The situation in Burundi continues to be characterized by extrajudicial killings, assassinations, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill treatment, attacks by armed individuals and persistent allegations of sexual and gender-based violence. OCHA estimates that one tenth of the population has been confronted by physical or psychological threats, intimidation or other abuses since April 2015. Against a backdrop of seeming unwillingness of the government of Burundi to embark on a process of genuinely inclusive dialogue, immediate measures need to be taken to enhance the protection of civilians and decrease human rights abuses.
SCR 2279 (2016) opens the way for a police option that should be primarily aimed at the urgent need to protect the Burundian population. Any international police component should be independent and have the necessary means to deploy in places where the protection needs are greatest based on weekly assessments made by the police component in coordination with OHCHR, AU observers and other key actors. The component should be robust and comprised of women and men who are trained in both international human rights and humanitarian law and have gender expertise, including on how to respond when there are allegations of sexual and gender-based violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse. Further, it is essential that they should be able to liaise with the population, including women, in a safe and respectful manner, as well as with the UN political team, OHCHR, the African Union human rights observers, ICRC and other relevant humanitarian and protection actors.
Further, as the Security Council continues to monitor and discuss the human rights situation, as part of the broader crisis, the Council should call for the creation of an independent, international commission of inquiry to establish the truth about the grave abuses in Burundi in the past year and support the efforts of the UN Special Rapporteurs. As has been reported by leading international human rights organizations, the findings of the Burundian commission of inquiry into allegations of extrajudicial executions by members of the security forces on 11 December 2015, in the capital, Bujumbura, are misleading and biased. An international commission with expertise in criminal and forensic investigations would conduct in-depth inquiries to establish individual responsibility for the most serious crimes. It would probe deeper into these crimes, complementing the work of UN and African Union human rights observers in Burundi, as well as the Human Rights Council’s initiatives.
In May, the Security Council will consider an initial strategic-level report from the UN Secretary-General which comprehensively reviews current ISIL operations and provides an assessment of United Nations efforts to support Member States in countering the threat. The report should integrate a cross-cutting gendered analysis, including by detailing the way in which women and men are recruited, trained and employed by ISIL throughout its operations, as well as subjected to a wide range of human rights violations. As previously reported in varying degrees of detail by the Secretary-General (S/2016/77, S/2015/819, S/2015/530, S/2015/203) as well as a wide range of international human rights organizations, sexual violence, slavery, abduction and human trafficking are central to ISIL’s operations, and the strategic-level analysis should include information on this aspect of the situation. According to reports by OHCHR, there is evidence that acts committed by ISIS could amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against ethnic minorities, and the report should include potential venues for accountability as well as the need to rescue the over one thousand women and girls still held captive. Additionally, the report should provide information and analysis on the way in which women are currently participating in efforts to combat and counter ISIL, as well as future plans by UN entities to ensure women and women’s civil society organizations are integral to local, national and regional efforts.
With the deteriorating security situation and the threat posed by armed groups and illicit arms proliferation, active female public figures, including human rights defenders (HRDs), civil society leaders, activists, journalists and politicians, continue to be targets of in assassinations, abductions and crimes of sexual violence. The Security Council will be considering the most recent report on the implementation of the mandate for the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). The report, and any briefings by senior UN leadership, should provide analysis of situation for women and the gendered impact of the conflict on the population, in addition to details regarding UNSMIL’s efforts to support women’s participation in conflict resolution and peace processes, engagement with women’s civil society organizations and efforts to protect women’s rights.
In its consideration of a report on protection of civilians (POC), the Council should reinforce the importance of women’s participation in POC activities. The Council should ensure gender is integrated into all reporting on POC, including women’s participation in the design and implementation of specific POC strategies including gender-specific strategies, responses to acts of sexual and gender-based violence, and a gender-sensitive implementation of international humanitarian law (IHL). Further, the Council should ensure women’s full and meaningful participation is included in reporting on all efforts to resolve and prevent conflict, including all peace and reconciliation processes; security sector reform; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; and the flow of small arms and light weapons, as articulated in the Aide Memoire (S/PRST/2014/30).
In Somalia, many of the over 1.1 million protracted internally displaced persons continue to face high risk of forced evictions, discrimination, violation of human rights and pervasive SGBV. These communities need the government to ensure land tenure and property rights, and adequate and safe shelter, whether permanent or transitional, as well as household items, protection services, local integration and durable solutions. As the Council renews the mandate of the AMISOM, the Council should call on the mission to consider gender as a cross-cutting issue in the implementation of its mandate. In addition, the Council must call on Somali authorities, AMISOM and UNSOM to ensure women and girls are protected from sexual violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse, as specified in SCR 2102 (2013) (OP 11). Further, the Council should mandate UNSOM to promote and technically assist in women’s full and effective participation in the constitutional review process, dialogues with Somali regional actors on the federal system, the implementation of the Somali Compact deal and all efforts to find a political solution to the ongoing armed violence The Council must also call on Somali authorities and AMISOM to ensure women, girls, boys and other non-combatant males are protected during military offensives to recapture towns under Al-Shahab control and give safe passage to civilians. Finally, Somalia government and members should promote women’s full participation in the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) and the national Sexual Offence Bill, which is pending parliament approval.
In its consideration of mandate for the Panel of Experts (POE) on the South Sudan sanctions, the Council should incorporate a gender perspective and women’s concerns in the situation as a whole. Given the severe political, humanitarian and security situation, the Council should ensure there is recognition within monitoring and implementation of sanctions of the link between small arms and light weapons and SGBV as part of the POE mandate. Further, a comprehensive arms embargo should be applied, and a body should be established to monitor and report on its implementation. All states should make a concerted effort to limit the number of weapons going into South Sudan. Reporting on sanctions should include the gender dimensions of the situation and the context for SGBV, ensuring relevant expert groups for sanctions committees have the necessary gender expertise (SCR 2242 (2015), OP 6). The Council should inquire into any lack of such reporting.
The Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN mission in Abyei (UNISFA), which expires on 15 May 2016. The Council should ensure UNISFA’s human rights monitoring mandate is gender-sensitive by expanding SCR 2251 (2015) (OPs. 24 & 25) to include violations against women and SGBV, women’s participation in monitoring activities, and addressing the need for protecting the rights of survivors. Additionally, the Council should broaden its commitment to women’s participation, mentioned in the mandate’s preambular paragraphs, by providing concrete measures to promote the empowerment of women in post-conflict situations, including building women’s participation in decision-making processes.