On 31 October 2000, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted landmark Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325). In it, the Security Council acknowledged not only the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women, but also the importance of the role of women in peace building, peace negotiations, and conflict resolution. UNSCR 1325 was followed by the adoption of eight Security Council Resolutions, dealing with specific issues of concern to women before, during and after conflict. Together, these resolutions are called the United Nations Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Agenda.
On various occasions, the (Council of the) European Union (EU) expressed a strong commitment to the WPS Agenda. Both the UN and the EU have been criticized for not moving beyond rhetoric when it comes to the WPS Agenda. This project raises the question whether the EU laws and policies, and the EU understanding of the WPS norms therein, foster this inertia. Particularly, this research project takes a closer look at the way in which the EU gives effect to the WPS Agenda in its external action. It intends to shed light on the understanding of the WPS norms, by studying the EU’s interpretation and application of the WPS norms when giving effect to the Agenda in its external action and, subsequently, the EU’s impact on the development of those norms, both within the EU and at the international level. The research looks at the EU’s external actions in a broad sense. That is, it will not only include the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) – which is often considered the core area that is central to women and armed conflict –, but it will carry out a cross-cutting analysis, also including the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), Common Commercial Policy (CCP), and development cooperation. The critical legal analysis of the EU’s actions will be guided by feminist legal theories.