For April, in which the Dominican Republic has the presidency of the UN Security Council, the MAP provides recommendations on COVID-19, Syria, and Yemen.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, the crisis will amplify existing gender, racial, economic and political inequalities and impact those most marginalized, including women, girls, LGBTIQ+ individuals, people with disabilities, the elderly, the poor, and the displaced. The call by the Secretary-General for an “immediate global ceasefire” in light of the pandemic, recognizes the particular threat the crisis will have on “women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced.” During public health crises, resources are often diverted from routine health care services and humanitarian programming, including sexual and reproductive health services (CARE Intl., Plan Intl., Women Deliver, UNFPA). In situations already in the midst of conflict or crises, where health systems are significantly eroded and underfunded, this can limit existing capacity to respond to the outbreak. The deliberate attacks by armed groups targeting health facilities and workers, including in Afghanistan, CAR, DRC, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, further weaken health systems and violate international humanitarian law (HRW, WILPF). In times of crisis, there is an increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence, which is compounded by existing vulnerabilities for women and girls with disabilities or who are displaced (CARE Intl., OutRight Action Intl., UNFPA, UN Women, WHO, WRC). As seen during past pandemics, sexual exploitation and abuse by development, humanitarian, and security personnel can also increase, placing women and girls in humanitarian settings at risk (CARE Intl.). Defending women’s human rights and supporting women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation is as critical in peace and security processes as it is in addressing the current pandemic. The Security Council must:
- Ensure women, peace and security remains a cross-cutting priority in its discussions and decision-making on all country-specific and regional situations and is not deprioritized.
- Demand cessation of attacks against civilians and health facilities and personnel, which violate international humanitarian law and Resolution 2286 (2016), and urge Member States and the UN system to prioritize essential sexual and reproductive health services, including in humanitarian settings.
- Emphasize the importance of ensuring ongoing humanitarian aid distribution and access in line with international humanitarian law, in particular the principle of non-discrimination, and urge all Member States to ensure travel restrictions and border closures don’t impede access for aid workers and aid organizations.
- Demand that all Member States uphold international human rights and humanitarian law and refrain from enacting indefinite emergency measures that limit or entirely curtail the right to movement, assembly, and information, or impose undue restrictions on civic space or the work of civil society and human rights defenders, including women’s rights organizations, as part of pandemic response.
- Call on all Member States to take necessary measures to prevent, address, and document incidences of intimate partner violence exacerbated by the pandemic due to government policies ordering quarantines, social distancing, curfews, and closure of non-essential services.
- Call on all Member States to take necessary measures to prevent outbreaks in detention centers and prisons, including by releasing detainees, such as political prisoners and human rights defenders, and allowing unhindered access to humanitarian personnel and ensuring access to testing and medical care is available to anyone detained.
- Acknowledge the gendered impact of the pandemic, call for all information to be grounded in gender analysis and sex, age and disability disaggregated data, and emphasize the importance of ensuring all responses at the global, national, and local levels are rights-based and age-, gender-, and disability-sensitive.
- Ensure that technological arrangements and technical adjustments to meetings and briefings of the Security Council include space for safe and meaningful participation of civil society briefers, in particular women’s human rights defenders and women-led organizations working in conflict-affected settings.
- Urge Member States and the UN system, including peace operations, to actively support women’s leadership in pandemic decision-making and response planning and ensure there is consistent, regular and ongoing consultations with civil society, including women-led organizations, and resourcing for frontline women’s civil society organizations.
- Modify the mandates of sanctions regimes to ensure lifesaving humanitarian assistance, including the transport and distribution of humanitarian goods and equipment, and the travel and operation of humanitarian personnel necessary for the response, can be made.