Analysis of the Statement by the President of the Security Council on Central Asia (January 2018)

By Savini Ganhewa


This presidential statement primarily focuses on the peace and security situation in Afghanistan and the Central Asian States, and encourages conflict prevention and counter-terrorism efforts in the region, in accordance with the Security Council’s consideration of the item titled, “Maintenance of international peace and security”. The Council acknowledges the importance of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and expresses support to the Government of Afghanistan, encouraging peace and security cooperation with the Central Asian states. The Council also expresses its concern over the threat posed by the Taliban, the Haqqani network, Al-Qaida, ISIL (Da’esh) affiliates,[1]S/PRST/2018/2, para. 7 and calls for the implementation counter-terrorism resolutions and strategies. It encourages efforts to move forward on the Joint Plan of Action (JPoA) for the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy,[2]S/PRST/2018/2, para. 14 and highlights the cooperation between Afghanistan and the Central Asian states in order to combat violent extremism, including in addressing transnational organized crime.[3]S/PRST/2018/2, para. 15

Women, Peace, and Security

This presidential statement contains a notable paragraph with robust women, peace, and security references, including language on the participation and protection of women.[4]S/PRST/2018/2, para. 11 In the aforementioned paragraph, the Council calls for the “full and effective participation and leadership of women in decision-making” for the prevention and resolution of conflict and in counter-terrorism efforts and encourages policies to empower women politically and economically in Afghanistan,[5]ibid. meeting commitments made in women, peace, and security Resolutions 1325 (2000), 2122 (2013), and 2242 (2015). Further, it emphasizes the need to integrate “gender perspectives” in efforts to retain peace in Afghanistan and the Central Asia regions, advocating for the implementation of WPS Resolution 1325 and subsequent related resolutions. The Council also advocates for the increase in women in the Afghan security forces “in an environment conducive to women’s safety and development”,[6]ibid. reflecting commitments made in WPS Resolution 2106 (2013) “encouraging the inclusion of more women in the security sector.”[7]S/RES/2106 (2013), OP 16b Alongside, the Council also makes it a point to encourage justice sector reforms by iterating the necessity of policies and mechanisms to address violence against women by instituting services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, reflecting Council’s adherence to WPS Resolutions 1325 (2000), 2106 (2013), 2242 (2015).[8]S/RES/1325 (2000), OP 10; S/RES/2106 (2013), OP 16c, 19; S/RES/2242 (2015), OP 14

Missed Opportunities

Despite including strong gender-sensitive provisions in one of its paragraphs, this presidential statement still misses key opportunities to integrate gender as a cross-cutting issue throughout the statement. For example, in discussing electoral reform in Afghanistan and efforts to hold credible and inclusive parliamentary elections in 2018 and presidential elections in 2019,[9]S/PRST/2018/2, para. 6 the Council misses a key opportunity to encourage the participation and leadership of women’s groups and civil society organizations to this regard. Thereby, the Council fails to reinforce commitments made in the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), “to support the integrity and inclusiveness of the electoral process, including measures to enable the full and safe participation of women, both as voters and candidates.”[10]S/RES/2405, OP 14 Additionally, despite the Council commending “dialogue and collaboration” efforts to further development goals in Afghanistan and the Central Asian States through “people-to-people connectivity”, it fails to recognize the efforts and role of civil society organizations and women’s groups in advancing these efforts forward.[11]S/PRST/2018/2, para. 20

In discussing the threat posed by terrorist groups, including the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Al-Qaida, and ISIL, and the implementation of counter-terrorism strategies through regional cooperation,[12]S/PRST/2018/2, para. 7 the Council fails to emphasize the importance of respecting international human rights and fundamental freedoms when implementing such efforts and fails to identify the connection between counterterrorism strategies and radicalization to violence. Additionally, the Council fails to consider the differential impacts that such measures have on women’s human rights and women’s organizations, including as drivers to radicalization for women, as committed to by women, peace, and security Resolution 2242 (2015).[13]S/RES/2242 (2015), OP 12 This is further highlighted in the statement on border security and management, where the Council fails to discuss the impact of increased border controls on women’s lives, livelihoods, health, and access to resources.[14]S/PRST/2018/2, para. 18 Further, despite having made the connection between terrorism, sexual violence, and transnational organized crime in another presidential statement,[15]S/PRST/2018/9, para. 14 the Council misses a key opportunity to address the gender dimensions of organized crime by terrorist organizations to finance terrorist activities.[16]S/PRST/2018/2, para. 16