The NGO Working Group on Women Peace and Security's Monthly Action Points for February 2017 provides recommendations on the situations in the Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Lebanon, Libya, South Sudan, and Syria.
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Central African Republic
The situation in CAR continues to be serious, with persistent violence, insecurity, and political and religious tensions.
Widespread displacement continues despite the transition of power in 2016, along with high rates of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against women who lack necessary services and/or judicial recourse in many areas of the country. Further, there have been documented cases of perpetrators targeting women and girls suspected of interacting with people on the other side of the sectarian divide. It is imperative that human rights monitoring continues and individuals and entities participating in acts that undermine peace, stability and security in CAR are identified. In its consideration of the report on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the Security Council should ensure there is detail regarding MINUSCA’s support for women’s participation in reconciliation efforts and ways in which the mission is engaging with civil society, including women’s civil society organizations. Additionally, the Security Council should request information on how implementation of the code of conduct on sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) reflects the recommendations of the independent review of CAR as well as SCR 2272 (2016). Before deployment and training, peacekeepers must be vetted in accordance with the UN’s zero tolerance policy, and perpetrators of SEA must be brought to justice. Troop Contributing Countries should ensure permanent and reasonable rotation of field contingents and develop on site disciplinary sanctions to soldiers violating the code ofconduct.
The Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). The Council should ensure that UNIOGBIS, as a priority, addresses concerns surrounding Guinea-Bissau’s judicial system, which, if left unchecked, will allow impunity and corruption to grow. Increased attention on legal reform must coincide with efforts to ensure women’s participation and the protection of women’s rights. The Council should call for consultations with women and women’s civil society organizations (SCR 2122 (2013), OP 2(c)). Furthermore, women should be included as leaders and stakeholders in ongoing security sector reform, national reconciliation processes, institution building and addressing the root causes of instability. Finally, the Council must acknowledge the role drug trafficking has on undermining rule of law and stabilization reforms, take measures to address the differentiated impact drug trafficking has on women and acknowledge and encourage women’s role in addressing drug trafficking.
In its discussion of the strategic review of the UN mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Council must ensure that gender issues are integrated throughout all conversations. Specific attention must be paid to women’s participation in all security-related matters, including disarming non-state armed groups, and gender-sensitive needs assessments to effectively coordinate humanitarian assistance. The Council should consider the extent to which the current mission mandate effectively responds to the particular concerns of civilians, including women and further ensure there is ongoing and regular consultation with diverse civil society organizations, including women’s groups (SCRs 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015)), as UNIFIL’s relationship with local communities is essential to its success as a mission.
With the deteriorating security situation and the threat posed by armed groups and illicit arms proliferation, active female public figures, including human rights defenders (HRDs), civil society leaders, activists, journalists and politicians, continue to be targets of assassinations, abductions and sexual violence. Women are similarly subjected to violations by armed groups in their daily lives, such as harassment at security checkpoints and restriction of their freedom of mobility on the streets and in airports. The Security Council will be considering the most recent report on the implementation of the mandate for the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). The report and any briefings by senior UN leadership, should provide analysis of situation for women and the gendered impact of the conflict on the population, in addition to details regarding UNSMIL’s efforts to support women’s participation in conflict resolution and peace processes, engagement with women’s civil society organizations and efforts to protect women’s rights.
In consideration of the situation, including the ongoing political dialogue, the Council should reaffirm its commitment to women’s representation in official decision-making institutions and their meaningful participation in any peace process moving forward. The Security Council must apply all necessary pressure to ensure that South Sudanese women from national and grassroots organizations are included in the dialogue as well as in the implementation and monitoring of any outcomes. Given the severe security and humanitarian situation, the Council should also continue to protect civilians and call on the mission to hold regular consultations with local women’s civil society organizations to ensure protection strategies are responsive to women’s security concerns (SCR 2252 (2015), OP 8(a)(i), (v), (vi); (b)(i),(ii), (iii)). Specifically, the Council should:
· Insist on the need for accountability for grave human rights violations and abuses, including sexual violence in IDP camps and local communities, particularly by ensuring that women are part of the design and implementation of early-warning and transitional justice mechanisms;
· Call on UNMISS to ensure specific reporting mechanisms for SGBV are available and information is provided on how women can access such mechanisms, recognizing that the success of reporting and investigation instruments for SGBV depends on accessibility. Physical safe zones should also be staffed with female personnel, and survivors’ integrity should be respected, including not taking actions without consent;
· Ensure that women and men can safely access humanitarian assistance, including safe access to sanitation facilities, hygiene and health assistance, reproductive health, family planning, and maternal health services;
· Determine whether local civil society organizations, particularly women’s organizations, are consulted in the design and implementation of delivery mechanisms for humanitarian assistance; and
· Ensure those embarking on voluntary and informed returns and relocations receive gender-sensitive integration assistance effectively tailored by incorporating women’s views into intention surveys and return and relocation decisions. Protection measures should specifically address women’s concerns, and comprehensive psycho-social assistance and livelihood support should be provided.
In its consideration of the report on the humanitarian situation, the Council should call for the meaningful participation of Syrian women; girls; civil society, including women’s organizations; and human rights defenders in the design and implementation of gender-sensitive humanitarian aid strategies both inside Syria and in neighboring countries (SCRs 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015)).The Council should also ensure that women’s particular needs, such as secure access to sanitation facilities and hygiene and health assistance including reproductive health, family planning and maternal health services, are adequately addressed. Reporting should reflect the gender specific consequences of attacks against humanitarian convoys delivering medical supplies and against medical workers and facilities, which have increased in Syria since the adoption of SCR 2286 (2016).
The Council must also ensure women’s participation in any UN-facilitated political process (SCR 2254 (2015)). Additionally, the Council should call on the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria to strengthen the role of the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board in the peace process. All mechanisms established to facilitate civil society participation, including engagement with diverse perspectives of civil society, should be fully resourced, supported, accessible and transparent. The Council should, further, urge all negotiating parties to have a minimum of 30 percent representation by women on their teams. Moreover, the Council must ensure that gender is mainstreamed as a cross cutting issue in the design and implementation of all transition and reconstruction processes, including ceasefire monitoring, security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes.
The Council should inquire into any lack of reporting on concrete steps to be taken to ensure women’s full and meaningful inclusion in the peace process to ensure its effectiveness and sustainability, particularly in light of recent developments threatening its success. Reporting should also reflect local civil society, including women’s groups, efforts to ensure agreements are gender-sensitive and grounded in the experiences of local populations. Lastly, the Council should ensure women’s meaningful participation in the establishment and operation of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (UN General Assembly Resolution A/71/L.48 (2016)) to assist in the investigation of serious crimes committed in Syria since 2011, and that the mechanism adequately documents rights abuses against Syrian women and girls.