Changes in Conflict Resolution – Women, Gender and Global Citizenship

by Julia Hütter

Last Friday, 1 March 2019, WIIS Austria President Jessica Grün moderated a breakout session on “Changes in Conflict Resolution” at DASICON 2019 – Towards Global Citizenship: Home Without Borders.

Her interview partner was Dr. Brigitte Holzner, lecturer at Karl Franzens Universität Graz.

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Brigitte Holzner and Jessica Grün discussing Changes in Conflict Resoltuion at Diplomatic Academy SI Conference in Vienna

The first part of the conversation developed the concept of women in conflict resolution and peace. Holzner argued, that the concept is not new, but has its roots with the Suffragette movement, aimed at not only universal suffrage but also women involvement in policy-making. This thinking was institutionalized as Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), which then focus on militarization and pacifist movements. This pacific notion experienced a change over time and militarization is no longer the main topic of the women movement.

Moreover, new forms of violence in conflict situations have evolved involving small-scale violence against the population, amongst which children and women are the most vulnerable. A corner-stone with regards to violence in conflict situation posed the recognition of sexual crime by the International Criminal Court, whose statue primarily involves genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

However, reality shows us that the picture of women as victims and men as perpetrators is not quite so black and white.

The adoption of UN General Assembly Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (whose 20th anniversary we are celebrating next year) also shows a shift: While earlier women movements were about peace and liberty, Resolution 1325 is about “women, peace and security” not mentioning liberty in its title anymore. Interestingly, Resolution 1325 portrays women as victims. However, reality shows us that the picture of women as victims and men as perpetrators is not quite so black and white: For example, reported cases of female ISIS fighters make the international community over think traditional role models. Similarly, men are no longer perceived only as perpetrators, but are also victims, often of sexual violence, and yet, society often stays silent about this topic since a shame culture makes addressing these issues openly impossible. Therefore, Holzner proposed to re-name Resolution 1325 in “Gender, peace and security”, acknowledging the interchangeable roles of women and men.

 

The second part of the conversation then focussed on Global Citizenship and how the concept could influence conflict resolution.

“If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May recently opined: “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”[1]

The Ban-Ki Moon Center’s definition of global citizenship states – on a more positive note: “Global Citizenship is an ever-evolving concept and mindset that actively supports notions and activities that benefit humankind, in accordance with the Principles of the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. GC focuses on unifying rather than the dividing elements. It can refer to a sense of belonging to the global community and common humanity, with its members experiencing solidarity, collective identity and collective responsibility. GC comes with duties and with rights in the political, economic, social and environmental sphere. Global Citizens therefore look beyond the narrow scope of national or personal interest to support solutions in today’s global challenges.”[2]

The majority of the audience subscribed to this concept, still some criticism was voiced due to the vague and broad terminology. However, it was agreed upon that it can be perceived as a new concept for the international community which it will hopefully live up to in the future.    

 

[1] https://www.globalcitizen.org/de/content/citizen-of-the-world-brexit-theresa-may/

[2] https://bankimooncentre.org/strategy

This Blog Post was written by Board Member Julia Hütter.

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