TraCe-Workshop on “The Backlash against the Women, Peace and Security Agenda”

Researchers discuss at PRIF

On November 29, researchers gathered for a workshop organized at PRIF to discuss the backlash against the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS-Agenda). Established by UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000, the WPS agenda has de­veloped into a robust framework with significant scholarly contributions in recent years. While scientific discussions highlight the spread of gender equality norms and the agenda's further develop­ment, few studies delve into its challenges. In the face of increasing polarization and a global backlash against gender-sensitive human rights, seen in attacks on liberal values and gender equality, it be­comes crucial to investigate the WPS agenda's political evolution and resilience. This work­shop aimed to unpack the WPS normative framework, make backlashes in diverse settings visible, and con­textualize WPS within a broader challenge to liberal values.

At the workshop's outset, TraCe Fellow Annika Björkdahl (Lund University) together with two renowned scholars from Norway, Jenny Lorentzen (NUPI), and Inger Skjelsbæk (University of Oslo) presented in­sights from their ongoing book project, "Backlash: The Women, Peace and Security Agenda under Pressure," scheduled for com­pletion in 2024. The project explores backlash from a norm research perspective, asking questions such as which norms face back­lash and how this becomes visible.

Following these presentations, Clara Perras and Simone Wisotzki (both PRIF) introduced their PRIF Report “Backlash Against and Resistance to Feminist Peacebuilding”. It stems from a pilot project on dealing with re­sistances against and backlashes to gender sensitive human rights in peacebuilding. The morning dis­cussions extended beyond the presented projects’ content, encompassing a critical exchange about feminist scientific practices and approaches to existing power structures in science and re­search.

In the workshop's second part, various projects and ideas addressing different forms of back­lash against gender equality norms were presented in panel-style. Topics included sexual ex­ploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers, the potential impact of UNDRIP on the situ­ation of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, gendered effects and challenges for gender, peace, and security in a digitalized world, a narrative about gendered human se­curity in Northern Iraq, and the framing and re­porting of gender and sexual violence in two Brazilian truth commissions. From the side of TraCe, Hannah Pfeifer, Alvaro Okura, Sabine Mannitz and Rita Kopp presented their on­going research.

The different facets of backlash and resistance discussed under the roof of the work­shop underscore the complexity and emphasize the relevance and necessity of ad­vancing research and discussion on the topic.