This article by IANSA woman Jasmin Nario-Galace considers the presence and participation of women on UN member state delegations at the 4th Preparatory Committee on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT Prepcom) in relation to UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Women’s Participation at the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) PrepCom, 13-17 February 2012

Jasmin Nario-Galace, Center for Peace Education, Philippines - IANSA Women’s Network
17 February 2012, ATT Monitor

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 adopted in October 2010 calls for the greater participation of women in decision-making processes, especially in the areas of conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. Meetings of the ATT process provide opportunities for women to participate in decisions on such issues.

Based on the list of participants provided at the Fourth Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) of the ATT in New York on 13–17 February 2012, 116 of 580 delegates listed were women. That was 20% of the total, a slight decrease of the percentage of women who participated in the Third PrepCom (116 out of 523, or 22%).A total of 134 States, non-member States, entities, intergovernmental organizations, and others participated in the Fourth PrepCom. Sixty-four of these had women in their delegations. That means 52.2% of States and others sent women delegates.

Mongolia and New Zealand had an all-women delegation in this fourth PrepCom. Delegations that had more women than men delegates were Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Honduras, Jamaica, Romania, Slovenia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay. Half of the representatives of Brazil, Cape Verde, Denmark, Fiji, Grenada, Latvia, Madagascar, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia were women.

From the list, 14 States had a woman's name on top of the list. That's 10% of the total. These countries are the Bahamas, Brazil, Czech Republic, DRC, Djibouti, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Mongolia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Romania and Slovenia.

States that did not include women in their delegations were Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Congo, Croatia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Laos, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Moldova, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

By comparison, there were a hundred members of civil society organisations (CSOs) who observed the meeting. A directory circulated by CSOs indicated participation of 53 women. This was 53% of the total.

Women’s participation in meetings such as this is one of the ways by which governments can show commitment to the women, peace, and security agenda. The greater hope, though, is that States would recognize that the Arms Trade Treaty is an important opportunity to prevent gender-based violence and promote women’s participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding processes.

May States seize this opportunity! Carpe diem.