By Spc. Jonnie Riley, 106th Public Affairs DetachmentJanuary 18, 2019
CARSON CITY, Nev. -- The Nevada National Guard State Partnership Program hosted an international exchange of experts in January that focused on the inclusion of women in peace and security efforts and resulted in significant progress on a draft United Nations national action plan for the Kingdom of Tonga.
A finalized national action plan promises to align Tonga with the United Nation's recent resolution on women, peace and security (U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325). The plan emphasizes the inclusion of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and post-conflict reconstruction. The action plan stresses the importance of equal gender participation in all aspects of global peace and security.
Participants in the exchange included: Maj. Dana Grigg, the Nevada Guard's Women, Peace and Security team lead; Capt. Siulolo Tapueluelu of His Majesty's Armed Forces from Tonga; retired Ambassador Steven McGann, former U.S. ambassador to Fiji; Dr. Saira Yamin, a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies; Maj. Patrick Arizmendi, the deputy director of the SPP; Maj. Scott Katherman, of the judge advocate general's office; Sgt. 1st Class Tera Eilers, a WPS subject matter expert from the Oregon National Guard's SPP team; and Maj. Qiana Harder, a U.S. Army fellow from APCSS.
The engagement followed the May 2018 WPS National Conference in Tonga and continued to emphasize inclusion and appreciation of diversity as well as peace and security.
"The four pillars of the UN resolution we prioritize are: participation, prevention of vulnerabilities, protection and relief and recovery," Grigg said.
Tapueluelu, who has been in the HMAF for two years, said she has experienced positive changes since the SPP introduced WPS initiatives.
"[The exchanges] have raised the educated awareness that women are essential in peace and security resolution and sustainment," Tapueluelu said. "As a result, the exchanges encourage strengthening national efforts to fulfill Tonga's international obligations."
The engagement included a speech from McGann, who recalled his experiences in Oceania, and an overview of WPS and national action plan guidelines. The group then discussed objectives before penning the first draft of the national action plan.
His Majesty's Armed Forces are one of the lead Tongan agencies drafting the country's national action plan.
Tapueluelu works in HMAF's law office and is set to assist in the writing of her country's plan.
"I am part of a team with other representatives from line ministries [offices]. We will work and collaborate with other national and international organizations, to research, draft and finalize the national action plan for Tonga," Tapueluelu said.
The next step in the national action plan process is set for the comprehensive crisis management course in February at the APCSS in Honolulu, Hawaii, when all parties will confer once again on the objectives and goals of the plan.
The national action plan should be finished within a year. Once completed, it will be released to the citizens of Tonga and -- ostensibly - implemented throughout the island country's society.
"The result of what we accomplish during these exchanges, conferences and workshops will be reflected in the effectiveness of the final national action plan of Tonga," Grigg said.