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WPS and the Organization of American States

Abstract and Keywords

At first glance, the Organization of American States (OAS) appears to have been slow to recognize and embrace the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda, much less take concrete steps to implement it. The OAS is not clearly mentioned in the Global Study of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and the resolution appears in very few OAS documents. This chapter demonstrates, however, that a closer look at the inter-American system indicates that important work is under way on the WPS agenda. Specifically, the OAS’s Inter-American Commission of Women has long been an important norm entrepreneur and protagonist in advancing women’s human rights and, more recently, in working to end violence against women in the Americas through the Convention of Belém do Pará. The complicated security challenges that the OAS must confront today (namely human trafficking) are highly gendered. This chapter argues, therefore, that going forward the global WPS agenda must be translated meaningfully and explicitly into national and local policies.

Keywords: OAS, Inter-American Commission of Women, human trafficking

At first glance, the Organization of American States (OAS) appears to be resistant to recognizing and implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and the eight additional resolutions that have defined the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda since 2000.1 The OAS has not developed a Regional Action Plan (RAP) for implementing Resolution 1325, and until recently only a handful OAS documents expressly refer to the resolution or use the trope, “Women, Peace, and Security.” Moreover, the OAS is not specifically named in the section on regional organizations in the comprehensive 2015 Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UN Women 2015). Through April 2018, only eight states in the Americas have developed a National Action Plan (NAP) for implementing Resolution 1325: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, and the United States (PeaceWomen 2018). However, a closer look into the OAS and the inter-American system demonstrates that important work is well underway relating to each of the four “pillars” that define the UN’s WPS agenda.

Resolution 1325 calls for women’s participation at all levels of decision-making, the protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and the prevention of violence against women through the promotion of women’s rights, accountability, and law enforcement (Miller et al. 2014: 2). The fourth pillar, relief and recovery, focuses on meeting the specific needs of women and girls displaced by violence, survivors of gender based violence, and those with disabilities, and calls for women to be at the center of relief and recovery work (PeaceWomen 2013). These four interrelated pillars are important instrumental steps in the mainstreaming of gender perspectives in contemporary peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts and are essential to advancing the WPS agenda. Feminist scholars and activists add a fifth, more transformative pillar focused on long-term peace-building that eliminates all forms of structural violence underlying conflict and human insecurity.

Although the particular forms of conflict envisioned by Resolution 1325 are currently less prevalent in the Americas than elsewhere, the four pillars of the WPS agenda are relevant (p. 414) to the nations of the Western Hemisphere. Many countries in the Americas face enormous levels of physical insecurity and violence related to the prevalence of drug cartels, traffickers of all sorts, and criminal gangs. Many countries record high rates of homicide, femicide, and SGBV, and displacement caused by such widespread insecurity. Nearly all countries experience persistent structural violence linked to income inequality, gender discrimination, and economic underdevelopment. Despite its curious silence on Resolution 1325 and the WPS agenda, the OAS, and more specifically its Inter-American Commission of Women, has long been working in each of the policy areas or pillars of the WPS agenda. This work takes a distinctly regional approach that is framed by the political, social, and economic conditions, and issues confronting the countries of the Americas. Despite clear obstacles, the translation of the UN’s WPS agenda is underway at the OAS, but its articulation is inflected by the specific concerns, political agendas, and policy frames of the actors, mechanisms, and institutions in the region.

This chapter explores the ways and extent to which the OAS and the inter-American system have been engaged in work relating to the pillars of the UN’s WPS agenda. It takes a largely institutionalist approach and policy perspective, but is informed by other approaches such as discourse analysis to address the following questions: First, what are the key actors, mechanisms, and legal and policy frameworks in the OAS system that are relevant to the WPS agenda? Second, how and to what extent are these actors, mechanisms, and frameworks incorporating WPS pillars into all facets of policy action in the Americas? Finally, what will be needed to articulate and implement further the UN’s WPS agenda into the regional, national, and local discourses in ways that measurably improve the lives of women and girls across the hemisphere?

The chapter proceeds in four sections, beginning with a brief discussion of the unique history of the OAS system and the historic work of the Inter-American Commission of Women, which has been dedicated to advancing women’s human rights, equality, development, and security in the Western Hemisphere since 1928. The second section analyzes the specific legal and policy initiatives framing women’s human rights and gender equality in the inter-American system since the 1990s and the strengthening and modernization of that work since the year 2000. The third section addresses the extent to which the inter-American women’s human rights and gender equality framework matches the pillars of the UN’s WPS agenda, and the final section briefly considers the question of “localization” of the WPS agenda in the Western Hemisphere. Ultimately the chapter aims at indicating further avenues for academic research, policy development, and political action to make the WPS agenda come meaningfully alive for all women in the Americas.

The OAS System and the Inter-American Institutional Architecture

The OAS is a regional intergovernmental organization with a complicated history and place in the inter-American system of nation-states. It is often ignored or marginalized in the contemporary study of the international relations of the Western Hemisphere, a field dominated by realist, structural realist, and dependency theory approaches, and one that almost (p. 415) completely ignores questions of women and gender politics (Domínguez and Covarrubias 2015; Escudé 2015; Tickner 2008; Arceneaux and Pion-Berlin 2007). The few contemporary liberal institutionalist studies of the region’s international relations tend to downplay the effectiveness or even the relevance of the OAS, particularly in light of newer experiments in regional economic integration and political cooperation (for example, Mercosur, UNASUR, ALBA, or CELAC2) that challenge the OAS as a tool of US regional hegemony and assert the autonomy of Latin American states (see for example, Legler 2015; Fontana and Pereyra 2009; Herz 2011; Tickner 2015; Meyer McAleese 2016; Mace and Loiseau 2009).

With its roots stretching back to the nineteenth Century, the OAS was created at the Ninth International Conference of American States held in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1948. Among the preexisting inter-American bodies and commissions incorporated into the new OAS architecture was the Inter-American Commission of Women, most commonly known by its Spanish acronym, CIM (Comisión Inter-Americana de Mujeres). The CIM has been an important norm entrepreneur and protagonist for advancing women’s human rights in the Americas since 1928. Its first major accomplishment was its pathbreaking Convention on the Nationality of Women, adopted by the Seventh International Conference of American States at Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1933. Its second major accomplishment was its successful drafting of two new fundamental human rights instruments for women in the hemisphere, both of which were adopted at the Bogotá meeting on May 2, 1948: The Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Civil Rights to Women, and the Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Political Rights of Women (Inter-American Commission of Women 2016a; Meyer 1999).

Since 1948, the CIM has expanded its work on the advancement of women’s rights and equality into such issues or policy areas as education, health, economic development, and more recently violence against women (more on this to follow). The CIM’s Assembly of Delegates meets every three years to chart the strategic program of work for the Commission, and its Executive Committee meets at least once a year to navigate timely issues within the OAS. Its Washington-based Secretariat provides full-time gender policy expertise within and across the inter-American system. The Secretariat’s technocratic—or “femocratic”— work tends to lack the political limelight, but it produces model legal and public policy frameworks adopted by the CIM Assembly of Delegates, the OAS General Assembly, and more recently the triennial meetings of the Summit of the Americas.3 These legal and policy frameworks are then implemented through other mechanisms, commissions, and agencies across the OAS/inter-American system and by its member states.

The CIM and its legal and policy initiatives have encountered obstacles and resistance within the OAS system and from member states. Through the years the CIM’s Secretariat has worked tirelessly with minimal staff, tiny budgets, and tight space (Meyer McAleese 2009). According to the Executive Secretary’s 2016 Report to the Thirty-Seventh Assembly of Delegates, “of the more than 1,700 mandates handed down to the OAS by the General Assembly and other authorities, the CIM has more than 250 (15.4%), including specific and permanent mandates from its Assembly of Delegates and Executive Committee, the OAS General Assembly and the Summits of the Americas” (Inter-American Commission of Women 2016b: 2). Yet in 2016, the CIM Secretariat counted only 2 percent of OAS staff (six full-time staff and two consultants), received only 1.7 percent of the OAS budget, and competed for scarce resources with other commissions, agencies, and programs working on women and gender issues across the hemisphere (Inter-American Commission of Women 2016b: 3; Anderson 2016).

(p. 416) Strengthening the OAS’s Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equality Regime

Despite limited resources (and patriarchal resistance), the 1990s and 2000s were decades of significant policy development and institutional modernization for the CIM. Particularly since 1999, the CIM strategically positioned itself as “the Hemisphere’s political forum and reference point for the full citizenship of women, from a human-rights perspective,” and aims at the “institutionalization of a rights-based and gender equality approach in the [OAS’s] main forums, programs, and institutional planning” (Inter-American Commission of Women 2016b: 2). The CIM claimed this position through careful work and the formal adoption by the OAS General Assembly of two key human rights and public policy instruments: The 1994 Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women (commonly known as the Belém do Pará Convention), and the 1999 Inter-American Program on the Promotion of Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equity and Equality (commonly known as the Inter-American Program, or IAP). Both instruments deserve discussion to demonstrate how the CIM has continued its pathbreaking women’s rights work, how it modernized and strengthened its role as a “high level policy forum” in the inter-American system, and how its work relates to the four pillars of the WPS agenda (Anderson 2016; OAS 2018).

The Belém do Pará Convention on Violence against Women

In the early 1990s the CIM played a key role in drafting and shepherding to adoption in the OAS General Assembly the Convention of Belém do Pará, which entered into force in 1995 (Organization of American States 1995; Meyer 1999). This Convention was the first of its kind in the world but, perhaps due to its regional focus, is often overlooked in broader discussions of women’s human rights or efforts to eradicate SGBV at the global and grass-roots levels. One of the Convention’s key advances is its comprehensive definition of violence against women in Article 2 which goes beyond domestic or family violence in the private sphere to include violence occurring in the community (for example, in schools, in the workplace, and so on) and all public spaces, as well as violence perpetrated or condoned by agents of the state.4 Another key advance is Article 7, which establishes the state’s responsibility and enumerates the state’s duties in stemming all forms of violence against women via national legislation, law enforcement, and policy development, aimed at preventing, punishing, and eradicating all social practices that tolerate or condone such violence (Organization of American States 1995).

The Convention was careful to engage two other inter-American entities to help establish its juridical force. The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, another autonomous commission within the OAS system, was empowered to investigate complaints lodged by individuals or groups against a state thought to be in violation of the Convention, while the Inter-American Court of Human Rights was empowered to hear cases referred to it by that Commission and interpret and apply the Convention’s law. Progress in establishing the authority of the Convention since 1995 has been slow but measurable. A few cases asking the (p. 417) Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and the Court of Human Rights to apply the Convention have been successful. Perhaps the best known is the 2006 “Cotton Fields” case in which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the state of Mexico responsible for failing to exercise its due diligence in preventing and punishing the violent deaths of three young women near Cuidad Juárez, a city at the US-Mexican border with one of the highest rates of femicide and gender-based violence in the hemisphere (Arango et al. 2011; Celorio 2011; Osuna 2008; Boero 2011; Staudt 2008).

Getting states to develop and implement policies in keeping with their responsibilities under the Belém do Pará Convention has been slow and uneven. In its 2004 ten-year review of the Convention’s implementation, the CIM recognized a gaping lack of progress. It worked with other governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders to create an independent implementing body known as the MESECVI (Follow Up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention). The MESECVI, comprised of a Committee of Experts (CEVI), works with states to collect and publish data on violence against women in the region, develop indicators for measuring implementation of the Convention, issue reports, make recommendations to states, and encourage civil society organizations to participate in the process by submitting parallel reports. Since 2004, this detailed work has paid off as the CIM and the MESECVI have produced highly detailed, clear, and user-friendly guides and reports to hold states accountable in implementing the Convention. Specifically, the detailed Practical Guide to the System of Progress Indicators for Measuring the Implementation of the Belém do Pará Convention (Inter-American Commission of Women and MESECVI 2015) and the Overview of the Implementation of the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI et al. 2015), both published twenty years after the Convention’s entry into force, are impressive in their clarity and comprehensiveness.

Nevertheless, the findings in the Overview document are disheartening, showing very uneven and anemic levels of states’ compliance with their duties to implement the Convention by developing a national plan (49 percent), passing appropriate legislation (39.19 percent), providing specialized services (41.67 percent) and access to justice (22.92 percent) for women victims of violence, gathering information and statistics (18.75 percent), and allocating budget resources to combat violence against women (17.71 percent) (MESECVI et al. 2015). In any case, the CIM’s legal and policy work concerning the Belém do Pará Convention is highly relevant to the second pillar of the UN’s WPS agenda concerning prevention of all forms of gender based violence, particularly SGBV in places of violent conflict. It also speaks to the WPS agenda’s participation and protection pillars. CIM’s work demonstrates that clear albeit limited steps have been taken to prevent and punish such violence in both public and private spaces in the Americas, and it provides gender policy expertise and accessible models for other governmental and nongovernmental actors at all levels to consider adapting to other parts of the world.

The Inter-American Program

In the wake of the successful adoption of the Belém do Pará Convention in 1994 and the impact of the 1995 UN Women’s Conference in Beijing, the CIM implemented its Strategic Plan of Action for 1995–2000, which launched a renewed effort to strengthen and modernize its central role in gender policy work in the Americas. The outcome was the CIM’s (p. 418) “Inter-American Program,” approved by the OAS General Assembly in 1999 (CIM 2000). The IAP’s first Objective was “to systematically integrate a gender perspective in all organs, organizations, and entities of the inter-American system;” its subsequent objectives and lines of action provide clear statements of how that should be accomplished (CIM 2000). Through the IAP, the CIM placed itself at the hub of advancing the full range of women’s rights and gender equality policies in the inter-American system. It acts inside the OAS Secretariat and with other OAS components to infuse gender mainstreaming into every policy area by providing policy expertise, advisory services, capacity building, and gender training via workshops and virtual short courses. In its 2016 report, the CIM Executive Secretary highlighted such work in support and coordination with the OAS Secretariats for Multidimensional Security, for Political Affairs, for Access to Rights and Equity, and for Legal Affairs. In addition, the report outlined the CIM’s cooperation and advisory services provided to other autonomous specialized organizations such as the Pan-American Health Organization (Inter-American Commission of Women 2016b: 19–21).

Moreover, the IAP situates the CIM to work “horizontally” with member states on capacity building and providing legal and policy models, seminars, trainings and workshops, and related support for governmental ministries to infuse the inter-American women’s rights and gender equality regime into the state and local levels. The IAP also empowers the CIM to cooperate and coordinate with other inter-governmental organizations outside of the OAS system, such as UN Women and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), as well as with nongovernmental and civil society organizations working in the region at all levels to advance the women’s rights and gender equality agenda (CIM 2000; Inter-American Commission of Women 2016a and 2016b). For example, with the support of the governments of Chile and Trinidad and Tobago, the CIM undertook a project focused on capacity building with the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and its six member states (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) to compile data, hold focus groups, workshops, and roundtables with local stakeholders, and ultimately produce a subregional report on the implementation of their Belém do Pará commitments. Importantly, these countries had some of the weakest participation and/or lowest compliance rates in the MESECVI evaluation previously discussed, even though gender-based violence is “a topic of great interest to the Caribbean region” (Inter-American Commission of Women 2016b: 10–11).

The IAP and CIM’s impact on furthering gender mainstreaming within the inter-American system is also seen in the increased articulation of mandates relating to “gender issues” in the high-level Summit of the Americas process. Seventeen gender mandates were included in the 2001 Plan of Action at the Quebec Summit alone, constituting over 60 percent of all gender mandates produced by the Summit process between 1994 and 2012 (Gender Issues, n.d.; Summits of the Americas Secretariat, n.d.). Interestingly, most of the gender mandates adopted by the Summits of the Americas prior to 2009 tended to address general principles of women’s human rights and gender equality in the political, economic development, and social policy areas. At the 2012 Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, which focused on Citizen Security and Transnational Organized Crime, one finds the first set of mandates that infuse a gender perspective into discussions of public security (see OAS Secretariat for Multidimensional Security 2012).

(p. 419) In short, since the adoption of the IAP in 1999, the CIM has clearly strengthened and modernized itself and its work to infuse women’s rights and gender equality in and across the inter-American system. The creation of the MESECVI in 2004 and the subsequent development of its evaluation process for the implementation of the Belém do Pará Convention along with the CIM’s regular strategic planning documents and periodic reports are examples of the CIM’s increasingly thorough and professional gender policy work. While other international, regional, and organizational factors were surely at play in the gender politics under review, it must be noted that the strengthening and modernization of the CIM is largely due to its professional and expert staff. In 2009, the CIM Secretariat got even stronger, when Carmen Moreno, formerly the director of the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for Women (UN-INSTRAW), was appointed Executive Secretary of the CIM. Moreno brought with her Hilary Anderson (also from UN-INSTRAW) to serve as Gender Senior Specialist at the CIM. With the rest of the CIM staff, these women have further modernized the approach, discourse, and visibility of the CIM’s women’s rights and gender equality work inside the OAS system in ways that are directly relevant to the UN’s WPS agenda (discussed later). Moreover, they pushed the region’s gender regime even further by working to reframe the regional discussion of “citizen security” in terms of “gender, peace, and security.”

Locating the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda in Inter-American Frameworks

According to the Executive Secretary’s 2016 report, today the CIM defines its work in terms of the “OAS’s four thematic pillars and its programs, forums, and strategies: Substantive political citizenship of women for democracy and governance; Women’s human rights and gender violence; Women’s economic security and citizenship; and Citizen security from a gender approach.” The report adds a “fifth pillar and one of CIM’s main mandates: the institutionalization of an approach based on rights and gender equality within the work of the OAS” (Inter-American Commission of Women 2016b: 2). These pillars are strikingly similar to the four pillars of the UN’s WPS agenda discussed earlier: women’s participation, women’s protection, prevention of violence against women and gender-based violence, and women-centered relief and recovery. Both sets advance instrumental gender perspectives in policymaking aimed at ending all forms of violence and redefining human security.

As we have seen, the CIM has led the way in advancing hard law regarding women’s political and civil rights to participate in the political process and decision-making as well as in the prevention and punishment of violence against women in the Western Hemisphere. Since 2009, the CIM has worked to mainstream gender issues into the region-wide debates about multidimensional and citizen security aimed at protecting women, girls, and other vulnerable groups. It has long worked on advancing gender equity policies in education, health, economic development, social policy, and more. Yet, it remains curious that specific references to Resolution 1325 and the trope “women, peace, and security” are so few, and arise so late in the documentary records of the inter-American system even though CIM is (p. 420) clearly working in these issues areas. Indeed, it is UN-related entities working in the region such as UN Women and ECLAC, or regional civil society networks like RESDAL (Network for Security and Defense in Latin America) that speak directly of Resolution 1325 and the WPS agenda in regional fora (ECLAC 2016a, 2016b, and 2015; ECLAC and UN Women 2016; RESDAL 2015). Only a handful of such direct references are articulated inside the OAS system.

The first reference appears in the CIM’s 2011 “Briefing Note: A Rights-Based and Gender Equality Approach to Citizen Security in the Americas,” which mentions Resolution 1325 only once, on the last page of the six-page technical note (discussed later) (CIM 2011). The second reference dates from October 13, 2015 on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of Resolution 1325 at the United Nations in New York, when the Chief of Staff of the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS delivered a short speech (seven paragraphs) prepared by the CIM to commemorate the anniversary at the UN Security Council (Laínez 2015). A third reference relates to a Policy Roundtable event titled, “Gender, Peace, and Security,” held on March 17, 2016 at the OAS’s Hall of the Americas and co-sponsored by the OAS, the CIM, the Embassy of the Principality of Liechtenstein, and UN Women. The event included welcoming remarks by the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS and a keynote address by the Foreign Minister of Liechtenstein who saluted Resolution 1325 and the WPS agenda in their speeches (Méndez 2016; Frick 2016).

When asked why there was so little direct naming of Resolution 1325 or the WPS Agenda inside the OAS system, the CIM’s Gender Senior Specialist Hilary Anderson—who edited UN-INSTRAW’s 2006 policy and planning guide on Women, Peace, and Security—explained that there are three arguments blocking a specific incorporation of Resolution 1325 and WPS into the regional policy discourse. The first is that 1325 is considered “a UN thing.” Some believe that it should stay within the UN, seeing this as a question of “different organization, different agenda” (Anderson 2016). A second and related argument is that some states prefer to keep the UN Security Council out of regional affairs, reflecting the deeply embedded defense of national sovereignty and autonomy in the region as well as a nod to the region’s own security and defense arrangements. The third argument is that Resolution 1325 is considered simply “not relevant” to some states because there is “no formal conflict” in the region, at least not of the type envisioned in Resolution 1325 (Anderson 2016).

The contemporary cases of Colombia and Haiti notwithstanding, the regional challenges and discourse regarding “security” have changed since the 1990s and the three-pronged ending of the Cold War, of the civil wars in Central America, and of military rule in several important South American states. Today’s high levels of violence associated with criminal cartels, traffickers, and gangs fueled by the underlying structural violence of neoliberal globalization, social inequality, and economic underdevelopment have shifted regional debates about “security” (see Mattar Nasser 2010; Placencia et al. 2009). A bifurcated or double-discourse about security has emerged, with one line addressing the more traditional national security and defense concerns of states in a discourse about “multidimensional security,” and another line addressing the more local concerns about personal safety and policing in the discourse of “public security” and “citizen security.” Until recently, the endemic violence against women, particularly femicide and SGBV, has tended to be missing from either of these discourses. A preliminary reading suggests that the multidimensional security policy arena within the OAS is lagging or is more resistant to gender (p. 421) mainstreaming, as fewer references to women’s rights, security, and gender equality appear in the available documents (see for example, Organization of American States Permanent Council 2016). However, the “citizen security” policy arena appears to be more open to gender framing and mainstreaming (see OAS Secretariat for Multidimensional Security 2012).

According to Ms. Anderson, the CIM’s 2011 “Briefing Note: A Rights-based and Gender Equality Approach to Citizen Security in the Americas,” was written “to contextualize security” and “to frame WPS for the Americas” in politically and policy relevant terms (Anderson 2016). The “Briefing Note” specifies the different ways women experience violence compared to men (for example, sexual assault or harassment, rape and sexual torture, femicide, “honor” crimes, forced sexual exploitation, child marriage, and the like) and underscores the ways “gender differences intersect with differences in economic status, ethnicity, age, physical capacity, sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors that affect certain people’s vulnerability” (CIM 2011). It frames violence against women as a question of public security and points out the limits of traditional approaches. Citing Charlotte Bunch, as well as the World Bank, the “Briefing Note” asserts:

The global change in the nature of conflict—from interstate and civil wars to local conflicts, political repression and organized crime—demand a change of focus in security policy that recognizes the threats inherent in poverty, HIV, racism, domestic violence, ethnic conflict, and population displacement, among other factors. However, the same institutional weakness that allows the existence and growth of organized crime and the violence it implies also hinders the formulation of an adequate response to these new, or emerging, threats

(CIM 2011).

The “Briefing Note” goes on to offer a set of policy recommendations based on UN as well as OAS agreements and resolutions, including Resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions, along with the Belém do Pará Convention.

Since 2011, the CIM has shifted its language to using the trope “gender, peace, and security,” and has advanced this agenda into several new areas in the OAS’s citizen security policy arena. Most notably, it launched work on violence against women in politics, including attention to political violence more generally which limits women’s political participation in the electoral process and access to positions of political leadership. It has prepared a fact sheet on the issue, secured the adoption of a Declaration on the issue by the Conference of States Party to the Belém do Pará Convention in 2015, and developed a Model Law on the topic (CIM 2017; Inter-American Commission of Women 2016a: 7). The CIM also frames child and forced marriage, as well as teenage pregnancy as citizen security issues, and is even raising interesting discussions about gender and cybersecurity. Moreover, the CIM is working with others to inject women’s rights and gender equity into debates on regional drug policies and incarceration rates, which have been especially onerous for women (OAS 2018; Washington Office on Latin America et al. 2016). While the CIM’s “gender, peace, and security”—or GPS—efforts seem to be making some headway in the citizen security policy arena, its gender mainstreaming work in the multidimensional security arena appears to be just getting under way. Further progress will largely depend on overcoming resistance in government ministries and in the military and policing institutions inside member states.

(p. 422) The Challenges Ahead

Translating the pillars of the UN’s WPS agenda through the OAS’s GPS framework and on to the national and local levels remains a major challenge. As noted earlier, as of April 2018 only eight states in the region had developed a NAP for implementing Resolution 1325: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, and the United States (see PeaceWomen 2018). Chile was the first state in the Americas to do so in 2009, thanks in part to the leadership of its President, Michele Bachelet, who went on to serve as UN Women’s first director between 2010 and 2013 before returning to Chile for a second term as president. Guatemala is the most recent, though its NAP has yet to be published (PeaceWomen 2018). Curiously, many Latin American states, including Brazil, Chile and Guatemala, participate in UN Peacekeeping missions around the world, particularly in Haiti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Middle East (Matijascic 2014; Rebelo 2014; RESDAL 2015; Valdes 2008; Benítez 2007; Malcorra 2010; United Nations Peacekeeping 2016). Despite a certain desire to keep the UNSC at arm’s length in the Americas and a real uneasiness in the region about sending military missions to other countries in the Global South, one would expect more states to have embraced 1325 and adopted NAPs, at the very least to comply with Resolution 1325 in such peacekeeping missions.

Yet, as Miller et al. (2014: 4) found in their literature review on the implementation of Resolution 1325, “a 1325 NAP or RAP is neither necessary for promoting gender mainstreaming nor is it sufficient.” The experience of the partial implementation of the Belém do Pará Convention is instructive regarding prospects for the advancement of the UN’s WPS or the CIM’s GPS agendas. With half-hearted compliance levels in developing the Convention’s NAPs and widespread neglect in providing adequate budget and financial resources to implement them after twenty years, it is difficult not to be pessimistic. Moreover, reporting fatigue seems to be an emerging obstacle, as some states complain about having to submit so many reports to different international governmental human rights bodies that seem to ask for the same information (Anderson 2016). In an environment of limited resources, weak state capacity, multiple policy demands, and persistent patriarchal attitudes about women, such reporting fatigue is not a promising sign for advancing the WPS or GPS agendas in the Western Hemisphere.

Ultimately, there will be thirty-five different stories about whether and how the UN’s WPS or the OAS’s GPS agendas can be fully infused and implemented in all corners of the Americas. This study of CIM’s work suggests that regionalization is not a one-way process: it may also mean responding to UN-level agendas through legal, political, and policy frameworks articulated in the region’s own terms. The CIM’s work also indicates the importance of long-term strategies and strategic coalitions along the way. Implementing the WPS and GPS agendas in the Americas will depend on the strength, strategies, and insistence of the region’s gender heroes, femocrats, and gender rights activists working in inter-governmental organizations, government ministries, civil society organizations, and academia. Increasing the visibility of the WPS and GPS agendas and explaining their relevance to the challenges of “security” in the Western Hemisphere will be particularly important along with strengthening local and regional networks, building political pressure, and increasing women’s representation in political leadership roles at the national, municipal, (p. 423) and community levels. A key challenge is to get the region’s military establishments and policing services on board without militarizing “security” any further in the region and without militarizing the WPS or GPS agendas. In the end, a great deal of work lies ahead for political leaders, policy experts, political activists, and academics to translate high-level principles, promises, and policy initiatives from mere lip service into meaningful social and political change. Realizing this goal is relevant to everyone’s peace and security in the Americas.


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                                                            (1.) The other eight resolutions are UN Security Council Resolutions 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122, 2242, and 2331. For simplification, the shorter “Resolution 1325” will refer to the entire set of subsequent resolutions that define the WPS agenda.

                                                            (2.) Mercosur is an economic customs union in South America which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela (suspended in December 2016), and several associate members. UNASUR is the Union of South American Nations founded by Brazil. ALBA is the Bolivian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America founded by Venezuela. CELAC is the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States which grew out of the earlier Rio Group states.

                                                            (3.) The Summits of the Americas Process emerged to reorganize inter-American relations and discuss regional issues after the end of the Cold War. The first Summit of the Americas was held in Miami in 1994. The early Summits of the Americas were technically outside of the OAS but subsequent summits were eventually institutionalized and brought under the umbrella of the OAS system (Summits of the Americas Secretariat n.d.: 2–3).

                                                            (4.) The Belém do Pará Convention’s Article 2 specifies violence “that occurs in the community and is perpetrated by any person, including, among others, rape, sexual abuse, torture, trafficking in persons, forced prostitution, kidnapping and sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as in educational institutions health facilities or any other place; and that is perpetrated or condoned by the state or its agents regardless of where it occurs” (Organization of American States 1995).