Seeking Inclusion, Breeding Exclusion? The UN’s WPS Agenda and the Syrian Peace Talks | International Negotiation
May 19th, 2023 | In this article, Dr. Marie-Joëlle Zahar analyzes the Women’s Advisory Board (WAB) to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, a unique mechanism designed to include women in peace processes. Has the WAB fulfilled its objective? Based on ethnographic material, and primary and secondary sources, we argue that the WAB fostered a sentiment of exclusion among some of its members and of the broader spectrum of Syrian women’s organizations. The article further suggests that the WAB failed to meaningfully include women in the Syria peace process. The sources of these failures can be located in the process by which WAB participants were selected and the ‘peacemaker’ identity that they were assigned. The limits associated with the process of selection and the substance of the women’s engagement are inherent to the way the UN frames and justifies women’s inclusion. The WAB, it concludes, should not be hastily replicated as a mechanism of women’s inclusion.