Research Report

Posted 24 February 2017
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Women, Peace and Security: Closing the Security Council’s Implementation Gap

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This is Security Council Report’s (SCR) fifth research report dedicated to tracking the UN Security Council’s performance in integrating women, peace and security into its deliberations and outcomes. 

This report examines important Security Council developments in 2016, most notably the establishment of an Informal Experts Group on women, peace and security and, for the first time, inviting women’s civil society representatives to brief the Council at country-specific meetings. It also reviews how the women, peace and security agenda has recently converged significantly with other thematic issues on the Council’s agenda, such as counter-terrorism, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation and abuse in peace operations.

As in our previous research reports on this thematic issue, this publication also examines how the Council has integrated the women, peace and security agenda into resolutions, presidential statements, visiting missions and the work of its sanctions committees. 

The overarching observation of this research report is that the Council has created several tools with considerable potential to enable its members to increase their own access to and understanding of gender-related conflict analysis in a country-specific setting. However, as stated in SCR’s 9 February 2017 report on conflict prevention even, “the best and most timely analysis and information is useless if it is not acted upon.” Better information can lead to better outcomes, but it is not enough to generate political will. This dynamic is not specific to the Council’s consideration of women, peace and security, but this thematic agenda has an additional obstacle of overcoming a culture among Council members and within the UN system that views gender issues as an “add-on” component, rather than being one of the central tenets which support conflict prevention and underpin long-term stability.

The inadequate recognition among member states and within the UN system of the potential of fully integrating a gender perspective into peace and security processes was highlighted in the three UN peace and security reviews conducted in 2014-2015 on peace operations, peacebuilding and implementation of resolution 1325. However, the conclusions of these reviews point to ways in which gender can be taken more fully into account in the UN system’s work. The fulfilment of the new Secretary-General’s public commitment to gender parity will be an important litmus test in this regard. These reviews made several important recommendations regarding how the UN and its member states could enhance attention to and integration of women, peace and security norms. Many of the recommendations from these reviews are relevant to the interplay between the UN system’s input to the UN Security Council and the Council’s decision-making and mandating processes. The recommendations fell into several broad categories: conflict prevention and mediation; improving the gender architecture in field missions and at headquarters; improving gender conflict analysis and information flows; and accountability for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel.

While all of these recommendations are important for the UN system to consider in order to improve its own approach towards implementation of the norms set forth in eight Security Council resolutions dedicated to women, peace and security (see Annex 1), this report will focus on the recommendations made specifically to the Security Council and its implementation efforts.

This report demonstrates that Council members have been effective in creating new practices as well as by using existing ones to respond to some of the recommendations of the three peace and security reviews. The Council’s implementation has been strongest where these recommendations were subsequently incorporated into resolution 2242 on women, peace and security adopted in October 2015. However, implementation gaps remain and in this report we set out options to further consolidate gains in the Council’s approach to the women, peace and security agenda.

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