Gender Equality Reforms in United Nations Mediation


Location: C103, Hesburgh Center for International Studies


Catriona Standfield

Postdoctoral scholar, Kroc Institute Visiting Research Fellow

The United Nations Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Agenda calls for the inclusion of women and gender issues in conflict mediation. Yet United Nations-brokered peace processes remain male-dominated and focused on masculinized security issues. Despite some progress, mediation is one of the areas of peace and security that has been least responsive to the WPS Agenda. There have been some successes: UN Security Council resolution 1325 has codified a norm of gender equality and increased the number of gender-sensitive clauses in peace agreements. However, less than a third of all agreements since 2000 include language on gender, and women remain marginalized from political decisionmaking. I argue that we can understand the challenges to incorporating the WPS Agenda by examining the changes UN mediation has undergone in the post-Cold War era. UN mediation has moved from being seen as a diplomatic art to a professionalized science. Narratives about mediation as an "art" or as a "science" have distinct implications for how the WPS Agenda is implemented in UN mediation. In this talk, I will draw on evidence from my book project to demonstrate how mediation narratives inform the different ways the WPS Agenda has failed to reach its goals of making mediation more inclusive and gender-sensitive.