On April 9, Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström presented a new research initiative in the area of women, peace and security and the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
In line with this long-term research effort, a new professorship in Anna Lindh's name as well as a new research program will be established at the Swedish Defence University (SEDU). The research program will aim to increase knowledge about women's roles in conflicts, peace processes and disaster relief, gender perspectives in military organizations and operations, as well as a more general focus on conflict prevention and peace building.
This important research initiative is not only a way of promoting long-term international peace and security, women's rights and conflict prevention, it is also a tribute to our friend and colleague, a missing advocate of all these issues - former Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh. Through this effort, Sweden will strengthen its position as a center for research on women, peace and security. In Anna Lindh's spirit, an academic environment will be created that will act as a catalyst for both immediate and long-term change promoting peace and security.
"The Swedish Defence University is very proud to have been granted the prestigious task of leading this important venture," says Professor Robert Egnell, Head of the Department of Security, Strategy, and Leadership.
The main goal of this initiative is to create a leading research environment that will deepen our knowledge and understanding of this field as well as build bridges between theory and practice by focusing on issues of practical and political relevance and problem solving.
Professor Egnell explains why the SEDU was tasked with this important research effort. "The SEDU has a significant and unique role in society, especially in the security sector, and this is a prerequisite for achieving success in this new research initiative, not least for that research to have real world impact. We provide high quality education and training for today's and future leaders within the entire security sector. All Swedish military officers have studied at the Swedish Defense University at some point in their career as well as a large proportion of those civilian students who later work for government authorities and ministries. In addition, this university is commissioned to design and provide education and exercises in societal security, disaster relief and leadership for the Swedish Government Offices and government authorities as well as for key international stakeholders in the security sector.
The SEDU also collaborates nationally and internationally with leading research networks in similar environments such as the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS). Other important partners will be the London School of Economics and ACCORD (African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes) in South Africa.
Professor Robert Egnell believes that with this initiative the SEDU not only has excellent potential for becoming an important center for education and research in the field of women, peace and security, but can also strengthen its role in developing and supporting the practical implementation of the UN's agenda for women, peace and security and the many national actions plans on Resolution 1325.
"The resolution and the action plans rightly put tough demands on all actors in the security sector. However, knowledge on how to lead this implementation is still largely lacking. In fact, the entire security sector is screaming for guidance and proof of impact. What works and what doesn't? We now have an opportunity to build an in-depth research program that will study these processes, provide data and the best practices, develop new theories, and thereby lay the foundation for future policy and practice. If we do this right, I believe that the SEDU through the Anna Lindh Chair of Women, Peace and Security and the surrounding research program will make enormously important contributions to both the theory and practice of the women, peace and security agenda – both in Sweden and internationally," concludes Professor Robert Egnell.