building peace.

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