Arria Formula Meeting on Women, Peace and Security
On Friday afternoon (17 May), Security Council members are set to hold an Arria Formula meeting focusing on the progress and challenges to the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda with a particular focus on field perspectives from gender practitioners in peacekeeping operations. Panelists include Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous; Gaynel Curry, the first women protection adviser deployed in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS); Elsie Effange-Mbella, a senior gender adviser in the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO); and Lucien LeClair, a police adviser for the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
Council members Australia and Guatemala organized the Arria Formula meeting in cooperation with DPKO. In addition to Council members, participation is also expected by civil society and other member states.
One of the priorities of the meeting will be to underline the need for sustained attention from the Security Council on the women, peace and security agenda. In particular, the conveners of the meeting are keen to take advantage of the presence of MONUSCO’s senior gender adviser and a former women protection adviser from UNMISS to clearly demonstrate to Council members how the two fulfill different roles and how both add value to peacekeeping operations. (Gender advisers are responsible for integrating a gender perspective into all aspects of a peacekeeping mission. Women protection advisers have a specific mandate to address conflict-related sexual violence.)
Ladsous is expected to focus on DPKO’s mandate to protect and empower women and girls through its peacekeeping operations. Curry was the first women protection adviser ever deployed and she is likely to talk about what that role entails and explain how UNMISS could be used as an operational model for such expertise in other peacekeeping operations. Effange-Mbella, in addition to clarifying what a gender adviser does, is also likely to comment on her specific role in MONUSCO in the context of its recent mandate renewal authorising an intervention brigade and providing for some of its tasks to be transferred to the UN Country Team. LeClair is likely to focus on his experience as a police adviser for MINUSTAH’s sexual and gender based violence team and the mission’s activities related to security sector reform, training and capacity building of the Haitian National Police.
Council members are likely to be interested in an update from Ladsous on the deployment of gender advisers and women protection advisers in the field. A significant majority of peacekeeping and political missions currently have gender advisers.
However, UNMISS is the only mission with women protection advisers. Nonetheless, UN Women has provided temporary catalytic funding—intended to persuade missions of the value of including these positions in their regular budget—for the deployment of women protection advisers in 2013 for the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA), the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and MONUSCO in the DRC. Five Security Council resolutions so far in 2013 have made specific references to the importance of deploying women protection advisers: resolution 2086 on a multidimensional approach to peacekeeping, resolution 2093 renewing the authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), resolution 2102 establishing the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), resolution 2098 renewing MONUSCO and resolution 2100 establishing the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
While there has been significant activity in the Council in strengthening gender expertise language in resolutions establishing or renewing mandates for peacekeeping or political missions, there are questions about how these mandates will be implemented on the ground. In this sense, several issues may be raised in tomorrow’s Arria Formula meeting about MINUSMA. Although resolution 2100 called for the deployment of women protection advisers as part of MINUSMA’s mandate, it is unclear whether the current staffing structure under discussion at DPKO actually provides for such a deployment. It is also unclear whether the envisioned gender expertise for the mission will have direct access to the mission’s senior leadership in order to feed a gender perspective into mission activities such as political and civil affairs, electoral assistance, human rights, rule of law and security institutions—all of which are relevant to the broader women, peace and security agenda.
Council members who are supportive of the women, peace and security agenda in the Security Council are hopeful that tomorrow’s meeting with gender practitioners from the field, the second in as many years, will also serve to consolidate what may become an annual practice. (In May 2012, then elected Council member Portugal organised a closed meeting between Council members and gender advisers.)