As the Council discusses options for the UN’s engagement in the Central African Republic (CAR), the situation continues to worsen, with civilians bearing the brunt of the conflict, and with human rights violations in the country amounting to possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. Any UN presence should have a robust mandate to protect civilians and monitor human rights, as well as call for the deployment of gender advisors, women protection advisers, and child protection advisers to focus on violations and abuses committed against women and children, including all forms of sexual violence in armed conflict, as stated in SCR 2121 (2013), ensuring that medical and psychosocial services are available and accessible as per SCR 2127 (2013). Any benchmarks established for the new mission should include the participation of women in peace processes; protection of civilians, including women; and active participation of women’s civil society organizations in conflict resolution and transitional justice efforts; as measurements of success. The Council should insist on accountability for atrocities committed by all armed groups and security forces operating in the country, and reinforce efforts to ensure justice systems are re-established, with investigations and prosecutions conducted according to international standards.
The Council is expected to receive the latest report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Mali and the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The situation for displaced persons, including women, continues to need significant attention. Women continue to be marginalized and excluded from active participation in negotiations and conflict resolution processes. The report should include information on the progress made in the mission’s implementation of its gender mainstreaming and reporting obligations, including those detailed in SCR 2100 (OPs 16, 25), as well as an update on the SRSG’s specific plans to support women voters and candidates in the expected upcoming elections, and in the ongoing peace and reconciliation processes. Deployment of dedicated and resourced senior gender advisers, human rights monitors, and women protection advisers is central to this compliance. Women’s full and meaningful participation should further be facilitated in all weapons and ammunition management initiatives, as per SCR 2117 (OP 12). The Council should also be updated on recent allegations of human rights violations, including sexual violence, by MINUSMA forces.
In the Council’s expected deliberations on the situation in Sudan/South Sudan, Council members should ask specific questions regarding the protection of women and girls, and the participation of women in the current efforts to bring about a political solution to the crisis in South Sudan. The UN estimates that the violence has claimed at least 10,000 civilian lives and left more than 800,000 displaced since mid-December. As per SCR 2122 (2013), the Security Council should strongly support the embedding of mechanisms for inclusion and consultation in the design of the peace process, particularly regarding women’s participation. Specifically, the Council should:
- Encourage the IGAD Special Envoys to remain committed to formalizing a mechanism for ongoing civil society engagement, including women’s groups, in the ongoing political talks;
- Strongly urge the IGAD and Troika Special Envoys to appoint and fund an IGAD Senior Gender Advisor to provide technical support for both the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement implementation and future political talks; – Encourage the IGAD Special Envoys to ensure the participation of women – both as official members of the negotiating teams and also as non-state actors – in any formal political talks moving forward.
- Encourage the IGAD Special Envoys to ensure women’s inclusion is integrated throughout the implementation of the CoH agreement, including in the Joint Technical Committee; gender sensitization in the drafting of the Terms of Reference for the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism; as community liaisons, and in the local committees.
- Invite members of the newly formed African Commission on Inquiry for South Sudan to engage with the UNSC about the plan for documenting atrocities and pressure the Chair and Commission members to roll out the plan for work for the CoI immediately. Specifically, the SC should engage CoI member Bineta Diop, the first African Union Special Envoy for Women, Peace, and Security, to discuss ways the CoI will ensure women’s engagement for an effective inquiry process.
There is an urgent need for countries to contribute the 5,500 promised troops to join UNMISS. In addition, given the troop increase per SCR 2132 (2013) and the women seeking refuge in UNMISS compounds and IDP camps, the Council should: ensure UNMISS takes full measures to guarantee compliance with the UN zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse; insist on full, prompt deployment of the new UNMISS resources, in particular to provide more effective protection to the civilian population at risk, create the conditions for humanitarian assistance that remains hampered particularly in Bentiu, Malakal, and Bor; allow human rights monitors and others to investigate and document violations and abuses by all parties; and insist on improved availability of reproductive health services in camps, which remains low, as does awareness of such services.
In its discussion of the forthcoming Secretary-General’s report on the UN mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO), and in its expected renewal of the MINURSO mandate, the Council should ensure the new resolution includes a human rights monitoring and reporting presence both in Western Sahara, annexed by Morocco in 1975, and the camps near Tindouf in south-western Algeria, administered by the Polisario Front. In line with OP 5 of SCR 2122 (2013), the Council could provide MINURSO with a human rights mandate, which – unlike most other missions established under the authority of the Council – it currently does not have, or it could consider requesting the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to deploy human rights monitors in both Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps. Such a human rights presence, which should be independent, impartial, comprehensive and sustained, as recommended in this last report by the Secretary-General, is critical to document ongoing human rights violations, including against women, and to overcome mistrust between the parties and build an environment conducive to meaningful political negotiations.
The Council is expected to discuss the Secretary-General’s recent report on Sexual Violence in Conflict (SViC). In the context of the recent development of international commitments and policy frameworks on this issue, all Members States, including Security Council members, are strongly urged to detail what concrete, measurable steps they will take to redress the serious remaining implementation deficits on the SViC element of the women, peace and security agenda, including a number of areas of immediate concern. As impunity too often remains the norm, Member States should emphasize the importance of comprehensive justice strategies, including accountability and reparation. Member States should also immediately commit to removing barriers that prevent many survivors, particularly those who are displaced, from accessing multisectoral services that include comprehensive reproductive health care. Special considerations should also be taken into account to ensure groups who face particular risks in conflict situations are protected, from women and girls with disabilities to women’s human rights defenders. The specific risks such groups face must be recognized and addressed. Sufficient resources should be devoted to women-led civil-society organizations, particularly those providing services to survivors and those amplifying women’s participation in decision-making. Member States should emphasize and ensure that women’s agency and participation is an equal focus of this agenda in order to address underlying causes of sexual violence in conflict. Finally, in its regular work, the Council should ensure that all country reports and mandate renewals evaluate the level of protection and promotion of women’s human rights, as per SCRs 1325, 1820 (OP 9), 1888 (OP 11), 1889 (OP 5), 1960 (OPs 6, 13), 2106 (OPs 5, 6), and 2122 (OP 2(d)). Member States should inquire about any lack of such reporting.