October 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 September 2010
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THEMATIC ISSUES

Women, Peace and Security

Expected Council Action

The Council is scheduled to hold a ministerial-level open debate in late October on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. The foreign minister of Uganda, Sam Kutesa, is expected to preside. The newly appointed head of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, is expected to be invited to brief the Council. A representative of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and a single representative of civil society are also likely to speak. The Council is expected to adopt either a presidential statement or resolution following the debate, taking action to invigorate implementation of resolution 1325, including a set of revised indicators to track implementation at the global level.

For detailed analysis of the Council’s dynamics and approach to this issue from 2000 to 2010, please see our Cross-Cutting Report on Women, Peace and Security published in October.

The debate is expected to be preceded by an Arria formula meeting with civil society co-hosted by Austria and Mexico and possibly other members of the Council.

At press time Council members had yet to decide whether to take up the Secretary-General’s separate report on women and peacebuilding (prepared by the Peacebuilding Support Office) during this debate or during a specific debate devoted to the Peacebuilding Commission (see our brief on the Peacebuilding Commission in this month’s Monthly Forecast).

Key Recent Developments
On 27 April the Council held a debate on the Secretary-General’s report that recommended a set of 26 indicators for use at the global level to track implementation of resolution 1325, which could serve as a common basis for reporting by relevant UN entities, other international and regional organisations and member states. At the time, the Council was split between members who wanted to endorse the set of indicators immediately and members who thought the initial set of indicators needed more work. China and Russia felt that if the indicators were to be used by all UN member states to track their implementation of 1325, then it was important there be wider input into development of the indicators. There were some concerns with specific indicators: in particular, “proxy” indicators that indirectly measured the implementation of 1325 (such as using maternal mortality rates to measure women’s access to health services during conflict).

The Council issued a presidential statement following the debate in April noting that the indicators would need further technical and conceptual development before they could become operational and requested the Secretary-General to continue consultations with the Council and the broader UN membership. The Council sought these revised indicators by October, along with an allocation of responsibilities for the indicators within the UN system and a timeframe to render the indicators operational.

The special adviser for gender equality and the advancement of women, Rachel Mayanja, undertook consultations—meeting with all geographic groups—in May and June. It is understood that these led to several modifications to the original indicators, which will be included in the Secretary-General’s report on the UN system’s implementation of resolution 1325, which was due in mid-September, but is now expected in early-to-mid October.

In resolution 1889 the Council requested the Secretary-General to report on addressing women’s participation and inclusion in peacebuilding and planning in the aftermath of conflict, taking into consideration the views of the Peacebuilding Commission. This report is expected in early October 2010. The Peacebuilding Support Office undertook extensive consultations with the UN membership, peacebuilding practitioners within the UN system in New York and Geneva and civil society when drafting this report. The final report is expected to contain a seven-point action plan for gender-responsive peacebuilding, including recommendations on minimum funding levels for gender programming in post-conflict recovery and possibly a recommendation that quota systems for women’s participation in post-conflict legislatures be encouraged.

The General Assembly decided on 2 July to create a new UN gender entity—UN Women—combining the existing four women’s entities into one. The Secretary-General announced on 14 September that former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet would lead UN Women.

A range of activities are planned to mark the 10th anniversary of resolution 1325. UN peacekeeping, peacebuilding and political missions held a series of “Open Days” throughout June to facilitate their contact with women’s civil society. In more than twenty post-conflict countries, special representatives of the Secretary-General and other high-level officials met with women’s advocates to hear their concerns and discuss how to increase women’s participation in sustainable conflict resolution, peacemaking and peacebuilding. The Open Days were organised by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Political Affairs, the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the UN Development Programme. UNIFEM has indicated efforts were being made to make this an annual event.

The Secretary-General and cabinet ministers from Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, Liberia, Namibia, Sierra Leone and the UK hosted a ministerial-level event on 25 September in New York to mark the 10th anniversary of resolution 1325, as a platform to encourage member states to make time-bound and measurable commitments toward the implementation of resolution 1325 in their interventions at the Council’s open debate in October.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council in October is to reach agreement on its specific role with regard to the set of indicators to track countries’ implementation of resolution 1325.

A further issue is whether and how the Council will adapt its working methods to enable it to track systematically—and across the full Council agenda—the increased information that will become available and issues that will arise when countries report their progress against the indicators.

Underlying Problems
Some question whether the “global” indicators can be truly global. Many of the indicators are only relevant to conflict or post-conflict countries.

There are practical questions as to how the information which will be used to track the indicators will be gathered and how it will be processed for Council members and others. Much information is likely to be voluntarily supplied by UN member states and drawn from existing information held by UN entities. Some support and additional analysis is expected from the UN system, but some members question how the information will be processed so as to be comparable between different country situations. Many on the Council are looking to UN Women to take the lead on coordinating the indicator process and managing the resultant information. However, UN Women will only come into effect on 1 January 2011 and its structure and resourcing will inevitably take time to emerge.

Options
One option is a Council decision in late October to address two elements—indicators and framework—as well as general language acknowledging the 10th anniversary of resolution 1325. The Council could:

  • endorse all the revised indicators in the Secretary-General’s report;
  • endorse a modified list that it negotiates;
  • set up a framework within which it uses the indicators (or set up a date by which to determine it); or
  • not endorse any of the indicators.

If the Council also takes up the Secretary-General’s report on women and peacebuilding during this debate one option is to consider and approve the seven-point action plan for gender-responsive peacebuilding in one thematic decision on women, peace and security in late October.

The alternative is for the Council to address the seven-point action plan in the debate on peacebuilding, which would ensure the recommendations of the report are dealt with in a more cross-cutting way.

Council Dynamics
There seems to be a growing consensus among Council members that if the indicators have been revised to take into account member state consultations then it is appropriate for the Council to endorse them.

Differences may emerge, however, over the process the Council might establish to address the indicators and the information that it wants to come to the Council. Most P5 members are leaning toward a longer-term approach to establishing such a framework that takes into account both the consolidation of UN Women and the timeline to render the indicators operational. Elected members, especially Austria, Mexico and Japan, seem to prefer to establish a framework in October, which may also formalise to some degree the Council’s process for consideration of the thematic issue of women, peace and security.

With regard to the eventual information flows when member states report progress against the indicators, some members place weight on the value this will add when the Council is considering countries already on the Council agenda. Other members, by contrast, want to look at all countries’ performance against the indicators as a guide to early warning and conflict prevention, even when a country is not on the Council agenda.

Most P5 members consider a presidential statement a sufficient outcome for October. Other members prefer a resolution to formalise new Council working methods and the set of indicators.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1889 (5 October 2009) was on the importance of women’s participation in peacebuilding and the impediments to their participation, wherein the Council requested the Secretary-General to prepare a set of global indicators to track implementation of resolution 1325 and a report on women and peacebuilding.
  • S/RES/1325 (31 October 2000) acknowledged conflict has a disproportionate impact on women and encouraged their increased participation and protection.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2010/8 (27 April 2010) requested the Secretary-General to develop further the set of indicators to track implementation of resolution 1325 and submit a revised set to the Council in October 2010.
  • S/PRST/2007/40 (24 October 2007) requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council in October 2010 on the UN system’s implementation of resolution 1325 over 2008-2009.

Selected Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2010/498 (28 September 2010) contains an assessment of the implementation of resolution 1325 over the last ten years and a set of revised indicators to track implementation of 1325 at the global level.
  • S/2010/466 (7 September 2010) contains a seven-point action plan to address women’s participation in post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding.
  • S/2010/173 (6 April 2010) contains a set of 26 indicators to track implementation of 1325 at the global level.

Selected Security Council debates

Selected General Assembly Resolution

Full forecast