OSCE concludes Annual Security Review Days in Bosnia and Herzegovina

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) was the focus of the Annual Security Review Days organized by the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), which concluded on 9 February 2021.

Annual Security Review Days (ASRD) provide a unique platform for security experts, practitioners and decision-makers to improve the security of BiH citizens by advancing security sector governance and reform in view of relevant international security commitments.

During a panel discussion and focus groups meetings, participants jointly considered progress, good practices and challenges in reporting and the implementation of BiH commitments related to UNSCR 1325. Participants included representatives from state and entity-level ministries and institutions as well as staff from international organizations, academia and civil society. 

In her introductory remarks, Kathleen Kavalec, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, emphasized that UNSCR 1325 reaffirmed the importance of women as key actors in conflict prevention, peace negotiations, conflict resolution, humanitarian response, and post-conflict reconciliation. “As such, it forms the bedrock of OSCE commitments and of our shared vision of comprehensive security,” added Kavalec.

The Mission continues ensuring gender equality, aiming to further streamline its activities this year, also in line with the priorities of the Swedish OSCE Chairpersonship.

“States that respect human rights and democratic principles are more secure and provide better living conditions for their citizens. When women’s right to representation is ensured in security discussions and peacebuilding it increases the legitimacy and sustainability of the outcome. For these reasons the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda is a Swedish priority globally. In BiH Sweden supports gender institutions at state and entity levels, we are a strategic partner to UN Women as well as several civil society organizations. We are happy to continue to work with OSCE and local partners to support the implementation of the National Action Plan”, says Johanna Strömquist, Ambassador of Sweden to BiH.  

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. By reaffirming the important role of women in the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, this landmark resolution also embodies key principles of the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security. Accordingly, this special ASRD event focused on implementing UNSCR 1325 and the associated National Action Plan in BiH.

The UN Resident Coordinator in BiH, Ingrid Macdonald, says that BiH was the first state in South-Eastern Europe to develop a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. Completed in 2010, this translated the principles of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 into goals for the country.  “Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s third National Action Plan calls for increased participation of women in decision-making.  Because when women’s participation, rights and interests are part of policy making, everything changes,” she added.

“BiH has adopted the third Action Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 for the period 2018-2022, which represents the commitment of governments to the continuous and systematic implementation of this resolution in BiH,” explained Samra Filipović – Hadžiabdić, Director of the Agency for Gender Equality of BiH. She said that the gender aspect must be taken into account in response to current security threats and challenges; such as violent extremism, the increased number of migrants, and the consequences of climate change.

Elaborating on key achievements, Radmila Žigić, Director of Lara Foundation from Bijeljina, stated that the struggle for the rights of women and girls survivors of conflict related sexual violence was fought on several fronts. It included efforts such as calling for criminal justice implementation and destigmatizing survivors, and reducing the culture of denial and forgetfulness. She emphasized that: “Although the rights of survivors are not uniform in all parts of the country and many survivors of sexual violence will not experience justice and satisfaction, this society has to face the truth – that conflict related sexual violence against women is a crime, it cannot and must not be disputed and unpunished.”

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