February 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2012
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THEMATIC ISSUES

Women, Peace and Security

Expected Council Action
In February the Council is expected to consider the Secretary-General’s annual report (S/2012/33) on conflict-related sexual violence. Margot Wallström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the issue, will likely brief the Council. A debate, with a presidential statement or resolution as an outcome, is possible. 

In addition, at press time the Council’s outstanding review of the mandates of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence and the associated Team of Experts (taking into account the creation of UN Women) was expected to occur either in the same context as the review of the Secretary-General’s report on sexual violence, or just before.

Background
The Council adopted resolution 1960  on 16 December 2010 requesting the Secretary-General to establish monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements (MARA) on conflict-related sexual violence in situations on the Council’s agenda. The resolution also calls upon parties to armed conflict to make specific, time-bound commitments to prohibit and punish sexual violence and asks the Secretary-General to monitor those commitments.

In addition, the Council asked the Secretary-General to include in his annual reports on conflict-related sexual violence an annex listing the parties credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict on the Council’s agenda. The forthcoming report will therefore be the first to include this mandated annex. The Council expressed its intention to use the list as a basis for more focused UN engagement with those parties, including, when appropriate, taking measures through the relevant sanctions committees. Resolution 1960 also requested that the Secretary-General’s next report be submitted by December 2011.

Key Recent Developments
In a 15 September 2011 letter, the Secretary-General requested an extension of the deadline to submit his next report on sexual violence to 31 January 2012. The letter noted that after an extensive and rigorous interagency consultation process, UN entities had agreed and finalised the MARA modalities requested by the Council. However, an extension would provide time to generate more reliable information for the Council.

On 28 October 2011, the Council held its annual open debate on women, peace and security. Nigeria, which chaired the event as Council president for the month, provided a concept note for the debate that focused on the participation and representation of women in decision-making forums and institutions related to conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery. Participation was seen as lying at the core of the Council’s five resolutions on women and peace and security: resolutions 1325 (2000), 1820  (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009) and 1960 (2010). It was noted that many gaps and challenges remain in guaranteeing women’s participation in decision-making in all stages of peace processes. The note called for more to be done to integrate women and peace and security issues in preventive diplomacy, early warning, and human rights and security monitoring.

The open debate was well-attended, with all Council members and more than 40 member states at large and international and regional organisations making statements broadly supportive of ensuring women’s participation in decision-making throughout all stages of conflict. In the course of the debate the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2011/20) that welcomed the Secretary-General’s most recent report (S/2011/598 ) and took note of its recommendations, but the Council remained concerned about “the persistence of gaps and challenges that seriously hinder the implementation of resolution 1325“, including continued low numbers of women involved in conflict prevention and resolution (particularly preventive diplomacy and mediation efforts). The Council noted the increased coordination and coherence in policy and programming for women and girls within the UN system since the creation of UN Women. The statement underlined the importance of the mandate of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict to the women, peace and security agenda. The Council also recognised the need for more systematic attention to women, peace and security commitments in its own work and expressed willingness to ensure that measures are taken to enhance women’s engagement in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. 

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is maintaining consensus around the importance of the overall women, peace and security framework and ensuring that it is integrated into all of the Council’s work.

A related issue is how to best respond to the information contained in the Secretary-General’s report on sexual violence. How to quickly, yet effectively, act with regard to those included in the annex of the report (those parties credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence) will be a key consideration for Council members.

Another issue is assessing the mandates of the Special Representative for Sexual Violence and the associated team of experts (as decided in resolution 1888) and how best to frame their relationship with UN Women going forward.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • adopting a presidential statement or resolution that directs relevant country-specific sanctions committees to take steps to make parties named in the Secretary-General’s report on sexual violence subject to existing sanctions measures;
  • adopting a presidential or press statement that takes note of the parties named in the Secretary-General’s report and expresses the Council’s intention to consider appropriate action;
  • adopting a presidential statement that specifies in some detail the relationship between the Office of the Special Representative for Sexual Violence and UN Women going forward; or
  • adopting a presidential statement or press statement expressing the Council’s intention to revisit the Special Representative’s relation to UN Women at some point in the near future.

Council Dynamics
Council members generally continue to view the women, peace and security agenda as important and necessary. There is a sense that this issue has developed significant traction and momentum. It seems that all Council members remain fully supportive of the framework established by the related resolutions.

With regard to the review of the Office of the Special Representative for Sexual Violence, the Council will need to consider how to best position the office in relationship to UN Women. Members have closely followed the establishment of UN Women and seem genuinely appreciative of its contribution so far to increased coordination and policy coherence among UN agencies. However, it is also generally acknowledged that it may take several years before UN Women can completely fulfil its anticipated function (and the Office of the Special Representative for Sexual Violence is still a relatively new entity, as well). Some Council members may prefer at present to protect the unique advocacy role that the Special Representative for Sexual Violence has begun to carry out, while choosing to revisit the relation to UN Women at some point in the future.

Council members expect the annex of the Secretary-General’s report on sexual violence (which is to be used to aid the Council in taking decisions on the possible use of sanctions in some circumstances) to include a number of groups that are parties to conflicts rather than specific individuals. (Members received an advance copy of the report in January.) The review of the report will provide members the opportunity to comment on the pace of identifying and reporting likely perpetrators, as well as offering advice to the Secretariat on how best to continue this work.

Some members view the overall women, peace and security agenda (including sexual violence) as entering something of a period of consolidation and emphasise the importance of preventing any backsliding by the Council on the issue rather than seeking further refinement at present.

The UK is the lead country on women, peace and security in the Council. The US has the lead for sexual violence issues. 

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1960 (16 December 2010) was on conflict-related sexual violence.
  • S/RES/1889 (5 October 2009) decided that women’s protection and empowerment should be taken into account in post-conflict needs assessments and planning.
  • S/RES/1888 (30 September 2009) established mechanisms for the UN to address sexual violence in conflict.
  • S/RES/1820 (19 June 2008) confirmed the Council’s readiness to address more systematically the use of sexual violence in conflicts on its agenda.
  • S/RES/1325 (31 October 2000) recognised that conflict has a disproportionate impact on women and promoted women’s participation in peace and security processes.

Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2011/20 (28 October 2011) expressed concern about challenges that hinder the implementation of resolution 1325, underlined the importance of the mandates of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Children and Armed Conflict, and requested the Secretary-General to include in his next annual report on resolution 1325 a comprehensive overview of specific achievements and challenges with regard to the participation of women in mediation and preventive diplomacy.

Latest Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2012/33 (13 January 2012) was on conflict-related sexual violence.
  • S/2011/598 (29 September 2011) was on women and peace and security.

Letter

  • S/2011/582 (15 September 2011) requested an extension until 31 January 2012 for the Secretary-General to submit his next report on sexual violence.

Security Council Meeting

  • S/PV.6642 and Res.1 (28 October 2011) was the annual open debate on women, peace and security.

Other

  • A/RES/64/289 (2 July 2010) was General Assembly resolution establishing UN Women.

Full forecast

 

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