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     Sandhurst Trends in International                       Conflict Series 

Practicing/Employing/Working/Doing/Making Security: the Women, Peace and Security agenda in Military Operations

Given our emphasis on the development of further and better links on the academic-military interface, this symposium aims at bringing together scholars and practitioners to address the challenges and opportunities of integrating human security and the WPS agenda into strategic and defence policy.


Key questions to be explored might include:


  • The renewed relevance of WPS in 2022 and developments and innovations in worldwide National Action Plans.

  • How best to prevent conflict-related sexual violence?

  • Can WPS adapt in light of changes in the conduct of warfare, including the deliberate targeting of women and children and the use of human shields in urban operations?

  • What are the best cases of successful integration of WPS into strategic and defence policies and how can these be shared globally?

  • How can theory best inform practitioners preparation and planning on operations, and how can practitioners experiences be included in theory?

  • What have been the major shortcomings of militaries globally in increasing women’s participation and what can be done to address them?

  • The challenges and best practices for protecting children in armed conflict from the 6 grave crimes, including the demobilisation and reintegration of child soldiers. 

  • What role can and should militaries have in stopping human trafficking and supporting domestic police forces?

  • How can human security and WPS address other vulnerable groups such as LGBTQI+, undocumented, and displaced communities?

  • How can professional military education and trainers adapt to address the importance of gender mainstreaming and the human terrain in contemporary conflict? 

Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th March, 2022

Civilians are disproportionately victims of contemporary armed conflict, with women, children, and other vulnerable groups among the most affected. Peacekeeping missions and contemporary stabilisation operations occur against the backdrop of two major shifts in international thinking on security: Human Security and the Women, Peace and Security agenda (WPS). These innovations have radically transformed the field of contemporary security studies and continue to evolve and be debated in both academic and policy circles. Concurrently, intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations, and governments have begun to engage with these ideas and have attempted to integrate them more fully into their operations and strategies. However, militaries have been slow to adopt these ideas and adapt their behaviours to account for the importance of the protection of civilians, gender mainstreaming, women’s participation, responsibilities on children in conflict, and preventing egregious crimes, such as modern slavery and human trafficking. 


In 2019, the UK Ministry of Defence adopted JSP1325 Human Security in Military Operations which emphasised the importance in developing a more profound understanding of the human terrain. Drawing on the WPS agenda and the fourth UK National Action Plan on WPS 2018-2022, it sought to provide guidance on how military planners can integrate women, peace and security, children affected by armed conflict, human trafficking, and protection of civilians. It acknowledged:


The implementation of UNSCR 1325 will spark deeper analysis, broader plans and more effective operations. By ignoring this area, or viewing it as a humanitarian agenda, we are missing the clear link between the security of the individual and an enduring stability for all.


Three years on, it is a pertinent time to reflect on some of the challenges and opportunities, successes and failures, and overall importance of linking theory and practice when it comes to integrating human security and the WPS agenda into military operations. 


In the latest iteration of the Sandhurst Trends in International Conflict series hosted by the Department of Defence and International Affairs (DIA) at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), integrating the WPS agenda in military operations will be critically examined through the lenses of both theory and practice. 


This symposium aims to generate a conversation between academics and practitioners to better understand the contemporary challenges and obligations militaries have towards: protecting civilians; increasing women’s role in peacekeeping and peacemaking; preventing the six grave violations against children; and stopping modern slavery and human trafficking


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