posted on Thu 17 Oct 2013 5:52 PM
Women, Peace and Security: Open Debate and Resolution

The Security Council will hold its annual open debate on women, peace and security and the implementation of resolution 1325 on Friday (18 October). As President of the Council for October, Azerbaijan has chosen “women, rule of law and transitional justice in conflict-affected situations” as the theme for the debate. The Secretary-General, the new head of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay are expected to brief. In addition, Brigitte Balipou, founder of the Association of Women Jurists of the Central African Republic, will speak on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security.

Earlier this month, Azerbaijan circulated a concept note (S/2013/587) outlining areas for the Council to consider ahead of the debate. During the debate Council members may raise issues highlighted in the concept note including the need for women’s equal rights, access to justice and participation to be placed at the centre of efforts to restore the rule of law and reform security and judicial sectors in post-conflict situations. The draft resolution includes several references to these issues as well.

Council members have been negotiating a resolution which is expected to be adopted tomorrow. This will be the first resolution since resolution 1325, adopted in 2000, that substantially addresses the participation aspects of the women, peace and security agenda. The five resolutions adopted on this thematic issue since then have largely focused on sexual violence in conflict and other protection aspects of the agenda.

The draft resolution was circulated on 7 October by the UK, the lead on this issue in the Council. There have been lengthy negotiations over the last two weeks, primarily over the broad scope of the draft resolution. However, it seems negotiations were not as contentious as they have been in the past on women, peace and security issues. (The adoption of resolution 2106 in June which focused on accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict was far more contentious with strong pushback from some members on issues related to non-state actors, the mandate of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the ICC.)

It seems one of the sticking points during the negotiations was related to ensuring that language in the draft reflected—despite the universal applicability of the women, peace and security agenda—that situations that do not constitute threats to international peace and security were outside the purview of the Security Council. This was achieved by referring to “armed conflict and post-conflict situations” rather than the more general “conflict”. In the operational paragraph recognising the Council’s need for improved gender analysis, language was tightened to specify “situations of concern on the Council’s agenda.” This has been an ongoing dynamic for several years in the Council with China, Pakistan and Russia consistently arguing for a more narrow interpretation of both the women, peace and security and the children and armed conflict agendas as it applies to the Council’s own work.

However, the draft text does address the persistent gaps in the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, as highlighted in the most recent Secretary-General’s report (S/2013/525), and invites the Secretary-General to commission a global study on the implementation of resolution 1325 in preparation for the High-Level Review in 2015 and to include the results in his 2015 annual report. This study will likely identify the gaps in the universal implementation of resolution 1325. (The High-Level Review in 2015 is meant to assess progress at the global, regional and national levels in implementing resolution 1325.)

The draft resolution also sets out an operational framework aimed at improving the quality of gender analysis received by the Council in briefings and reports on country-specific situations, results of investigations by UN-established commissions of inquiry and in other thematic areas such as post-conflict peacebuilding, protection of civilians and the rule of law. The draft resolution also reiterates the Council’s intention to take into account a gender perspective when establishing and renewing political and peacekeeping mandates, requests the leadership of UN missions to regularly assess security threats faced by women and girls and consult with women’s civil society groups on the ground. It also requests the Secretary-General to make gender expertise available to UN mediation teams to support peace talks and peacebuilding processes.

Two important areas appear to have been omitted from the final draft text. References to the need for Gender Advisers and Women Protection Advisers to monitor human rights abuses in UN missions which were in the original draft were dropped during negotiations. Also excluded, apparently due to objections from troop-contributing countries (TCCs), was a reference to the importance of TCCs adequately vetting armed forces to exclude perpetrators of past human rights violations. (This was an issue that came up most recently with regard to the troops deployed by Chad in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) as Chad is on the Secretary-General’s lists for having recruited child soldiers and the troops are currently being vetted to ensure that there are no child soldiers within their ranks.)

Despite long negotiations to tighten the language and scope of the draft text, Council members were broadly supportive of the spirit of the resolution which provides a strong framework for the Council to take action on women’s participation and leadership and to more systematically implement this thematic agenda in its own work.

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