I wish to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, is today publishing a revised British Government national action plan on UNSCR 1325 women, peace and security. This national action plan is fully integrated with the work of the Minister for Equalities, who is the ministerial champion on violence against women and girls.
I wanted to announce publication to coincide with the start of the British presidency of the UN Security Council in March, given the lead role that the UK takes on the Council, for the women, peace and security agenda.
Since the national action plan was last revised in November 2010, the Government have been active in promoting the women, peace and security agenda through multilateral bodies, including: a significant financial contribution to UN women; encouraging more states to develop national action plans; and promoting the inclusion of gender issues within doctrine and practice for peace missions.
Across Whitehall, further efforts have been made to expand awareness of women, peace and security, issues, including through revised conflict, security and human rights training programmes that include significant elements covering gender issues; the deployment of female engagement teams on UK military operations overseas; and the dissemination of a 1325 toolkit to all of our embassies and Government offices overseas.
We have also continued to deliver gender based programmes in our three priority countries. For example, DFID has invested £60 million in a security sector accountability and police reform programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which will include the development of sexual and gender-based violence focused police units. The FCO is funding a multi-donor project to strengthen the capacity of the National Human Rights Commission in Nepal, to help develop a responsive and accessible justice system that will promote gender equality. In addition to a wide range of gender focused programme activity in Afghanistan, we are supporting the Afghan development of a 1325 national action plan, ensuring wide ranging consultation, including with women’s groups.
In October 2011,1 published a review of the Government’s performance against the national action plan. The revised plan that I am announcing today learns from that review and outlines new commitments for action over the coming year.
It also reflects new challenges on women, peace and security, in particular following the Arab spring. The national action plan has been expanded to include, for the first time, a regional action plan for the middle east and north Africa.
We are grateful to the associate parliamentary group on women, peace and security (APG WPS) for their active engagement on this important issue, and would in particular like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Nicola Blackwood), who chairs that group. I should also like to thank the civil society organisation Gender Action on Peace and Security (GAPS), for the contribution they have made to the process of revising the plan.
We will continue to consult with Parliament and civil society, including in the run up to a review of the Government’s progress against the revised national action plan in the autumn. As the national action plan expires in November 2013, a full evaluation will take place in 2013, and make recommendations on how the plan should be refreshed or replaced.
I have deposited a copy of the revised national action plan in the Libraries of both Houses. It is also available on the FCO website at: www.fco.gov.uk.