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Arria-Formula Meeting with Human Rights Components in Peace Operations

Tomorrow (24 February) Senegal, Sweden and Uruguay are co-hosting a closed Arria-formula meeting with the heads of human rights components of three UN peace operations. Council members have used the closed Arria-formula format to meet with the heads of human rights components of different operations three times over the last four years: February 2012, organised by Portugal and Togo; January 2015, organised by Lithuania; and March 2016, organised by New Zealand and Uruguay.

The meeting aims to give Council members an opportunity to have an informal exchange about the particulars of human rights work in different peace operations, to better understand how human rights components contribute to the implementation of missions’ mandates, and to gain insights into the daily work of human rights professionals in different environments. Currently, there are more than 800 human rights staff members working in nine peacekeeping operations and five special political missions.
The participating heads of human rights components will be:
• José Maria Aranaz of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO);
• Eugene Nindorera of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS); and
• Kirsten Young of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

In order to encourage greater interactivity, there will be three sessions covering relevant themes, each chaired by one of the co-chairs. In each session, two of the heads of human rights components will make presentations focused on their country situations, followed by a discussion. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour will also participate and provide concluding remarks.

Session1: Collaboration between human rights components and other components of peace operations in implementing mandates regarding the protection of civilians.
This session will be chaired by Ambassador Elbio Roselli (Uruguay), with presentations by Aranaz (MONUSCO) and Nindorera (UNMISS). Council members may be interested in discussing the practical application of one of the recommendations of the peace operations review: the need to enhance the quality and coherence of analysis and reporting on human rights issues. They may be looking for a greater understanding of the effect of consolidating specialised protection functions relating to child protection and conflict-related sexual violence within human rights components in peace operations. Aranaz might provide examples of how data on human rights abuses by both government forces and rebel groups provide an indication for priority locations where the UN must act to protect civilians. In light of the recent violence in the central Kasai region, Council members may be particularly interested in how human rights violations in Kinshasa and other parts of the DRC can be addressed, bearing in mind that the concentration of the majority of MONUSCO’s assets is in the East. With respect to South Sudan, members will be interested in asking Nindorera how the restrictions of movement imposed on the mission by government forces have hindered human rights monitoring in South Sudan, and what the Council can do to address this. Council members might inquire about whether UNMISS troops and police have become more proactive and less risk-averse in their patrolling in light of the findings of the independent special investigation into the July 2016 violence in Juba, which was critical of the mission’s performance.

Session 2: The role of human rights components in the partnership between the UN and regional organisations, particularly the AU.
This session will be chaired by Ambassador Fodé Seck (Senegal), with presentations by Nindorera (UNMISS) and Young (UNSOM). It is expected to provide a better understanding of the role of human rights considerations in the collaboration between the UN and the AU. This discussion comes after the adoption of resolution 2320 on 18 November 2016 which encouraged the AU to finalise its human rights and conduct and discipline compliance frameworks for AU peace support operations, in order to achieve greater accountability, transparency, and compliance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as well as with UN conduct and discipline standards. This is particularly important in the case of Somalia, and Council members might be interested in Young’s views on how to ensure compliance with the human rights due diligence policy in the face of allegations of human rights violations committed by the AU Mission to Somalia. Council members might be interested in hearing from Nindorera what role UNMISS could play in providing information on human rights violations that could be used by the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, envisioned in the August 2015 peace agreement but as yet with little progress towards its establishment, including perhaps by supporting the establishment of an independent investigative mechanism.

Session 3: The role of human rights components in preventing the re-occurrence of conflict, including through improved accountability and compliance.
This session will be chaired by Ambassador Olof Skoog (Sweden), with presentations by Aranaz (MONUSCO) and Young (UNSOM). Council members may want to discuss how human rights components contribute to the overall implementation of missions’ mandates and, in particular, to the mandates’ protective, preventive and accountability-related aspects. Human rights violations are considered early warning signs of the possible relapse into conflict and the briefers might provide examples in this regard. Aranaz may address the effects on the human rights situation of political developments in the DRC, where President Joseph Kabila remains in office despite his second and last term ending in December 2016, and has been accused of violating human rights of opponents. His actions also appear to have provided an incentive for armed groups to expand their activities and carry out further human rights abuses in eastern DRC with impunity. Young might brief on how UNSOM has been working with the Federal Government of Somalia to provide advice and technical support to help the government meet its obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights and freedoms of the Somali people, and how they are planning to continue doing so with the new administration of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo”.

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