October 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 September 2009
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THEMATIC ISSUES

Women, Peace and Security

Expected Council Action
In October the Council is expected to hold an open debate on the implementation of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. (This resolution, adopted in October 2000, recognised a need to incorporate a gender perspective into mandates for peacekeeping missions, and called on all parties to protect women and girls from gender-based violence and to put an end to impunity for such crimes.)

The Council has received the Secretary-General’s report on women, peace and security, requested in October 2008 (S/2009/465). A draft resolution is being currently discussed by members.

The discussion is expected to focus on implementation of resolution 1325 and how to improve opportunities for women in post-conflict environments. It will likely also take stock of UN efforts in supporting member states in formulating and implementing gender policies in security sector reform, preventing sexual violence, advancing women’s participation in decision-making and providing resources for women’s organisations.

Key Recent Developments
Although women still face many challenges in conflict and post-conflict situations, there is currently much momentum on issues of women, peace and security. At the time of writing, the Council was discussing gender-related issues and was expected to adopt a new resolution on sexual violence in conflict on 30 September.

The Secretary-General’s report will likely highlight the right of women to participate fully in public life in post-conflict situations. His report in June on peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict noted the importance of actively involving women in post-conflict reconstruction efforts and especially in public decision making, as violence and intimidation can often prevent them from participating in public life. His upcoming report will likely focus on:

  • the vulnerability of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict environments;
  • the lack of sufficient data documenting challenges faced by women in conflict and post-conflict environments, which in part may be a result of victims’ fear of coming forward;
  • the inadequacy of existing laws to protect women and girls from violence, despite the many initiatives taken to address the situation of women in conflict and post-conflict environments (an ongoing problem is the inability of victims to gain access to justice, including judicial remedies);
  • the need for strengthening implementation of resolution 1325, particularly by ensuring that peacekeeping operations are systematically mandated to address sexual violence; and
  • background on the work the UN has done to support relevant national institutions.

On 14 September, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on UN system-wide coherence. While the resolution covers several issues, one addressed in considerable detail is the strengthening of institutional arrangements within the UN designed to support gender equality and women’s empowerment. The resolution endorses consolidating four offices: the Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, the Division for the Advancement of Women, the UN Development Fund for Women and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women.

The consolidated four offices are to be led by an Under-Secretary-General who will report directly to the Secretary-General.

The Secretary-General has recently highlighted some of his own initiatives. For example, he has given weight to the fact that during his tenure, the number of women appointed to senior posts increased by 40 percent.

In October 2008 the Council held its most recent open debate on resolution 1325. Many members recognised the importance of supporting women’s participation in the political process in post-conflict environments. They have also recognised the need for governments to improve security and rule of law, to allocate resources for women’s needs, and to implement policies that would benefit women equally.

Key Issues
An issue for the Council will be how to use the opportunity of the October debate effectively given that it is sandwiched between the approaching tenth anniversary of resolution 1325 and the intensive focus on gender related issues in the Council and the General Assembly in September.

While Council members seem to support gender mainstreaming in the implementation of resolutions 1325 and 1820, an issue which warrants further exploration is how to facilitate, in practice, the full and effective participation of women in peace processes and peacebuilding, while also addressing the impact of conflict on women.

Options
The most likely option in October seems to be a resolution on the needs of women and girls in post-conflict environments. It may:

  • request the Secretary-General and member states to evaluate the multidimensional needs of women and girls in post-conflict situations;
  • consider the security and recovery needs of women and girls in post-conflict situations;
  • urge member states to mainstream gender issues by improving legislation and law enforcement, and by promoting women’s political participation;
  • call on member states to ensure women’s participation at the earliest stages of the peace process;
  • highlight the need to address reintegration issues for female ex-combatants in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes;
  • renew its commitment to women, peace and security issues in the upcoming tenth anniversary of resolution 1325, and use the opportunity to take stock of progress on implementation; and
  • call for a strengthening of coordination on gender issues within the UN system.

The Council might also request benchmarks to measure progress as well as strategies to ensure prevention.

Council Dynamics
In general, Council members support the women, peace and security framework and most are ready to push for better implementation of resolution 1325. Discussions on follow-up to resolutions 1325 and 1820 might be an opportunity for Council members to focus on different mechanisms that could be used to tackle the issue of sexual violence. However, it seems that some would prefer to reserve a number of these major issues for the 2010 tenth anniversary

For October 2009, it seems that among Council members there is a focus on the more limited issues of women’s participation in post-conflict environments.

Council members are conscious of the potential role of the recent General Assembly resolution on improved coherence and see this as improving UN capacity to support Council work on women, peace and security issues.

UN Documents

Selected Security 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/1325 (31 October 2000) was the resolution on women, peace and security, in particular expressing the Council’s willingness to incorporate a gender perspective into peacekeeping missions, calling on all parties to protect women and girls from gender-based violence and to put an end to impunity for such crimes.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2009/465 (16 September 2009) was the most recent report of the Secretary-General on women, peace and security.
  • S/2009/362 (15 July 2009) was the report of the Secretary-General on resolution 1820.
  • S/2009/304 (11 June 2009) was the report of the Secretary-General on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict.
  • S/2008/622 (25 September 2008) was the report of the Secretary-General on women and peace and security.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2008/39 (29 October 2008) was a presidential statement requesting the Secretary-General to provide more information on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls in conflict situations, to be submitted to the Security Council by October 2009.

Other

  • SG/SM/12454/GA/10856 (15 September 2009) was the Secretary-General’s press statement welcoming the General Assembly resolution on system-wide coherence.
  • A/63/L.103 (14 September 2009) was the General Assembly resolution on system-wide UN coherence.
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