Women, Peace and Security
In October, the Security Council expects to hold its annual open debate on women, peace and security. The Secretary-General’s annual report on the issue is due in October as well. South Africa, as president of the Council in October, is expected to circulate a concept note ahead of the debate. The debate may also be held at a high level. The Secretary-General, a representative from UN Women, and a civil society representative may brief.
Key Recent Developments
Starting with resolution 1325, adopted on 31 October 2000, the Council has continued to develop the normative framework of the women, peace and security agenda. Resolution 1325 acknowledged that armed conflict has a differential and disproportionate impact on women. It further emphasised that equal participation by women in the maintenance of international peace and security, an increase of women’s roles in preventing and resolving conflict, and women’s protection all contribute to the Council’s mandate of maintaining international peace and security. The aspect of protection against sexual violence was further strengthened with resolution 1888 of 30 September 2009, which established the position of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Resolution 2242, adopted on 13 October 2015, addressed the Council’s own working methods. The Council therein formed an Informal Expert Group (IEG) on women, peace and security and expressed an intention to invite female civil society briefers to country-specific and thematic meetings.
This year’s co-chairs of the IEG, Peru and Germany, are working towards a greater recognition of issues affecting women as peace and security issues. They argue that women, peace and security should not be isolated on the Council’s agenda as a free-standing thematic issue but should rather, as recognised in resolution 2242, be an integral part of the entirety of the Council’s work. Similarly, not only should women, peace and security experts attend IEG meetings, in the view of the co-chairs, but the respective country expert should take part as well, as reflected in the IEG’s 2016 guidelines. Thus far in 2019, the IEG has held meetings on Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Libya, Myanmar, South Sudan and Yemen. Because of the IEG’s status as an informal group, those meetings are not reflected on the Council’s subsidiary organs programme of work, and there is no obligation for Council members to attend. UN Women acts as the secretariat of the IEG. A summary of every IEG meeting is sent as an annex to a letter from the co-chairs and the penholder to the Secretary-General and published as a document of the Council.
In resolution 1820, the Council also expressed its intention to consider the use of targeted sanctions against perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence. On 5 November 2018, resolution 2441 on Libya sanctions was adopted, with 13 votes in favour and China and Russia abstaining. The resolution introduced a stand-alone designation criterion for sanctioning individuals for acts that “include but are not limited to planning, directing or committing acts involving sexual and gender-based violence”. Also in line with resolution 2242, resolution 2441 contains a request to the Panel of Experts assisting the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee to include “the necessary sexual and gender-based violence expertise” in their tasks. China and Russia did not support these additions, arguing that they were not relevant in the Libyan context. That led to the two countries’ abstentions.
Resolution 2242 also called on the Secretary-General “to initiate, in collaboration with Member States, a revised strategy, within existing resources, to double the numbers of women in military and police contingents of UN peacekeeping operations over the next five years”. On 11 April, the Council held a high-level open debate on women in peacekeeping. In advance of the debate, the Secretary-General submitted a letter summarising his “Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy 2018-2028”.
Regarding conflict-related sexual violence, the Council held its annual open debate on 23 April. Resolution 2467, drafted by Germany, was adopted during the debate with 13 votes in favour and two abstentions (China and Russia), following difficult negotiations, including veto threats by China, Russia and the US. Contentious issues included language on sexual and reproductive health and the establishment of a formal mechanism on conflict-related sexual violence, both of which were not acceptable to some members and were ultimately not included in the resolution.
On 26 July, the Council held a meeting following a 20-21 July trip to Afghanistan by a high-level UN delegation with a focus on women, peace and security. The delegation was led by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and included Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund Natalia Kanem, and the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. This was the third briefing of its kind, preceded by briefings in July 2018 after a joint UN-AU trip to the Sahel region and in August 2017 after a joint UN-AU trip to the DRC and Nigeria.
Several Arria-formula meetings related to the women, peace and security agenda were also held in the last 12 months. Arria-formula meetings on conflict-related sexual violence took place on 22 October 2018 on conflict-related sexual violence and sanctions; on 26 October 2018 on children born of sexual violence in conflict zones; and on 8 February on accountability for conflict-related sexual violence. On women, peace and security more broadly, Arria-formula meetings were held on 24 January on National Action Plans in the Middle East and North Africa region and on 13 March on inequalities between women and men in political processes.
Key Issues and Options
An ongoing issue for the Council is how to consolidate progress in the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, drawing from the vast existing normative framework. Such areas of implementation include integrating language in Council products and continuing to invite female civil society representatives and the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict to brief the Council.
An option for the Council is to look at further ways to utilise the IEG. Members could use the information from IEG meetings to address specific points during Council meetings, including closed consultations. Questioning senior UN staff on these issues may lead to a stronger focus on women, peace and security within the UN system, including missions. Additionally, members could consider ways of following up more systematically on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the IEG co-chair’s letters.
Recent efforts to adopt products on women, peace and security or initiatives to include related language in Council products have experienced difficulties, as shown by China’s and Russia’s abstentions on resolutions 2441 on Libya sanctions and 2467 on conflict-related sexual violence. Council members interested in advancing the agenda might therefore avoid aiming for a Council product at this stage. However, both examples show that elected members are often prepared to invest political capital to advance the agenda.
The UK is the penholder on women, peace and security issues in general, and the US is the penholder on conflict-related sexual violence. Germany and Peru are the co-chairs of the IEG.
UN DOCUMENTS ON WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY
|Security Council Resolutions|
|23 April 2019S/RES/2467||This was a resolution on sexual violence in conflict, passed with 13 votes in favour and two abstentions (China and Russia).|
|13 October 2015S/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.|
|30 September 2009S/RES/1888||This resolution strengthened efforts to end sexual violence against women and children in armed conflict.|
|31 October 2000S/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.|
|30 September 2019S/2019/280||This was the latest annual report on conflict-related sexual violence.|
|30 September 2019S/2018/900||This was the latest annual report on women, peace and security.|
|Security Council Letters|
|30 September 2019S/2019/275||This was a letter from the Secretary-General to the president of the Security Council, informing the Security Council of his uniformed gender parity strategy 2018-2028, in line with resolution 2242.|
|30 September 2019S/2019/232||This was the summary of the 28 February meeting on South Sudan held by the IEG on women, peace and security.|
|30 September 2019S/2018/1139||This was the summary of the IEG’s 28 November 2018 meeting on Libya.|
|30 September 2019S/2018/1087||This was the summary of the IEG’s 18 October 2018 meeting on the Central African Republic.|
|30 September 2019S/2018/885||This was the summary of the IEG’s 4 September 2018 meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.|
|30 September 2019S/2018/881||This was the summary of the IEG’s 13 April 2018 meeting on Libya.|
|30 September 2019S/2016/1106||This were the guidelines for the IEG.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|26 July 2019S/PV.8587||The Council had a meeting following a recent trip to Afghanistan by a high-level UN delegation with a focus on women, peace and security.|
|23 April 2019S/PV.8514||This was a high-level open debate on sexual violence in conflict chaired by Germany, Council president for the month of April.|
|30 September 2019S/PV.8508||This was an open debate on women in peacekeeping operations.|
|30 September 2019S/PV.8382||This was the annual open debate on women, peace and security.|