Regional Symposium on Implementing Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in ASEAN

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
August 22-23, 2019

The United States Government through the ASEAN-USAID Partnership for Regional Optimization within the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Communities (PROSPECT) project continues its commitment to promote and protect the rights of women in ASEAN. Working closely with the ASEAN Secretariat, the ASEAN Committee on Women, and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children to convene ASEAN’s first Regional Symposium on Implementing Women, Peace and Security Agenda on August 22-23, 2019 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The WPS Symposium provides a forum for a multi-sectoral dialogue and a platform to discuss the WPS agenda and policy and program intervention at the regional and national levels captured in the Joint Statement on Women, Peace and Security in ASEAN adopted at the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila in November 2017. The Joint Statement recognizes that peace and security are essential to the achievement of sustainable development and are interconnected and vital to the future of ASEAN, emphasizing women’s equal, full, and effective participation at all stages of peace processes given their indispensable roles in the prevention and resolution of conflict, peacebuilding and peace keeping.

Her Excellency Ing Kantha Phavi, the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Minister of Women’s Affairs and His Excellency Prak Sokhonn, Deputy Prime Minister of Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, officially opened the WPS Symposium, which was attended by over 85 experts, diplomats, representatives of ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, and other key stakeholders, including representatives from the UN Women, and the ASEAN Women Peace Registry (AWPR). In her opening, H.E. Ing Kantha Phavi highlighted that ASEAN’s women full participation and involvement is critical to every aspect of achieving and sustaining peace and stability. She went on to stress the urgency of implementing UN Resolution 1325 (2000) and the ASEAN Joint Statement to their full extent. She reinforced the need for ASEAN to identify and agree upon action points and ways forward in accelerating the implementation of WPS agenda using multi-sectoral approach and collaboration.

USAID’s ASEAN Affairs Director, Julie Chen, also gave opening remarks and shared with participants some of the highlights from the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace and Security (released June 2019). In her remarks, Ms. Chen affirmed the U.S. Government’s continued support for ASEAN’s efforts to implement the Joint Statement, including through support for a comprehensive regional assessment on ASEAN’s implementation of the WPS agenda to commence later in 2019.

Over the two days, the WPS Symposium aims to foster awareness and understanding on WPS from local, national, and regional perspectives; provide a platform for dialogue between ASEAN Member States, ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, and ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (ASEAN-IPR) among others on the challenges and opportunities in implementing WPS agenda; share good practices on WPS agenda relevant to the context of ASEAN; and identify potential areas and the framework for a scoping study on WPS and ways forward on possible establishment of network of WPS experts and practitioners within ASEAN.

Ahead of the Symposium, the AWPR held its first ever meeting. Also supported by the PROSPECT project in support of the ASEAN-IPR, this meeting brought together the 24 initial members of the AWPR from nine ASEAN Member States to finalize its terms of reference and discuss areas of priorities for the newly formed group of experts, diplomats, and mediators.