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CANADEM 1325 Roster and UN Reform 

A proposal for Canada to take a unique role in advancing UN 1325 reform by advancing the candidacy of strong women for international service.

  • UN Reform is best achieved incrementally by dedicated individuals making things happen within the UN despite its many systemic hurdles.

  • Much UN Reform will only be achieved if there is a critical mass of women representation at all levels of the UN.

  • CANADEM, an NGO, was set up in 1996 by Foreign Minister Axworthy to engender UN reform in UN field operations specifically and UN HQs generally. CANADEM’s fundamental reform building-block: rostering thousands of experts and ‘injecting’ them into UN hiring processes.

  • One indicator of success: over 10 years CANADEM raised the proportion of Canadian civilians hired by the UN to staff peace operations to 6%. CANADEM’s UN reform project was de-funded immediately by the new Harper government.

  • CANADEM for over 20 years with its own resources kept the spark alive including the expansion of its 1325 roster: CANADEM’s current roster has over 21,000 women, with roughly 10,000 of them from the global south including Africa and the Middle East.

1325 Reform Moving Slowly

After 16 years, innumerable exhortations and high level commitments, the UN has not moved far forward on achieving the Security Council Resolution 1325 goal of UN staffing gender balance. Why? Because even dedicated UN ‘pro-1325’ decision makers wanting to hire more women, invariably are not provided with sufficient numbers of qualified female candidates. The UN has innumerable and enduring systemic recruitment barriers.  What is needed are ‘compensatory mechanisms’ to inject more women into UN hiring processes.

An Innovative Canadian ‘Compensatory Mechanism’

A CANADEM 1325 UN Reform Program to advance international women for UN posts: across all UN agencies, and across all levels from P2 to D2. Achieving gender balance over the next decade is achievable if UN leaders, supervisors, and human resource departments are made aware of the depth and breadth of qualified women:

  1. CANADEM has thousands of qualified women of all nationalities on its roster, and is able to roster many more quickly and inexpensively.

  2. CANADEM on its own has maintained and even expanded its 1325 capacity during the past 20 years with a view to resurging and re-establishing its UN reform function. That program, defunded by the last government, can be re-established for an estimated $300,000.

  3. CANADEM knows how to quietly ‘work-around’ the myriad of systemic UN recruitment barriers. As an NGO, CANADEM is not constrained by the need to follow official UN channels. Some have described CANADEM’s role as “UN reform by stealth”. CANADEM prefers to describe our role as informal, un-official, behind-the-scenes, focused recruitment assistance to the UN.

The authority to select, hire and pay will remain with the UN. CANADEM merely wants to assist those UN decision makers desperate to receive enough qualified female candidates; and make it obvious to the others that there are many women candidates that can be hired on-merit.

Enabling a CANADEM 1325 Roster and UN Reform Program would add a rather unique and concrete component to Canada’s Action Plan for the Implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security.
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