The representation of women at decision-making levels in Afghan institutions and mechanisms for the management and resolution of conflict is poor, despite being central to SCR 1325 (particularly OP 1). This includes low representation of women in the government ministries and departments primarily responsible for security matters, and in the High Peace Council, which is mandated to provide political and strategic leadership to the Afghan peace and reintegration process. Also of serious concern are the safety of women human rights defenders, and the moves to restrict the independence of women’s shelters and of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
The Secretary-General’s report and Council debate on the mandate renewal of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in March must identify challenges and remedies regarding national and international efforts to advance women’sintegration into the political, economic and social life of Afghanistan, as per SCR 1917 (eg OPs 6d, 12, 23, 33, 35). The Council is therefore urged to:
- Invite an Afghan woman leader to speak at the Council’s March debate on Afghanistan, as per SCR 1325 (OP1);
- Request that the Afghan authorities, the UN, and member states engaged in Afghanistan account for measures taken in Afghanistan to include women and women’s priorities in high-level discussions on peace, reintegration and reconciliation processes. Any Afghan and international agreements with the Taleban and other insurgent groups must not allow for new or amended legislation that does not conform with Afghanistan’s obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law;
- Request withdrawal of the draft regulation on Women’s Protection Centres, and call on the Government of Afghanistan take all necessary steps to promptly and effectively investigate complaints by shelter staff and women seeking protection in shelters of harassment and violence, whether by private individuals or by officials acting in a private or public capacity;
- Reiterate the importance of full cooperation with the AIHRC by all relevant actors, as per SCR 1917 (OP6d and OP34) and call on the Afghan authorities not to restrict the independence of the AIHRC.
With elections now expected on 8 May, UN attention to the situation, including in regards to women, remains all the more important, particularly following the mandate end of UN Mission to Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) in December 2010 and conclusion of its ‘liquidation’ phase by 30 April 2011. The Secretary-General’s report expected by April 2011 on the ‘protection of civilians, especially women and children’ (as per Presidential Statement 2010/29 of December 2010), will be hampered by inadequate monitoring and reporting structures following MINURCAT’s departure, including the departure of some 40 human rights monitors. The Council is urged to request corrective measures by the Secretary-General to ensure that the Council receives the information necessary to inform its decision on whether or how the Council will continue its engagement in Chad.
In light of the current instability and increasing violence in Cote d’Ivoire, the Council should ensure that protection of civilians, including women, and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law is central to all action on the situation. Human rights violations, including sexual violence, have been perpetrated by forces on both sides of the current dispute, and women and children are increasingly vulnerable as civilians are displaced due to fighting. The Council should inquire as to what efforts are being made by UNOCI to intensify efforts related to the protection of women, and ensure any future work related to the mandate prioritizes these issues.
The forthcoming report from the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) should reflect the current humanitarian situation, including the situation for the approximately 1.3 million internally displaced people (IDPs), many of whom are members of female-headed households, and should also detail how the mission will concretely address this situation. Due to access constraints, the current humanitarian response is inadequate, with most of the IDPs living in squatter communities, and women in particular facing extreme vulnerability. The Council should ensure that despite the transition from humanitarian assistance to recovery, the concerns of vulnerable Iraqis, especially women, are met by UNAMI and other UN agencies on the ground.
The Council’s briefing on Liberia should include information on: the inclusion education and vocational training for young women associated with fighting forces in reintegration efforts; full access to post-conflict relief and recovery programs for survivors of gender-based violence; and the prioritizing of women’s participation in all post conflict recovery programs, especially their representation in the constitution-drafting process, and in the electoral system, the police and the judiciary, particularly guaranteeing girls associated with fighting forces can participate in the electoral process.
Regarding Libya, SCR 1970, adopted 26 February, is welcome for its imposition of an arms embargo, targeted measures against Muammar Qadhafi and others associated with him in grave human rights violations linked to recent events, and the referral of the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, the provision in OP6, seeking to give immunity from prosecution by the ICC to nationals of states not a party to the Rome Statute, is deplorable. It seeks to create double standards of justice, and violates the UN Charter, the Rome Statute and other international law, and the spirit of resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. The ICC will itself decide whether it has jurisdiction.
In all discussions related to anti-government protests in the Middle East and North Africa, including in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, the Council should urge state authorities: to respect human rights, including the rights of women now demanding change; to bring to justice perpetrators suspected of crimes; and to demonstrate that necessary measures are being taken to secure the participation of women in electoral processes.
The UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts, appointed to advise him on accountability issues relating to alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka, is expected to report in March. The Council is urged to request a briefing from the Secretary-General on the findings of the report and support the implementation of recommendations to ensure accountability.
The Council continues to voice its commitment to the Women, Peace and Security agenda, most recently in its October 2010 Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2010/22), and in resolution 1960, adopted in December 2010. These commitments must be met. The Council should ensure full implementation of all five resolutions on Women Peace and Security within its work, in particular in the renewals of all peacekeeping and political missions, and sanctions regimes. All mandate renewals and country reports must address the protection and promotion of women’s human rights, as per SCRs 1325, 1820 (OP 9), 1888 (OP 11), 1889 (OP 5) 1960 (OP 6, 13) and SC Presidential Statements 2009/1 and 2010/22. The absence of specific reporting on women does not imply that there are no women peace and security concerns in the country. Member States should inquire about any such lack of information.