June 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 May 2013
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Women, Peace and Security

Expected Council Action

With the UK holding the presidency of the Security Council in June, Foreign Secretary William Hague will preside over a ministerial-level open debate on women, peace and security, focusing on prevention of sexual violence. The Secretary-General and Zainab Bangura, the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, are expected to brief.

At press time, it was expected that a draft resolution reflecting many of the Secretary-General’s recommendations from the 14 March report on sexual violence in conflict (S/2013/149) would be circulated among Council members in late May with a view towards adoption at the open debate.

Key Recent Developments

Hague announced in May 2012 a UK initiative on preventing sexual violence in conflict and said that the UK would work to draw attention to this issue during its lead of the G8 in 2013, the presidency of the Security Council in June and at the upcoming General Assembly in September. The initiative has led to the establishment of a UK team of experts ready to be deployed to conflict-affected countries to gather evidence and testimony to support investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators of sexual violence and to assist in capacity-building for countries to combat such violations. This UK team is available to support UN missions, assist NGOs working on the ground or respond to requests from national authorities. On 30 January, Hague announced that part of this team had already been sent to Syria’s borders and that four other countries would also receive assistance in 2013: Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Libya and South Sudan.

On 10-11 April, the G8 foreign ministers met in London and issued a declaration calling for urgent action to address impunity and hold perpetrators of sexual violence in armed conflict accountable. The declaration also emphasised the need to promote justice and accountability by strengthening existing frameworks for prosecutions and to provide support to prevent and respond to sexual violence in armed conflict. Bangura attended the G8 meeting, which specifically welcomed her work and her focus on national ownership and responsibility to address issues of sexual violence.

On 17 April, the Council held an open debate on the Secretary-General’s annual report on sexual violence in conflict. The report provided several recommendations for the Security Council, including:

  • imposing targeted sanctions on those who commit, command or condone sexual violence;
  • referring situations to the ICC and establishing commissions of inquiry in the context of accountability for sexual violence perpetrators; and
  • establishing a mechanism to systematically monitor commitments by parties to conflict under resolution 1960, including issuing clear orders through chains of command and codes of conduct to prohibit sexual violence, investigating abuses and holding perpetrators accountable. (The Special Representative has secured such commitments via joint communiqués from parties to conflict in Angola, the Central African Republic, the DRC, Guinea and Somalia.)

As for mandates of political or peacekeeping missions authorised by the Council, the report’s recommendations include:

  • systematically considering the deployment of women protection advisers to UN missions in all relevant situations;
  • addressing sexual violence concerns in the context of security sector reform (SSR) and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) efforts, particularly vetting arrangements; and
  • addressing sexual violence concerns in the context of justice sector reform and legislative reforms.

No outcome was adopted following the 17 April open debate. However, Bangura said that she hoped the Security Council would show resolve in June and adopt a new resolution on sexual violence in conflict focused on accountability and prevention.

The following day, 18 April, Bangura addressed the Council again, along with the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, the High Commissioner for Refugees and the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict. They spoke about the humanitarian situation in Syria. Bangura detailed instances of sexual violence alleged against both the opposition and government forces, adding that her message to the perpetrators of such abuses is that “justice may be delayed, but it will not be denied”. Following the briefing, the Council agreed on elements to the press that focused on humanitarian assistance but also strongly condemned incidents of sexual violence and stressed the need to ensure that there was no impunity.

On 17 May, Australia and Guatemala organised an Arria formula meeting to hear from gender experts in peacekeeping operations. One of the priorities of the meeting was to get an update on the deployment of women protection advisers in light of the fact that only the UN Mission in South Sudan has such advisers. In particular, there were several questions regarding the planning for such advisers in the new UN mission in Mali as specifically requested in resolution 2100.

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 its work. In this regard, a specific issue for any new draft resolution will be how to ensure a focus on sexual violence in conflict does not ignore the participation aspects of the broader women, peace and security agenda.

Another issue is how to best respond to the recommendation contained in the Secretary-General’s report to put in place a mechanism to monitor commitments by parties to conflict under resolution 1960.


The likely option for the Council is to adopt a resolution that could include any of the following elements:

  • expressing the  intention to consider appropriate action when renewing or establishing mission mandates, especially in the context of DDR and SSR processes and the deployment of gender expertise, in particular women protection advisers;
  • encouraging the Special Representative’s work in 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;
  • encouraging continued cooperation by the Special Representative with the UK team of experts to identify areas where it can fill gaps and add value;
  • encouraging  cooperation by the Special Representative with the ICC;
  • directing relevant sanctions committees to harmonise designation criteria for listed individuals by including any relevant charges from international justice mechanisms (for example, in the case of the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee, Bosco Ntaganda has been on the sanctions list since 2005, but the justification for his designation has not been updated to include sexual violence despite an ICC arrest warrant that included charges for such violations);
  • directing relevant sanctions committees to consider whether parties named in the report’s annex should be subject to existing sanctions or whether designation criteria should be expanded to include sexual violence;
  • committing to regularly including sexual violence considerations as part of its terms of reference for Council visiting missions; and
  • committing to calling for the inclusion of sexual violence concerns in mediation and peace processes, particularly in the context of security arrangements and transitional justice mechanisms.
Council Dynamics

It has been difficult over the past two years to advance women, peace and security in the Council, particularly due to the pushback by China and Russia against both the protection and participation aspects of this thematic issue. However, many Council members feel that there is fresh momentum in 2013 for a resolution on women, peace and security, with new Council members Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda all supportive of the issue. Irrespective of this optimism, many Council members nevertheless expect negotiations over any new resolution to be difficult and protracted.

The US is drafting the resolution to put into practice some recommendations from the report on sexual violence in conflict. However, the US seems to be more circumspect about the prospects to establish the recommended “mechanism”, especially without any clear indication what the precise structure and tasks would be.  At press time, it seemed unlikely the draft resolution would include any concrete reference to such a mechanism. But the resolution is expected to address the other key issue of linking the prevention of sexual violence to the women’s participation agenda.

The UK is the penholder on women, peace and security in the Council. The US is the penholder on sexual violence issues.

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.
Secretary-General’s Reports
14 March 2013 S/2013/149 This was the second annual report on sexual violence in conflict.
Security Council Meeting Records
18 April 2013 S/PV.6949 The Council received briefings on the humanitarian situation in Syria from Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos, High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura, and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui .
17 April 2013 S/PV.6948 This was the Security Council’s open debate on Women, Peace and Security on the Secretary-General’s annual report on sexual violence in conflict (S/2013/149).