womens-peace-table-vanuatu
Vanuatu will be one of only twenty countries around the world to host a Women’s Peace Table. Organized by Peace Women across the Globe, the initiative is designed to promote women’s right to equal participation in all decision making, in line with UN Resolution Council 1325.

Hosted by Women against Crime and Corruption (WACC), the full-day program will feature presentations by key representatives from the government and civil society, and will promote dialogue on central issues of peace and justice.

Because the government of Vanuatu is fully committed to these issues, through the Constitution and through international conventions and resolutions, this program will make a meaningful contribution to the practical implementation of this commitment, including the development of a National Action Plan.

The program will be held on Friday, October 21, 2016 from 9:00 am until 4:30 pm in the Conference Room of the Presbyterian Church by Independence Park.

The Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu recognizes certain individual rights and freedoms, without discrimination based on “race, place of origin, religious or traditional beliefs, political opinions, language or sex but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and to the legitimate public interest in defense, safety, public order, welfare and health”.

Key among those are the right to life, liberty, security and protection, and the duty to respect the Constitution, exercise the rights conferred by it, and use its opportunities to participate fully in the Vanuatu government

In addition, Vanuatu is a signatory to a number of international conventions, including UN resolution 1325 which among other things reaffirms: … “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building, (…) the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution”.

To date, many countries, including Vanuatu have signed on the Resolution but have not developed a National Action Plan. However, Vanuatu’s strategic and policy agenda includes the equal representation of women, and the Women’s Peace Table program will contribute to making a National Action Plan.

The Vanuatu Peace Table program will be one of 20 Peace Tables held around the world during October 2016. Like the other 19 peace tables, it will use the materials generated for the implementation of Resolution 1325, and will work on translating the global objectives of the Resolution to the community level, resulting in recommendations on how to deal with the challenges facing women in this field.

WACC chairwoman, Jenny Ligo, explained that the Vanuatu Peace Table program is a public program, designed to serve as the beginning of an ongoing set of activities, including continuing dialogue between central stakeholders, education in the schools, community-based conflict mediation training and advocacy, and more.

She also said that the program follows up on and continues the work of WACC and other organizations over the past decade, promoting the interest of women in relation to safety and justice.

Because peace and justice are key issues affecting all members of our society, WACC has extended program invitations to key government representatives, chiefs and chief council representatives, women’s organizations like UN Women, the Vanuatu Women’s Center, community organizations, and other relevant NGOs and educational organizations, thereby making a contribution to enhanced coordination and collaboration between all the stakeholders.

The morning program will feature a keynote address by a representative from the Department of Justice and a talk by WACC member Dr. Astrid Kersten on the Women’s Peace Table and UN Security Resolution 1325.

Next, there will be short presentations on a variety of different topics, including: Speaking for Victims of Crime, The Role of Police in Women’s Peace and Security, The Role of Chiefs in Promoting Peace, Security and Women’s Voices, Approaches to Conflict Resolution, Mediation and Reconciliation, Stopping a Culture of Violence, and Youth, Technology and Peace.

These topics will also be the focus for extended discussions in the afternoon. At the close of the conference, each of the dialogue groups will offer its conclusions and recommendations to the media and the community.

This year’s Peace Table offers a unique opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to shaping Vanuatu’s National Action Plan, which, if adopted, will make it the first in the region to have the required plan in place.

Background

The Women’s Peace Table is a global campaign that began in 2015, organized by Peace Women Across the Globe (PWAG), a global network of women experts in peace building.

The core idea of the Women’s Peace Tables is to create a platform for women and men to reflect on the role of women in conflict and post-conflict situations, to discuss local peace issues from women’s perspectives, to promote mutual learning and exchange of expertise, information and lessons learned, and to advocate for women’s integration and active participation as real stakeholders at all levels of activities that contribute to conflict transformation processes.

The program is also a part of “Women Seriously”, a global campaign designed to form public opinion about the indispensable role of women in achieving peace and security, and the political decision-making on women’s leadership in peace processes. The campaign believes that a strong and informed public and a strong women’s movement will influence global and national political leaders to implement UN Security Council resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325).

Women’s Peace Tables are one of the proposed activities within the campaign and they are considered as vehicles to accelerate the process of implementing the demands of the UNSCR 1325. The goal is to bring voices of women into peace processes. They offer space to give women’s perspectives on the issues covered in peace and justice negotiations and on the issues that women deem to be critical to a successful post-peace agreement reconstruction and recovery.

In the Concept Note, PWAG notes that globally, “major gaps and challenges remain in all areas including in particular in relation to women’s participation in conflict transformation and peace processes; integration of gender perspectives in peace agreements; attention to the contributions and needs of women in humanitarian and reconstruction processes; and representation of women in decision-making positions.

More than 15 years after UNSCR 1325 was passed, only 57 countries have adopted a National Action Plan in support of the resolution (as of 2015). Women’s participation in peace processes and in actual peace mediation continues to be extremely low and bringing in a strong gender perspective into peace mediation continues to be a challenge.

Many women engage in informal peace processes at various levels in the community, across borders, across ethnic and religious divides and bring in a plethora of experiences and depth of understanding which would be extremely useful in mediation and in post conflict reconstruction. The Women’s Peace Tables attempt to highlight this and create a space where women can exchange their views and ideas as well as their knowledge and experiences in peacebuilding.”