The Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA). The situation in CAR continues to be very serious, with civilians bearing the brunt of the conflict. Over 1 million are currently displaced and more than 2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance while human rights violations and abuses continue to be reported in the country amounting to possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Council should insist that all possible support is given to MINUSCA to facilitate the protection of civilians, including through humanitarian assistance, and to ensure MINUSCA-troops are better prepared and trained, and human rights officers, gender experts, women protection advisers are fully deployed. Medical and psychosocial services must be made available and accessible as per SCR 2127 (2013). The Council must 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 should take into consideration the findings from the March 2015 field mission visit by Council Members and ensure that upcoming elections include women’s safety and participation at all stages of the electoral process.
As the Security Council continues to address the situation in Iraq, focusing on international cooperation to combat terrorism, violent extremism and ensure the protection of civilians, the importance of protecting women’s human rights as a central component of international peace and security must not be undermined. According to the latest figures from Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are currently 2.5 million IDPs in Iraq and recent UN figures indicated that nearly 8,000 civilians have been killed in the past year alone. Discussions should outline measures prioritizing the POC, with specific considerations for women and girls. The Council should:
- Ensure a gender lens is being applied to assistance, and women and girls, including those displaced and those with disabilities, are consulted, by all humanitarian and protection actors.
- Mainstream gender in all counterterrorism efforts. All actions taken to prevent and respond to terrorist threats should ensure women’s full and meaningful participation, and address the impact of violent extremism and terrorism on women.
- Encourage Iraq to fully implement and fund its National Action Plan on SCR1325 in consultation with civil society.
In holding the scheduled Open Debate on the Middle East focusing on Palestine, the Council is urged to consider the gender dimensions of the situation. All Member States, including Security Council Members, should call for gender-sensitive humanitarian access, aid and services, and an end to indiscriminate attacks harming civilians in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories. The Council must call for accountability for all violations. Further, the Council should call for the effective and meaningful inclusion of women, and ensure a focus on women’s rights and gender issues in all aspects of current and ongoing peace and security processes.
The Council is expected to discuss the Secretary-General’s recent report on Sexual Violence in Conflict (SViC). During the Open Debate all Member States are strongly urged to detail what concrete and measurable steps they will take to redress the serious remaining implementation deficits on the SViC element of the women, peace and security agenda. Preventing and responding to SViC must involve consultation with affected women in a safe and respectful manner and engagement with local-led civil society organizations providing survivors with essential services. In their statements, Member States are encouraged to raise the following areas of concern:
- Extremism: In the context of the recent spread of violent extremism and terrorism which systematically targets women and employs sexual and gender-based violence, Member States are strongly urged to better address the impact of violent extremism and terrorism on women and girls. Local women’s leadership and participation must be prioritized and supported within these efforts. Combating extremism necessitates the removal of discriminatory laws, practices and policies at national and local levels.
- Investigation and Provision of services: Member States should ensure Women Protection Advisors (WPAs) investigate cases of conflict-related sexual violence only with the survivor’s consent. Member States should commit to removing barriers that prevent many survivors, particularly those who are displaced, from accessing multisectoral services, including non-discriminatory medical care covering the full range of services needed by rape survivors such as HIV prophylaxis and the safe termination of pregnancy. All investigations must be conducted in line with international standards and ethical and safety guidelines.
- Agency and Participation: 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. Special considerations should also be taken into account to ensure groups who face particular risks in conflict situations are protected, such as displaced women and girls, and women and girls with disabilities, and those from ethnic or religious minorities. Furthermore, particular attention must be given to the safety of women human rights defenders so that they can carry out their important work without threats, intimidation or attacks. 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
- Accountability for conflict-related sexual violence: Member States should call for comprehensive justice strategies, including accountability and reparation in line with international humanitarian and human rights law.
- Small arms and light weapons: In view of the impact of the flow of small arms and light weapons, States should be encouraged to ratify and implement the ATT and stop exporting arms where there is a substantial risk they could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including sexual and gender-based violence.
The Council will be holding a briefing on the plight of Syrian refugees. In their statements, Security Council Members should emphasize the importance of women participating in all decision-making processes within displacement settings, humanitarian programming and in broader political, security and peace talks. Protection efforts and humanitarian assistance must be gender-sensitive and the coordination and consultation with Syrian civil society, including women human right defenders, must be increased.
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. The Council 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 the previous reports 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.