Women, Peace and Security
Expected Council Action
On 7 March, the Security Council will hold an open debate on the theme, “Women, Peace and Security: Towards the 25th Anniversary of Resolution 1325”. One of the signature events of Mozambique’s presidency, the meeting will be chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo. High-level representatives from UN Women, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the African Union are the anticipated briefers. A civil society representative is also expected to brief.
Background and Key Recent Developments
It appears that Mozambique intends to use the open debate to galvanise UN member states’ efforts towards the full implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in preparation for the agenda’s 25th anniversary in October 2025. The open debate is intended to provide an opportunity for taking stock of implementation thus far and to set goals for achieving key objectives of the agenda, such as the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in peace processes, and efforts to integrate WPS concerns in Council deliberations and decisions.
On 31 October 2000, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1325, which was the first resolution on WPS. Reaffirming women’s key role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, resolution 1325 calls for the adoption of a gender perspective in peace agreements and for the protection of women and girls from gender-based violence. Since resolution 1325, the Council has adopted nine further resolutions under the WPS agenda item. Five of these focus on conflict-related sexual violence, while the other four have a wider focus, including on issues such as women’s political participation, integration of a gender perspective in various aspects of the work of the Security Council and the UN, and the full implementation of the WPS agenda. Many recent Security Council resolutions, such as those renewing the mandate of UN peace operations, include provisions on WPS. Since the inception of the WPS agenda, several national, regional, and international initiatives have focused on taking stock of the agenda’s impact and have concentrated on strengthening its implementation, consolidating its gains, and resisting pushback. Nevertheless, as the 2022 Secretary-General’s report on WPS says, the world is currently “experiencing a reversal of generational gains in women’s rights while violent conflicts, military expenditures, military coups, displacements and hunger continue to increase”. Gender perspectives remain at the margins of conflict prevention, women are often excluded from peace processes, and their organisations report increasing restrictions to their work.
In 2022, Council members strengthened WPS language in several Council products, including on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and on the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA) (Yemen). In resolution 2663, the Council included WPS language for the first time in a mandate renewal of the 1540 Committee and its Group of Experts. (Adopted in 2004, resolution 1540 aims to prevent non-state actors from obtaining access to weapons of mass destruction.) A new reference in the draft “urging” the 1540 Committee to consider the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in its activities had to be downgraded to “encouraging” the Committee to do so, and was moved from the operative to the preambular section of the resolution, as a result of Russia’s opposition.
In January, the Council adopted resolution 2674, renewing the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for one year. Resolution 2674 strengthened language regretting the lack of participation of women in the settlement process and on the implementation of an Action Plan on ways to ensure women’s participation in the process.
The Informal Experts Group (IEG) on WPS held a meeting on Afghanistan on 26 January, which was the first IEG meeting convened at the level of Deputy Permanent Representative rather than of experts. Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan Markus Potzel briefed. On 20 February, the IEG met on South Sudan, with Deputy Special Representative in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Sara Beysolow Nyanti briefing.
Since the start of 2023, members which have signed on to the 1 December 2021 Statement of Shared Commitments on WPS—Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the UK—have delivered joint WPS-focused statements to the press on Afghanistan (in January) and Somalia (in February). The US, which has not signed on to the shared commitments, joined the commitment holders in the delivery of the statement on Afghanistan.
One of the shared commitments is a pledge to “[m]aking WPS-related issues an explicit focus of at least one mandated geographic meeting of the Council or specifically host a WPS signature event in each Presidency and requesting UN briefers to focus on this aspect”. Malta elected to have a WPS focus to the 22 February Council meeting on Somalia and circulated a concept note encouraging Council members to address various aspects of the WPS agenda in their interventions at the meeting. The concept note highlighted pertinent WPS-related issues raised in the Secretary-General’s reports on Somalia, reports on children and armed conflict and recommendations made by UN Women as the secretariat of the IEG. This appears to be the first time that a concept note has been circulated to Council members ahead of a mandated meeting on a country or region with a WPS focus.
Key Issues and Options
The main issue for the Security Council remains strengthening the substantive implementation of the WPS agenda.
Mozambique, as the Council president for March, could prepare a chair’s summary of the 7 March open debate to capture the key themes of the discussion and share it with Council members.
Preserving and strengthening WPS language in upcoming mandate renewals are important objectives for members supportive of the WPS agenda at the Council. Among other elements, members may consider ways to ensure that UN missions have adequate gender-related expertise, capacity and resources.
In line with resolution 2242 and the 1 December 2021 Statement of Shared Commitments on WPS, members should continue to invite diverse women civil society representatives to brief the Council regularly and follow up on their information and recommendations.
On 7 February, Council members held a meeting on Mali under “any other business”. This followed the negative remarks by Mali’s Transitional Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdoulaye Diop on the presence of civil society representative Aminata Cheick Dicko at the 27 January Council meeting on Mali, reports of threats and a misinformation campaign on social media faced by Dicko after her briefing, and the decision by Malian authorities to expel Guillaume Ngefa-Atondoko Andali, the Director of the Human Rights Division of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali. It is essential that members and the UN take all possible measures to keep briefers safe, in consultation with the briefer, including carrying out risk assessment, developing protection plans and responding to any reprisals.
Members may convene a closed Arria-formula meeting with Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mary Lawlor, the representatives of relevant UN entities, and NGO coalitions to discuss ways to reinforce the prevention and response to reprisals against human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders. The organisers may want to include a focus on the interaction between long-term and short-term strategies to prevent reprisals and circulate a summary of the proceedings after the meeting.
Council dynamics on WPS remain difficult and have been further complicated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Supportive Council members and civil society actors emphasise the importance of implementing the existing normative framework on WPS rather than pursuing further Council outcomes, in order to avoid language that is redundant or less robust than the existing content of WPS resolutions.
In January 2023, Switzerland and the UAE succeeded Ireland and Mexico as IEG co-chairs. The UAE’s co-chair position will become vacant when its Council term ends in December 2023.
Norway, which led on the 1 December 2021 Statement of Shared Commitments, and the founding members of the “Presidency Trio” for WPS—Ireland, Kenya, and Mexico—ended their Council terms in December 2022. Of the members who started their terms in January 2023, Ecuador, Japan, Malta, and Switzerland have joined the initiative thus far.
The UK is the penholder on WPS, and the US is the penholder on conflict-related sexual violence.
UN DOCUMENTS ON WPS
|Security Council Resolutions|
|31 October 2000S/RES/1325||This was the first Security Council resolution on women, peace and security. Reaffirming women’s key role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, this text calls for the adoption of a gender perspective in peace agreements and for the protection of women and girls from gender-based violence.|
|13 October 2015S/RES/2242||The resolution expressed the Council’s intention to convene an Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security and to invite women civil society briefers to country-specific and thematic meetings of the Security Council. It also called for greater integration of the agendas on WPS and counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism.|
|5 October 2022S/2022/740||This was the Secretary-General’s annual report on women, peace and security.|