October 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2006
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THEMATIC ISSUES

Women, Peace and Security

Expected Council Action
The Council will hold its annual open debate on women, peace and security on 27 October. The theme of this year’s discussion is women’s role in the consolidation of peace. A presidential statement addressing the challenges of implementing and monitoring resolution 1325 on women, peace and security is the expected outcome, and it could possibly refer to the Peacebuilding Commission’s role in taking gender into account in its country-specific work. Prior to the debate, the Council will have received the Secretary-General’s fourth report on women, peace and security.

Preceding the debate, the UK will host an Arria formula meeting with NGOs.

Key Recent Developments
After last year’s open debate on women and peace and security, the Council (as in previous years) adopted a presidential statement that:

  • stressed the importance of accelerating full and effective implementation of resolution 1325;
  • welcomed the system-wide action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 as formulated in the Secretary-General’s third report on women and peace and security;
  • requested the Secretary-General to update, monitor and review the implementation of the action plan on a yearly basis and report to the Council, starting October 2006;
  • urged the Secretary-General to appoint a gender adviser within the Department of Political Affairs;
  • called on member states to continue implementation of resolution 1325, including through the development of national action plans and strategies; and
  • condemned in the strongest terms all acts of sexual exploitation and abuse by all categories of personnel in UN peacekeeping missions.

Since the adoption of this statement, the Council has made reference to resolution 1325 on four occasions in its peacekeeping-related resolutions. It has also consistently stressed the policy of zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse in its mandate-related resolutions. With many member states adopting implementation strategies, such as national action plans focused on recruiting more female peacekeepers, observers consider progress made on a national level as fairly positive.

The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein and the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno briefed the Council on sexual exploitation and abuse on 23 February 2006, followed by an open debate. Both Prince Zeid and Guéhenno stressed there was still much progress to be made. The Council did not adopt a presidential statement after the debate, as it had done after the first time Prince Zeid and Guéhenno had briefed the Council on the issue in May 2005.

The appointment of a gender adviser within the Department of Political Affairs has been stalled due to lack of funding. Requests for outside funding have not yet yielded results and, since the department is on a zero-growth budget, it is unclear at this point when such an appointment could take place.

Even though the resolution that established the Peacebuilding Commission mentions gender, several member states have expressed disappointment about its implementation to date, in particular the lack of funding which does not allow for a permanent gender adviser. During the 2005 debate on women, peace and security, several Council members stressed the importance of full integration of resolution 1325 in the mandate of the Peacebuilding Commission. The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security is planning to encourage the Peacebuilding Commission to secure women’s participation in the peacebuilding process in Sierra Leone and Burundi, the two first countries to be taken on by the Commission.

Key Issues
A recurring question has been if it would be desirable, six years after the passage of 1325, to adopt a new resolution on women, peace and security. Adopting one would reiterate the Council’s commitment to obtaining a greater female component in peacekeeping operations, but would also entail the risk of actually diluting the power of resolution 1325. Since the contents of 1325 are generally well-known, the resolution provides a clear point of reference. In addition, as long as the goals of 1325 have not yet been fully realised, some diplomats and NGOs have questioned what added value a new resolution might have.

Council Dynamics
Issues within the scope of resolution 1325 are actively promoted by a number of Council members including Denmark, France, Ghana and the UK. Outside the Council, the “Friends of 1325,” which includes 28 states from various regions under the leadership of Canada, are also actively involved.

During the 2005 debate on women, peace and security, then-Council member Algeria expressly stated that the topic transcended the Council’s mandate. China and Russia made similar statements, stressing that other UN bodies were more apt at dealing with women’s issues. During this year’s debate on sexual exploitation and abuse, however, the Council’s competence to address the matter was not questioned, even though a number of Council members pointed to other UN organs when referring to the implementation of Prince Zeid’s recommendations.

The repeated reports of sexual exploitation by peacekeepers may have played a role in making the Council more willing to address gender-related issues. Even though some members may raise objections to the occurrence of thematic debates in the Council, there is general agreement that women’s participation in peacekeeping is part of the solution to the problem of exploitation and abuse and that it therefore deserves due attention.

Underlying Problems
Gender issues are still not systematically integrated in peacekeeping activities.  Whether the Peacebuilding Commission will structurally involve a gender perspective in its work, as prescribed by its mandate, is an open question at this point.

One reason for the limited attention the Council has given to gender issues and the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse, is that the Council considers member states to be mainly responsible for adopting suitable measures to promote women’s involvement and combat sexual exploitation and abuse. This was expressly included in the presidential statement following the first Council meeting on sexual exploitation and abuse, and also played a role in the discussions on resolution 1325.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1645 (20 December 2005) established the Peacebuilding Commission and called upon the Commission to integrate a gender perspective into all its work.
  • S/RES/1325 (31 October 2000) expressed the Council’s willingness to incorporate a gender perspective into peacekeeping missions and urged the Secretary-General to ensure that field operations include a gender component.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2005/52 (27 October 2005) reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to the full implementation of resolution 1325 and welcomed the system-wide action plan for its implementation as proposed by the Secretary-General in his 2005 report.
  • S/PRST/2005/21 (31 May 2005) condemned all acts of sexual abuse and exploitation committed by United Nations peacekeeping personnel.
 Secretary-General’s Reports
 Other
  • S/PV.5294 (27 October 2005) was the 2005 debate on women, peace and security.

Historical Background

For a complete historical background, please refer to our November 2005 Forecast.

Useful Additional Sources

Previous Reports on Women, Peace and Security

Full forecast