October 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 September 2013
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THEMATIC ISSUES

Women, Peace and Security

Expected Council Action

In October the Council will hold its annual open debate on women, peace and security. The Secretary-General and the new head of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, are expected to brief, possibly along with a civil society representative. The focus of the debate will be the intersections between the thematic agendas of the rule of law and women, peace and security.

The Council has already received the Secretary-General’s annual report (S/2013/525) 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. This report includes several recommendations that may be taken up by the Council in an outcome document following the debate; however, at press time it was unclear if it would be a presidential statement or a resolution. 

Key Recent Developments

The open debate will centre on women, rule of law and transitional justice in conflict-affected situations. Such a focus will provide an opportunity to address the need for women’s equal rights, access to justice and participation to be placed at the centre of efforts to restore the rule of law and reform security and judicial sectors in post-conflict situations.

The open debate will also be an opportunity to reflect on the most recent 1325 report (S/2013/525), which noted the increased attention from the international community to sexual violence in conflict and called for greater attention to the full spectrum of threats faced by women and girls. The report also highlighted that despite the emergence of improved practices in the implementation of resolution 1325, there remains a deficit in opportunities for women to exercise leadership and there was continued underrepresentation of women in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, protection and peacebuilding processes. As for the Council, the report identified a gap in that linkages between security and women’s participation are often not made.

Meanwhile, recent Secretary-General’s reports on other thematic issues demonstrate an improvement in the Secretariat’s own cross-cutting approach to the women, peace and security agenda. The report on the rule of law included many such references, including an assessment completed by UN Women regarding the extent to which women’s empowerment and gender equality is considered in the work of the UN on access to justice (S/2013/341). The report on security sector reform recommended that such programmes include a consistent gender dimension (S/2013/480). The small arms report highlighted emerging concerns about the issue of illicit small arms in armed conflict and the linkages to sexual violence in conflict (S/2013/503).

The Council has held two formal meetings on women, peace and security this year. On 17 April, the Council held an open debate on the annual report on sexual violence in conflict. On 24 June, the Council adopted resolution 2106, focusing on accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict and stressing women’s political and economic empowerment as central to the long-term prevention of sexual violence.

On 19 August, Mlambo-Ngcuka (South Africa) was sworn in as the new Executive Director of UN Women, replacing Michelle Bachelet, who stepped down earlier in the year.

Key Issues

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 aspects of its work. A further issue 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 particular on women’s participation.

Another issue is to ensure that the expanding focus on sexual violence in conflict does not unduly side-line the broader women, peace and security agenda or ignore that women’s political and economic empowerment is essential to any prevention and protection response.

Options

An option for the Council is to adopt a presidential statement or resolution that reaffirms its commitment to advance the women, peace and security agenda. The Council could adopt an outcome that identifies ways to put into operation the robust framework established by resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960 and 2106 in order to close the gap between Council decisions and subsequent implementation on the ground—particularly where there is a UN presence or UN-led process.

In this regard the Council could commit to:

  • invite the head of UN Women to brief, in particular when considering a mandate to support post-conflict structures that should ensure broad participation and decision-making by women;
  • consistently incorporate a gender perspective into its terms of references for visiting missions and include related observations in any briefings or reports following a Council mission—as would be possible in relation to the expected visiting mission to DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and the AU in Addis Ababa in October; and
  • improve the quality of gender analysis by calling for gender expertise in all UN-led commissions of inquiries; transitional justice mechanisms; expert groups to relevant sanctions committees; mediation processes, including in support of Special Representatives, Special Envoys and mediation support teams; and political and peacekeeping missions, including by the deployment of gender advisers and women protection advisers.

Finally, to address the gap between the women, peace and security framework and its application, the Council could call for an independent review of the implementation of resolution 1325 in preparation for its high-level review in 2015, as recommended by the Secretary-General.

Council Dynamics

Council members are generally supportive of this thematic issue; however, most are aware that pressing for better implementation of resolution 1325 may be an arduous undertaking in the current Council climate.

It has been difficult over the past two years to advance the women, peace and security agenda, particularly due to the pushback by China and Russia against both the protection and participation aspects. Council members expect that negotiations of any new text would likely be difficult and protracted.

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

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions
24 June 2013 S/RES/2106 This was a resolution adopted on 24 June 2013 focusing on accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict and stressing women’s political and economic empowerment.
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.
Security Council Meeting Records
24 June 2013 S/PV.6984 This was a ministerial-level open debate on prevention of sexual violence.
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).
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).
Secretary-General’s Reports
4 September 2013 S/2013/525 This report was on the implementation of resolution 1325. It called for greater attention to the full spectrum of threats faced by women and girls and reported that the Security Council, in its work, often did not consider the linkages between security and women’s participation.
14 March 2013 S/2013/149 This was the second annual report on sexual violence in conflict.