Women and Peace and Security
Expected Council Action
In May, the Council expects to hold an open debate on the Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence, focusing particularly on sexual violence in conflict as a tactic of war and terrorism. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Under-Secretary-General Adama Dieng, who is currently officer-in-charge of the Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, will brief, together with Mina Jaf, Executive Director of Women Refugee Route, as a civil society representative. Uruguay plans to circulate a concept note ahead of the debate, but at press time, no outcome was anticipated.
Key Recent Developments
On 26 April, the Secretary-General submitted the most recent report on conflict-related sexual violence, which contains an overview of current trends and concerns pertaining to sexual violence in conflict as a tactic of war and terrorism. The report will provide the basis for the May open debate. According to the report, in 2016 sexual violence continued to be employed as a tactic of war, with widespread and strategic rapes, including mass rapes, allegedly committed by several parties to armed conflict, mostly in conjunction with other crimes. The strategic nature of the violence was evident in the selective targeting of victims from opposing ethnic, religious or political groups, mirroring the fault-lines of the wider conflict or crisis.
For violent extremist groups, sexual violence advances objectives such as incentivising recruitment, terrorising populations into compliance, displacing civilians from strategic areas, eliciting operational intelligence, and forcing conversions through marriage. It also entrenches an ideology based on suppressing women’s rights and controlling their sexuality and reproduction. It is further used to generate revenue.
At the same time, the report noted that certain counterterrorism measures have also infringed upon women’s rights and freedoms, such as the practice of detaining those released from the captivity of extremist groups as potential affiliates or intelligence assets, rather than supporting them as victims. Furthermore, the intense stigma suffered by survivors of conflict-related sexual violence is integral to the logic of sexual violence being employed as a tactic of war or terrorism.
The report further noted that positive developments during the year under review included the activation of the Informal Experts Group (IEG) on Women, Peace and Security. The guiding principle of the IEG, which held its first meeting in February 2016 (on Mali), is that better information and analysis, combined with direct interaction with field missions, leads to better oversight and stronger implementation of women, peace and security norms in specific country situations. In addition to Mali, the group met in 2016 on Iraq, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan. So far this year, it has met on the Lake Chad Basin ahead of the Council’s visiting mission there, and on Yemen.
On 21 December 2016, the Secretary-General submitted a special report prepared by the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict focusing on crimes committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, particularly their cross-border dimensions. The report presented preliminary information on the systematic use of sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism and its links to the sale and trade of trafficking in persons. The report contained a number of recommendations, specifically for the Council’s 1267/1989/2253 Committee concerning ISIL, Al-Qaida and associated individuals and groups.
On 20 December 2016, the Council convened a ministerial-level open debate on trafficking in persons in conflict situations, organised by then-elected member Spain. Then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Yury Fedotov, and then-Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura briefed. The Council heard from two Yazidi Iraqi women: Nadia Murad, who was trafficked by ISIL and is now a UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, and Ameena Saeed Hasan, a human rights activist who works to free people captured by ISIL. The first Security Council resolution on trafficking in persons in conflict situations, resolution 2331, was adopted during the debate.
Resolution 2331 condemned human trafficking and stressed that the phenomenon can exacerbate conflict and foster insecurity. It focused on strengthening the UN’s ability to counter human trafficking and on the international community’s role in responding to trafficking, such as by urging member states to ensure that domestic legislation is in place to protect victims and prosecute traffickers. As for the Council’s own work, the resolution signalled an intention to consider targeted sanctions for individuals and entities involved in human trafficking and to integrate the issue of human trafficking into the work of its sanctions committees.
On 12 April, the Secretary-General appointed Pramila Patten of Mauritius as Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. She succeeds Zainab Bangura, who held the position from September 2012 to March 2017. Patten is expected to take up the post on 1 June.
A key issue is ensuring that the appropriate systems for monitoring and reporting, information sharing, and judicial cooperation are developed to address the nexus of trafficking, sexual violence and terrorism which was identified in resolution 2331.
A closely related issue is establishing appropriate monitoring criteria to address such challenges as the political economy of sexual violence through the sale and trafficking of women and girls by terrorist groups.
The Council may also consider how to go beyond briefings and the submission of names of perpetrators of sexual violence by the Special Representative to the relevant sanctions committees. That could mean considering the possibility of adopting targeted measures against these individuals. A related issue is expanding designation criteria in all relevant sanctions regimes where sexual violence is persistently perpetrated.
A continuing issue is ensuring that counter-insurgency efforts against extremist groups do not exacerbate the vulnerabilities that women and girls face.
A further issue, keeping in mind the Secretary-General’s focus on prevention, is how to give due consideration to the identified risk factors of sexual violence as an early warning indicator that could enable the Council to better fulfil its conflict prevention role.
No outcome is anticipated. However, the Council can continue to monitor the implementation of key resolutions on this issue by following it closely and integrating it into relevant country-specific as well as cross-cutting thematic resolutions.
An option for the Council regarding sanctions committees is to call formally for the relevant sanctions committees—including the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee—to engage with the Special Representative and consider whether perpetrators should be subject to existing sanctions or whether designation criteria should be expanded to include sexual violence and human trafficking.
Members could ensure that sanctions experts and monitoring groups have the capacity to track violations and provide systematic information by ensuring adequate expertise in these groups.
An option to facilitate implementation of resolutions on sexual violence is to encourage deployment of an adequate number of gender and women protection advisers in relevant missions.
Council members continue to have divergent views on aspects of this thematic agenda, including how to incorporate it into the Council’s sanctions regimes and how to integrate the women, peace and security agenda into strategies to counter violent extremism and terrorism. Discussion of the Secretary-General’s report on conflict-related sexual violence has been a regular feature on the Council’s agenda since 2009, but members’ statements may reflect some differences regarding sexual violence in conflict as a tactic of war and terrorism. Russia believes that focusing on the issue of sexual violence as a tactic in terrorism may detract from other issues related to the financing of terrorism, such as the sale of oil. It has also been particularly resistant to briefings by the Special Representative to the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.
Some members may choose to highlight the importance of working closely with relevant sanctions committees to list perpetrators. Others may discuss challenges related to sexual violence as a tactic of war and terrorism, particularly in relation to dealing with groups such as ISIL and Al-Qaida.
UN DOCUMENTS ON WOMEN AND PEACE AND SECURITY
|Security Council Resolutions|
|20 December 2016 S/RES/2331||This was the first-ever resolution on human trafficking, which condemned the phenomenon and stressed how human trafficking can exacerbate conflict and foster insecurity.|
|11 March 2016 S/RES/2272||This was a resolution addressing sexual exploitation and abuse in peace operations, with Egypt abstaining.|
|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.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|16 December 2015 S/PRST/2015/25||This was a presidential statement on trafficking in persons in situations of conflict, with a particular focus on ISIS and the impact on women and children.|
|28 October 2014 S/PRST/2014/21||This was a presidential statement that addressed the particular needs of displaced women, highlighted the impact of violent extremism on women and welcomed the Secretary-General’s commissioning of a global study.|
|20 April 2016 S/2016/361||This was the annual report on conflict-related sexual violence for 2015.|
|21 December 2016 S/2016/1090||This was a special report prepared by the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, focusing on crimes committed by ISIL in the context of Iraq and Syria.|