May 2024 Monthly Forecast


Women and Young People in Maintaining Peace and Security

Expected Council Action

In May, the Security Council will hold a debate on “The Role of Women and Young People in Maintaining Peace and Security” under the agenda item “Maintenance of International Peace and Security”. This is one of the signature events of Mozambique’s May presidency. The meeting will be chaired by the Mozambican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo. Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, Assistant Secretary-General for Youth Affairs Felipe Paullier, a high-level representative of UN Women, and a civil society representative are the anticipated briefers.

It seems that the debate intends to explore the intersection between the Security Council’s agendas on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS), focusing on women and youth’s concerns about, and engagement in addressing, current peace and security challenges, with particular attention on the role of young women. It appears that the third report of the Secretary-General on YPS will be presented during the debate.

No outcome is expected.

Background and Key Recent Developments

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 Security Council has adopted nine further resolutions under the WPS agenda item. Five of these focus on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), while the other four have a wider focus, including on issues such as women’s political participation and the integration of a gender perspective in various aspects of the work of the Security Council and the UN. The most recent resolution on WPS, resolution 2493, was adopted on 29 October 2019. It stresses the need for the full implementation of the WPS agenda and, among other provisions, strongly encourages states to “create safe and enabling environments for civil society, including formal and informal community women leaders, women peacebuilders, political actors, and those who protect and promote human rights”. Annually, the Secretary-General produces a report on WPS and one focused on CRSV.

The first resolution on YPS was unanimously adopted on 9 December 2015 as resolution 2250. It recognises the contribution of youth to the prevention and resolution of conflicts and urges states to “consider ways to increase inclusive representation of youth” in decision-making institutions and mechanisms “for the prevention and resolution of conflict, including institutions and mechanisms to counter violent extremism”.

The Council adopted two follow-up resolutions: resolution 2419 of 6 June 2018 and resolution 2535 of 14 July 2020, the latter of which included several provisions aimed at promoting and institutionalising the implementation of the YPS agenda by the Security Council, UN entities, member states and regional organisations. Among other matters, the resolution introduced regular reporting on YPS, requesting the Secretary-General to submit a biennial report to the Security Council on the implementation of resolutions 2250, 2419 and 2535.

The latest Secretary-General’s annual report on WPS, which was issued on 28 September 2023, focuses on women’s meaningful participation in peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. It stresses that nearly 25 years after the adoption of resolution 1325, negotiating parties in peace processes “continue to regularly exclude women, and impunity for atrocities against women and girls is still prevalent”. It also notes that women’s organisations have been struggling to find resources while military spending continues to increase. Among other recommendations, the Secretary-General called on member states to increase “support to elevate the voices of women from diverse backgrounds, including young women, women with disabilities, persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, Indigenous women, and others, and make accommodations, as needed, to model inclusive processes and practices across all peace and security efforts”.

The Secretary-General’s latest biennial report on YPS, which was published on 1 March, identifies challenging trends across the YPS agenda, such as youth’s “growing mistrust in governance institutions and electoral processes” and discriminatory laws and practices based on age, “which remain prevalent in many countries and hinder the meaningful participation of young people”. The report also identifies issues such as the surge in “digital threats and armed conflicts and the shrinking of civic space” as posing “serious protection concerns for young people”. Among other recommendations, it invites the Security Council to “continue to integrate and strengthen” YPS elements in mandate renewals and to “call upon missions to integrate youth in all relevant mandated areas”.

Council members have discussed the implementation of the WPS and YPS agendas on multiple occasions. The latest meeting on WPS was the annual open debate on CRSV on 23 April, while the most recent meeting with a focus on YPS was the ministerial-level debate on “The role of young persons in addressing security challenges in the Mediterranean” under the “Maintenance of international peace and security” agenda item, which took place on 17 April.

During this meeting, Sarra Messaoudi—Regional Lead of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Coalition on YPS—highlighted several challenges faced by young people, including in the Mediterranean region, such as “systematic barriers” to meaningful participation in peace, political and security processes, and the need to address “climate-sensitive security risks”. Noting the lack of implementation of the latest Security Council resolution on the war in Gaza, resolution 2728, which on 25 March called for a ceasefire for the month of Ramadan, she said that young people are questioning the international system, international law, and the veto power, as well as “the imposition of peace agreements that we didn’t participate in shaping and that do not meet our expectations”. Among other recommendations, Messaoudi called on the Council to openly debate the Secretary-General’s YPS report every two years. She also urged Council members to integrate the YPS agenda into all areas of the Council’s work and establish an informal expert group on YPS to “support these efforts and help young people connect to the work of the Council”.

Key Issues and Options

The implementation of its agendas on WPS and YPS and their impact on the ground are key issues for the Security Council.

As the organiser of this debate, Mozambique could prepare a chair’s summary of the meeting to capture salient themes of the discussion to be circulated in a Council letter.

Council Dynamics

While notable implementation gaps persist, Council members are generally supportive of the WPS agenda. However, dynamics remain difficult, with Russia and China often challenging the inclusion of language on WPS in Security Council products. The prevalent perception, including among members supportive of the WPS agenda and several civil society actors, is that the dynamics on this file remain unconducive to the adoption of new WPS outcomes.

Russia has regularly argued that the Security Council should focus its work on situations that pose a direct threat to international peace and security and that its engagement on WPS should be limited to the consideration of “women’s issues in a context of the maintenance of peace and security and in connection to situations that are on the Council’s agenda”, since human rights and the role of women are already discussed in other UN forums such as the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

A similar argument was put forward by China and Russia during the negotiations on resolution 2419 in 2018 when these members apparently argued that YPS matters should be dealt with by other parts of the UN system. While it seems that China and Russia subsequently adopted a less critical view during the negotiation of resolution 2535, Russia apparently opposed the inclusion of an annual reporting requirement on YPS accompanied by a set of global indicators to track implementation. At the 17 April debate on “The role of young persons in addressing security challenges in the Mediterranean”, Russia again expressed sceptical views regarding the YPS agenda, questioning Malta’s meeting focus for “singl[ing] out” youth from the broader issue of security in the Mediterranean and arguing against the involvement of people under 18 in “political life”.

The UK is the penholder on WPS, and the US is the penholder on CRSV. Sierra Leone and Switzerland are the co-chairs of the Informal Expert Group on WPS. Most Council members—Ecuador, France, Guyana, Japan, Malta, the Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Switzerland, the UK, and the US—have signed on to the Shared Commitments on WPS initiative, which was started in late 2021 by Ireland, Kenya, and Mexico. (For background, see our Golden Threads and Persisting Challenges research report.)

The most recent resolution on YPS, resolution 2535, was penned by France along with then-Council member Dominican Republic.

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Security Council Resolutions
14 July 2020S/RES/2535 This resolution on YPS established a regular biennial reporting requirement on YPS by the Secretary-General.
29 October 2019S/RES/2493 This resolution reiterated the need for the full implementation of the WPS agenda.
9 December 2015S/RES/2250 This was the first YPS resolution. It recognised the contribution of youth in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.
31 October 2000S/RES/1325 This was the first Security Council resolution on WPS. 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.
Secretary-General’s Reports
1 March 2024S/2024/207 This was the Secretary-General’s latest biennial report on YPS.
28 September 2023S/2023/725 This was the Secretary-General’s annual report on WPS.

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