A team from the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, joined by Gender Advisors from USNORTHCOM, US Army North, and the US Office of Defense Cooperation in Mexico City delivered a Women, Peace, and Security focused International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law training to lawyers and emerging leaders in the Mexican Army and Air Force (SEDENA) and Mexican Navy and Marines (SEMAR) in August in Mexico City. This was DIILS’ first program tailored to focus on the principles emphasized in the United Nations’ international Women Peace and Security agenda. UNSCR 1325 (2000).
Participants in both seminars engaged on concepts of the legal responsibilities of nation states to investigate, prosecute, punish, and prevent violence against women in accordance with international human rights, humanitarian and international criminal law standards. DIILS led discussions on human rights, the Rule of Law, human trafficking, gender-based violence, sexual harassment and assault, United Nations peacekeeping, and more. Students also explored the major civil and political human rights protections addressed in the Inter-American System of Human Rights, and developed a better understanding of the purpose and utility of a regional system, to include how the regional system’s rights may differ, be applied differently, or augment those rights found in treaty or customary international law.
The Mexican Army’s Gender Observatory and the Navy’s Human Rights Department (Sexual Harassment Office) which investigates cases of sexual and gender-based harassment and assault, and raises awareness about such abuse by reporting on investigation, punishment and prevention, presented on their work, and on the accountability processes within their respective branches. Both seminars included a capstone panel discussion featuring leadership from the respective services, and representatives from the U.S. Embassy Mexico City Office of Defense Cooperation. Discussions centered on requirements, opportunities, and challenges to integrating Women, Peace, and Security principles within our defense institutions and in operations.
The Government of Mexico is taking strong measures to address and advance accountability for human rights violations and sexual misconduct within their state institutions, including the military, and in 2021 released its first interagency Women, Peace, and Security National Action Plan. In addition, Mexico is one of six countries globally to have adopted and sought to implement a Feminist Foreign Policy along with Canada, Sweden and others, and is a lead sponsor alongside the Government of France, for the UN-led Generation Equality Forum which convened in Paris in July 2021, leading to billions of dollars committed to tackling issues of gender inequality such as equal pay, equal share of unpaid work, ending harassment, and combating all forms of violence against women.
This engagement contributed to advancing the US Department of Defense’s Women Peace and Security Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan (June 2000) and focused on exemplifying diversity and ensuring the safety, security and human rights of women and girls, both goals that DIILS and USNORTHCOM pursue internally and externally with Security Cooperation partner nations.