Miki Jacevic on Localizing National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security

In this interview, OSF Fellow Miki Jacevic explains why and how NAPs should be implemented.

Our Secure Future Fellow, Mirsad “Miki” Jacevic, is a seasoned peacebuilding practitioner with over 25 years of work on issues of conflict prevention and resolution; Women, Peace and Security; and transitional justice. He has advised OSF Founder, Cynda Collins Arsenault, on the support provided to the cross-border peacebuilding efforts of women in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also contributed to a One Earth Future research project in Serbia, the Philippines, Sierra Leonne, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the development and implementation of national action plans for UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Since the unanimous decision to sign United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), UN member states have begun to adopt the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda through the implementation of national action plans (NAPs). Our Secure Future interviewed Miki Jacevic, an expert on drafting NAPs, on one process that is critical to their success: localization. Whereas NAPs guarantee the adoption of the WPS agenda on the level of national governments, localization guarantees they are implemented in provinces, districts, and municipalities. This exclusive interview with Miki Jacevic explains why and how NAPs should be implemented.

How can we ensure the implementation of UNSCR 1325?

What we need to call for are more explicit ways to take more of an integrative approach on two accounts: making all NAPs incorporate both a domestic and a foreign lens, and making all NAPs somehow tackle localization.

Many donor countries have a variety of focal countries that they work with. For example, Norway has five [Afghanistan, Colombia, Myanmar, Palestine, and South Sudan], and the United Kingdom has six [Afghanistan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Somalia, and Syria]. One option is that, in addition to a choice of “focus countries,” there is also emphasis placed on localization or even a choice of a “focal province” or “focal region.”

For example, in the case of Ukraine, localization can be implemented among border police using the lens of an intervention against human trafficking, which has increased because of violent conflict. Many countries in the Ukrainian neighborhood are supporting the Ukrainian government through capacity-building and training. For example, the Lithuanian police force is already engaged in training Ukrainian police so there is already a framework in place for improving security capacity, but I am pretty confident that the country’s NAP is not being used to create a security intervention. Since this training is already taking place and both countries already have NAPs, this kind of operational programming could be a part of those NAPs. This would mean more women police, but also training for male police who can also be trained to do things such as spot trafficking. Yes, of course, the “mechanism” of NAP support would still run mostly through the host national government, but there can be conditions that would facilitate faster access to assistance at the local level.

Donors can offer host countries specific help to localize in different provinces by going through government ministries or embassies to get to that local level. The funding may be country to country, but the implementation still needs to take place at the local level. Of course, one major problem is that many of these focal countries are either geographically huge, broken by conflict, or both. When donor countries choose to focus on countries undergoing conflict, it makes localization difficult.

What are some examples of implementation at the local level?

Despite the hard work, governments simply have to have NAPs as a statement of the national government’s political will to make WPS a policy priority, but I am a big proponent of localization, in all internally facing NAPs and even more so in countries with conflict or post-conflict contexts.

For me it is not—or should not be—localization versus national action plans. It simply has to be both. The implementation of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s (BiH’s) NAP is a terrific example of how the national and local levels can work together. In the case of this country, localization was made a priority, and WPS was specifically implemented in six pilot municipalities. The Agency for Gender Equality took the lead on this initiative, designing the methodology for local action plans and partnering with local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Then, NGO partners used their connections with local government, assemblies, and civil society organizations to start the localization process. What resulted was that each municipality created unique plans for implementation that worked for its community. Such ideas included creating a safe space for women merchants to sell their goods and addressing domestic violence.

As the BiH example shows, in a country with an internally focused NAP, getting the policy implementation down to the local level is the best and fastest way to show the link between an ever-changing security landscape and the needs and contributions of women. In short, translating national ministerial commitments into specific actions that local mayors or police or school boards or economic chambers can do to make this real and clear is required to make WPS a reality.

What policy gaps do you see in the implementation of Women, Peace and Security?

It might be better to really focus on a missing link, in my opinion, which is how can countries whose NAPs are externally focused explicitly support the localization of those NAPs in conflict and post-conflict countries?

It is harder and less clear how to localize externally facing NAPs as there are some fair differences between internally and externally facing NAPs and some practical challenges in localizing them. Most externally facing NAPs are primarily tools of foreign policy, security assistance, and diplomatic relations, and so there is no practical, structural way to localize them.

So, the question is, how can a US, or UK, or Canada NAP explicitly support localization of NAPs in conflict or post-conflict countries or in a similar policy gap? It also creates challenges about how to localize at home. For example, what does this mean for Ontario in Canada? Externally facing NAPs don’t necessarily have good mechanisms or models to replicate on localizing so it adds a new dilemma to what implementation looks like. There needs to be more emphasis placed on how donor countries can both help to promote localization in focal countries and also ask how to localize in their own context. The Global Network of Women’s Peacebuilders does excellent work on how to do this.

What are some resources for our readers to better understand national action plan localization?

I found the following resources particularly useful to understand the complexities of implementing WPS both domestically and internationally:

From Global Promise to National Action: Advancing Women, Peace, and Security in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Philippines, Serbia, and Sierra Leone, by Alexandra Amling and Marie O’Reilly

Full Cycle WPS Implementation: Localization as Key Implementation Strategy, by the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders

Localization of Women, Peace, and Security Agenda: Case Study of Six Local Governments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by Kika Babic-Svetlin, Mik Jacevic, and Mariam Mansury

National Action Plans as an Obstacle to Meaningful Local Ownership of UNSCR 1325 in Liberia and Sierra Leone, by Helen Basini and Caitlin Ryan

Way Forward: Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, by Samra Shreshta, Krishna Bhattarai, Sumiran Shreshta, Bhola Prasad Dahal, and Yubakar Raj Rajkarnikar