Women, Peace and Security
Expected Council Action
In late October the Council is due to hold its annual open debate on women, peace and security. The head of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, and the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, are expected to brief along with civil society representatives. The Secretary-General may also address the Council. Guatemala, as president of the Council in October, plans to circulate a concept note ahead of the debate.
The Council also expects the Secretary-General’s annual report on the implementation of resolution 1325 which in 2000 recognised that conflict has a disproportionate impact on women and urged women’s participation in peace and security processes. As requested by the Council in its 28 October 2011 presidential statement, the report is likely to contain a comprehensive overview of specific actions, achievements and challenges to the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, in particular those concerning the participation of women in mediation and preventive diplomacy.
The Council is expected to adopt a presidential statement following the debate.
Key Recent Developments
The Council held its last annual open debate on women, peace and security on 28 October 2011 with a focus on conflict prevention and mediation. This month’s annual debate will focus on the role of women’s civil society organisations in contributing to the prevention and resolution of armed conflict and peacebuilding. It is expected to bring attention to women’s organisations’ engagement with helping to implement peace agreements, ensuring the protection of women’s human rights defenders in conflict and post-conflict settings and integrating women’s and girl’s security in transitions—such as during the drawdown of a UN mission. Another objective of the debate is to try to identify a series of best practices by women’s civil society organisations that have been effective in overcoming significant obstacles to women’s participation—such as security threats, displacement, lack of resources and information—that have the potential to be scaled up for country-wide implementation or as a model for other situations. (This debate would be the first to focus specifically on women’s civil society organisations.)
The Council has held two formal meetings on women, peace and security this year.
On 23 February, there was an open debate on the Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence (The next such report and debate are expected in early 2013.) Margot Wallström, the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue, briefed together with Ladsous and a representative from civil society who headed a Libya-based NGO on women’s empowerment. Following the debate, the Council adopted a presidential statement that stressed the need for continued data collection under the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on sexual violence in armed conflict, post-conflict situations and other situations relevant to the Special Representative’s mandate. On 22 June, Zainab Hawa Bangura (Sierra Leone) was appointed as the new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
On 24 April, Bachelet briefed the Council on women’s engagement in conflict resolution and transitional justice in post-conflict situations, including trends that impact women in preparation for post-conflict elections. Ladsous briefed on protection and political participation of women from a peacekeeping perspective and touched on country-specific examples, including Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Liberia and Timor-Leste.
Additionally, on 18 May, Council members met informally with gender advisers from UN missions in Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti in a closed “Arria formula” session organised by Portugal to discuss the achievements and challenges in implementing the women, peace and security agenda in peacekeeping missions—in particular women’s participation in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction.
In late September, on the sidelines of the General Assembly there were two high-level gatherings related to women, peace and security. On 24 September, the Secretary-General and Bachelet along with high-level representatives from 80 countries focused on the need to strengthen women’s access to justice. On 25 September, the UK, UN Women and the Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict hosted a high-level panel on preventing sexual and gender-based crimes in conflict and securing justice for survivors.
A key issue for the Council is continuing to work to ensure that the norms of the women, peace and security agenda are integrated into all of the Council’s work. In particular, an issue for Council members is identifying ways the Council could provide better guidance to Council-mandated peacekeeping and political missions to enhance implementation of the agenda on the ground. In this regard, women’s civil society organisations could provide a useful grassroots perspective on this issue.
One option for the Council is adopting a presidential statement with tightly focused language reaffirming the Council’s commitments to the women, peace and security agenda established by resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889 and 1960.
Another option would be to also include in the statement a reference to any salient points regarding the role of women’s civil society organisations in enhancing the speed of and consistency in the implementation of these Council resolutions.
Council members are generally supportive of the women, peace and security framework, and most are ready to push for better implementation of resolution 1325. However, over the course of the last year Council divisions have emerged on other thematic issues such as children and armed conflict, protection of civilians and the sexual-violence aspect of the women, peace and security agenda. The divisions seem to be centred on varying interpretations on the scope of the reporting mandate of the Special Representatives for Children and Armed Conflict and Sexual Violence. Most Council members are not expecting these divisions to negatively impact the broader 1325 women’s participation agenda. In principle, the adoption of a presidential statement following the debate should be uncontroversial.
The UK is the lead country on women, peace and security in the Council.
UN Documents on Women, Peace and Security
|Security Council Resolutions|
|16 December 2010 S/RES/1960||This resolution was on conflict-related sexual.|
|5 October 2009 S/RES/1889||This resolution urged member states, UN bodies, donors and civil society to ensure that women’s protection and empowerment is taken into account during post-conflict needs assessment and planning.|
|30 September 2009 S/RES/1888||This resolution established mechanisms for the UN to address sexual violence in conflict.|
|19 June 2008 S/RES/1820||This resolution confirmed the Council’s readiness to address more systematically the use of sexual violence in conflicts on its agenda.|
|31 October 2000 S/RES/1325||This resolution recognised that conflict has a disproportionate impact on women and promoted women’s participation in peace and security processes.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|23 February 2012 S/PRST/2012/3||This presidential statement commended the work of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and stressed the need for continued data collection under the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on sexual violence.|
|28 October 2011 S/PRST/2011/20||The Council adopted this presidential statement which underlined the importance of the participation of women in conflict prevention and resolution efforts.|
|26 October 2010 S/PRST/2010/22||This statement supported taking forward the indicators as an initial framework for the UN system and member states to track implementation of resolution 1325.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|24 April 2012 S/PV.6759||This was the Council’s last briefing by the head of UN Women.|
|23 February 2012 S/PV.6722 and Resumption 1||This was the last open debate on conflict-related sexual violence.|
|28 October 2011 S/PV.6642||This was the last open debate on women, peace and security.|
|28 October 2011 S/PV.6642 (Resumption 1)||This was the resumption of the last open debate on women, peace and security.|
|13 January 2012 S/2012/33||This Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence included 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.|
|29 September 2011 S/2011/598||This report of the Secretary-General on Women, Peace and Security provided the Council with an overview of the implementation of resolution 1325, including information collected on one-third of the indicators as well as a strategic framework to guide implementation of resolution 1325 over the next ten years.|