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Dr. Anthony Cleland Welch: “UNSCR 1325 is at the Heart of Security Sector Reform”

1325 Policy Group has the pleasure of announcing that Dr. Anthony Cleland Welch has joined our newly created Group of Experts. The Group of Experts has been formed as a resource to be incorporated in 1325 Policy Group projects as well as a possible resource for others who are looking for certain expertise for projects/activities on women, peace, and security.

Dr. Welch is passionate about UNSCR 1325 implementation and is a former Brigadier General and leading expert on Security Sector Reform (SSR), who has spent twenty years working at the strategic level for a number of international organizations and the British Government.  In addition, he is a visiting lecturer on security at Cranfield and Leicester Universities and the Folke Bernadotte Academy.

1325 Policy Group’s Executive Director Emmicki Roos recently met with Dr. Welch when he was visiting Stockholm and asked him some questions about how he views the connection between UNSCR 1325 and SSR.

 How can UNSCR 1325 be a tool for SSR?

-         UNSCR 1325 is at the heart of SSR in the sense that, to be successful, SSR must be grounded in the local community and population. The fears and aspirations of all citizens must be reflected in the outcomes of the security sector reform process. It is therefore evident that the inclusion of women and girls in any SSR outreach is vital.

 What role can women/women’s organizations play?

-         Both women and women’s organizations can play a pivotal part in SSR by ensuring that the various organizations that make up the security sector are aware of the needs of women and girls, in the wider sense, and that they also understand how women can be a force for change and growth within their organizations.  Women’s groups can use their collective strength to explain the need to consider gender issues and to include women in the decision-making process on security and in the setting of goals.  The advantage to the security organizations is that they will gain greater acceptance and authority from the general population by accepting and understanding the roles that women can play.

What challenges have you experienced when trying to implement UNSCR 1325 in SSR?

-         Although UNSCR 1325 has been in force for over a decade it has not yet gained wide acceptance by either UN Member States or the wider world.  Progress has been very slow.  Mainstreaming gender issues and ensuring the proper representation of women in security organizations and in positions of influence remain goals yet to be achieved. Things are however getting better and the UN, in particular, is focused on moving UNSCR 1325 forward at a swifter pace but there is still much to be achieved.

Can you give an example of good practice in terms of human security and UNSCR 1325?

-         Often women are reticent on matters concerning their security, both in the general and the domestic sense, however, they may not feel comfortable to come forward and voice their fears and aspirations in public. SSR practitioners are also often not good at ensuring that women and girls voices are heard. To overcome this tendency, in the Kosovo Internal Security Sector Review of 2006, we set up a mechanism where women (and men) could post anonymously their thoughts and fears on security in letter boxes in every Government building and school. In addition, we had a bus, which toured every municipality, containing a letterbox where notes on any subject related to security in the home, community or the state could be posted without fear of exposure of the author’s identity.  This allowed women, in particular, to get their views and aspirations across without public exposure or fear of censor.

1325 Policy Group welcomes Dr. Welch to Group of Experts and look forward to working together to ensure that the voices of women are heard in SSR processes.  Read Dr. Welch’s full biography here: http://1325policygroup.org/about/group-of-experts/ 

(Photo: Dr. Anthony Cleland Welch)

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