What's In Blue

Posted Wed 22 Feb 2012

Debate on Women, Peace and Security

Tomorrow (23 February) the Council will hold an open debate on Women, Peace and Security to consider the Secretary-General’s annual report (S/2012/33) on conflict-related sexual violence. Margot Wallström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the issue, will brief together with the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Hervé Ladsous.

At the time of writing, a draft presidential statement to be issued after the debate had not been finalised and negotiations were ongoing. It appears that a number of key elements are still under discussion. A key concern for some Council members appears to be that the report covers more than just situations of armed conflict. (The report includes information on incidents of sexual violence in armed conflict; sexual violence in post-conflict situations; sexual violence in the context of elections, political strife and civil unrest; and sexual violence in situations of concern.)

Council members are broadly supportive of including information on sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations in the report. However, some members have expressed concern about the other situations mentioned on the grounds that they do not constitute threats to international peace and security and are therefore outside the purview of the Security Council. This has led to suggestions during the negotiations on the presidential statement that the focus should be on sexual violence in armed conflict rather than conflict-related sexual violence.

It appears that questions have also been raised about the scope of the Special Representative’s mandate and some Council members may want to define it more clearly. (Similar issues were raised during the negotiations on resolution 1998 of 12 July 2011 on children and armed conflict.) However, Council members who are committed to the Special Representative’s role as currently mandated worry about backsliding on her mandate. There are particular concerns that early warning capacity might be lost by restricting the Special Representative’s role to armed conflict and post-conflict situations and this in turn would limit the Council’s own conflict-prevention role. These members feel strongly that there should be at the very least a reaffirmation of the mandate set out in resolutions 1888 and 1960.

Although it appears that the language has not been agreed on as yet, the draft presidential statement is also believed to refer to the work of the Special Representative and the associated team of experts and invite the Special Representative to continue to provide briefings to the Council on sexual violence.

Another area that is expected to come up for discussion is the Council’s review of Wallström’s mandate and the team of experts as requested in resolution 1888 (taking into account the creation of UN Women). It appears that most Council members feel the relationship to UN Women would be better considered at some later point, given that both offices are relatively new. (The Special Representative role was created in 2009 and UN Women was authorised in 2010.)

The report being discussed at tomorrow’s open debate is the first on conflict-related sexual violence with an annex listing parties credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict on the Council’s agenda. However, it is unlikely that any immediate action will be taken on that listing.

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