posted on Tue 19 May 2015 5:51 PM
Arria-Formula Meeting on Women, Peace and Security and the 2015 Peace and Security Reviews

On Thursday morning (21 May), Security Council members will hold a closed Arria-formula meeting, organised by Spain, focusing on key women, peace and security recommendations to the Security Council from this year’s Global Study on the implementation of resolution 1325, the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and the Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture. Council members will hear from Radhika Coomaraswamy, lead author of the 1325 Global Study; Ambassador Gert Rosenthal who heads the Peacebuilding review; and Ameerah Haq, Vice-Chair of the Peace Operations panel.

Thursday’s meeting will provide these members of the three panels with an opportunity to present findings from their respective reviews on how the Council can support improvement in the UN’s implementation of women, peace and security commitments. The discussion is also expected to include recommendations on how the Council can improve its own accountability for the implementation of the seven Security Council resolutions that have been adopted on this thematic issue since 2000.

Council members expect that speakers will raise the common gaps in the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, such as the lack of sustained leadership and resources committed to implementation—both at UN headquarters and by mission leadership in the field. In this context, Council members will be interested in an initial exchange on specific recommendations for how the Council can contribute to moving the UN system beyond general calls for women’s participation and protection toward concrete measures for implementation.

Coomaraswamy’s overarching message will be that the 1325 Global Study has found that women’s inclusion and participation is central to long-term peace and security. She will likely urge Council members to start treating it as such and stop its ad-hoc consideration of women, peace and security as an “add-on” obligation. Council members also expect her to report that the lack of leadership on women, peace and security throughout the UN system has led to serious deficiencies in both financial and human resources available to this agenda.

Drawing on their experiences in addressing this issue in the Council, some members are likely to acknowledge that the lack of resources dedicated to the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda negatively impacts the quality of gender information on country situations on the Council’s agenda. Gender reporting is rarely conveyed to the Council during the briefings by heads of peace operations, gender experts requested by Security Council resolutions are not deployed in a timely manner and, when deployed, are often too junior in rank and without sufficient access to leadership to influence mission activities. The lack of resources and information affects the Secretary-General’s gender reporting, which, while showing signs of improving, remains focused largely on the protection aspect of the women, peace and security agenda and lacks analytical robustness on challenges to women’s participation in decision-making. Some Council members may emphasise that accurately identifying challenges to women’s participation and protection in country-specific situations would allow the Council to provide better guidance and prioritisation in mission mandates for implementation of the women, peace and security agenda. (The Council requested improved information and analysis in resolution 2122, the most recent resolution adopted on women, peace and security in October 2013.)

Council members will be interested in some of Coomaraswamy’s provisional thoughts on how to close the implementation gap, which may include recommendations such as strengthening UN Women’s capacity to lead on crisis and conflict. The UN system could also take advantage of UN Women’s expertise at headquarters and in the field to strengthen the capacity of peacekeeping operations and special political missions to implement women, peace and security commitments. She may also share thoughts on the importance of strengthened gender units, with direct access to department leadership, in the Departments of Political Affairs (DPA) and Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)—the two entities responsible for implementing and reporting on Security Council mandates. In that context, she may underscore the importance of Council members, in their capacity as member states in the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee on budgetary and administrative matters, supporting gender staffing as part of peace operations’ core budgets.

For the Security Council itself, she is expected to recall that resolution 2122 was dedicated to improving the Security Council’s own working methods on women, peace and security. The Advisory Group to the 1325 Global Study has been discussing some preliminary and Council-specific recommendations that have been submitted to them, such as an informal expert working group that could track women, peace and security implementation in country-specific contexts. Council members may be interested to hear how such a group would enable them to become more familiar with the specific challenges to women’s security in countries on the Council’s agenda.

Haq is likely to report that during the broad consultations undertaken by the Peace Operations Panel, several challenges to the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda were found. Gender is not routinely taken into account when the UN Secretariat designs a field mission; commitment to women, peace and security at the most senior levels in the UN system is not consistent; gender is not integrated throughout mission activities; and substantive and technical capacity for this is limited. Haq may also reiterate Coomaraswamy’s findings that there is a lack of attention to gender issues by mission leadership and that the Council lacks initiative in following-up its own women, peace and security commitments in country-specific contexts. Council members may be interested to hear the Peace Operations Panel’s initial thinking on how the Council can support strengthened gender capacity in DPA and DPKO—both in New York and in the field, how UN Women can play a role in enhancing field operations’ effectiveness, how to ensure gender staffing needs are included in missions’ core budgets, and how to hold the UN system—including the Security Council—accountable for implementation.

Rosenthal will discuss how the peacebuilding review has coordinated its activity regarding women, peace and security issues with the 1325 Global Study and with the Peace Operations Panel. On possible recommendations for the Peacebuilding Commission, a subsidiary body of the Security Council as well as the General Assembly, Council members may be interested in Rosenthal’s view on ensuring that at least one member state that is part of a PBC country-specific configuration take responsibility for ensuring women, peace and security is integrated into the configuration’s work.

Another theme that will be central to Thursday’s meeting is how these recommendations will feed into the Security Council’s own high-level review of resolution 1325 in October. There seems to be significant momentum building towards the adoption of an eighth women, peace and security resolution at that time, and recommendations from these three peace and security reviews have the potential to influence any such outcome.