Women, Peace and Security
Expected Council Action
In April, the Council is expected to consider the Secretary-General’s report on sexual violence in conflict (S/2013/149) during an open debate, Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo is expected to preside. The Secretary-General and Zainab Bangura, the Special Representative on the issue will brief. Bangura is also likely to update the Council on her trip to the AU Summit in Addis Ababa in January which led to invitations for field visits to the Democratic Republic of Congo in late March and to Somalia in early April.
At press time, it was unclear whether there would be an outcome.
Key Recent Developments
Bangura was appointed on 22 June 2012 and took up her office in September. Her first visiting mission was to the Central African Republic (CAR) on 5-13 December 2012 and she subsequently briefed the Council on 11 January (S/PV.6899). She also briefed Council members on Syria in consultations on 27 February. (The Syrian government has committed to a visit by Bangura in 2013.) It seems her 22 January visit to Addis also led to an invitation to visit Mali in the near future.
The 2013 report on sexual violence in conflict highlighted several emerging concerns, such as sexual violence against men and boys, particularly in the context of detention; the practice of forced marriage by armed groups; the links between sexual violence and natural resource extraction; and the correlation between sexual violence and inadequate security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration efforts (SSR and DDR). It provided country-specific information in three categories:
- parties to armed conflict credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for rape or other forms of sexual violence (in Afghanistan, CAR, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan/Darfur, Syria and Yemen);
- sexual violence in post-conflict situations (in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liberia, Libya, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste); and
- other situations of concern (in Angola, Guinea and Kenya).
Compared with the 2012 Secretary-General’s report (S/2012/33), situations added were Afghanistan, Mali and Yemen, and situations dropped were Chad and Egypt. The category of sexual violence in the context of elections, political strife or civil unrest that was part of the 2012 report was removed.
As in 2012, the current report also has an annex with three significant additions: the Syrian government forces and their allied militia, the Shabbiha; the Séléka rebels in the CAR; and several armed groups in Mali. There were also additions under the existing DRC listing, such as the Congolese national police, the M23 and several more Mai-Mai groups in the Kivus.
The Council held its annual open debate on women, peace and security on 30 November 2012 (S/PV.6877), and the head of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, briefed. (On 15 March, Bachelet announced her plans to step down as head of UN Women.)
On 31 October 2012, the Council adopted a presidential statement highlighting the need in the Council’s own work for more systemic attention to the women, peace and security agenda (S/PRST/2012/23). (The debate was originally scheduled for 29 October but was postponed when UN headquarters closed due to Hurricane Sandy.)
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 in conflict. How to quickly, yet effectively, act with regard to those included in the annex of the report will be another key consideration for Council members.
At press time it was unclear whether there would be sufficient appetite or time to negotiate an outcome. However, an option for the Council is to adopt a presidential statement or resolution that takes up recommendations from the 2013 report. The Council could:
- take note of the parties named in the report and express the Council’s intention to consider appropriate action when renewing or establishing relevant political or peacekeeping missions, especially in the context of DDR and SSR processes and the deployment of gender expertise, in particular women’s protection advisers;
- endorse the Special Representative’s work of engaging with governments and armed groups to establish commitments for accountability for sexual violence and form procedures to allow for the systematic monitoring of such commitments;
- direct relevant sanctions committees to consider whether parties named in the annex should be subject to existing sanctions or whether designation criteria should be expanded to include sexual violence;
- commit to regularly including sexual violence considerations as part of its terms of reference for Council visiting missions; or
- commit to calling for the inclusion of addressing sexual violence concerns in mediation and peace processes, particularly in the context of security arrangements and transitional justice mechanisms.
It was difficult in 2012 to advance this thematic issue in the Council, particularly due to the concerns expressed by China, India, Pakistan and Russia.
Regarding the 2012 report on conflict-related sexual violence, these members were resistant to the inclusion of countries that in their view did not constitute threats to international peace and security and were therefore considered to be outside the purview of the Security Council. Similar arguments arose during the negotiations on the 31 October 2012 presidential statement, when these members suggested the Council should limit its commitments to the 1325 women’s participation agenda to armed conflict and post-conflict situations.
It is too early to tell whether this trend will be reversed in the near term. However, it seems many of the criticisms were addressed in the 2013 report and initial reactions by Council members seem to be cautiously positive, even amongst Council members who registered significant concern last year.
New Council members Argentina, Australia and Luxembourg are strong advocates of the women, peace and security agenda. The other two new Council members, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda, are also expected to be supportive of the issue.
It seems possible the Council may address the issue of sexual violence again in June. The UK initiative on preventing sexual violence will likely be highlighted in the Council and at the G8 summit that month since the UK will have the presidency of both in June.
The UK is the penholder on women, peace and security in the Council. The US is the penholder on sexual violence issues.
UN Documents on Women, Peace and Security
|Security Council Resolutions|
|16 December 2010 S/RES/1960||This resolution established a monitoring, analysis and reporting mechanism on conflict-related sexual violence in situations on the Council’s agenda, and also called upon parties to armed conflict to make specific, time-bound commitments to prohibit and punish sexual violence and asked the Secretary-General to monitor those commitments.|
|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 strengthened efforts to end sexual violence against women and children in armed conflict.|
|19 June 2008 S/RES/1820||This addressed sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations and asked the Secretary-General for a report by 30 June 2009 with information on the systematic use of sexual violence in conflict areas and proposals for strategies to minimize the prevalence of such acts with benchmarks for measuring progress.|
|31 October 2000 S/RES/1325||This 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.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|31 October 2012 S/PRST/2012/23||The Council highlighted the impact of women’s civil society organisations, recognised the need in the Council’s own work for more systemic attention to the women, peace and security agenda and welcomed the Secretary-General’s call for enhanced women’s participation, at all levels, in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding.|
|14 March 2013 S/2013/149||This was the second annual report on sexual violence in conflict.|
|2 October 2012 S/2012/732||This was a Secretary-General’s report on Women, Peace and Security.|
|13 January 2012 S/2012/33||This was the Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|11 January 2013 S/PV.6899||This was a briefing by Margaret Vogt, the Special Representative and head of BINUCA on the Libreville peace talks. The Council also heard from the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura on her recent visit to the country.|
|30 November 2012 S/PV.6877||This was the annual open debate on the Secretary-General’s report on women, peace and security (S/2012/732).|