What's In Blue

Posted Fri 23 Jun 2023

Arria-formula Meeting on “Enhancing the Capacities of Member States to Ensure a Gender Responsive Approach to Counter-Terrorism”

On Monday (26 June), there will be an Arria-formula meeting on “Enhancing the capacities of member states to ensure a gender responsive approach to counter-terrorism”. The meeting was organised by Malta and co-sponsored by Costa Rica, Jordan, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand, and Spain. The expected briefers are: UN Women Deputy Executive Director a.i. for Policy, Programme, Civil Society and Intergovernmental Support Sarah Hendriks; Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) Gender Coordinator Aleksandra Dier; International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJRL) Executive Secretary Steven Hill; and a representative of civil society.

UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin is also expected to speak during the meeting, which will begin at 3pm and take place in Conference Room One at UN headquarters. All member states and permanent observers have been invited to participate.

The meeting will not be broadcast on UNTV because Russia objected to webcasting it on the official UN channel. In line with established practice, the webcasting of Arria-formula meetings on UNTV requires the consent of all Council members and can therefore be blocked if a single Council member objects.

Malta has prepared a concept note for the meeting, which says that it aims to consider the importance of building the capacity of member states to ensure gender responsive, human rights compliant approaches to preventing and countering terrorism. The meeting is intended to identify challenges experienced by member states in mainstreaming gender in counter-terrorism responses and the capacity needs of member states. It is also meant to highlight good practices and capacity-building support available to member states in ensuring gender responsive approaches to prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, including the investigation and prosecution of terrorist crimes against women and girls.

Several guiding questions for the meeting are outlined in the concept note:

  1. How can gender equality, which is central to a human rights-based approach, contribute to the prevention and countering of terrorism and violent extremism?
  2. What additional steps can the Security Council, including through its Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), take to support greater gender mainstreaming by member states in their counter-terrorism measures and policies?
  3. What challenges do member states experience in mainstreaming a gender responsive approach to preventing and countering terrorism? What capacity building supports are available to address these challenges and what additional supports are needed?
  4. What good practices and lessons learned can member states share regarding their efforts to mainstream gender, respect human rights, and uphold the rule of law in efforts to counter and prevent terrorism and violent extremism?
  5. How can UN entities and other international and regional organisations which help build the capacity of member states to counter and prevent terrorism ensure greater attention to gender considerations? How can the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy ensure greater focus on this issue?

Normative developments in the women, peace, and security (WPS) agenda in recent years have contributed to a push to incorporate a gender perspective into the UN’s counter-terrorism work. In resolution 2242 of 13 October 2015, the Council called for greater integration of the agendas of WPS, counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism conducive to terrorism, and requested that the CTC and CTED integrate gender as a cross-cutting issue throughout the activities within their respective mandates, including within country-specific assessments and reports, recommendations and technical assistance to member states, and briefings to the Council. This request was subsequently reiterated in resolutions 2395 of 21 December 2017 and 2617 of 31 December 2021, both of which extended CTED’s mandate for four years. Resolution 2242 further recognised the differential impact of terrorism and violent extremism on the human rights of women and girls and expressed concern that acts of sexual and gender-based violence are part of the strategic objectives and ideology of some terrorist groups.

The seventh review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS), which was conducted in June 2021 and approved by the General Assembly in resolution 75/291, also incorporated new text on women, peace, and security and gender, including language calling on the Secretary-General to assess the need to further enhance the integration of the rule of law, human rights, and gender in the counter-terrorism efforts of the UN system and to report on that assessment in his broader report on the implementation of the GCTS. This report (A/77/718), which was issued in February, concluded that there is “a need for further efforts to develop internal guidance and capacity to effectively mainstream the rule of law, human rights and gender equality into the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of relevant activities”.

It appears that gender was a contentious issue during the eighth review of the GCTS, which concluded on 22 June with the adoption of resolution 77/298 by the General Assembly. It seems that a group of member states, including Costa Rica and Mexico, pushed for the inclusion of stronger language on gender during these negotiations. This was apparently opposed by other members, including Russia, and resolution 77/298 does not include new gender language.

Gender was also an issue during the negotiations concerning resolution 2617, which most recently extended CTED’s mandate in December 2021. It seems that Ireland proposed calling on CTED to report to the CTC on practical steps it has taken to integrate gender and human rights into its work. However, this provision was apparently opposed by some members and was not included in the resolution.

In her briefing on Monday, Diers is expected to highlight some of the work that CTED has undertaken to integrate gender as a cross-cutting issue throughout its mandate. In this regard, she might discuss how CTED incorporates gender considerations into its interactions with governments and civil society and its technical assistance work. Diers may also refer to CTED’s current project “Towards meaningful accountability for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in terrorist contexts”, which aims to analyse the links among the international counter-terrorism framework, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law, with a view to better understanding the criminal justice responses available when SGBV crimes are committed by terrorist groups and advancing accountability for such crimes. CTED is expected to publish a report outlining the findings of this project in the coming months.

Hendriks may focus on UN Women’s activities that support efforts to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism. These include institutional capacity building to increase gender-responsive approaches, community-based initiatives designed to strengthen social cohesion, social reintegration, and promote the rights of women and girls; and resilience support in areas affected by terrorism and violent extremism. In discussing this work, Hendriks might mention UN Women’s 2022 report on its engagement in support of counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism.

In his briefing, Hill is likely to highlight relevant IIJRL initiatives designed to strengthen the capacity of criminal justice practitioners, while the civil society briefer is expected to discuss efforts to prevent violent extremism in the Horn of Africa.

Council members hold differing views on gender and counter-terrorism. European members and other like-minded states tend to favour gender-responsive approaches to counter-terrorism, while China and Russia are often less supportive of such approaches.

Monday’s Arria-formula meeting will be the second focusing on gender and counter-terrorism in the last two years. On 27 July 2021, Mexico, in cooperation with Estonia, Norway, the UK, and the US, held an Arria-formula meeting on “preventing terrorism and violent extremism through tackling gender stereotypes, masculinities, and structural gender equality”. (For more information, see our 27 July 2021 What’s in Blue story and the Chair’s summary prepared by Mexico [S/2021/717].)

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