posted on Thu 26 Oct 2017 4:15 PM
Women, Peace and Security Open Debate

Tomorrow (27 October), the Security Council will hold its annual open debate on women, peace and security. The debate is expected to focus on the implementation of the Council’s various resolutions on this thematic issue and to provide the Council, and the wider UN membership, with an opportunity to identify and more effectively target gaps and challenges in this regard. Briefers are expected to include Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti; Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; Secretary-General of the International Organisation of Francophonie Michaëlle Jean; and Charo Mina Rojas, a civil society representative from Colombia. No outcome is expected.

France, the Council president this month, has circulated a concept note identifying the two objectives of the debate: (i) urging greater commitment to implement the women, peace and security agenda, notably through more systematic and concrete reporting; and (ii) urging women’s full and meaningful participation and leadership in all efforts to maintain peace and security, including with regard to preventing conflict, sustaining peace, and responding to new threats (S/2017/889).

Mlambo-Ngcuka will most likely focus on aspects of the Secretary-General’s annual report (S/2017/861), including progress, stagnation and regression in five key areas: (a) bringing women’s participation and leadership to the core of peace and security efforts; (b) protecting the human rights of women and girls during and after conflict; (c) ensuring gender-responsive planning and accountability for results; (d) strengthening gender architecture and technical expertise; and (e) financing the women and peace and security agenda. The briefers may emphasise, as the report does, that the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda is necessary for strengthening the effectiveness of UN efforts in conflict prevention and resolution and in humanitarian action.

Mina Rojas, who is the National Coordinator of Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN or Black Communities’ Process) in Colombia, was extensively involved in the Havana peace process that culminated in the peace agreement between the government of Colombia and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de la Republica de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP). Rojas served on the Gender Committee of the Ethnic Commission, which was formed to advocate for the inclusion of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous rights and perspectives in the agreement. Rojas will likely offer her perspective on the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda focusing on conflict resolution, peacebuilding and women’s meaningful participation as a way to guarantee durable peace.

During the debate, there will probably be acknowledgement in member state interventions that the Council has played an important role in establishing the normative framework of the women, peace and security agenda, but that significant work remains in order to implement the agenda. Council members and other member states will most likely discuss concrete actions taken to advance the women, peace and security agenda; best practices in this regard; and ways to address ongoing implementation gaps. Participants will probably discuss the need for the increased and meaningful participation of women across the full “peace continuum” (ranging from conflict prevention to conflict resolution). They may discuss ideas for ensuring that relevant gender issues are integrated into the Council’s counter-terrorism work. The importance of quality gender analysis may be raised as well, with possible calls for gender expertise in all UN-led commissions of inquiry, transitional justice mechanisms, mediation processes, and peace operations. There could also be suggestions for expanding the designation criteria in relevant sanctions regimes where sexual and gender-based crimes and specific attacks against women are persistently perpetrated.

The work of the 2242 Informal Expert Group on Women and Peace and Security may be highlighted. The Council expressed its intention to establish this expert group in resolution 2242 in October 2015. UN Women serves as the secretariat for this group, which has demonstrated a considerable level of activity since its establishment. So far this year, the 2242 Group has held meetings on the Lake Chad Basin (27 February), Yemen (23 March), Mali (4 May), and Iraq (14 June).

The Council last adopted a resolution on women, peace and security in 2015. Apparently, France initially expressed interest in pursuing a resolution as an outcome of this year’s open debate. However, it seems that some Council members, including the UK, as penholder on the issue, were wary of doing so, given the comprehensive nature of resolution 2242 and concerns over repeating the difficult negotiations around its adoption.

After tomorrow, the next time the Security Council is expected to consider a major aspect of the women, peace and security agenda at the thematic level is in April 2018 at the annual debate on sexual violence in conflict.