The mandate for the UN Regional Office in Central Africa is set to be renewed. Given the ongoing challenges in the region, gender should explicitly be stated as a cross-cutting component across all areas of its work, and further, the Council should encourage the provision of all necessary resources to ensure full implementation of the mission’s mandate. In its support for subregional mediation and conflict prevention initiatives, UNOCA should ensure women and women’s organizations are active participants, with particular outreach to displaced women and girls.
The Security Council is expected to consider a report for the UN Hybrid Operation Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The report should continue the good practice established in previous reports of providing sex-disaggregated data, and should include assessment regarding progress and barriers as per the third benchmark on the rule of law and human rights, particularly in terms of addressing sexual and gender-based violence. The Council should continue to explicitly support the important role of gender advisors, particularly in rebel-held areas where humanitarian needs remain pronounced. With both heightened inter-communal violence and continued violence between rebel groups and the Sudanese government, the Council should prioritize the call for all parties to the conflict to protect civilians, including women and children, from violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, and continue to request the Secretary-General to report on progress made in creating and implementing a strategy to protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence. Further, with greater displacement in 2013 than in 2011 and 2012 combined, it is crucial for UNAMID to incorporate a gender lens when assisting the growing number of internally displaced persons.
The Council’s expected discussion of the situation in Iraq should emphasize women’s human rights as central to addressing the country’s volatile security situation. It should underscore the need for protection of civilians, including combating domestic violence and so-called “honor crimes”, and bring a gender lens to situations of detention, displacement, and humanitarian access, including for Syrian refugees. Further, the Council should highlight women’s increasing political marginalization in the country, and stress the need for women’s meaningful participation in national reconciliation efforts and in the parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2014.
Recent briefings on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, have granted minimal attention to women, peace and security concerns, and the Council should take the opportunity in its upcoming discussion to promote the role of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts. It should also focus on reducing indiscriminate attacks harming civilians in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, on upholding accountability for violations of human rights and crimes under international law, and on ending violence targeting women and girls, including through the demolition of homes, and the denial of adequate access to education and healthcare through restrictions on building schools, clinics, and roads in “Area C” of the West Bank.
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, which has displaced more than 700,000 people 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:
- Strongly urge the IGAD Special Envoys, as well as the Troika Special Envoys supporting the peace process, to appoint and fund an IGAD Senior Gender Advisor to provide technical support for both the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement implementation and the political talks moving forward.
- Encourage the IGAD Special Envoys, prior to formal talks, to conduct a civilian consultation mission in South Sudan;
- 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; and in the establishment of formal mechanisms for civilian reporting of safety violations;
- 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 a formal consultative mechanism that would run parallel to any political talks, chaired by the IGAD mediators;
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, and 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 consideration of the report for the UN mission in Abyei (UNISFA), the Council must ensure effective implementation of the human rights monitoring mandate in accordance with SCR 1990 (2011). In addition, the Council is likely to continue to discuss implementation of SCR 2046 (2012) regarding negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan. Again, the Council must inquire into and ensure support for women’s full participation in these negotiations, and the enshrining of their rights and concerns in any agreements that result. The report should include gender analysis on security sector reform, rule of law, and peacebuilding, and provide specific information on humanitarian concerns, efforts to address violations of women’s rights, including sexual violence, provide care for survivors and end impunity for these crimes. The Security Council should further call for reporting on sex-disaggregated data.
The Council is expected to remain engaged on the situation in Syria, particularly in the aftermath of the Geneva II talks. Despite numerous international commitments, including SCR 2122 (2013), women’s participation in all political efforts to resolve this conflict has been grossly insufficient. Women must participate as negotiators, technical experts, and mediators, and technical expertise must be provided on the gender dimensions of all issues under discussion. This includes ensuring civil society actors have a clear and meaningful role in the negotiations, and that the concerns of all women, including those displaced internally and across international borders, are included. The Council should ensure it supports this engagement with all relevant actors, including theUN/Arab League Special Envoy, and relevant Member States. The Geneva II negotiations have been taking place as the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, with the civilian population continuing to be subjected to a broad range of human rights violations. The violence has created widespread internal displacement, as well as over two million registered refugees in neighboring countries-all of whom face dire conditions. Humanitarian agencies are reporting higher than average numbers of refugees with new conflict-related disabilities, while humanitarian aid overall is underfunded, and current support is not adequately addressing gender-specific concerns. As the refugee crisis in neighboring countries grows, with 85% of the displaced comprised of urban refugees, the need for humanitarian assistance to address women and girls’ specific protection and empowerment needs is becoming more urgent. Prevention of GBV should include specific outreach to women and girls who are heads of households and who have disabilities and thus are at greater risk of being targeted for GBV. As per the UN Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings, UN humanitarian assistance providers should ensure that survivors have information about and access to these services.
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.