What's In Blue

Women, Peace and Security: Arria-formula meeting on conflict-related sexual violence and sanctions

On Monday (22 October), the Netherlands, Côte d’Ivoire, France and Peru will co-host an Arria-formula meeting entitled “Moving from a Culture of Impunity to a Culture of Deterrence: The Use of Sanctions in Addressing Sexual Violence in Conflict.” According to the concept note, the meeting will be webcast and open to all UN member states, observers, non-governmental organisations, and the press.

In addition to the briefers and Council members, affected countries and incoming Council members are invited to speak. After the meeting, the co-hosts intend to share an informal summary with interested parties.

The briefers bring a wide range of experience to the issue of sexual violence in conflict. Rita Lopidia is the Executive Director and Co-founder of the EVE Organization for Women Development in South Sudan and head of the South Sudan Women Coalition for Peace. She is expected to provide a civil society perspective on the situation of women affected by conflict-related sexual violence and may describe measures the Council has at its disposal in order to address the situation. She previously briefed the Council during the annual open debate on Women, Peace and Security in October 2016 (S/PV.7793).

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten may refer to the latest Secretary-General’s report on conflict-related sexual violence (S/2018/250), particularly the recommendation to the Council to include sexual violence among the designation criteria for sanctions. In the context of parties listed in the annex to the report, she could focus on situations such as Myanmar where no Council sanctions regime exists. (The annex includes those parties “credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape or other forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict on the agenda of the Security Council”.)

Rebecca Brubaker is a Senior Policy Adviser at the Centre for Policy Research at United Nations University. She is expected to give an overview on how the use of sanctions by the Council developed, in addition to options for establishing a sanctions regime limited to the criterion of conflict-related sexual violence.

The coordinator of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2374 Mali sanctions committee, Ruben de Koning, is also the former coordinator of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 Central African Republic sanctions committee. He is likely to highlight experiences regarding the listing of individuals for conflict-related sexual violence.

The former coordinator of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team assisting both the sanctions committee concerning ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida, as well as the sanctions committee concerning the Taliban and associated individuals, Hans-Jakob Schindler, is also expected to brief. He now serves as Senior Director at the Counter Extremism Project. He may focus on UN sanctions targeted at perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence, and their affiliates, in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region and in the context of terrorism.

Conflict-related sexual violence as a criterion for targeted sanctions originated with the adoption of resolution 1820 (2008), which recognized that sexual violence in conflict can undermine international peace and security and the Council’s readiness to address this. Resolution 1960 (2010) initiated the annex to the annual report of the Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence, and expresses the intention to utilise this annex as a basis for potential measures by the Council. Resolution 1807 (2008) on the Democratic Republic of the Congo established, for the first time, sexual violence as a designation criterion for targeted sanctions. Resolution 2339 (2017) on the Central African Republic contained the first-ever stand-alone criterion for listing individuals for their involvement in planning, directing or committing acts involving sexual and gender-based violence.

The concept note outlines three objectives of the meeting. The first is to discuss the state of the existing sanctions architecture and explore ways in which the Council’s response to sexual violence can be strengthened. The second is to hear member states’ views on innovative ways to utilise sanctions in response to the listings in the annex of the Secretary-General’s annual report on conflict-related sexual violence. In this connection, the concept note presents the idea of a sanctions regime with the sole designation criterion of conflict-related sexual violence for countries on the Council’s agenda, but without an existing sanctions regime. A third objective is to maintain the momentum behind the discussion by involving incoming Council members, and to have long-term follow up on this issue.

According to the concept note, issues that may be addressed in the meeting include the use of sanctions to deter conflict-related sexual violence and to coerce and constrain perpetrators, and, in accordance with a commitment made by the Council in resolution 2242, the importance of ensuring that experts assisting sanctions committees have necessary gender expertise. In connection with the idea of a single-criterion sanctions regime, the concept note puts forward the question of how to take action on parties from countries listed in the annex to the Secretary-General’s report.

The co-hosts share the view that targeted sanctions for conflict-related sexual violence are used too rarely in cases where the relevant listing criterion exists. During this year’s annual debate on conflict-related sexual violence in April (S/PV.8234), a majority of Council members showed support for such listings. Other Council members, such as China and Russia, who have a more restrictive approach towards the imposition of UN sanctions, might be more wary of the idea of a thematic sanctions regime. Considering that Arria-formula meetings are not formal Council meetings, it is also possible that some members will not speak or not attend the meeting.

Some members may note the 5 October announcement of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege for their contributions towards ending sexual violence as a weapon of war.

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