Despite international pressure, Afghan women continue to be excluded from decision-making positions, including from the briefing given to the Council in March (as requested in the March MAP). There has been no repeal of the National Reconciliation, General Amnesty and National Stability bill, increasing the culture of impunity in the country. With the renewal of the UNAMA mandate (SCR 1917), the Council should ensure that its expressed support for the Peace Jirga includes support for women’s meaningful participation in this process, and that any agreements signed fully include women’s human rights, a key part of the UNAMA mandate (SCR 1917, OP 6d).
There will be a Security Council mission to several African countries, including the DRC. The mission should meet with the women’s rights advocates who are trying to engage in these ongoing peace processes. In addition, the MONUC report is due in the Council on 1st April. The report should accurately portray the current humanitarian crisis and the dire situation for women and girls. Violence against women and girls is a critical security concern and roadblock to peace in the DRC. Some NGOs report that the level of brutality against women and girls is increasing as survivors seeking services describe being subjected to mutilation and torture, gang rape and abduction by armed groups. The report should reflect consultation with women’s groups and NGOs, as prior lack of consultation has left few opportunities for women’s priorities to be presented to the Security Council. Priority attention must be given to efforts to improve humanitarian coordination and assistance. The report should also include analysis of effective actions for enhancing women’s protection and the existence of critical response gaps.
In the Council’s discussion of MINUSTAH, particularly considering the New York donor conference, empowerment of women and protection of women and girls should be prioritized. Widespread violence against women has been reported and women continue to go without access to goods and services to meet their basic needs. Any reporting to the Council on the situation in Haiti should include: how gender experts have been consulted; an evaluation of the implementation of the UN’s Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Policies and Guidelines for the protection of women and children; how women have been included in all aspects of planning, implementation and programming; an assessment of human rights violations, especially violence against women and girls in and around refugee camps; and an assessment of the degree to which women have been provided adequate food and safe access to services and provisions.
The report on Lebanon due in the Council should include: any reports of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel; any comprehensive gender-specific awareness training for peacekeepers and for national forces and police; and any support for women’s involvement at all stages of peace processes in the region. In addition, as landmines and unexploded ordinance continue to pose huge risks to civilians, especially women and girls, the report should include an update on that situation.
During Japan’s Presidency, the Council will hold an Open Debate on Peacebuilding. As the Council recognized in SCR 1889, there are strong links between women’s social and economic empowerment, and the success of post-conflict peacebuilding efforts. During this Open Debate, Council Members and Member States should address the importance of women’s participation and the inclusion of women’s rights in all aspects of post-conflict peacebuilding, including in DDR, SSR, and relief and recovery programs.
In this year of the 10th Anniversary of SCR 1325, the Council could also more systematically implement its commitment to meeting with women’s organizations on its missions (1325 OP15; reaffirmed in 1889 OP14). Of particular importance will be supporting the inclusion of women’s voices in any peace processes underway in countries the Council visits. In its April visit to DRC, Uganda and Rwanda, it will be particularly important for the Council to meet with those promoting women’s empowerment in the region. See specific recommendations on DRC.
With the report due in the Council, and plans for a UN mission in Somalia still underway, the inaccessibility in the region for humanitarian workers must not be taken as an absence of the violation of women’s human rights in particular. Any technical assessments of the situation must include gender expertise.
Particularly in light of recent attacks on human rights defenders, the forthcoming mandate renewal for the UN mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) should include a human rights monitoring mandate, which – unlike most other peacekeeping operations – it currently does not have. This general deterioration of the human rights situation in Western Sahara has included the targeting of women’s rights defenders. MINURSO is nearly the only mission established under the authority of the Security Council that does not include a human rights component. The inclusion of such a component would be a positive response to the concern expressed by Council members about the human rights situation in Western Sahara, and the Secretary-General’s reiteration of the UN commitment to human rights standards in Western Sahara (S/2009/200).
In April, the Council will receive proposals for indicators to assessing implementation of resolution 1325, as requested in OP17 of resolution 1889. In addition, as requested in OP26 of resolution 1888, the Council will receive an update on the proposals for the United Nation’s efforts on monitoring and reporting on sexual violence in conflict. It is vital that these recommendations provide strong and meaningful indicators, and that they be followed up with action by the Council.