Forum Norway 1325 is a network of 20 Norwegian civil society organizations working for an assertive and committed implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.



Eleven years ago was the first time the UN Security Council adopted a resolution that highlighted the importance of women in creating peace and security in the world. The message of the resolution has been exemplified and made ​​visible by this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkol Karman. This prize obliges the Norwegian authorities to step up the implementation of Resolution 1325.

There is still a long way to go before the world's women take their rightful place as negotiators and peace-builders. But Leymah Gbowee from Liberia and Tawakkol Karman from Yemen have shown the world the importance of women's active participation with no other weapons than their own strength. In Liberia, women stood united across religious lines in the midst of the civil war and got a peace agreement. With the help of the Liberian women's grassroots struggle, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Arica's first elected female president.

Resolution 1325 – the foundation of this year’s Peace Prize

When Thorbjørn Jagland, the chair of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, presented the three winners, he stated: "We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women have the same opportunities as men to influence development at all levels of society. Resolution 1325 made violence against women in war and conflict to an international security concern for the first time." In accordance with the Resolution, women's lack of participation in peace processes can be seen as a threat to international peace and security.

All UN member states are bound by Security Council resolutions. According to resolution 1325, states are required to increase women’s representation in all conflict resolution initiatives and peace negotiations. Additionally, more women are to take part in peacekeeping forces, and women's perspectives are to be incorporated into post-war reconstruction programs. Finally, the resolution recognizes the importance of women's peace initiatives.

The real test of how the resolution can be used is taking place in countries where women live in conditions characterized by war and conflict. Policy on peace and security is still dominated by men in the same way wars are fought primarily among men. While wars are fought, women must take greater responsibility to keep society going; they must provide water and food for children while schools are destroyed, the economy decimated, and villages wiped out. Women are systematically raped as part of a deliberate war strategy. It makes no difference to these women that there are resolutions and action plans that guarantee their security on paper. Words on paper are of little consequence when less than three percent of peace agreement signatories since 1992 have been women, and when peace agreements are made on men's terms. Peace agreements that focus exclusively on ceasefires and border drawing, without regard to resolving underlying conflict issues, such as clean water, schools, health services, rehabilitation of sexual assault victims and legitimate and just trials for perpetrators, are not agreements that take women seriously.

Sexualized violence as weapon of war

In 2001, the UN hired two experts – Elisabeth Rehn, the former Finnish Defense Minister and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia – who traveled to conflict and war zones in 14 countries. They received first-hand descriptions of how rape, humiliation and prostitution were used as deliberate strategies of warfare, including in connection with peacekeeping operations. The report "Women, War, Peace" brought the attention of the world to the suffering and violations arising from what some cynics conveniently call "boys will be boys." Resolution 1325 and several subsequent related resolutions have recognized that sexual violence as weapon of war is both a war crime and a threat to peace and security. In the 1990s in Bosnia, brave women from the United Nations system uncovered sexual assaults and prostitution which UN's own peacekeeping personnel were responsible for. The one who notified her superiors lost her job. Those responsible went unpunished. The case has recently been highlighted by the movie "The Whistleblower," which has attracted attention both in and outside the UN.

In 2001, Norway became a member of the Security Council. The Center for Gender Equality (now Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud) jumped at the occasion and proposed, among other things, Norwegian financing for increased representation of women in peace processes, including by instituting quotas if necessary, collaboration with non-governmental organizations, and the instituting of guidelines against the purchase of sex by UN forces. Furthermore, the Center proposed that Norwegian funding for peacebuilding reflect the fact that women and men may have different perspectives. These requirements are still relevant.

Forum Norway 1325 hopes that this year's Peace Prize will inspire Norwegian authorities and the international community to support women’s own peace initiatives in a more binding and systematic way. Norwegian authorities have a responsibility to help the UN sweep its own doorstep in regards to sexual assaults committed by peacekeeping forces, and to ensure women's legal protection during and after war.