posted on Wed 23 Jan 2019 4:12 PM
Women, Peace and Security: Arria-formula meeting on National Action Plans in the MENA region

Tomorrow (24 January), Germany, Peru and the UK are co-hosting an Arria-formula meeting entitled “What’s next for Women, Peace and Security in the Middle East and North Africa: The Potential of National Action Plans”. The meeting will be chaired by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Other Council members are also expected to be represented at a high level. In addition to the briefers and Council members, UN members are invited to speak, with priority given to countries from the region.

According to the concept note, the meeting is open to UN member states, observers, NGOs, and the press. It will also be streamed live on UN Web TV. After the meeting, a co-hosts’ summary will be published as a Security Council document.

Germany has taken over the co-chairmanship of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security (IEG) from Sweden, whose term on the Council ended on 31 December 2018, sharing this responsibility with Peru. The meeting will be Germany’s first occasion to outline its ideas as a co-chair of the IEG, and takes place ahead of its Council presidency in April, when the annual open debate on conflict-related sexual violence will take place.

As stipulated in the concept note prepared for the discussion, the meeting is focused on how National Action Plans (NAPs) on Women, Peace and Security can advance the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, in light of the region’s volatility and the impact this has on the rights and opportunities of women and girls.

The meeting will focus on two countries: Iraq, the first country to adopt a NAP in the MENA region and now developing its second NAP, and Lebanon, now developing its first NAP. Female civil society speakers from the two countries (Suzan Aref of Iraq and Lea Baroudi of Lebanon) will present their perspectives. Members will be interested to hear about the specific experiences from both countries, including challenges and ways in which other states in the MENA region may profit from lessons learned.

A human rights activist and founder and Director of the Erbil-based “Women Empowerment Organisation”, Aref played a leading role in the development and implementation of the first Iraqi NAP. She previously briefed the Council during an 8 August 2018 meeting on Iraq. Baroudi is the Director and co-founder of “MARCH”, an organisation dedicated to promoting gender equality and civil rights in Lebanon, among other issues. The other panelists will be: Nada Makki, who works at the Office of the Lebanese Minister of State for Women’s Affairs and serves as a member of the steering committee tasked with the development of Lebanon’s first NAP, and Åsa Regnér, the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, who is expected to present the UN system’s views on this issue.

The goal of the meeting, as stated in the concept note, is to draw closer attention to NAPs in the MENA region. More specifically, UN member states, both on and off the Council, may share recommendations on how the Council and the international community can support states in the region to adopt and implement NAPs. In this regard, the concept note encourages participants to address issues such as: the specific needs of the region for the advancement of NAPs, how the Security Council can support the development and utilisation of NAPs, and how NAPs themselves can be practical instruments to tackle WPS-related challenges, including in the context of conflict and humanitarian crises. Examples of such support that may be described by speakers could include bilateral development cooperation, exchange of good practices, and creative use of the Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network (a forum for UN member states and regional organisations, working with the UN and civil society, to further the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda).

Meetings in the so-called Arria-format are not formal meetings of the Security Council and are not shown on its programme of work. Although aspects of the Women, Peace and Security agenda remain divisive in the Council, it is expected that all members will attend and make statements.