General Jonathan Vance (Chief of the Defence Staff, Department of National Defence):
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm joined here today by Lieutenant-General Christine Whitecross, who is the chief of military personnel command for the Canadian Armed Forces. Mr. Greg Smolynec is one of our defence scientists. He is intimately involved in all things to do with gender-based analysis and the work we're doing to advance our issues in the Canadian Armed Forces.
With your permission, I'll carry on with my remarks.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today and to take part in this important discussion.
Fifteen years ago, the UN Security Council adopted its first resolution on women, peace and security. Even then, Canada was at the forefront of the integration of women in the Canadian Armed Forces. Since then, we have made further progress. Today, I would like to share with you exactly what the Canadian Armed Forces are doing to implement this resolution.
Over the course of my career as a soldier and now as Chief of Defence Staff, I have seen first-hand how wars, conflicts and crises affect women, men, girls and boys in different ways.
It was in Afghanistan that I saw how the war was affecting Afghan women and girls in particular.
It was also in Afghanistan that I saw how having women within our ranks could dramatically improve the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces.
In order to clearly identify all the various concerns, we had to engage with different segments of the population, including women and children. In addition to performing their main occupational role, our female members provided an essential perspective. Having women in our ranks opened doors for us and allowed us to interact with this segment of the population, which was critical to our operational planning and success. Their work was indispensable to our understanding of the dangers and concerns that were relevant to this group.
Last summer, shortly after I was appointed chief of the defence staff, I realized we could do more to systematically implement the United Nations Security Council resolutions on women, peace, and security. Doing so is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that this will enhance the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Forces. This is why I ordered the development of a plan to fully integrate gender perspectives into Canadian Armed Forces planning and operations, our training and education system, and doctrine.
This is also why I directed that a team of gender advisers be established to provide me with advice on the topic of women, peace, and security. Finally, this is why I created gender adviser positions at Canadian joint operations command and Canadian special operations forces command, and I will be adding gender advisers to deployed task forces in the very near future.
Ensuring that we fully implement UN Security Council resolutions, or UNSCRs, on women, peace and security is a priority for me.
On January 29 of this year, I issued my orders for integrating UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions into Canadian forces operations and planning. I have brought copies of the directive for the committee today.
Our mission is to fully integrate these requirements and direction on gender-based analysis plus, GBA+, into Canadian Armed Forces planning and operations by August 31, 2017, and into the wider institution by March 31, 2019.
The directive formally communicates the tasks to be accomplished on a strict timeline to Canadian Armed Forces commanders and staffs.
I am happy to report that progress on these tasks is proceeding on schedule.
My military gender advisers and those for Canadian joint operations command and Canadian special operations forces command will be in place this summer as per the plan and, at this point in time, I am considering establishing a senior Canadian Armed Forces gender adviser in the weeks to come in my office. A staffing process for civilian gender advisers is under way and on schedule, as are other activities such as the review and development of training and professional military education programs.
As we plan new armed forces operations, we are making sure that gender-based analysis plus is undertaken to improve our operational effectiveness and our understanding of the situation.
We are also active internationally on this front. During last year's major NATO exercise Trident Juncture 2015, the Canadian Armed Forces assigned a gender adviser to the Canadian commander. We are currently looking to do the same for the major U.S.-led rim of the Pacific exercise this year.
We have developed and are looking to strengthen our relationship with the Nordic Centre for Gender and Military Operations located in Sweden, which is the NATO centre of excellence in gender and military operations.
Independent of our work on women, peace, and security, there are many other areas that complement our efforts contributing to a culture of respect, operational excellence, and diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Shortly after being named CDS last summer, I issued the Operation Honour directive, that is aimed at eliminating sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces. Because sexual misconduct of any kind is not and will not be tolerated within the Canadian Armed Forces, I also recently directed my staff to use retention and recruiting efforts to increase the number of women in the Canadian Armed Forces. My orders to the armed forces and to General Whitecross specifically are to increase the percentage of women within our ranks by 1% per year until we reach our target of 25%.
Concurrently, we are developing a diversity strategy to address broader issues of diversity in the armed forces. This strategy will aim to generate an institution that is reflective of the greater Canadian population by raising awareness among targeted communities on the many opportunities available within the Canadian Armed Forces. Indeed, we have come to the point when we need them in our ranks.
Mr. Chair, as you can see, while there remains some work to do, we are making real progress in the area of women, peace and security. This new way of looking at operations will translate into enhanced operational excellence for the Canadian military. And this is something we can all benefit from.
Thank you very much for your attention, sir. That ends my comments.
Chief Superintendent Barbara Fleury (Chief Superintendent, Police Advisor, Canada’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police):
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security.
To begin, I would like to take some time to provide the broader context within which the RCMP's activities relating to women, peace, and security are taking place.
The RCMP administers and implements Canada's international police peacekeeping and peace operations program in partnership with Public Safety Canada and Global Affairs Canada. Police officers deployed through the program come from the RCMP and municipal and provincial police agencies from across Canada. Currently, this includes Canadian police officers from approximately 25 different agencies and the RCMP. Since 1989, over 3,800 Canadian police officers have been deployed to more than 60 peace operations around the world, working with key partners such as the United Nations.
As a result of our long-standing contribution, Canada is recognized as a world leader in police professionalism and is known for deploying highly skilled, bilingual, or multilingual officers to build capacity, peace, and security with other partners in the international community.
In 2000, when United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 was announced, the RCMP began incorporating women, peace, and security elements into its peace operations related work. For instance, in December 2000, the RCMP began to examine how we could support the involvement of women in Canadian peace operations. Since Canada's action plan for the implementation of the United Nations resolutions on women, peace, and security was announced in 2010, the RCMP's efforts to incorporate women, peace, and security elements have greatly expanded. Today the women, peace, and security agenda is an integral component of our peace operations related work, such as when deciding on missions or projects to undertake.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few areas of the RCMP's implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on women, peace, and security.
First, the RCMP has worked to increase the deployment of Canadian female police to peace operations. This is in keeping with the United Nations' findings that female police increase the effectiveness of missions, help to build trust with populations, and act as role models.
To this end, the RCMP, together with its domestic police partners, has undertaken initiatives to increase the proportion of Canadian women police officers deployed to peace operations. For instance, all job bulletins for peace operations encourage women to apply, and female candidates have been selected when equally qualified men and women are competing for a position.
In addition, women's participation has been promoted through communications and participation in events such as the International Association of Women Police conferences.
I am pleased to report that in 2014-15, Canada first surpassed the United Nations' call for member states to deploy 20% women police officers to peace operations, and that at present, approximately 25% of Canadian police deployed through the international police peacekeeping and peace operations program are women.
In addition to ensuring a higher proportion of women deployed, the RCMP recognizes the importance of ensuring that women work in all types of positions and capacities within peace operations, and in particular, senior and leadership positions. Canada has deployed senior women police officers to various missions in recent years, including to Haiti, Afghanistan, Ukraine, the West Bank, and the United Nations headquarters. Currently, the contingent commander in Haiti, who oversees the entire contingent of Canadian police officers, is a woman.
A second area where we have focused our efforts is in the investment of comprehensive training. The RCMP recognizes that training plays a critical role in furthering all elements of the women, peace, and security agenda.
The RCMP, together with the Canadian Police Knowledge Network, developed online training modules that are mandatory for all police being deployed to UN peace operations prior to attending their pre-deployment training in Ottawa. These modules cover various topics, including women, peace, and security, and sexual exploitation and abuse.
During pre-deployment training here in Ottawa, the RCMP also provides an in-class mission-specific session on the differential impact of conflict on women and girls and on sexual and gender-based violence, in addition to covering cultural awareness and code of conduct and ethics issues. This training reinforces Canada's commitment to upholding the highest standards of police conduct in missions; Canada's commitment to being transparent and accountable for the actions of deployed police; and the fact that Canada takes all allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse or other misconduct within peace operations extremely seriously.
The RCMP is continuously seeking to improve its women, peace, and security training. To this end, the RCMP recently worked with Canadian civil society to develop and implement a one-day women, peace, and security workshop for Canadian police officers deploying to Haiti. The workshop covered various topics, including understanding gender and women, peace, and security; normative and legal frameworks; and practical exercises. This training partnership represents a concrete step in building an effective and ongoing relationship between the RCMP and Canadian civil society.
Finally, I would like to highlight how Canadian police officers are supporting the women, peace and security agenda through their deployment to peace operations.
Canadian police officers are highly regarded for promoting women's rights and gender equality. Several Canadian police officers have worked directly in women, peace and security-related roles through positions such as gender advisers or human rights mentors in various missions, including Haiti, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.
Canadian police officers have also directly supported efforts to prevent, address, and investigate sexual and gender-based violence. For instance, since 2011, Canadian police have worked with Norway to provide training to improve the investigatory capacity of the Haitian National Police on cases of sexual and gender-based violence. Similarly, in 2015, three female Canadian police officers who were trained specifically on investigating sexual and gender-based violence offences were deployed to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. They assisted in investigating crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide allegedly committed between 1975 and 1979 during the Khmer Rouge regime, and brought extensive value related to sexual and gender-based violence cases.
Canada is also one of the few countries that can say they have contributed to all of the United Nations Police Division's initiatives on women, peace, and security in recent years. For instance, in 2014, Canada worked with the United Nations in several developing countries, including Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Benin, Niger, and Togo, pioneering a training project aimed at increasing the number of women police officers deployed to peace operations from other countries. Canada also participated in the launch of the United Nations Police Division's gender tool kit.
Now that I have covered some ways in which the RCMP and Canadian police officers are integrating the women, peace and security agenda into peace operations related activities, I would like to highlight how we are planning to continue to support this initiative.
Ensuring women are prioritized as a core part of maintaining peace and security, including through the deployment of women police officers in peace operations, requires the ongoing attention and support of the United Nations and its police-contributing countries, including Canada.
The RCMP plans to continue related initiatives, for instance, through the administration of a nationwide survey on female police to see what barriers, if any, exist regarding female police participation in peace operations. The RCMP also plans to ensure greater female participation in senior leadership positions within missions.
Both male and female Canadian police officers deployed to peace operations will continue to play a critical role in implementing the women, peace and security agenda through contributing to the development of professional and effective law enforcement institutions that respect the human rights of women and girls, protect women and girls from violence, including sexual violence, and meet the needs of the entire local population.
A key step going forward is the renewal and provision of Canada's national action plan to implement UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security, which is being led by Global Affairs Canada. It will provide a solid framework to guide the implementation of those resolutions and a tool for the meaningful measurement of progress and accountability. The RCMP will work closely with Global Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence to ensure that the revised action plan incorporates lessons learned, ongoing and emerging women, peace and security priorities, as well as the perspectives of Canadian civil society.
Thank you for your time. I would be pleased to respond to any questions that the committee may have.
Gen Jonathan Vance:
Thank you, sir. I'll start, and then General Whitecross can get into some of the details.
We are taking an approach that looks at best practices globally among our allies and within those organizations in Canada that would have some experience in this.
Key to this is a victim-centred approach. Not only do we not have to trigger a complaint on the part of the potential victim or the survivor, but we also have to be mindful of the fact that due process must occur.
I think we are good on that. The National Investigation Service has done a lot of work on this. We're developing more and more expertise in the area of investigating sexual crime, and making certain that, first and foremost, the victim or the survivor of the event is reassured, taken care of, and in fact has an element of control in how the investigation proceeds, including, in some cases, not to launch an investigation but simply to find out information. At the same time, to ensure that person is safe and does not suffer any more, oftentimes it requires the removal of the other party, which we have done. We have had some success in this regard.
I would end by saying that on the matter of sexual harassment, there's also a challenge in that there are many definitions of sexual harassment. One of Madame Deschamps' recommendations and a lot of her work talked about the challenges around definitions. We have to define them, and we have to be able to follow up.
While we work with Treasury Board and others on the exact definitions and get consistent definitions, I've asked our centre, and the executive director of the centre—and they are at arm's length to me, of course—to consider developing a working definition and developing the expertise to investigate or supervise the investigation, so even that becomes somewhat at arm's length to the armed forces. They would recommend how we might proceed after the investigation is done.
I'll turn it over now to General Whitecross.
Lieutenant-General Christine Whitecross (Commander, Military Personnel Command, Department of National Defence):
Thank you, sir.
In reference to Madame Deschamps' recommendation, certainly the CDS has spoken about the centre and the work we've done in order to incorporate that.
When we met with our Australian and American colleagues, we found out they were able to do restricted and unrestricted reporting as they were coming forward. As the general said, if they approach the centre and have not mentioned the misconduct to anybody else, the centre will go ahead and give them the support they need, because they're not necessarily bound by the National Defence Act in that anyone that understands or hears about a misconduct happening has to do something about it.
That's our legislative framework. The complexity we're dealing with is how we create the environment where we allow people to come forward and get the support they need without triggering an official response.
The Americans and Australians have been able to do that through restricted and unrestricted reporting. We're looking at that measure. A restricted reporting would be when the alleged victim comes forward and says, “I don't want to go any further than this. I just want to seek the support I need in order to get better.” In the treatment, they carry on and do that.
In addition to that, they still do some chain of evidence required, in terms of whether it's rape kits, or interviews and the like for sexual assault, and they hold that in abeyance.
The Americans have found in about a quarter of those instances, almost 25%, that if people are given the opportunity to come forward and just seek the support they need, they will go from restricted to unrestricted, which means they will open up the ability to start an investigation at a point a little later.
Our hope is that we can mirror that legislation. We need to get through the chain of evidence, and we're working with our military police colleagues in order to be able to facilitate that.
Gen Jonathan Vance:
Thank you for your question.
It covers a massive body of knowledge and work, but I'll try and boil it down for you.
As we contemplate operations, as we contemplate engaging in an operational area of any type, there are a number of military objectives at stake. Gender-based analysis plus essentially ensures that we consider all aspects of the vulnerable population as we contemplate those military objectives.
In other words, if we don't peer through the lens and assess the military challenge ahead of us without looking at the population that's often hidden from us, particularly in a counterinsurgency environment or an environment where we are trying to set the conditions for the re-establishment of governance, the capacity for development to occur.... Essentially, what we try to do is set the conditions for the re-establishment of the social, political and economic fabric. It's one of the principal tasks of the military. If you conduct your operations such that you jeopardize that to occur, you could not only harm vulnerable populations, but you also may not be addressing some of the very factors that are causing society to have been torn apart or be suffering through an insurgency.
We learned this first-hand in Afghanistan. In nations like that, you typically only deal with one part of the population, namely, the male part, and oftentimes, only a narrow band of males who speak English. If you go into a country that is having a nationwide crisis, that has been at war for 30 years, that is suffering immensely, and sits at the bottom of any United Nations indices on human growth and development, and you only speak to the male English speakers, you're probably not speaking to the most virtuous and needy part of society.
To be able to be a positive factor in helping to solve the military crisis in a counterinsurgency or anything that involves the population, we learned very quickly that you have to take account of civil society and all of the things that are represented by some of these vulnerable populations.
On my sense of the way ahead, I'll give you a particular case in point.
We contemplate what will happen in Iraq in the months and years to come as the coalition turns its mind towards the operations necessary to liberate Mosul from ISIL. Mosul is a city of 750,000 people, which has been invested by ISIL, in terms of its defence, for 14 to 17 months. It will potentially require a significant effort for Iraqi security forces to free that town.
Through our train, advise, and assist function, one of the things I think we can do in the assist role is provide aid. We don't have total knowledge, which is one of the reasons that indigenous forces are best used to take care of the business themselves. They have to look at that city, how to free it, liberate it, and ultimately how to help it sustain whatever goes on through the lens of everybody involved, including the vulnerable populations. I think that will be incredibly important. This will manifest itself in the military operations of the coalition in terms of how to handle a massive exodus of non-combatants and refugees.
What is the best way to do that? How do we anticipate what might happen to them at the hands of ISIL as they try to leave, as human shields try to depart, and so on? How do you contemplate an operation where there's a vulnerable population that may be subject to considerable use of chemical weapons as long as the last stand holds? I'm painting a picture for you of what could come to pass.
All that is to say we understand better now—we've had a fair bit of practice at it through our UN experiences in Afghanistan and now in Iraq—these conflicts that don't lend themselves to an end, because two militaries clash and the fighting is won by one side or the other, and then they sort of get on with rebuilding things. It doesn't work that way anymore. You are in among the population. The population is in jeopardy.
Finally, as we look at how Canada will engage in operations in the future, we find that one of the things we can bring to bear, as we are doing in Iraq, is to enable efforts as countries try to maintain stability or re-establish stability, whether under the auspices of the UN Security Council resolution or not. If we are called in to support or help, we have enablers. Our best enablers, of course, are Canadians who understand not only conflict but also best practices.
Equipment is good, but people are really good. If we have Canadian Armed Forces members equipped to help, whether they're conducting UN operations or conducting security operations or even operations such as those the Iraqi security forces are doing in Iraq, and, among the other things we do, we aid them in this domain and assist them in the planning and contemplation of vulnerable populations while operations are being done, then I think we will achieve greater success in the end. It's not necessarily a function of making the military solution happen quickly and easily; it's hard, and what you leave behind is actually more important. Something better has to occur as a result of the military operation. So this is one way of making sure that happens.
Gen Jonathan Vance:
Thank you for your question. Thank you for your service. Thanks for training that platoon. It's good. I'll check and see how you did. I'll let you know.
Our objective, as the senior leadership of the armed forces, is to increase by 1% per year over the next 10 years from our current rate of 15%. I think we were out in front of most of our allies in terms of the percentage of women in the armed forces, back when it started to become a big issue.
Efforts have been made to attract and retain women, but they haven't necessarily gone far enough. In fact, I've issued an order to make it 1% per year for 10 years to get us to 25%.
In and of itself, I think that is fairly draconian because of the steps necessary to make that happen. I think over 1,400 women will need to be recruited into the armed forces.
We'll have that candidate pool available to us, I believe. It's a question then of how we value potential recruits. As we progress in the years and decades ahead, as warfare evolves and the types of jobs that need to be done evolve, the value proposition will be less and less. It will make it more obvious why you could get to more parity.
You mention a goal of 50%. I don't know if you misunderstood me that we're going to 25%. I wouldn't deliberately stop it at 25%. If it goes beyond that, that's fine.
I believe I have bitten off a lot. In fact, I have asked a lot of my chief of military personnel command to get us to 25%, just given where we've been, where we are, and the fact that we want to evolve at a much faster pace than we've evolved at before, but we also want to make certain that we learn lessons along the way to ensure we're successful.
The worst thing we could do would be to conduct this evolution in such a way as to make it difficult for the next 25%. I have been encouraged by some, as we have spoken about our targets, which have always been 25%, to reduce my target goal in order, at 15%, to appear to be closer to it. I reject that out of hand. We're actually going to try to get to 25%.
However, it's going to take a great deal of effort. It's going to take resources and a different approach to recruiting. It's going to take a retention strategy that understands there are many ways to serve, many different career paths, and that the standard template we have used and understood—and some of those templates have existed since the 1950s and 1960s—will no longer work. They're underpinned by policies that underpin many of the policies that affect resources and how we compensate people and so on.
Much of it is in my hands. Some of it will be in the hands of my colleagues in government. However, I do assure you that we will try and I think we'll succeed.
Your first question was on whether we have gone far enough, and you introduced the question with the terrible things that have happened around sexual assault and harassment. I thought I heard you say--
Gen Jonathan Vance:
The accountability rests with the commander, ultimately with me, regardless of what sector or domain of the operation we undertake. One of the strongest parts of our culture is the concept of accountability by commanders for every decision taken and for the results of the operations.
We have a planning mindset. It's deep in our DNA. We plan and we execute with the same people with whom we plan. As we put gender-based analysis plus into the mix, we will treat it the same way we treat the management of fires, manoeuvres, and protection against all perils. It will become a combat function, an action, one of the principal factors.
When we'd look at the intelligence picture of a place we were going to operate, we'd look at the ground, the topography, the infrastructure, and we'd understand the enemy. In Afghanistan, we learned to understand a wider range, the civilians, so we didn't just understand the red side of the equation; we started to understand other actors in that space. Friendly forces that aren't yours, that are from another country: civilians, civil society, NGOs, the list goes on. The commander, and I was one in Afghanistan, has to take all that into account as he or she considers prosecuting an operation. You're not just enemy-centric; you need to firmly understand what you're going to do as a result of a military action, and what you are going to leave as a result. What did you try to improve? If it's just a matter of destroying some part of the enemy, that's fine, but you can't do that in an irresponsible way that would somehow lead to civilian casualties or make it impossible for the civilian population to recover after the fact, so we hold our commanders accountable for the tasks we give them in operations. We are very good at assessing, because we plan, we execute, and we also have a strong assessment function: did you achieve what we asked you to achieve?
There's another whole body of work around running the armed forces as an institution. Being an institution within Canada and a respected one, the accountabilities still rest with people like General Whitecross and me, the leadership of the armed forces, to not only be able to conduct operations correctly in that chain of command, but also to run our institution wisely and correctly, and to take into account all aspects of gender-based analysis and the spirit behind the action plan for peace and security to make certain that we have an institution that's a good place for everybody to come to work. Holding ourselves accountable and being held accountable to that, I think, is and must be on a par with all the other objectives that we are to achieve in this institution, so it can't be buried. It can't be seen as a side bolt on part of what we do. It has to be fundamental to how we are held accountable.
Ms. Nahla Valji (Deputy Chief, Peace and Security Section, UN Women):
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for inviting us here to testify in front of you today.
My statement to you is going to be informed by my role as the head of the secretariat to the global study on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, which was undertaken last year for the 15-year anniversary of Resolution 1325, as well as my current role as deputy chief of the peace and security section at UN Women.
I want to begin by saying that as a Canadian and as UN Women's lead in relation to our Security Council work, I had a tremendous sense of pride to be in the audience a few weeks ago at the UN when Prime Minister Trudeau was there at the Commission on the Status of Women and announced Canada's bid for a seat on the Security Council in five years.
Of course, Canada was last on the Security Council in 2000 when Resolution 1325 was passed. At the time, it was a historic first for the world's highest body on peace and security to recognize the integral role of women but also gender equality in relation to international peace and security.
Over the past 16 years, Canada has led the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security in New York through their mission there, and for the past two years at our request led the Group of Friends of the Global Study on Resolution 1325, something which I was incredibly grateful for.
There were three peace and security reviews that were undertaken by the UN last year: one on peace operations, one on the peace-building architecture, and the third on the 15-year review of women, peace, and security. Ours was the only one of the three reviews that did not receive staffing and resources, so the support of member states and Canada's leadership were particularly important to the process.
For the review of the current national action plan and the plans for the next NAP that will be undertaken, these consultations and Canada's announcement could not come at a more opportune moment. Globally, we are facing a depth and a complexity of challenges that are unique in recent history in terms of peace and security.
The number of civil wars has tripled in the past 10 years alone. Around the world, more people are displaced than at any time since the end of World War II. Humanitarian needs, many of them caused or exacerbated by conflict, have reached $20 billion. These factors are all exacerbated by climate change, rising violent extremism, and global health pandemics with security dimensions.
It is no coincidence, as I mentioned, that last year the UN undertook three reviews on peace and security, of which the 15-year review on women, peace, and security was one. There's a clear sense that our institutions and traditional responses are ill-equipped for the current context, but the moment is also opportune, as Canada has been a leading figure on an agenda that is gaining recognition as a credible tool to strengthen our peace and security efforts.
Last year, to inform the global study, we consolidated over a decade of research and practice and added to it through global consultations and new commissioned research. The clear finding and message to emerge from the review process was that we now have an unquestionable evidence base that women's meaningful participation is critical to our operational effectiveness in building sustainable peace and inclusive security.
We know that where we have greater numbers of female peacekeepers among UN troops it increases the credibility of our peacekeeping missions on the ground. It increases the level of reporting of sexual and gender-based crimes. It increases our ability to access the communities that we are intending to protect. It in fact decreases the incidences of peacekeeper sexual exploitation and abuse.
When we prioritize gender equality in our humanitarian assistance, it leads to more effective humanitarian assistance, not only for women and girls, but for women, men, boys, and girls, for entire communities. When we target women for post-conflict economic recovery, we see that it has knock-on impacts on families and communities and accelerates economic growth and stability.
Coming out of last year, we now have both a quantitative and a qualitative evidence base with regard to women's meaningful participation in peace processes and transition. Quantitatively, we now know that women's meaningful participation in these processes increases the sustainability of peace by 30% over 15 years. Across 40 processes that were examined, we see that the meaningful participation of women leads to the conclusion of talks, the implementation of agreements, and the sustainability of peace.
We drilled down to look at why this might be the case. Once we began to look at different case studies, it became quite evident. If we use the example of South Sudan, where we primarily have two actors sitting at a table discussing issues such as immediate ceasefires, security arrangements, territory, access to oil wealth, and government positions, we have an agreement that meets the needs of the two main actors. What we are not bringing to the table is the broader constituencies, the communities that have been affected by the conflict and need to protect peace agreements in the long term.
Bringing women's meaningful participation to these processes brings a broader constituency, shifts the dynamics at the peace table, and ensures, as I mentioned, the conclusion of talks and the implementation of agreements.
Fifteen years after the passage of Resolution 1325, however, we still know that the number of female peacekeepers at the UN remains at only 3%. Moreover, research conducted for the global study by the OECD found that less than 2% of funds to fragile contexts goes to furthering women's rights and needs. Only a fraction of this 2% goes to the women's organizations that are on the front lines of response in these countries.
Despite the disjuncture between what we know and what we seem to practise, the 15-year anniversary of Resolution 1325 last year provided us with some important tools to begin to fill the gap, many of them captured in Security Council Resolution 2242, which was the eighth resolution on women, peace, and security passed.
On the funding front—and I'm just going to mention a few of them—we now have the global acceleration instrument on women, peace, and security and humanitarian engagement. This is a pooled UN trust fund that has been established with donors, the UN and civil society in particular, to conduit funding to crisis contexts and directly to women's organizations on the ground.
In the Security Council, we now have a new mechanism, the informal expert group on women, peace, and security. This group had its first meeting in February, focused on Mali, at which the deputy special representative of the Secretary-General in Bamako joined us by VTC for 90 minutes to tell the council what the situation was in relation to women in Bamako, the peace agreement implementation, concrete gender conflict analysis, and what the mission was doing to increase women's participation, as well as protection from sexual violence crimes.
We also have a concrete focus in Resolution 2242 on countering and preventing violent extremism and some concrete recommendations within that. One of them, echoing the Secretary-General's report on women, peace, and security in October, calls for increased funding for gender equality and women's empowerment within our counterterrorism efforts. Specifically, the Secretary-General's report called for a 15% target for the UN system, which is something that UN Women is now taking forward and encouraging member states to adopt as well.
In revising the national action plan, I would encourage that Canada look at the best practices and lessons learned captured in the chapter on national action plans in the global study. This includes, in particular, the importance of widespread consultations, the role of civil society, dedicated funding allocations, and proper monitoring and evaluation included in the design.
It is important that the new national action plan reflect the current realities globally. In this regard, I would encourage Canada to take the lead, in particular on the issue of preventing encountering violent extremism, as echoed in Resolution 2242.
There is perhaps no form of conflict that has made the gendered underpinnings of insecurity and violence more clear than the rise of violent extremism that we are currently witnessing. These groups target women's and girls' basic rights to exist, to health, education, public life, and rights over their own bodies, but they equally use gender stereotypes for their own ends in their radicalization and recruitment efforts as well as in their use of young girls as suicide bombers, as we are increasingly seeing by Boko Haram.
In Mali, our office recently found evidence of social media targeting urban youth in the north with anti-gender equality and anti-women's rights messaging and language in order to lay the foundations for radicalization and recruitment, something that was then conveyed to the Security Council during the first informal expert group meeting that focused on Mali.
In looking forward across the next five years, I would encourage Canada to make women, peace, and security the centrepiece of their campaign for the Security Council. A resolution that was barely accepted by the council 16 years ago has grown beyond a rights agenda to be perhaps one of the most significant tools we have to meet the peace and security challenges of today. Canada, as a founding member of that agenda, is well placed to lead in realizing its full potential.
Ms. Randi Davis:
Thank you very much.
I can only echo my colleague's statement in appreciating the opportunity to be here in front of you today. I would also mention how much of a pleasure it was to have the Prime Minister here, showing so much leadership on the issue. We both happen to be Canadians before you, so we have a bit of a dual allegiance here.
Let me begin my remarks with some background on the work of UNDP, because my remarks will be contextualized in the type of work we do. I will give you a bit of a global overview of what we're seeing going on in the field.
UNDP is the main development arm of the United Nations. We work in nearly 170 countries and territories around the world. Our mandate spans the full range of development challenges, from those related to sustainable growth and development, to those related to governance and peace-building, and to those that relate to climate and disaster resilience. We also are the main arm of the United Nations when it comes to recovery from conflict or disaster.
We're engaged around the world helping countries to conduct free and fair elections, undertake constitutional political processes as well as legal reforms, and we're quite engaged in working with other parts of the UN, including UN Women, to strengthen the rule of law and build judicial institutions in crisis and in non-crisis countries.
Putting that in context, when we look at what we do on gender equality and women's empowerment, these are very central features of all the work we do. By and large the strongest aspect of our work related to the women, peace, and security agenda relates to the participation pillar of the agenda, and specifically to efforts to promote women's participation in post-crisis and transitional governance processes. This means ensuring that women participate in constitution-making, in elections, and in public administration.
We know that post-conflict transitions provide unique opportunities to jump-start women's progress on women's political participation. We have seen this realized in countries across the world. I would argue that if we look at the Resolution 1325 agenda, this is the area where we've seen some progress—not enough, but progress.
Unfortunately, as Nahla was pointing out, there has been less progress when we look at women's role in formal peace processes. I won't go into the statistics, which we already heard. We do see a little bit of progress in recent peace processes in Colombia and the Philippines, but this is really an area where I think global attention needs to be focused going forward.
Canada, along with other member states, can use a number of diplomatic channels, including bilateral and multilateral channels, and play an important role in urging parties to negotiations to include women in their delegations, identifying and supporting women leaders, and demanding that internationally sponsored negotiations create and finance processes for women's engagement.
I'd like to address the issue of sexual violence in conflict. Today we do have a much more comprehensive normative and international legal framework for addressing sexual violence. Organizations like the United Nations are certainly doing more to provide comprehensive services for victims and to build the structures we need to end impunity, including training police and military in countries, supporting investigations, and supporting transitional justice mechanisms. However, despite the increased global attention, prosecutions are way outpaced by violations. The wheels of justice are taking decades instead of years.
What I really want to call for is that we redouble our efforts and invest more in preventative action. While a prevention agenda requires greater investments in early warning systems and preventative diplomacy, above all else we require greater investments in addressing the structural and underlying inequalities that are the root causes that drive conflict. This demands intensified investments in basic gender equality programming in not only fragile and conflict-affected contexts but in stable contexts as well.
We know that when women are educated, when they have access to resources and opportunities, and when their political, economic, and social rights are secured, they are less vulnerable to violence in all its forms.
There is a growing body of research showing that the security of women is one of the most reliable indicators of the peacefulness of a state. We have heard that already; it's a view included in the global study. Therefore, a key component of conflict prevention itself is greater investment in women's and girl's empowerment. We have to see that link as essential.
These are areas in which Canada has some of the best global expertise to offer, working on bread-and-butter gender equality work around the world, on reproductive health and rights, on education, on economic and political empowerment. This type of bread-and-butter gender equality support is still underfunded. We continue to see a lack of investments in women's empowerment in all areas.
I would now like to reflect upon some of these new contextual challenges, which my colleague mentioned, that have really come to the fore in recent years.
First, crises, whether resulting from conflict or climate-related events, are causing profound and lasting displacements and migration trends that threaten to stall and even reverse progress for women and girls in communities. If we take the Syrian crisis, for example, we see early marriage rising from 12%, I believe the estimates were, in 2011, until by 2014 the number was as high as 32%. We can safely assume the rate has gone up and that their number is probably underestimated.
We know that more than two million Syrian children are out of school and that in many host countries, Syrian women and girls do not have papers to access services or employment. Ensuring that these women and girls are educated, employed, and able to participate in the decisions that affect their daily lives is vital to building their resilience and reducing their vulnerabilities to violence.
We need to look at violence from the point of view not only of protection and response, but of how we reduce the vulnerabilities. It is also vital to invest in these women and girls if we are going to have future leaders or a future society upon which to build a future Syria. If we want to bridge the humanitarian nexus, which is the focus of the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, we must focus on investing in what I call development in humanitarian contexts. This is not what is going on at the moment. Other challenges that must be addressed include the rise and spread of violent extremism, which was mentioned, the proliferation of non-state actors to conflict, and the protracted nature of conflict and recovery.
We must recognize that groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, and others use sexual violence as deliberate and central tactics to repress populations and destroy the social foundations upon which any recovery must be built. It is hard when we look at these conflicts to envisage how long it's going to take, even if we have a cessation of violence. The progression from conflict to cessation of hostilities to peacemaking and peace-building is not at all linear any more, if it ever was. We need to recognize that preventing sexual violence must be a fundamental and priority component of countering violent extremism and conflict prevention.
What can Canada do? Canada can use the development of its next national action plan to think broadly about conflict prevention in this new context and put gender equality at the centre of strategies. The broader agenda on conflict prevention must be centred around the question of how we build inclusive societies based on social, political, economic, and cultural rights. Canada is a great example of an inclusive society.
When I asked actors on the ground what they would like me to convey to you today, they told me time and again that Canada's leadership is needed more than ever to provide alternatives to what are now primarily militarized responses to bring about peaceful societies. People are looking to Canada to speak up, to engage in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy through formal and informal channels, to promote a human security and human dignity agenda that is backed by investments in the full range of human rights. They are looking for governments like Canada's to find a way to halt the alarming trend of violations against human rights defenders, who are being silenced via actual or threatened violence.
We have seen high-profile murders in countries like Libya and Honduras recently. It is not only this, but women face violence when they try to run for office or when they try to expose corruption in their communities. This is a real issue that is silencing the ability of local actors to bring about change in their communities.
Finally, let me underscore that advancing this sort of agenda requires supporting and partnering with civil society organizations working on the ground. These are the organizations at the front line of countering radicalization and providing alternatives for youth and vulnerable groups in identifying and capacitating the leaders who we want to engage in decision-making.
Whenever we have seen women participate effectively in democratic processes, it's because of these civil society groups. Yet, as we heard earlier, the funding is way insufficient for them to really operate and have any meaningful impact.
Let me conclude by saying that I'm not sure if from Ottawa you can see the change that the Government of Canada recently has had in terms of setting a tone with a new gender-balanced government, with the participation of the Prime Minister in the CSW. There's tremendous enthusiasm around the world. People everywhere are looking towards our country to play a leadership role on an agenda for women, peace, and security, and gender equality more broadly.
I think this new action plan is a fantastic opportunity for Canada to meet these expectations, to put the commitments into action, but it requires an integration of an approach towards women, peace, and security that brings this together with the development and foreign policy agenda of the government.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC):
Thank you very much.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here today. I'm going to try to get in a couple of different questions.
First of all, I would just say parenthetically that I appreciated hearing Ms. Valji's comments about the value of a Security Council bid, and I think all of us here would hope to see Canada play that role. Our hope in particular though is that Canada, in the process of trying to achieve that seat, does not sacrifice our values in the pursuit of that role, that we don't end up, let's say, doing too much to cozy up to regimes that don't respect our values and don't respect human rights.
I want to ask Ms. Valji one question that interests me.
We hear often in the west narratives of helplessness and rescue when it comes to women in conflict zones, and sometimes we mistakenly buy into this idea that women in some of these situations are totally helpless and that we in the west need to jump in and fix the situation for them. But there's a lot of evidence in many conflict zones, of course, that there are networks of strong women that are resisting oppression on their own, sometimes with clandestine networks, and it's just the importance of identifying and working with those networks.
I was reading something recently by Elaheh Rostami-Povey about the situation in Afghanistan. I just want to read this quote because I think it's interesting:
|| As we have seen, a great many women school and university teachers were engaged in teaching girls, young women, and some boys in their neighbourhoods.
This is describing the situation under the Taliban.
||The homes of these women and others with specific skills became community homes, financed and managed entirely by women, mainly for girls and women, but also for boys. It was by word of mouth that women and girls spread the news about the secret schools to other women and girls. They hid their books, notebooks, pens and pencils under their borga, risked their lives and went to the secret schools everyday.
I found that interesting as a description of what was happening under the Taliban. I would be curious to hear your comments about how we in the west avoid this narrative of helplessness and instead can identify and work with and empower these networks of women working in potentially very oppressive situations to make sure that we're using all the resources that are available.
Ms. Nahla Valji:
I'll begin with that comment about the Security Council bid, and I fully see that perspective about being weary. I would reiterate that if the theme of women, peace, and security is at the heart of Canada's bid, walking the talk on those values will be incredibly important, and will actually set a tone. We're at a point at the moment where we see a lot of lip service being paid to this agenda, but too few are actually walking the talk.
In October of last year, during the 15-year anniversary at the Security Council resolution, it was actually the largest open debate in the Security Council's history, not just the largest of debates on women, peace, and security, but the largest of any debate that ever took place in the Security Council. There were 112 registered speakers. Everyone was lining up to say how important this agenda is, but very few of them carry it through in terms of implementation. There is a real opportunity here to set that agenda and set that standard.
In terms of the role of women, I could not agree with you more. As UN Women, our focus has strongly been on women's participation and leadership and how we can support that, recognizing that there are important components of protection that do underpin that. The kind of insecurity and violence that women continue to face, both during conflict and post-conflict, undermines and weakens their ability to participate in economic recovery, post-conflict elections, etc., as Randi mentioned. Therefore, there are important elements of protection that do underpin participation, and the entire agenda does need to fit together when we look at that.
However, I do think far more attention needs to be paid to the role of women in securing peace and security. Just to mention Mali again, one of things that was mentioned to the Security Council during that informal expert group meeting on women, peace, and security was recent research that was undertaken in the north of Mali on the gender influences on demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. What the research found was a very stark gender division in influences on ex-combatants. They were asked who it was that influenced them to take up arms, to continue fighting, and to come back and sustainably reintegrate. In just one of those areas, to come back and sustainably reintegrate and stay in their communities, the distinction was that 40% had been influenced by their mothers to come back. We miss the influence, the role that women can play in those kinds of societies.
We also miss the fact that women in communities are the first to notice the signs of radicalization in their families, and are at the front line of conflict prevention. We do need to be supporting that.
I just want to give you one final example. In Burundi, UN Women and the peace-building fund have been supporting a network of 500-plus women mediators in communities across Burundi. Given the incredibly tense situation there at the moment, these women have addressed some 3,000-plus community-level conflicts over the past 18 months. Some were social, some family, and some political. They prevented them from spilling over. They addressed rumours that were leading to population flights between communities. They defused tensions. They negotiated with government for the release of detainees. This is a group of 500 women who've been able to contain the tensions in many of their communities, so I think far more needs to go, in particular, to supporting women's organizations on the ground.
That is something we're trying to do with the new pooled funding mechanism. The global acceleration instrument, GAI, on women, peace, and security and humanitarian engagement is meant to be a funding mechanism of the international community to conduit that money directly where it's needed. In fact, the GAI is now supporting those women in Burundi to scale up those efforts.
Ms. Nahla Valji:
I'm going to give you a couple of examples and then I'm going to hand it over to Randi, because the UNDP actually is the broader development rule of law justice focus.
The UN system in the past few years has actually undertaken an institutional arrangement of UNDP and DPKO being collocated in an arrangement called the global focal point for police, justice, and corrections. They are meant to be the point people on justice in conflict settings.
UN Women has seconded somebody to this team in order to ensure that gender is being mainstreamed into everything that the UN is doing in rule of law post-conflict: ensuring that women's access to justice issues is being addressed, that sexual gender-based crimes are being addressed, and that we are ideally earmarking a minimum of 15% funding for rule of law initiatives to support gender equality and women's empowerment. That's one way in which we're supporting. We have a global program on transitional justice, so we support truth commissions and reparations programs from Mali to South Sudan to Colombia as they get set up on their process there.
I think one of the most important initiatives for UN Women over the past few years has actually been a collaboration with Canada, a collaboration with the Justice Rapid Response, an intergovernmental justice mechanism that was created by Canada and the international community for the international community. In the past five years, UN Women has partnered with JRR to create a dedicated sub-roster of sexual and gender-based crimes investigators. This roster has been incredibly important, because it's allowed UN Women to second SGBV, sexual gender-based violence, justice experts to all UN commissions of inquiry and all fact-finding missions that the UN undertakes.
The documentation of crimes that we've been hearing about coming out of Syria over the past four years is due to this initiative. The evidence base we have on crimes by Boko Haram in Libya and Iraq from their fact-finding missions is due to this initiative and to our partnership with JRR.
Last year, we supported the International Criminal Court, and that led to the first confirmation in the Ntaganda case, a confirmation of all sexual violence charges. The chief prosecutor mentioned that it was a direct result of us having an investigator there. That partnership has been an incredibly important one. A Canadian initiative, a Canadian partnership, started it, and that Canadian partnership has allowed us to work, in particular, in the Middle East region, in Jordan and Iraq, supporting and mentoring first responders to identify sexual violence crimes and to respond to them.
Ms. Nahla Valji:
Absolutely, and thank you for the opportunity.
The first thing to mention is the intersection between gender equality and violent extremism. What is common to these groups is an agenda that is against women's rights and against gender equality. What we also find is that, as a result, violent extremism seems to take root more easily in communities in the context where there is gender inequality.
It is much easier to radicalize and recruit in a context where what's core to your agenda is a push back on women's rights. It's easier to radicalize and recruit in a context where we don't have models of women as political leaders, educated mothers, sisters, community leaders, etc. The direct nexus between gender inequality and radicalization and recruitment is important to look at.
The second thing to look at is the fact that when these groups spread, their first targets are often women and girls. The push-back on women's clothing, where they go, how they dress, their education, their health, etc., is an early warning indicator in itself we need to be paying attention to.
Then, of course, there is the role in prevention. Having said that, we do also need to be very careful we do not turn women into a securitized institution either, but that we are protecting their spaces and protecting women themselves. In particular, there have been cases where we're connecting early warning mechanisms directly to criminal justice responses, which may not be appropriate when you're asking women to hand over their sons through a criminal justice response because they're seeing radicalization. We need to also be protecting women. We cannot be criminalizing their spaces. We cannot be securitizing their spaces.
I think that's why it's so important that women, peace, and security be applied to our countering and preventing violent extremism efforts. The reason for that is that at the heart of WPS, it is a rights agenda, an equality agenda, and it is a demilitarization and prevention agenda. These are exactly the qualities we need to bring to our efforts to prevent the spread of violent extremism.
Ms. Nahla Valji:
How do we fit together?
UN Women chairs a UN standing committee on women, peace, and security. UNDP, DPKO, and OHCHR, all the major entities, are on that standing committee. We all coordinate our efforts. We work very closely with DPKO, in particular, on two initiatives.
Training peacekeepers on the prevention of sexual violence is something we initiated a few years ago and piloted in 18 countries. DPKO is now rolling out pre-deployment for all of their training and has been successful.
We have now initiated a new effort, which is training female military officers. We've piloted this in three countries and now have trained 120 women. DPKO told us last week that 75% of them are pipelined for deployment quite soon. This means we're able to increase the number of female military peacekeepers within the UN system.
At the country level, it differs in each context. Where we have peacekeeping missions, the relationship between the UN country team and the mission varies in each context. In some contexts, it's a very positive one, and in others there may be some gaps, tensions, and challenges as a result of mandates on the ground, but I think that's also about issues of capacity.
We have complementary mandates on the ground in terms of women, peace, and security and the peacekeeping missions. We do work closely with DPKO on the ground as well.
Ms. Nahla Valji:
I would add a couple of things to that.
One of the really important things that can be done is to use Canada's voice to shift the narrative. In the past, there was often this excuse that there weren't any capacitated women, or there weren't any women who were ready to be at the table. We can give you so many examples of that.
To give you one example, going back to Mali, when the violence spread there in the north in 2012, the deputy mayor of Gao was negotiating with the armed rebels to get humanitarian assistance into the camps and to her people. When we as the international community went in there to tap people on the shoulder to be at the peace table, even though she was a political leader and had been doing hands-on negotiations and was respected by her community, she was not one of the ones who was tapped to sit at the table. As a result, we had entirely men sitting at the table for those talks. That happens again and again.
We saw this with Syria as well. It was the women in the communities who were negotiating with the armed actors to get humanitarian assistance to their families and to their communities. It has taken us until these last few months to secure any role for women in the Syrian process, yet once it begins, we see the way in which it has traction.
Special Envoy de Mistura started this most recent round of talks a few weeks ago. I thought it was very interesting that in the first press statements he gave in Geneva, he was telling the press corps, “I had my first meeting.” Then it was, “I will be having a meeting in 45 minutes with government.” Then he stopped himself and said, “Actually, that's not the first meeting of these talks. The first meeting of these talks was with whom it should have been, and that's my women's advisory board. I met with them yesterday afternoon. Here is the intelligence that they gave me. Here is what they're telling me are the conditions on the ground and in the camps and what would motivate and incentivize people to go home to Syria, etc.”
I think that once we get traction and we get women's voices to these processes, it's a self-reinforcing cycle.
We also need to be looking at supporting track two processes, though, and not only focused on the formal processes. Again, we need to continue to focus on and support civil society, women's organizations in communities who are doing this work, and then linking them to the formal processes so that we're building a constituency and following through.
Mr. Marc Miller:
There are two aspects to this motion: the form and the substance.
Let us first deal with the one that is less important, the form. The idea of a subcommittee implies a lot of things, including establishing the committee, of course. That requires considering the busy schedules of the people responsible for studying the matter. There is also the idea of assigning everything important for our foreign policy to subcommittees. So there are various reasons not to agree with the need for a subcommittee.
Still on the subject of the form, our committee has operated on a model of consensus and collaboration, which unfortunately seems to be coming to an end today. Let us first realize that your motion on women, peace and security is the first study we have decided to undertake. The study is really interesting; it is important for the future of Canada, whether nationally or internationally.
We considered and approved Mr. Allison's motion on one of the studies coming up. I would like this committee to continue along the same lines. Unfortunately, there was a certain lack of courtesy in the way in which this motion was introduced, through the media first. I feel that you spent more time discussing it in the media than with us individually. I received an email that was not very personal. We have not discussed it with you to any extent, and I would like us to have done so more.
Be that as it may, this motion is too important for us to dwell on the form. We really must consider the substance as the priority. Human rights and arms sales are very important matters for all states, developed and underdeveloped. In that sense, I have no objection.
I would like to read you a passage from Minister Dion's mandate letter. It reads as follows:
|| Reenergize Canadian diplomacy and leadership on key international issues and in multilateral institutions. This would include:
|| Working with the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, to champion the values of inclusive and accountable governance, peaceful pluralism and respect for diversity, and human rights including the rights of women and refugees;
|| Acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty.
Personally, I would like to give him a chance. I feel it is too soon to think about a committee, let alone a subcommittee. Even in terms of the substance, it is a little too soon. Let us give the Prime Minister and Minister Dion a chance to do what they have to do. If not, we can look at the motion again or put it in a different form in August or next spring.
I sit on the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, and I would welcome the motion in that forum. We look forward to it. At the moment, unfortunately, despite all the respect I have for you and your motion, I am going to vote against this one.