The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security report “Mapping Women, Peace and Security in the UN Security Council: 2011-2012” flows from the third year of the NGOWG’s innovative policy guidance project, the Monthly Action Points on Women, Peace and Security, and analyzes reports, meetings, presidential statements, and resolutions, in four thematic and general issues and in relation to 30 country situations, evaluating the degree to which women, peace and security obligations are being met.
There are a number of ways in which the Security Council can more effectively and more consistently meet its women, peace and security obligations, a key part of upholding its broad mandate to maintain international peace and security.
It is of fundamental importance that the Council act with consistency on the women, peace and security, and fully meet its commitments to the agenda. Recommendations regarding Council action include:
- The Council should address the full scope of the women, peace and security agenda in the full range ofits daily work, in all reviews of reports, in meetings (closed and open), and in resolutions and presidential statements. This also includes when the Council goes on mission, ensuring it meets with women leaders and with women’s rights advocates, and ensuring women’s rights and concerns are reflected in meeting outcomes.
- The Council should ensure specific language on gender is included throughout its resolutions and presidential statements, inter alia human rights monitoring, DDR and SSR programs. Without this language and specificity, the gender dimension of this work is overwhelmingly neglected.
- The Council can address issues of accountability and impunity through the establishment of Commissions of Inquiry, in which it can investigate and recommend action regarding violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. These commissions should be selected to include gender expertise, and should have the requisite gender component in their mandate.
- The Council should ensure it follows up on its previous requests, including in country reports, in requests from resolutions, and in ensuring that strong women, peace and security language is continued from mandate to mandate. This includes its requests for consistent information on women, peace and security matters in country reports, as per Security Council resolutions 1325, 1820 (op 9), 1888 (op 11), 1889 (op 5) and 1960 (op 6, 13).
- Finally, there are the areas of the Council’s work that are not usually thought of as having scope for women, peace and security. The working methods of the Council, for example, could benefit this agenda tremendously by ensuring that the regular work of the Council addresses these issues, and allowing sufficient transparency of the Council’s work to see why there are barriers to implementation. In addition, targeted sanctions, if established, should include implementing criteria on sexual and gender-based violence, as per Council resolution 1820 (2008) (op 5).
A clear and consistent gap in the Council’s work on women, peace and security is its receipt of consistent and relevant information regarding progress and challenges on this agenda in country situations. This information is necessary for assessment and action, and at this point is not necessarily reaching the Council. Timely, accurate information is essential for the Council to take effective and consistent action. Ultimately, however, it is up to the Council to act on this information. The Council can receive a multitude of information pointing conclusions that the rest of the world can see as an obligation under women, peace and security, but if the Council chooses not to act, then that information gathering is, ultimately, for naught.
The Council has opportunities to receive information through alternative methods, including via Arria formula meetings, and should ensure it fully utilizes such opportunities to hear from civil society actors, particularly women’s rights advocates.
- First, country reports should better reflect the progress and barriers to implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, as per Security Council resolutions 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
- The Council can also better ensure that it receives a wide range of information, including from civil society actors. The Council has opportunities to receive information through alternative methods, including via Arria formula meetings, and should ensure it fully utilizes such opportunities to hear from civil society actors, particularly women’s rights advocates, who can provide much needed alternative perspectives on risks and recommendations for peace in their communities.
- Information from the global indicators must be discussed in the context of country situations. The Council has at its disposal a regular set of information already being developed that allows for exactly the kind of tracking both in country and across country that would allow for regular assessment of women, peace and security implementation: indicators the Council itself requested in resolution 1889 (2009). The un system has started to report on a number of these indicators, and is continuing to support the development of the remaining indicators.2 The Council receives currently available information from these indicators on an annual basis, when the Council reviews during the thematic discussion of WPS, but it is vitally important that this information is discussed in the context of country situations.
Gender-disaggregated data, complete with analysis and recommendations is vital to understanding trends, achievements, and challenges in women’s participation in multiple sectors.
- Gender-disaggregated data, complete with analysis and recommendations is vital to understanding trends, achievements, and challenges in women’s participation in multiple sectors. The reporting from Timor Leste provides a good practice example of such reporting, an example that should be replicated.
- Peace consolidation benchmarks, such as those being used in Afghanistan, Burundi, Liberia, and requested for Cote d’Ivoire, are increasingly being used to measure progress towards political, security, and economic goals. However, these benchmarks are inconsistent at best in setting goals that specifically use women’s progress as a benchmark. Nor do they tend to use gender-specific indicators to measure progress towards benchmarks. This is a clear opportunity to ensure women’s progress is embedded in the progress and stability of the entire community.
- When the Council receives briefings from special envoys, special representatives, mediators, and all other experts, it should request specific information on the engagement and support of these actors for the women, peace and security agenda. In addition, the Council should continue the good practice of receiving briefings from the Executive Director of un Women.
- The Council must avoid the “catch-22” of information requests: e.g. requesting proof that there is a gender dimension to a conflict before it is willing to request information on the gender dimension of a conflict. As has been demonstrated time and time again, specific information-gathering methods need to be employed in order to determine these gender elements/dimensions. Due to the nature of gender-based violence, for example, by not including specific requests for gender expertise in human rights monitoring, the Council all but guarantees that gender-based crimes will not be reflected in the results of that monitoring, even if evidence exists. Such monitoring requires dedicated expertise and technical approaches. The Council must ensure it includes gender-specific language in, inter alia, human rights monitoring components of missions.
- It is vital that the Council receive timely information on urgent situations, particularly regarding violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, such as conflict related sexual violence. This information must always be collected ethically and with the survivor’s interests placed as primary, including with the provision of services.
Implementation by National Governments, United Nations and the International Community
The international community must also bear its share of the responsibility in the implementation of women, peace and security obligations. While the focus of this report is on the un Security Council, the responsibilities of Member States, regional organizations, and the United Nations in implementing this agenda cannot be overstated, including in resourcing and supporting civil society and in ensuring support for women’s rights defenders, who are often on the front lines of this struggle. In addition, these actors must ensure that one of the biggest barriers to implementation, lack of political will, is dismantled.