Mapping Women, Peace and Security in the UN Security Council for 2013-14: Trends & Recommendations, January 2015

The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security is pleased to release a new policy brief entitled “Mapping Women, Peace and Security in the UN Security Council for 2013-14: Trends and Recommendations.” This publication builds on the NGOWG’s innovative policy guidance project, the Monthly Action Points (MAP) on Women, Peace and Security and contains trends and recommendations drawn from the NGOWG’s analysis of the entirety of the Security Council’s work on over 30 agenda items for the period covering August 2013 to July 2014.

The landmark resolution of the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda, Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 (2000), recognized that conflict affects men and women differently and that both genders have critical roles to play in peace and security processes and institutions.

The resolution has four main pillars:

  • The meaningful participation of women at all levels of peace and security governance, including conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
  • Protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in conflict and post-conflict settings, including emergency and humanitarian contexts.
  • Prevention of violence against women through the promotion of gender equality, accountability, and justice.
  • The incorporation of a gendered lens to all Relief and Recovery efforts.

This agenda was further strengthened by United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), 1960 (2010), 2106 (2013), and 2122 (2013), along with presidential statements such as PRST/2010/22.

Taken holistically, this agenda recognizes that a non-gendered understanding of conflict significantly undermines international peace and security efforts. WPS is therefore not only a principle, but a call to action for the UN system and UN Member States.

This policy brief outlines the findings from the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security on Women, Peace and Security’s (NGOWG) monitoring and analysis of the UN Security Council in regards to its implementation of the WPS agenda.

Our recommendations build on the NGOWG’s well-established policy guidance project, the Monthly Action Points (MAP) on Women Peace and Security.



The Council made some notable improvements in particular country situations and within several thematic agenda items in terms of how it considered women’s integration into peace and security processes around the globe. However, there is still inconsistency in the Council’s discussion of gender throughout the entire consideration of an agenda item from the information provided by the UN system, to the discussion in the Council, to the action taken and to implementation on the ground.

Although there is a strong normative framework on WPS, the Council has not truly internalized the WPS agenda.

Although there is a strong normative framework on WPS, the Council has not truly internalized the WPS agenda. For example, when considering crisis situations in countries that have peacekeeping or political mandates, the Council rarely addressed WPS concerns, despite its consideration of WPS in its regular discussions on these countries.

Similarly, briefings from senior UN officials included reference to WPS inconsistently, regardless of the inclusion of WPS in the mandate on which they were briefings. Consideration of WPS issues depends on individuals who are committed in both Member States and the UN Secretariat, to note the impact of the conflict on women in briefings, provide analysis on the gender dimensions of the situation, or advocate for the inclusion of gender-specific provisions in its decisions.

Further reflecting the lack of internalization of the WPS agenda, when addressing a crisis, for example, post-electoral violence or an increase in violence targeting civilians, discussions in the Council become blind to gender. It is only when the focus shifts towards peacebuilding that attention begins to refocus on gender, and specifically, the role of women.

In addition to the consistent application of the WPS agenda within the Council’s work, the focus must increasingly turn to country level implementation of the WPS agenda, bolstered by strong policy norms, in order to fully advance the WPS agenda. The Council strengthened the language in several mandates of peacekeeping and political missions, for example by emphasizing that WPS should be a cross-cutting issue in mandates and reporting. However, this rhetoric must be matched by commensurate resources, both human and financial.

The participation aspects of the WPS agenda must be more effectively implemented. WPS concerns are not considered consistently. The Council was strongest in addressing the breadth of the WPS agenda in the context of Afghanistan, Libya, Sierra Leone, and Côte d’Ivoire. In these country situations the Council emphasized the need for women’s participation in peace processes, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding, while also emphasizing the importance of protecting and promoting women’s rights and preventing and addressing SGBV. However, these are the only positive examples of a balanced approach to the implementation of WPS across the entirety of the Council’s agenda.

Further, issues related to participation are more often considered in the context of situations that are viewed as post-conflict, highlighting a lack of understanding of the importance of women’s agency and empowerment at every stage of a crisis before, during and after.

Women’s protection must be coupled with focus on agency to be more effective. Quotas for women, one of the most utilized tools, are only one of many ways to address the historic underrepresentation of women in peace and security processes and institutions. Further, issues related to participation are more often considered in the context of situations that are viewed as post-conflict, highlighting a lack of understanding of the importance of women’s agency and empowerment at every stage of a crisis before, during and after.

The adoption of SCR 2122 (2013) was a positive step towards recognizing the need for women’s participation in all aspects of peace and security; however more must be done to promote their full and equal participation at all levels. The narrowing focus on the victimization of women is limiting and will prevent full implementation of the WPS agenda. The working methods of the Council itself need to be strengthened and employed more consistently with clear policy guidance on the women, peace and security agenda and options for both country situations and thematic issues.

The Council should be actively engaging the WPS agenda within the full scope of its work. Implementation of SCR 2122 (2013) will go a long way towards achieving this. In this regard, the Council should ensure that mandates and presidential statements include specific language on gender in both the protection and participation elements of its work, and that the Council is leveraging all of the tools in its toolkit, including Commissions of Inquiry, Sanctions, and cooperation with regional organizations to not only support women’s participation in all levels of decision-making, and their protection concerns in conflict, but to support women’s roles in conflict prevention.

One example of improved working methods is the inclusion of calls for enhanced reporting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR), noting that reporting should include information on efforts to ensure women’s participation in political processes, security sector reform (SSR), and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR). Previously overlooked areas have begun receiving more attention by the Security Council and are increasingly more accessible and inclusive of elements of WPS in the context of thematic agenda items, such as forced displacement, counterterrorism, SSR, and small arms and light weapons.

However, there must be care to ensure that the discussions highlight the complexity of women’s roles in conflict-affected situations. Further, while progress at the policy-level is important, this inclusion of elements of the WPS agenda should be reflected in the actual implementation of these agenda items.

However, there must be care to ensure that the discussions highlight the complexity of women’s roles in conflict-affected situations. Further, while progress at the policy-level is important, this inclusion of elements of the WPS agenda should be reflected in the actual implementation of these agenda items. For example, in working level conversations and field level programming on countering terrorism or addressing violent extremism, gender should be a cross-cutting issue and women should be fully engaged. Notably, although a strong thematic resolution on SSR was adopted, when discussing SSR in the context of specific countries, WPS is absent.

There is a growing recognition of the importance of civil society at the policy-level. However, local civil society organizations, especially those from marginalized communities, are not systematically engaged or consulted at the mission level despite being well connected and established in their area. Further, there is often a gender-blind approach to civil society engagement; engagement with women’s organizations is not referenced or identified as a priority. Despite some gains, civil society and women human rights defenders are increasingly targeted, and their rights impinged upon with little official Council recognition of the need for better protective mechanisms. Civil society advancement and protection are core to building inclusive peace and security processes.



Overall the UN system, the Security Council, and all Member States must more consistently address WPS issues across their work in order to meet their obligations. In this context, we make the following recommendations:

  • Strong leadership on the full WPS agenda across the whole UN system:
    There must be high-level political leadership in the UN system on WPS that is fully resourced with adequate staff capacity and financing. The Security Council in concert with relevant Member States and UN entities should be actively and visibly engaged at the country and the global policy levels to implement all elements of the agenda.
  • Action and accountability on WPS in the Security Council:
    Greater efforts to ensure accountability must accompany greater leadership efforts by UN actors. This should include accountability for the core peace and security elements of the agenda in the Security Council, via a follow-up process, including regular review and assessment of the Council’s work on elements of WPS in its own work. The Council needs to challenge itself to overcome the political hurdles it faces on the WPS agenda, and on the entirety of its obligations on international peace and security. Some of the challenges the Council faces regarding its inconsistent implementation of this agenda are process-oriented and relate to the need to establish and improve information flows; ensure gender analysis; and request and follow-up on specific information or gaps in information provided. However, international politics is a very real barrier to implementing the agenda and women, peace and security concerns are often subjugated to political calculations or prioritization of other areas of concern over the WPS agenda. Council members and the wider international community must hold themselves to the standards of the WPS agenda, remembering that this is fundamental to their mandate on international peace and security. Failure to implement the WPS agenda consistently damages security for everyone.
  • All international actors have the responsibility for implementing the WPS agenda:
    This agenda is not solely the responsibility of the UN Security Council. At the national and regional levels, the UN system, Member States and all other actors (such as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the World Bank, etc.) in the international community need to take responsibility for institutionalizing and supporting the engagement of women at all levels, including through capacity training and funding, particularly for local women-led civil society. This is particularly important given the findings of the Secretary-General’s report on “Peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict” (S/2012/746) which note the worrying drop in women’s civil society participation in international donor conferences. In the preparations for the 15th anniversary of SCR 1325 (2000) in 2015, all actors must take the necessary steps, including through funding, to remove remaining barriers to the implementation of the full WPS agenda.



Briefings from senior UN officials, including special envoys and special representatives, must include analysis and recommendations on women’s security concerns and engagement in key political processes and decisionmaking forums, women’s access to services and protection, reflect on information in the reports, and fill gaps in information not provided in the reports, particularly on women’s participation. In this regard, briefers should report explicitly on the implementation of the WPS components of the mandate, including successes, challenges, failures and plans for further implementation, as per SCR 2122 (2013). Further, the Council must request more regular briefings by UN-Women and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, as per SCR 2122 (2013), particularly on country situations which particularly lack consideration of WPS issues. Reports must better reflect the reality of women’s rights and the full scope of the WPS agenda. These reports should contain an analysis and barriers to implementation, not just general information and lists of activities. Reports should further include concrete recommendations on ways to improve implementation of the WPS agenda across the work of the missions.

  • Peace consolidation benchmarks:
    Gender should be a cross-cutting issue in all benchmarks. Reporting on benchmarks should include gender analysis on trends and situation for women, in addition to taking into account the protection and promotion of women’s rights, and support for women’s full participation, as prerequisites to achievement of the benchmarks.
  • Sex disaggregated data: Per the 2014 PRST, the Council should ensure that sex and age disaggregated data, including from the global indicators on WPS and peace consolidation benchmarks, is included in all reports. It is crucial to emphasize that the inclusion of this data alone is not equivalent to addressing WPS issues. This data must be provided alongside analysis and also must serve as a monitoring system that concretely tracks implementation.

Cooperation with civil society, specifically women’s organizations, at both the field level and UN Headquarters should be strengthened and expanded beyond annual thematic debates to country-specific formal and informal meetings. At the field level, missions should regularly engage with civil society organizations in the development, implementation and review of mission activities. Global Open Days on SCR 1325 (2000) should continue at all missions. However, missions must substantively engage with civil society organizations regularly and not limit consultations to one annual event. Security Council field missions must fully integrate WPS in their Terms of Reference, during preparations for the mission, and throughout the mission itself by meeting with women directly affected by conflict in their settings.



  • Peacekeeping and Political Missions: Where possible, mandates should include national capacity-building in order to support the establishment of gender-sensitive institutions and legislation, mechanisms to enable women’s participation, and foster women’s civil society organizations at national and local levels; this should be accompanied by logistical, technical and financial support.
  • Gender Expertise: In order to ensure the WPS agenda is fully implemented at the field level, missions must have sufficient, senior, gender expertise and capacity. In this regard, parallel negotiations regarding budgets taking place in General Assembly Fifth Committee must be complementary and maintain and expand capacity of missions to consider WPS as a cross-cutting issue, as called for in Security Council resolutions. Gender expertise is a fundamental necessity and should not be considered optional within peacekeeping and political missions.
  • Mission Drawdown: As missions drawdown and transfer authority to a UN country team (UNCT), the Council should ensure that both the Government and UN entities continue efforts to support the full and equal participation of women in political, economic and social spheres. It is vital in this regard that women continue to receive political and financial resources to ensure their meaningful engagement in their countries’ future. The Council should send a strong message that the gains for women must be consolidated in the transition to the UNCT and that Member States must support this consolidation, including financially.
  • Sanctions: Ensure components of each sanctions regime, including embargoes, and criteria for monitoring, including for expert groups, contain specific provisions regarding gender considerations and frequent and ongoing collaboration with civil society organizations in the field to provide information to Groups / Panels of Experts.
  • Thematic Issues: There should be complementarity of WPS, children and armed conflict, and protection of civilians: In consideration of thematic issues, as well as specific country situations, monitoring and reporting efforts on WPS, children and armed conflict, and protection of civilians should be complementary and avoid duplication. In this regard, Gender advisors, women’s protection advisors, HIV/AIDS advisors, child protection advisors and independent human rights monitors at the field level should work closely with all monitoring and reporting structures.

The Council should regularly use the Aide-Memoire on the protection of civilians, which highlights objectives for Council action specifically to protect women, and to ensure their participation in the prevention and resolution of armed conflict. Further, experts in the informal group on protection of civilians should be familiar with the relevant elements of WPS resolutions and their practical application. Engaging with civil society, including women’s organizations and women’s human rights defenders should be a priority in the implementation of thematic issues, for example in the work on children and armed conflict and protection of civilians.


1 The conclusions made in this are drawn from extensive qualitative and quantitative analysis undertaken on all resolutions, reports, presidential statements and meeting records for more than 30 agenda items from the period 1 August 2013 to 30 July 2014, totaling over 300 separate documents. The specific agenda items we monitored include: Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Central African region, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Golan Heights, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mali/Sahel, Middle East, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan / South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, West Africa, Western Sahara, Yemen, Children and armed conflict, Protection of civilians, Peacekeeping operations, Peace and security in Africa, Counterterrorism, Security sector reform and Rule of law.

2 Information regarding the MAPs can be found at