The political and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan remains a dangerous one, particularly for women. In the Open Debate on the Secretary-General’s regular report on Afghanistan, each participating UN member state should hold the Council, the Head of the UN Mission, and themselves to account for ensuring that women’s rights are at the center of all efforts to promote sustainable peace in the country in line with SCR 1974 (2011) OPs 6(d), 11, 24, 34, 36 and 37. In these discussions, the Council and other UN member states should:
- Ensure that Afghan women play an active role in the Bonn Conference in December 2011, including shaping the agenda and outcome document;
- Support an increase in UN capacity to ensure humanitarian needs are addressed, including UNHCR and OCHA increasing their protection and humanitarian affairs officers in critical regional offices to address growing humanitarian needs resulting from conflict and drought. There must also be strong support for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission;
- Support the Afghan government’s development of an inter-ministerial plan to address the needs of displaced Afghans.
Cote d’Ivoire’s conflict has been marked by grave violations of international law, in which women have often been subject to particular violence, including the killing of 7 women by former President Gbagbo’s security forces during a peaceful demonstration. NGOs have documented large numbers of rapes both in Abidjan and in the far west of the country, in which all parties to the conflict are implicated in crimes, according to the international Commission of Inquiry. Many of these rapes, particularly in Abidjan, targeted women on political or ethnic grounds. Women in the far west were at times held captive for days and raped repeatedly. Impunity has defined Côte d’Ivoire for the last decade, but nowhere more so than for sexual violence: armed forces and civilians alike have been able to rape with almost no fear of prosecution.
The Council must ensure that the UN strongly supports prosecutions of those implicated in sexual violence, and supports the provision of effective protection and care for victims and witnesses. This should include encouraging the government to permanently establish free emergency medical services for survivors of sexual violence, such as access to medical examinations, post-exposure prophylaxis drugs and antibiotics, psychosocial care, and follow-up consultations. In areas like the far west, where health infrastructure is often inadequate, the government should ensure sufficient coverage through training mobile teams and traditional healers. Bureaucratic barriers to investigations, such as expensive medical certificates that many police and gendarmes demand before beginning an investigation, should be abolished permanently.
As Côte d’Ivoire establishes judicial and other mechanisms to deal with the grave crimes committed, the Security Council must fully support women’s roles in designing and leading these initiatives. President Ouattara has taken steps toward establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), for example, but so far none of the three leaders named are women. For the TRC to meaningfully contribute to reconciliation efforts in Côte d’Ivoire, women should be given a leadership role and an effective voice in the body from the outset, to the finalization of its work. Côte d’Ivoire has a strong group of women in civil society who can provide an invaluable contribution to the TRC and efforts to achieve justice.
Darfur / South Sudan / Sudan
Many of Sudan’s humanitarian and political problems remain unresolved, and there are serious threats to civilians in both North and South Sudan in the transitional months ahead. As the Council recalibrates its relationships with the two future countries, it should ensure women’s groups are consulted prior to reconfiguration; that women’s rights are fundamental to all planning and preparation for the reconfigured UN presence in the region; and that well-resourced gender expertise – including from within the two countries – is central to this configuration. Full cooperation should be extended to the Team of Experts (SCR 1888, OP 18), to help develop a rule of law system aimed at preventing sexual violence and ensuring full reparations for survivors. As the Council finalizes plans for the successor peacekeeping operation to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), it should ensure protection of civilians as its top priority, and the necessary political support and resources to monitor and robustly respond to protection threats. Humanitarian access should be a key element of the mandate of any interim force(s), as is a continued UN presence in the North and the border areas, including at a minimum in Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Specific recommendations for the Council include:
- Supporting the independent investigations of crimes of international human rights law and humanitarian law, in collaboration with the International Criminal Court;
- Pressuring both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) to cease violence in South Kordofan;
- Demanding that the Government of Sudan and the SAF guarantee access for the delivery of humanitarian aid and assistance to IDPs who have fled violence in South Kordofan.
South Sudan: A new state South Sudan will require international support and engagement. To that end, the Council should:
- Encourage the Government of South Sudan to strengthen its obligations to uphold the human rights of its people, including through ratifying CEDAW without reservation, ensuring women’s participation in the drafting process, and enshrining women’s equal rights in the new constitution.
- Focus on SPLM/A reform, and renewed efforts at reconciliation and mediation.
- Support coordinated efforts to protect civilians from the threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which disproportionately targets civilians. This requires coordinated international and regional efforts to offer civilians effective warning of and protection against attacks, as well as a focus on the long-term security needs in more remote areas.
Darfur: There must be an immediate end to the Government of Sudan’s access restrictions on UNAMID and humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur. Efforts should be increased to end the ongoing impunity for rape by security forces in the context of renewed fighting between government and rebels, and perpetrators should be brought to justice. The Council should support efforts for a comprehensive peace in Darfur, including by demanding an end to aerial bombardment, attacks against civilians, and the state of emergency in Darfur; and by demanding UNAMID has access to all areas in which civilians are in need of protection, and for UN agencies to regularly publish comprehensive data on the human rights and humanitarian situation.
In its review of the expected Secretary-General’s report that includes information on Sierra Leone, Council members should ensure the report contains sufficient analysis regarding women’s political participation. The Council should evaluate progress made relevant to the Sierra Leone President Koroma’s pledge to support a 30% quota (as recommended by the CEDAW Committee) for women in parliamentary and cabinet representation as part of his reelection campaign.
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) and 1960 (OP 6, 13). Member States should inquire about any lack of such reporting.