posted on THU 29 JAN 2015 4:51 PM
Protection of Civilians Open Debate Focused on Women and Girls

Tomorrow morning (30 January), the Security Council is scheduled to hold an open debate on the protection of civilians with a particular focus on the protection challenges of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict settings. Expected briefers include a high-level representative from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Director of International Law and Policy for the International Committee of the Red Cross Helen Durham, and Ilwad Elman, a Somali women’s rights activist. No Council product is anticipated. The debate had originally been planned for 27 January, but was postponed because of inclement weather. (As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was scheduled to brief on the 27th, is unavailable for tomorrow’s debate due to travel, OCHA was asked to brief instead.)

Chile has circulated a concept paper in preparation for the debate that outlines a series of objectives for the discussion. It emphasises that the debate will provide an opportunity to exchange views on how to implement international humanitarian law more consistently and combat the impact of violent extremism, particularly with regard to the impact of these challenges on women and girls. It also notes that the meeting will offer a chance to discuss how to ensure that women’s empowerment plays an integral role in efforts to address the protection needs and threats facing women and girls in conflict settings. Among the areas covered in the concept paper that may be taken up by members during the debate is how to integrate the protection concerns and needs of women and girls into the various UN reviews (i.e: those on peacekeeping, peacebuilding, sanctions, the protection cluster, and the implementation of resolution 1325). The paper also suggests that the discussion could include consideration of how to promote gender balance in appointments to groups of experts of sanctions committees and how to expand relevant sanctions designation criteria to include gross violations of the rights of women and girls and attacks against women and girls. In addition it suggests that ensuring more consistent participation of women and girls in conflict prevention and resolution in cases on the Council’s agenda may be an issue worth considering.

Among Council members, there is widespread understanding of the importance of addressing the protection needs and challenges of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations. As the Council recognised in its 28 October 2014 presidential statement (S/PRST/2014/21), internally displaced and refugee girls and women are at heightened risk of sexual and gender-based violence, as violent extremists often targets girls and women through abductions, hostage-taking, rape, human trafficking and sexual slavery. In an era in which displacement is at its highest level since the end of World War II and in which violent extremism is having a devastating impact on populations in Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, Syria and elsewhere, the focus of tomorrow’s discussion is highly relevant to the current international security environment. On the other hand, it seems that some members believe that the topic of debate, while important, may have been more relevant to the “Women, Peace and Security” agenda, particularly with regard to issues such as gender equality and women’s participation in conflict resolution. While the focus of the discussion will be on the protection challenges of women and girls, it is also possible that there may be some reference in the debate to the relevance of the current review of peacekeeping operations or the “Human Rights Up Front” initiative to the broader protection of civilians’ agenda. With regard to peace operations, some members may also raise the issue of how the Council could provide better guidance to Council-mandated peacekeeping and political missions to enhance the protection of women and girls on the ground.

Tomorrow’s open debate is the first one on protection of civilians since 12 February 2014, nearly one year ago. This is noteworthy because these debates are typically held twice a year, although other relevant protection topics were discussed in different meeting formats in 2014. (For example, the Council held an Arria-formula meeting on 30 May 2014 on the protection of internally displaced persons, a briefing on the prevention and fight against genocide on 16 April in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, and a briefing on the protection of humanitarian workers on 19 August 2014 to mark World Humanitarian Day.)

Tomorrow also represents a departure from the standard practice of having the High Commissioner for Human Rights (or another high-level UN human rights representative) brief; a UN human rights official has addressed the Council in every protection of civilians open debate since November 2009. It appears that some members would have welcomed having the High Commissioner (or the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights) among the briefers. On the other hand, before the postponement of the debate (i.e. when Ban was among the scheduled briefers), it had been argued by some Council members that, as the highest-level UN official, the Secretary-General speaks on behalf of the entire UN system and that his presence would add importance and weight to the proceedings.

While great progress has been made on the normative front with regard to the Council’s work on protection of civilians in recent years, fundamental fault lines continue to divide the Council on this agenda item, particularly in some instances at the country-specific level. Some members, notably China and Russia, emphasise the need to respect national sovereignty as an element in any decision to ensure civilian protection and therefore are generally reluctant to authorise measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, such as sanctions. Others give less weight to the sovereignty argument and thus have a lower threshold for determining when the Council should act to protect civilians. This divide has undermined Council efforts to protect civilians in South Sudan, Sudan and Syria, among other cases.

posted on WED 28 JAN 2015 9:04 PM
Resolution Renewing the Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus

Tomorrow morning (29 January), the Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution that will extend the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for another six months. Earlier this week, on 26 January, the Council held consultations on UNFICYP with a briefings by Lisa Buttenheim, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNFICYP, as well as Espen Barth Eide, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Cyprus. Buttenheim briefed the Council on the latest report of the… Read more »

posted on MON 26 JAN 2015 4:01 PM
Dispatches from the Field: Final Day Meetings and Press Conference in Haiti

Council members’ third and final day (25 January) on their visit to Haiti began with two meetings. First, Council members met with the “Core Group” (Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, the US, the EU, and the Organization of American States), the ambassadors of Council members with representation in Haiti, and representatives of the troop contributing and police-contributing countries, to continue the Council’s discussion over the future configuration of UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and changes in its personnel structure. This… Read more »

posted on SUN 25 JAN 2015 7:33 PM
Dispatches from the Field: Council Meetings in Haiti

Day 1: Meetings with MINUSTAH and Haitian Government On Friday (23 January), the Security Council arrived in Haiti for its three day visiting mission. Council members began their visit at the Port-au-Prince compound of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), where they first had a working lunch with MINUSTAH senior officials, lead by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Sandra Honoré, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General Carl Alexandre and the resident coordinator and Deputy Special Representative of the… Read more »

posted on FRI 23 JAN 2015 12:22 PM
Dispatches from the Field: The Security Council Arrives in Haiti

23 January. Port-au-Prince: The Security Council has just landed in Haiti for a three day visiting mission. The mission will be co-led by Ambassadors Cristián Barros Melet (Chile) and Samantha Power (US). (The Council last visited Haiti in February 2012.) The visit will begin with a working lunch with Special Representative of the Secretary-General Sandra Honoré and other UN senior officials.… Read more »

posted on THU 22 JAN 2015 5:00 PM
Arria-Formula Meeting on Human Rights in UN Peace Operations

Tomorrow morning (23 January), Lithuania is hosting an Arria-formula meeting with heads of human rights components of UN peace operations. The meeting, which is open to Council members and invited UN staff only, is expected to focus on the impact of Council resolutions on how human rights work is carried out in peace operations.… Read more »

posted on WED 21 JAN 2015 5:31 PM
Briefings on the DRC: MONUSCO and Sanctions

Tomorrow morning (22 January), the Council will be briefed on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous and by Special Representative Martin Kobler, the head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). The Council will also be briefed by the Chair of the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee, Dina Kawar (Jordan), on the report of the Group of Experts assisting the Committee. The briefings will be followed by… Read more »

posted on TUE 20 JAN 2015 4:19 PM
Ukraine Briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs

Tomorrow afternoon (21 January) the Security Council will hold a public briefing on Ukraine at the request of Lithuania. Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, will brief the Council on the latest developments and political situation in Ukraine. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev, the permanent representative of Ukraine to the UN, is also expected to participate in the meeting.… Read more »

posted on TUE 20 JAN 2015 11:31 AM
Discussion on Commission of Inquiry Report on the Central African Republic

This afternoon (20 January), Council members will meet for an Informal Interactive Dialogue on the final report (S/2014/928) of the International Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on the Central African Republic (CAR), established by the Council in resolution 2127 of 5 December 2013 to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law, international human rights law and abuses of human rights in the CAR. Council members will be briefed by two of the three commissioners, Fatimata M’Baye and Philip Alston. The… Read more »

posted on MON 19 JAN 2015 6:21 PM
Briefing on Deteriorating Situation in Yemen

Tomorrow morning (20 January), the Council is expected to hold consultations on Yemen with Special Adviser of the Secretary-General Jamal Benomar briefing via video tele-conference. The UK, the penholder on Yemen, requested the meeting this morning following the reports that fighting had erupted earlier today in Yemen’s capital Sana’a between Houthi forces and members of Yemen’s presidential guard. It is possible that the UK will circulate a draft press statement that could be discussed during the meeting.… Read more »