Women, Peace and Security
Expected Council Action
In April, the Council expects to hold an open debate on the Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence, focusing particularly on preventing sexual violence in conflict through empowerment, gender equality and justice. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten will brief. Peru plans to circulate a concept note ahead of the debate. No outcome is expected.
Key Recent Developments
At press time the Secretary-General was about to submit his most recent report on conflict-related sexual violence, covering January to December 2017, which will provide the basis for the April open debate.
The report is expected to focus on 19 countries for which credible information is available and provide country-specific strategic recommendations as well as overarching policy recommendations. These are the same 19 countries that appeared in the previous two reports by the Secretary-General. Also, as in recent years, the report is expected to contain an annex of a list of parties credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape or other forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict on the agenda of the Security Council, the majority being non-state actors. Côte d’Ivoire is expected to be removed from the annex.
The report is also expected to cover country visits by Patten, who took up the position in June 2017, to Myanmar, Iraq and Sudan. Her first official visit was to Myanmar from 14 to 17 December 2017, where she met with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, several government ministers, and other officials. Prior to this visit, Patten briefed the Council on 12 December 2017 to share her impressions of the camps in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, which she visited from 5 to 13 November 2017, saying that accounts she heard indicate a pattern of grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law committed against Rohingya women and girls in the context of military operations. Patten visited Sudan from 18 to 25 February, travelling to both Khartoum and Darfur, where she met with senior government officials, parliamentarians and civil society representatives. In a 27 February press release, Patten said a key observation from her visit to Sudan is the existence of a deep-seated culture of denial which enhances and feeds the culture of silence about sexual violence. It marked the first time that any Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict had visited the country since the office was established in 2009. Patten also visited Iraq from 26 February to 5 March, where she met with government officials and survivors of sexual violence at the hands of ISIL/Daesh. In a 5 March press release, Patten stressed the need to ensure that survivors of conflict-related sexual violence are fully protected and that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Another issue that is expected to be in the report is sexual exploitation and abuse. Last year’s report recognised that the UN has individuals among its ranks who engage in egregious acts of sexual exploitation and abuse. On 15 February, the Secretary-General’s second report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse was released. It provides information on measures to strengthen the UN’s system-wide response to sexual exploitation and abuse, including progress in the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy and the Secretary-General’s “new approach” strategy, which was outlined in last year’s report on the issue.
The report also highlights the activities of the Informal Experts Group (IEG) on Women, Peace and Security, established following the adoption of resolution 2242. In 2017, the IEG held meetings on the Lake Chad Basin (27 February), Yemen (23 March), Mali (4 May), Iraq (14 June), the Central African Republic (2 November), Yemen (22 November), and Afghanistan (5 December). So far this year, it has met on the Lake Chad Basin (30 January) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (28 February) with a meeting on Iraq scheduled for the end of March and meetings on Libya and Mali expected later in the year.
A key issue is the role of the Council in preventing sexual violence in conflict through empowerment, gender equality and justice, and in reinforcing current efforts to prevent sexual violence in conflict, including through the work of relevant sanctions committees. Another issue is what the Council can do to ensure full implementation of the relevant resolutions dealing with sexual violence in conflict as well as compliance by state and non-state parties.
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. In this regard, the Council could ensure that dedicated gender and conflict-related sexual violence expertise informs the work of sanctions committees and invite the Special Representative to share information with sanctions committees, as appropriate.
Keeping in mind the Secretary-General’s focus on prevention, a further issue 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 and cross-cutting thematic resolutions.
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 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 advance and deepen efforts to integrate the women, peace and security agenda across all areas of the Council’s work. China and Russia have typically 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.
Some members have highlighted the importance of working closely with relevant sanctions committees to list perpetrators and may raise this issue in the open debate. Others have shown interest in focusing on how conflict-related sexual violence occurs in situations where there is also systemic gender-based discrimination, such as the exclusion of women from political life, economic marginalization, and discriminatory systems of both formal and informal law.
UN DOCUMENTS ON WOMEN AND PEACE AND SECURITY
|Security Council Resolutions|
|11 March 2016 S/RES/2272||This was a resolution addressing sexual exploitation and abuse in peace operations, with Egypt abstaining.|
|24 June 2013 S/RES/2106||This was a resolution focusing on accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict and stressing women’s political and economic empowerment.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|12 December 2017 S/PV.8133||This was a briefing by USG for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and SR for Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten on developments in Myanmar.|
|15 May 2017 S/PV.7938||This was an open debate on sexual violence in conflict.|
|15 February 2018 A/72/751||This was the Secretary-General’s report on special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.|
|15 April 2017 S/2017/249||This was the Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence.|