July 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 June 2009
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Women, Peace and Security

Expected Council Action

The Council is expected to hold a debate in July on implementation of resolution 1820 on sexual violence in conflict. (The Secretary-General’s report is due on 30 June). At press time it was unclear whether the report would be received on time and if the Council would consider it in July or August. It was also unclear whether there would be any formal Council action following the debate.

Key Recent Developments
Sexual violence against women has continued in many places including Burundi, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Liberia, Myanmar, Somalia, Nepal and Timor-Leste, and has increased in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic since the adoption of resolution 1820 in June 2008, according to the relevant Secretary-General’s country-specific reports.

Implementation of resolution 1820 has been weak. Parties to armed conflict have often failed to protect civilians from sexual violence, and only in a few countries were steps taken to allow better victim access to justice and to create police women protection units. Despite commitments to combat sexual violence in peace agreements (such as in the DRC and Côte d’Ivoire), these have not been fully implemented. Assistance to victims and reparations continue to be insufficient.

Information on sexual violence in relevant Secretary-General’s country-specific reports has been superficial, with no analysis of trends. Specific paragraphs were included only in reports on the DRC and Somalia. Sexual violence against girls has been better addressed in country reports on children and armed conflict.

Between 20 June 2008 and 15 June 2009 the Council adopted 16 resolutions (on Haiti, Liberia, Chad, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Burundi, the DRC, Somalia, Timor-Leste and Côte d’Ivoire) including a reference to the goals of resolution 1820 or a condemnation of violence against women.

On 14 January the Council adopted a revised aide-memoire facilitating its consideration of issues related to the protection of civilians. It inserted a section on women affected by armed conflict.

The Council last held an open debate on women, peace and security on 29 October 2008. It adopted a presidential statement urging states and international and regional organisations to increase women’s participation in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. It called upon the Secretary-General to appoint more women to pursue good offices and requested a report on resolution 1325 (the 2000 resolution on women, peace and security) including information on obstacles to women’s participation.

UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict—a group of 12 UN entities aimed at improving coordination and accountability, supporting national efforts to prevent sexual violence and responding to the needs of survivors—has developed an Analytical Inventory of Responses by Peacekeeping Personnel to War-Related Violence Against Women, which catalogues existing protection tactics used by peacekeepers. This will be available to troop contributors. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has been tasked to develop gender guidelines for peacekeeping personnel to facilitate resolutions 1325 and 1820, to be completed in 2009.

From 22 to 24 June the UN organised a colloquium in New York entitled “Addressing sexual violence in conflict mediation: implementing resolution 1820”. It brought together technical experts on ceasefires, protection of civilians, justice, disarmament and social protection and mediators. It developed guidance to bring up sexual violence in pre-ceasefire agreements; to list sexual violence as a prohibited act under a ceasefire agreement; to ensure that disarming, demobilisation and reintegration as well as security sector reform processes prevent sexual violence and provide protection; to cover sexual violence in justice processes; and to provide reparations. The colloquium was followed by an Arria formula meeting.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Most of the attention has focused on implementation of resolution 1820 in the DRC.

UN Action and the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) have developed a comprehensive strategy on combating sexual violence, creating a common framework for action in the DRC by all UN agencies. It identifies key issues such as weak political will by the DRC government and from some UN agencies, the need for a centralised funding mechanism, and the lack of data and analysis on sexual violence.

On 3 March the Council’s DRC Sanctions Committee imposed an assets freeze and travel ban on three individuals identified in 2008 by the Expert Group report as responsible for sexual violence.

During its May visit to the DRC, Council members met victims and gave the government the names of five army officers who should be arrested for sexual violence (although the list did not include Bosco Ntaganda currently indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes). No arrest warrants have so far been issued. To date only four soldiers have been convicted for failing to assist persons in danger. The absence of a credible vetting process for the Congolese army and lack of willingness from the DRC government to seriously address impunity at the highest level of Congolese armed forces continues to be a problem. This was emphasised by former force commander for the eastern DRC Patrick Cammaert during a press conference at the UN on 24 June. A positive development, however, was the sentencing on 5 June by a DRC military court of five militia fighters guilty of sexual crimes to thirty years in prison and ordered them to pay damages to over 135 victims.

With the view to strengthening resolution 1820 implementation, the Council could:

  • request an assessment of current efforts across the UN system to implement resolution 1820 and recommendations for improvement;
  • establish an 1820 reporting cycle, perhaps with a specific annex with global analysis of prevalence of sexual violence;
  • recommend appointing a Secretary-General special representative or personal envoy on sexual violence in conflict;
  • request the Secretary-General to personally take up with all Special Representatives their responsibility to engage forcefully on the issue of sexual violence with relevant parties to conflict;
  • request analysis of sexual violence issues in all reports to the Council and emphasise the need for more systematic data collection;
  • encourage development of UN strategies to combat sexual violence in all affected areas, using the precedent of the strategy developed in the DRC;
  • request the Department of Political Affairs to ensure that sexual violence dimensions are considered in all mediation processes with which the UN is involved; and
  • call on troop contributors to strengthen pre-deployment training on ways to address sexual violence and request the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to include this in training advice to troops contributing countries.

The Council could also review the 1820 agenda and:

  • establish a working group on sexual violence against women or decide to incorporate sexual violence issues in the work of the Council expert group on protection of civilians;
  • request relevant UN agencies to ensure that more assistance be provided to victims;
  • establish a commission of inquiry into sexual violence in one or more situations—it could also do this in the context of the Secretary-General’s broader recommendation in his latest report on protection of civilians to establish commissions of inquiry to examine violations of international humanitarian law;
  • where impunity prevails or local justice mechanisms are overwhelmed, authorise or support ad hoc judicial arrangements to address sexual violence;
  • warn that it will, if necessary, refer situations of sexual violence to the ICC; and
  • request that sexual violence issues become part of the mandate of gender advisers, in the context of a broader mainstreaming of sexual violence issues into all UN agencies.

Key Issues
The Council is likely to review resolution 1820 implementation efforts. Key issues are:

  1. Collection of Information on Sexual Violence: Prevention, protection, or prosecution cannot occur without information and analysis. But data is lacking. A problem seems to be the lack of confidentiality, witness protection and assistance to victims in the context of data collection. Related issues seem to be weak coordination among UN agencies, the absence of standardised definitions and methodologies, restricted access to sensitive areas and general funding deficits.
  2. Leadership among UN Agencies: Resolution 1820 implementation by the entire UN system is a multi-sectoral issue. A question is whether a personal envoy or special representative on sexual violence tasked to strengthen UN coordination, provide political impetus and act as an in-house advocate should be appointed. Whether UN Action’s activities in the DRC can be replicated in other areas may also be addressed.
  3. Security Council Mechanism: Another issue is how the Council can more systematically address sexual violence in country-specific situations on its agenda. A question is whether to establish a new mechanism or use existing ones as avenues for addressing sexual violence. For instance, the Council could decide in July to expand the list of triggers for the Children and Armed Conflict Working Group to include rape and other grave sexual violence against children.
  4. Dialogue with Non-State Actors: The latest Secretary-General’s report on protection of civilians recommended that states support or at least not impede efforts by humanitarian organisations to engage with armed groups to protect civilians. The report also said that engagement can provide entry points for dialogue on sexual violence.
  5. Mediation and Sexual Violence: An issue is how to better incorporate sexual violence issues into peace processes. While supporting greater participation of women as mediators and as parties to negotiations, the Council may also consider encouraging the systematic inclusion of sexual violence provisions in peace agreements.

Council Dynamics
France, the US, the UK, Costa Rica, Austria and some others consider this upcoming 1820 report as a landmark opportunity on which to build implementation. A majority of members seem to favour regular 1820 reports.

There is some debate as to whether resolutions 1325 and 1820 should be addressed separately. Some members (Austria, France, and the UK) support the creation of a sexual violence mandate because this issue is a high profile one. They also think that this would provide political leadership, engagement with non-state actors, and better UN coordination. Most of them seem to think that a personal envoy would be a better option for funding reasons. Japan is particularly reluctant about options which would require additional funding for this issue. Others disagree with establishing a focal point on sexual violence and believe that UN efforts should be linked to more toward 1325 implementation. Russia and China in particular favour this approach.

Most Council members are reluctant to create a mechanism similar to the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict for sexual violence. Some believe it would be too burdensome. Russia believes that sexual violence is not a peace and security issue per se as it is difficult to differentiate between a tactic of war and random crime. Russia also considers that sexual violence should not be addressed by the Council independently from other violations against civilians.

A debate also exists between those who believe that a first step should be expanding the list of triggers for consideration by the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to include sexual violence and those who believe it is an insufficient response as it would leave out all women over 18. Japan, France, the US and the UK in particular seem inclined to use the new aide-memoire and the expert group on protection of civilians.

Council members seem generally to agree on improvement of data collection and analysis. The US, the UK, France, Japan and Austria seem ready to consider the establishment of a commission of inquiry, although Japan and the US have budgetary reservations. Russia seems reluctant if it focuses only on sexual violence and on certain conflicts.

The US has the lead on this issue. At press time it was still determining its strategy for the Council discussions.

UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1820 (19 June 2008) recognised that sexual violence as a tactic of war can exacerbate situations of armed conflict, demanded all parties to protect civilians from all forms of sexual violence and requested a report from the Secretary-General.
  • S/RES/1807 (31 March 2008) imposed sanctions against individuals involved in sexual violence in the DRC.
  • S/RES/1794 (21 December 2007) requested MONUC to pursue a mission-wide strategy to strengthen prevention, protection and response to sexual violence.
  • S/RES/1325 (31 October 2000) was the resolution on women, peace and security.

Selected Council Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2009/8 (21 April 2009) stressed the need for more women participation in mediators’ teams.
  • S/PRST/2009/1 (14 January 2009) was the latest statement on protection of civilians including the revised aide-memoire.
  • S/PRST/2008/39 (29 October 2008) was a statement on women, peace and security focused on women’s participation.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2009/277 (29 May 2009) was the latest report on protection of civilians in armed conflict.
  • S/2009/160 (27 March 2009) was the latest report on MONUC.
  • S/2008/693 (10 November 2008) was the latest report on children and armed conflict in the DRC.
  • S/2008/622 (25 September 2008) was the latest report on women, peace and security.
  • S/2007/643 (28 October 2007) was a report on protection of civilians in armed conflict.

Latest Council Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6005 and res. 1 (29 October 2008) was the latest open debate on women, peace and security.

Useful Additional Sources

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