Women, Peace and Security
Expected Council Action
In September the Council is expected to adopt a resolution on sexual violence in armed conflict. It seems that agreement is now emerging on including in a resolution a number of elements raised in the 7 August open debate (res1) on the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of resolution 1820.
The new resolution is expected to support most of the Secretary-General’s recommendations in the 1820 report including the appointment of a senior person to coordinate UN system-wide work on prevention of and response to sexual violence in armed conflict.
The resolution is also expected to address:
including sexual violence provisions in relevant mandates and establishing corresponding reporting requirements;
establishing a role for all relevant subsidiary bodies of the Council to address sexual violence issues;
requesting annual thematic reporting from the Secretary-General; and
requesting the Secretary-General to propose a monitoring mechanism or procedure.
It seems that recommendation to set up a commission of inquiry for Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan is unlikely to be taken up in the resolution.
Key Recent Events
On 4 August the Council, in resolution 1882 on children and armed conflict, established sexual violence, as an additional criterion for including parties to armed conflict in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports to the Council on children’s issues.
Also on 4 August the Council met in closed consultations to discuss the judicial proceedings that had begun against five officers of the armed forces of the DRC who had been removed from their command because of allegations of perpetrating sexual violence. Several Council members had raised these cases with the DRC government during the Council’s mission to DRC in May 2009. (The five officers whose cases were raised with the DRC authorities are known as Colonel Mosala, Colonel Safari, Lt-Colonel Bebimobuli Engagela, Jerome Kakwavu and Major Pitchen.) So far, the DRC government has acknowledged the concerns raised and has indicated it is taking action in bringing them to justice. In July, the DRC announced a zero-tolerance policy against criminal acts and misconduct in its armed forces.
On 7 August the Council held an open debate on sexual violence in armed conflict. The Secretary-General attended the debate to present his report. He emphasised that “sexual violence continues on a widespread and systematic basis” and requires a “multisectoral response” from the UN.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the DRC on 11 August during her Africa tour. One of the high-profile issues on her DRC agenda were reports of mass rapes by government and rebel forces. Media reports indicated that in discussions with the DRC government she demanded an end to impunity. Alan Doss, head of the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), accompanied Clinton during her DRC visit. He briefed her on the UN’s work there and the challenges that MONUC faced.
The key issue for the Council is how to make a real difference on the ground (i.e. a reduction in the instances of sexual violence crimes in conflict situations). A second unresolved issue is the recommendation for a commission of inquiry.
An additional option would be to request regular briefings from the Secretariat on the matter, to allow the Council to have ongoing information on related developments between annual reports.
A further option would be to note the Secretary-General’s recommendation on commission of inquiry in Chad, the DRC and Sudan and to request the Secretary-General to resubmit new recommendations in his next report based on consultations with Council members.
During the 7 August debate France, the UK and the US expressed general support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations. In addition, the US and France supported the establishment of a commission of inquiry, annual reporting, the appointment of a high-level official to synergise the UN’s work on sexual violence and consideration of targeted sanctions against perpetrators of sexual violence. The UK voiced support for a high-level official and further reporting. Both Russia and China supported the Secretary-General’s general appeal for parties to conflict to abide by international law but were cautious about the Secretary-General’s more concrete recommendations.
Many elected Council members also recognised sexual violence as one of the most serious issues facing conflict-affected areas and the need to strengthen response while enhancing coordination mechanisms. The 7 August debate revealed that there is also an understanding among members on the need to enhance monitoring, investigation and documentation of sexual crimes, which would improve information sharing and advocacy. In this regard, some Council members such as Austria, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica and Turkey reaffirmed their support for security sector reform and rule of law including promoting functioning legal systems in conflict-affected countries.
It seems that there are clear differences among Council members at this stage on how a commission of inquiry relating to three countries might best address the issues of sexual violence. While some Council members support the establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate sexual violence, others ask whether it would be feasible to address the problem through a commission in these countries at this time in a way that would be effective.
The US has the lead in the Council on the issue of sexual violence in armed conflict and holds the presidency of the Council in September.
Related Future Council Work
In October a debate is expected on the related issue of women, peace and security (resolution 1325) and a separate report is expected from the Secretary-General.
Selected Security Council Resolutions
Selected Secretary-General’s Report