posted on Sun 6 Sep 2015 7:23 PM
Counter-terrorism Committee: Open Briefing on the Role of Women in Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism

On Tuesday afternoon (9 September), the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee will hold an open briefing for member states on the role of women in countering terrorism and violent extremism. Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaité (Lithuania), who chairs the 1373 Committee, will preside. Assistant Secretary-General for Policy and Planning at UN Women Yannick Glemaric and Jean Paul Laborde, the Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED), will speak on the progress and challenges of integrating gender into the UN’s policy and programming on counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism.

The meeting will also include civil society speakers who will focus on recent women-led initiatives to counter terrorism and violent extremism in areas that have been impacted by Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS): Esther Ibanga, an interfaith peace activist (Nigeria), Sureya Roble-Hersi, head of the Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation (Horn of Africa)and Hanaa Edwar, head of the Iraqi Al-Amal Society (Middle East).

Several Council members view this meeting as part of a continuing effort to better reflect women, peace and security issues in the Council’s counter-terrorism related activities and outcomes. The Council made a commitment to integrate women, peace and security into other thematic issues, such as counter-terrorism, in resolution 2122 of October 2013. Two months later, resolution 2129, which renewed the mandate of CTED, included the first linkages in the Council’s work between counter-terrorism and women, peace and security. With the rise of groups like ISIS and Boko Haram, in 2014 and 2015 nascent references to gender have been included in counter-terrorism outcomes, such as resolution 2178 on foreign terrorist fighters, resolution 2195 on the role of transnational organised crime in supporting terrorism, resolution 2199 on illicit funding sources for ISIS and Al-Nusra Front, and several presidential statements on Boko Haram (S/PRST/2014/25, S/PRST/2015/4 and S/PRST/2015/14).

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict has also repeatedly briefed Council members, most recently on 25 August, detailing how terrorist groups use sexual violence to achieve tactical objectives, terrorise communities into compliance, displace populations from strategic areas, and generate revenue through trafficking, slave trade and ransoms. Countering violent extremism was also a central theme in the 28 October 2014 and 15 April 2015 open debates on women, peace and security, the 30 January 2015 open debate on protection of civilians, and the 23 April 2015 open debate on the role of youth in countering violent extremism. These debates highlighted the gender dimension of violent extremism where women’s rights are attacked, in particular their rights to education, public life and decision making over their own bodies. The presidential statement adopted after the October 2014 debate encouraged the development of strategies to counter this phenomenon (S/PRST/2014/21).

While the need for protection of women in the context of violent extremism and terrorism is better recognised now by Council members than it was two years ago, their role as participants in terrorism, as well as their potential as a resource to counter violent extremism, is less well understood. Many Council members view Wednesday’s meeting as an opportunity to address those gaps in understanding. Some Council members may be interested in concrete recommendations that could inform forthcoming initiatives such as Russia’s draft presidential statement on countering terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Council’s High-Level Review of women, peace and security, and a possible new resolution on that thematic issue expected in October.

Finally, Council members will be interested in learning more about how the 1373 Committee and CTED have begun to incorporate gender into its own work, and how their findings on the intersection between women, peace and security and counter-terrorism can be better conveyed in regular reporting to the Security Council.