Analysis of the Report of the Secretary-General on the Joint Force of the Group of Five (G-5) for the Sahel (May 2018)


The report of the Secretary-General (S/2018/432) provides an update on the implementation of resolution 2391 (2017) over the last six months. It addresses the activities of the Joint Force of the Group of Five (G-5) for the Sahel (Joint Force), with an emphasis on progress in making the Joint Force fully operational, discusses international support for the Joint Force, the implementation of the technical agreement, challenges encountered, and the implementation of a human rights and international humanitarian law compliance framework.

In regards to the military component, the Joint Force reached its initial operational capability in October 2017 and is projected to become fully operational in the coming months. In addition to the military component, the strategic concept of operations of the Joint Force, pursuant to 2359 (2017), includes a police and civilian component. A conceptual framework for the structure and operation of the police component was adopted at an extraordinary meeting of the Defence and Security Committee and planning efforts are ongoing. [1]S/2018/432, paras. 16, 17, 20

While there are several general statements in the report regarding issues of women, peace and security, the report lacks detailed information on human rights violations against women or women’s participation in peacebuilding. The report contains references to WPS in the sections focused on the activities and operations of the Joint Force, the UN Office in West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), the Peacebuilding Fund, and the implementation of the Strategy for the Sahel. [2]S/2017/432, para. 18, 19, 27, 57, 63, 69 The report focuses superficially on WPS in the protection and promotion of human rights and peacebuilding and development efforts, whereas the previous report (S/2017/869) emphasized the technical support provided by UN-Women including gender mainstreaming in security and defense, women’s leadership in combating violent extremism, and recruitment of a gender adviser. [3]S/2017/869, para. 61 This report falls short of actually providing substantial detail or analysis, and only presents limited references to WPS without elaboration on how to proceed.

Analysis by Issue Area

Engagement with UNOWAS, International and Regional Actors

There is one broad reference to gender in the Joint Forces’ engagement with UNOWAS. Specifically, the Secretary-General reports that the Joint Force, UNOWAS, and other UN entities agreed to cooperate to build capacity in the areas of civil-military coordination, gender mainstreaming, human rights, social cohesion and conflict management. [4]S/2018/432, para. 12  Future reports should include information and analysis as to how gender is integrated in collaborative efforts of the Joint Force, UNOWAS, and UN entities pursuant to resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015). [5]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 2, S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 4

In the discussion of the Strategic Consultative Meeting, organized by the African Union, the Deputy Secretary-General emphasized the need to increase the investment of the UN in the Sahel, noting that investment should be directed at priority areas identified in the process of recalibrating the strategy for the Sahel, including women and girls.  Presently, it is unclear how women and girls will be included and how their needs will be differentiated from the youth in the planning and implementation of activities. [6]S/2018/432, para. 57 Pursuant to 2242 (2015), the Secretary-General should include information on any efforts to foster women’s and women’s organizations participation in the strategy, and also provide information on the impact of the conflict on women and girls, their particular needs, and obstacles to attaining those needs pursuant to resolution 1889 (2009). [7]S/RES/1889 (2009), OP. 6

Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

The report broadly references women in the context of the Peacebuilding Fund’s project to prevent and counter violent extremism. The project includes “socioeconomic activities for young people and women at risk.” [8]S/2018/432, para. 63 The project also aims to provide support for local conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms, with a focus on farming conflicts, and the promotion of dialogue between the civilian population and the defence and security forces. [9]Ibid. However, the report provides no details as to who will be participating, nor does the report provide any details concerning the approach to supporting young people or women at risk. In the future, the Secretary-General should include sex-disaggregated data. [10]S/PRST/2014/21 The Council’s inclusion of sex-disaggregated data will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, which is essential to maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. [11]S/RES/1889 (2009), PP. 12

Furthermore, by broadly grouping women and young people together the report makes gendered assumptions that young people and women are homogenous groups. While the report discusses countering radicalization in the context of operationalizing the Joint Force, particularly the strengthening of police units, it fails to reference the importance of women’s and women’s organizations in efforts to counter radicalization and fails to consider the multiple roles of women in the context of preventing and countering violent extremism. [12]S/2018/432, para. 19 In the future, the report should reference women’s leadership and participation in all efforts to address, reduce and prevent violent extremism pursuant to resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015). [13]S/RES/2122 (2013) OP. 1, S/RES/2242 (2015), OP 1 The Secretary-General should report on consultations with civil society groups reflective of resolution 2242 (2015). [14]S/RES/2422 (2015), OP. 12 Further, reporting should recognize and acknowledge women’s diverse roles in terrorism and efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism pursuant to resolution 2242 (2015). [15]S/RES/2242 (2015), OP 16

Electoral Processes

In its concluding observations, the report does not clarify what role women will have in the upcoming elections in Mali. [16]S/2018/432, para. 76 The Secretary-General misses an opportunity to call for women’s participation in the upcoming elections.  It is vital that women participate as female voters, candidates, and monitors at all levels pursuant to resolution 1325 (2000). [17]S/RES/1325 (2000) OP. 8(c) It is equally essential that women’s participation is protected in accordance with resolution 2122 (2015). [18]S/RES/2122 (2015), OP. 8

Security Sector Reform (SSR) and Rule of Law

There is a broad reference to the WPS agenda in the conceptual framework of the police component, however it remains unclear as to how WPS is to be integrated. [19]S/2018/432, para. 19  In future reports, the Secretary-General should include information on women’s participation in the security sector, including data on the realization of a gender balance in security institutions and processes pursuant to resolution 2122 (2013)  and should also discuss how, such as through trainings, gender considerations are integrated in the security sector pursuant to 2122 (2013). [20]S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 4, OP. 10  In the future, the Secretary-General should report on consultations with civil society, including women’s organizations, in all SSR processes.


The report does not provide a gender lens in regards to persons being smuggled and trafficked in the region. [21]S/2018/432, para. 60 In the future, the Secretary-General should provide sex and age-disaggregated data in reporting on trafficking, so to provide a gender-sensitive picture of victims. [22]S/PRST/2014/21