October 2016 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 September 2016
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THEMATIC ISSUES

Women, Peace and Security

Expected Council Action

In late October, the Security Council will hold its annual debate on women, peace and security and the implementation of resolution 1325, which acknowledged that conflict has a differential impact on women and decided that addressing the needs, views and participation of half of society would provide a positive peace dividend. The Executive Director of UN Women and two civil society representatives are expected to brief. The Secretary-General may also participate, though this was not confirmed at press time.

The Secretary-General’s annual report on the implementation of resolution 1325 is due on 1 October. At press time, no outcome was expected.

The Open Debate

It is expected that Russia, as president of the Council in October, will circulate a concept note ahead of the debate asking member states to focus their interventions on the progress achieved over the last year—the period since gender recommendations were put forth in the three 2015 peace and security reviews on peace operations, peacebuilding and women, peace and security. All three reviews underlined the need for the increased and enhanced participation of women in peace and security decision-making.

2015 Peace and Security Reviews

Some of the recommendations from these reviews specific to the Security Council include:

  • Establishing an informal expert group on women, peace and security.
  • Inviting civil society to brief at country-specific Security Council meetings.
  • Enhancing capacity for gender analysis when mandating UN peace operations.
  • Encouraging increased and improved reporting by high-level leadership on women, peace and security in country-specific situations on the Council’s agenda, both in written reports and oral briefings.
  • Expanding ownership of the “pen” on the women, peace and security agenda within the Council by including an elected member as a co-lead.
  • Strengthening the Council’s attention to women, peace and security in the work of its sanctions committees.

The Council has begun to implement, to varying degrees, some of these recommendations.

Resolution 2242, adopted on 13 October 2015, expressed the Council’s intention to convene meetings of relevant Security Council experts as part of an Informal Expert Group to facilitate a more systematic approach to women, peace and security within the Council’s own work and to enable greater Council oversight and coordination of the UN system’s implementation efforts.

After the adoption of resolution 2242, Spain and the UK worked with other Council members to establish what has become known as the 2242 Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security, and became its co-chairs. In practice, UN Women has coordinated meetings of the Informal Expert Group by bringing together representatives of multiple UN departments, UN agencies, UN peace operations and civil society to brief Council members on gender information specific to a country situation on the Council’s agenda.

Over the course of 2016, the 2242 Group has met on four situations: Mali (29 February), Iraq (29 April), Central African Republic (15 June) and Afghanistan (13 July). At each meeting, Council experts received briefings from senior leadership of field missions, in each instance at the level of either Special Representative or Deputy Special Representative.

Spain and the UK subsequently circulated a summary of each of the 2242 Group’s meetings as a letter of the Security Council. In addition, follow-up meetings on each of the country situations have been scheduled to assess progress and discuss options for the Security Council to enhance women, peace and security implementation in that particular context. The first follow-up meeting was on Mali on 14 September, with follow-up meetings planned on Iraq in October, Central African Republic in November and Afghanistan in December.

It seems that the meetings of the 2242 Group have enabled the Council to make some headway with another recommendation emanating from the 2015 peace and security reviews, namely better information leading to better outcomes. Council members have observed improvement in the quality of gender information presented to the Council during briefings, an increase in the number of questions posed by Council members to Special Representatives regarding their mission’s implementation of women, peace and security obligations, and a greater willingness to include gender specific language when renewing mandates of peace operations. However, such improvement has largely been limited to the countries considered by the 2242 Group, rather than extending to broader improvement across all country-specific situations considered by the Council. Additionally, some Council members report only incremental improvement in gender analysis in written reports by the Secretary-General on country-specific situations, remarking that most women, peace and security reporting continues to be descriptive rather than analytical.

The ownership of the “pen” on the women, peace and security agenda within the Council has not been shared with an elected member and remains with the UK, and with the US in relation to conflict-related sexual violence. However, Spain’s inclusion as co-chair of the 2242 Group has helped to expand elected members’ voices in the shaping of the women, peace and security agenda in the Council.

There have been few, if any, advances in implementing other Council-specific recommendations highlighted above. While the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict has briefed numerous Security Council sanctions committees this year, this is in line with previous practice, not a new development.

Key Issue

The key issue for the Council is how it will continue to take forward actionable recommendations from the 2015 peace and security reviews to achieve fuller implementation of the women, peace and security agenda in its own work—in particular how gender is incorporated into mandates of peace operations, how gender is reported to the Council and how the Council’s subsequent oversight role is enhanced if conflict gender analysis is presented.

Options

No outcome is anticipated. However, Council members can continue to close the gap in their everyday work between Council decisions on women, peace and security and subsequent implementation on the ground—particularly where there is a UN presence or UN-led process.

In this regard, Council members during their interventions at the open debate 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;
  • invite women’s civil society to brief at country-specific meetings of the Security Council;
  • ensure that the women, peace and security agenda is integrated into the Council’s thematic work on counter-terrorism, as well as into country-specific situations where groups such as Boko Haram and ISIL operate; and
  • improve the quality of gender analysis by calling for gender expertise in all UN-led commissions of inquiry; transitional justice mechanisms; mediation processes, including in support of Special Representatives, Special Envoys and mediation teams; and peace operations, including by the deployment of gender advisers and women protection advisers.

In order to strengthen the Council’s attention to women, peace and security in the work of its sanctions committees, members could commit to:

  • expand the designation criteria in relevant sanctions regimes where sexual and gender-based crimes and specific attacks against women are persistently perpetrated;
  • encourage and expand the existing practice that expert groups assisting relevant sanctions committees should include gender expertise; and
  • include the respect for the rights of women as delisting criteria in sanctions regimes that target political spoilers who may eventually need to be part of a political solution, as was done in the 1988 Afghanistan sanctions regime.

Finally, Council members could encourage the UN system and member states:

  • to better implement the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse in UN peace operations; and
  • to develop and implement a gender-sensitive humanitarian response to the needs of displaced women and girls.
Council Dynamics

Between 2013 and 2015, the Council did not adopt a resolution on women, peace and security, leaving dynamics on this issue largely untested for two years. However, familiar divisions quickly re-emerged during negotiations of resolution 2242 in October 2015, particularly around language related to the convening of an informal expert group; incorporating this thematic agenda into the Council’s sanctions regimes; describing an improved gender architecture in the UN system; and integrating the women, peace and security agenda into strategies to counter violent extremism and terrorism.

In subsequent negotiations in 2015 and 2016 on Council outcomes on human trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse, and on women’s role in conflict prevention in Africa, similar issues emerged. China and Russia, and in some instances Egypt, resisted many elements that they interpreted as an expansion of the women, peace and security agenda or perceived as infringing on state sovereignty or the competencies of other parts of the UN system.

In this context, most Council members view this October’s open debate as an opportunity to reflect on the advances and challenges that have emerged since the adoption of 2242 and to advocate ways to consolidate gains. Council members are unanimous in their agreement that no new resolution or presidential statement is required and that members need a respite from engaging in another potentially acrimonious round of negotiations.

The UK is the penholder on women, peace and security in the Council. The US is the penholder on sexual violence issues. Spain and the UK co-chair the 2242 Group. It is anticipated that the co-chair of the 2242 Group will continue to be an elected member in 2017 after Spain’s term on the Council comes to an end on 31 December.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions
13 October 2015 S/RES/2242 The was a resolution that addressed women’s roles in countering violent extremism and terrorism, improving the Council’s own working methods in relation to women, peace and security and taking up gender recommendations made by the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and the Global Study.
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 Meeting Records
13 October 2015 S/PV.7533 This was the annual open debate on women, peace and security.
14 October 2015 S/PV.7533 (Resumption 1) This was the annual open debate on women and peace and security.
Secretary-General’s Reports
17 September 2015 S/2015/716 This was the annual report on women, peace and security that included recommendations from the Global Study on implementation of resolution 1325.
Security Council Letters
29 July 2016 S/2016/683 This was the summary of the 29 April 2016 meeting on Iraq held by the Security Council’s 2242 Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security.
29 July 2016 S/2016/682 This was the summary of the 29 February 2016 meeting on Mali held by the Security Council’s 2242 Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security.
29 July 2016 S/2016/673 This was the summary of the 13 July 2016 meeting on Afghanistan held by the Security Council’s 2242 Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security.
29 July 2016 S/2016/672 This was the summary of the 15 June 2016 meeting on the Central African Republic held by the Security Council’s 2242 Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security.
12 January 2016 S/2016/35 This was from Spain transmitting the ideas and proposals from participants at the October 2015 open debate on women, peace and security (S/PV.7533 and resumption 1).