June 2007 – The Pope’s Peace and Security Council Resolution 1325


(Saint) Pope John Paul II, the late head of the Holy See, which is the governing organ of Vatican City and the Roman Catholic Church, (1) commenced an important conversation with women on January 1, 1995. On that day, he delivered the annual World Day of Peace message, inviting women “to become teachers of peace with their whole being and in all their actions.” (2) This statement, along with many others made by the Pope that year, was directed to women and was about women. (3) The statements did not pass unnoticed in the United Nations system. The Holy See has international legal personality and participates as a Permanent Observer at the United Nations, which means that it may fully participate in meetings despite its inability to vote. (4)

The message initiated a series of addresses emanating from His Holiness, who at that time was preparing his delegation to participate in the United Nations 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. (5) With international attention focused on women, the 1995 papal statement gave an unprecedented depth of insight on the topic of women and peace.

The Beijing Platform for Action, one of the conference documents, addressed the principles pertaining to women and armed conflicts. (6) These principles were, in turn, reaffirmed five years later by two of the principal organs of the United Nations, the General Assembly and the Security Council. In 2000, the General Assembly favorably reviewed the principles at Beijing +5 during the five-year review process. (7) The same year, the Security Council issued Resolution 1325 addressing the unique impact of armed conflict on women and children. (8) It noted the undervalued contributions of women and stressed the need for women’s full and equal participation in all phases of the peace process. (9)

The purpose of this Article is to compare and contrast Pope John Paul II’s message on women and peace with Security Council Resolution 1325 and a 2002 study prepared by the Secretary-General, entitled Women, Peace and Security (“WPS”). (10) The Article will be divided into three parts. Part I will begin with a case study of what it means to be a woman of peace. Part II will give an overview of the 1995 World Day of Peace message. Part III will discuss Security Council Resolution 1325 (“Resolution 1325,” “Resolution”) and WPS.

(1.) For a good overview of the Holy See and its status in international law, see Robert John Araujo, S.J., The International Personality and Sovereignty of the Holy See, 50 CATH. U. L. REV. 291 (2001) [hereinafter Araujo, Holy See], and Robert John Araujo & John A. Lucal, A Forerunner for International Organizations: The Holy See and the Community of Christendom–with Special Emphasis on the Medieval Papacy, 20 J.L. & RELIGION 305 (2004-05).

(2.) Pope John Paul II, Message of Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace: Women: Teachers of Peace [paragraph] 2 (Jan. 1, 1995) [hereinafter 1995 Peace Message], in SERVING THE HUMAN FAMILY: THE HOLY SEE AT THE MAJOR UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCES app. at 821, 822 (Msgr. Carl J. Marucci ed., 1997) [hereinafter SERVING THE HUMAN FAMILY] (emphasis omitted).

(3.) See id.

(4.) Araujo, Holy See, supra note 1, at 357, 359.

(5.) That entire year of intense attention to women has been described as “a truly memorable year for women in the Catholic Church,” COMM. ON WOMEN IN SOC’Y & IN THE CHURCH, U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS, POPE JOHN PAUL II ON THE GENIUS OF WOMEN 1 (1997) [hereinafter POPE JOHN PAUL II ON THE GENIUS OF WOMEN].

(6.) Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, China, Sept. 4-15, 1995, Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women, ch. I, resolution 1, annex II, [paragraph][paragraph] 131-49, at 56-55, UN Doc. A/CONF.177/20/Rev.1 (Jan. 1, 1996) [hereinafter Fourth World Conference on Women]. “In addressing armed or other conflicts, an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes should be promoted so that before decisions are taken an analysis is made of the effects on women and men, respectively.” Id. [paragraph] 141, at 58.

(7.) See G.A. Res. S-23/3, annex, [paragraph] 1, UN Doc. A/RES/S-23/3 (Nov. 16, 2000).

(8.) See S.C. Res. 1325, UN Doc. S/RES/1325 (Oct. 31, 2000).

(9.) Id. [paragraph] 5.