January 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 December 2009
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THEMATIC ISSUES

Women, Peace and Security

Expected Council Action
In January, the Secretary-General is expected to advise the Council regarding his proposals for monitoring and reporting within the existing UN system on the protection of women and children from rape and other sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, as requested by resolution 1888.

At press time, in the absence of the Secretary-General’s actual proposals, it is difficult to assess what action the Council might take in January or whether decisions might be taken in February.

Key Recent Developments
On 23 December 2009, in resolution 1906 on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Council notably applied in a country-specific context many of the key thematic principles it had developed in resolution 1888. However, on 30 November 2009, when renewing the DRC sanctions regime in resolution 1896 (and in resolution 1906 itself), despite many reports of recent serious sexual violence in eastern DRC, the Council failed to request its Sanctions Committee to consider designating additional persons for targeted sanctions. (There are currently only three individuals listed for sanctions relating to sexual violence in the DRC and those date back many months.)

On 30 September 2009, at the adoption of resolution 1888, members of the Council expressed concern about the lack of progress on the issue of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict. Resolution 1888 called on the Secretary-General to:

  • appoint a special representative to provide leadership, strengthen existing UN coordination mechanisms and advocate on ending sexual violence against women with governments;
  • create a team of experts who will work with the UN on the ground and assist national authorities to strengthen the rule of law;
  • report on measures taken by individual peacekeeping operations to protect women and children against sexual violence;
  • provide technical support to troop and police-contributing countries;
  • provide systematic data and information about the prevalence of sexual violence in all reports, including those on peacekeeping missions, to the Security Council; and
  • report on the progress made on implementing resolutions 1820 and 1888.

The Secretary-General’s September 2009 report on women, peace and security had acknowledged that limited progress had been achieved for the past nine years since the adoption of resolution 1325 in 2000, and that armed conflict continued to impact women and girls in particular. It also noted that the lack of regular reporting on women, peace and security, the limited cooperation by parties to conflict and the inadequate information on actions taken by parties to armed conflict to respond to violence against women were key reasons for the poor progress.

The Secretary-General’s earlier report to the Council on resolution 1820 (originally issued in July and reissued on 20 August) had noted that greater efforts are needed to actively monitor, investigate and report on perpetrators of sexual violence. In this context, in addition to wider recommendations, he also urged the Council to address aspects of the problem within its own working methods, including:

  • having a dialogue with all parties to armed conflict on their obligations under international law;
  • that relevant working groups of the Council, in particular the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and the informal Expert Group on Protection of Civilians, should address sexual violence issues in the course of their work; and
  • that sanctions committees should address sexual violence and receive information on those who perpetuate sexual violence.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is will be whether the Security Council is ready itself to assume greater involvement in actively monitoring real world situations and needs related to the protection of women and children. A related issue is the unimplemented elements in this regard in the Secretary-General’s July report, and in particular the steps the Council can take to engage the parties to conflict to comply with Council thematic resolutions and also the roles of its subsidiary bodies.

A second key issue will be the Council response to the Secretary-General’s proposals.

Options
One option is for the Council to decide that its informal Expert Group on Protection of Civilians should have responsibility for monitoring and addressing sexual violence dimensions in its work of reviewing the situations of civilians in specific cases where peacekeeping operations are deployed.

Another option is for the Council to follow the precedent of its work on children and armed conflict and move towards a dedicated subsidiary body for monitoring compliance with its resolutions on women’s issues and sexual violence in conflict situations.

A further option would be to expand the commitment in operational paragraph 10 of resolution 1888 and explicitly require all sanctions committees to review the question of adding sexual violence to the criteria for targeted sanctions and provide recommendations to the Council prior to the next date for review or renewal by the Council.

Council Dynamics
Council members seem to agree that a better response to the protection of women and girls in armed conflict is necessary.

Members also seem agreed that there is insufficient information related to sexual violence coming from the field and that it is desirable to strengthen monitoring and reporting.  

There is less consensus on how to pressure parties to conflict to take measures to protect women and children from sexual violence. The Council already, in resolution 1820, specifically demanded that parties enforce appropriate military disciplinary measures and uphold the principle of command responsibility. Also, it demanded vetting armed and security forces to take into account past actions of rape and other forms of sexual violence. However, some members note that it is apparent that many parties to conflict are ignoring these demands and that more focused Council attention is therefore required.

There is wide support for better training of peacekeepers and for national forces and police.

The US is the lead country on this issue in the Council.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions 

  • S/RES/1889 (5 October 2009) decided that women’s protection and empowerment should be taken into account during post-conflict needs assessment and planning.  
  • S/RES/1888 (30 September 2009) strengthened UN structures to respond to sexual violence against women and children in conflict.  
  • 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, 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 on resolution 1325.
  • S/2009/362 (originally issued on 15 July 2009 and reissued on 20 August 2009) was on resolution 1820.
  • S/2009/304 (11 June 2009) was on peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict.
  • S/2008/622 (25 September 2008) was on women, peace and security.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2009/8(21 April 2009) stressed the need for more participation of women in mediators’ teams.
  • S/PRST/2009/1 (14 January 2009) was on protection of civilians including the revised aide-memoire.
  • S/PRST/2008/39(29 October 2008) requested the Secretary-General to provide more information on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls in conflict situations.

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 (11 September 2009) was GA resolution on system-wide UN coherence.
  • SC/6816 (8 March 2000) was the press release on the occasion of International Women’s Day that brought the whole Security Council on board with the issue of Women, Peace and Security for the first time.
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