Period: July - October 2017
Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2367 (2017), the Security Council extends the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) until 31 July 2018 and calls upon the Government of Iraq to continue to provide security and logistical support to the United Nations presence in Iraq (OP3). This resolution also highlights the need for specific information and practical recommendations related to the gender dimensions of the conflict and on the implementation of women, peace and security agenda in Iraq (PP23), among other gender-sensitive provisions.
The report outlines the major political and security developments in Iraq. The report is specifically focused on the results of the 25 September 2017 referendum of independence in the Kurdistan Region, which was neither internationally nor nationally accepted as legitimate. While the central government responded with the suspension of all non-humanitarian, non-emergency international flights from the Erbil and Sulaymanlyah airports (para. 5), among other measures; the President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Masoud Barzani, suggested that these results provide a mandate for negotiations with Baghdad (para. 3). The Secretary-General insisted on determining future relations between Baghdad and Erbil through dialogue and constructive compromise (para. 36). At the same time, the security situation in Iraq has progressed, with the full liberation of Ninawa, Hawijaah, Daduq (paras. 23, 24) and several successful operations in Sharqat district, areas north of the Al-Zab River (para. 25). However, military operations continue to cause new displacements (para. 62). Several areas, including Baghdad, continued to experience frequent asymmetric ISIL attacks (paras. 26-28). Moreover, as many as 1,563 Yazidi women and girl remain enslaved by ISIS (para. 48). Civilians in ISIL-controlled areas continue to face extreme risks, including possible extrajudicial killings, torture, restriction of movement and property alienation. In fact, violations are committed by both the Government (i.e.: enforced disappearances and non-state forces (i.e.: child recruitment and sexual enslavement). Several efforts are made by UNAMI to address the situation. These include: (a) fostering inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation; (b) electoral assistance; among others.
Of 89 paragraphs in the report, 11 (12.3%) include references to women and gender. This demonstrates a continuing decrease in the number of references over time (S/2017/592), while the scope of WPS within the report remains limited. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative continues his engagement with women’s groups and civil society to advance inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation in post-ISIL Iraq (para. 35), including by encouraging the representation of women and minorities, in line with the domestic and international legal obligations of Iraq (paras. 39, 40). The Secretary-General also looks at the problem of women-headed households, citing that in Karmah, nearly 700 vulnerable women-headed households received direct cash assistance (para. 68). The references to joint communique and the role of a Senior Women’s Protection Adviser are lost in this report, in comparison to the previous one (S/2017/592). No gender analysis subsequently has been undertaken to assess the post-Mosul recovery and resilience programmes and any humanitarian and prevention efforts.
While the reports notes the presence of women in the electoral process, it does not provide any assessment of the “meaningfulness” of women’s participation in politics in Iraq. According to the report of the Informal Expert Group on WPS (S/2016/683), women have little influence on what is put to a vote, given that such matters are pushed through parliamentary committees and are decided by political blocs, where women have little representation. The report does not provide any specific information on the National Strategy for the Advancement of Women, as well as a social peace initiative launched by women parliamentarians from Ninawa. It also fails to provide any information on measures aimed at achieving general gender equality, tackling gender stereotypes and including a gender perspective in “a long-term process that improves governance and promotes reconciliation” (para. 68).
In his previous reports (S/2017/357 and S/2017/592), the UN Secretary-General discussed the appointment of a Senior Women’s Protection Adviser aimed at strengthening capacity-building efforts and assisting in the implementation of the joint communique. There is however no follow-up analysis on the role and performance of a Senior Women’s Protection Adviser. The report includes no discussion on efforts to build capacity for justice mechanisms at the local level and strengthen women’s knowledge of legal procedures. Women continue to be disproportionately affected by arms proliferation as these are often used as intimidation in the perpetration of sexual violence. The report however does not discuss any efforts aimed at de-militarisation of the situation in Iraq and ending impunity for all armed actors.
At the national and local level, early warning systems can be used as communication channels to prevent violence. Many women’s organisation carry out their own prevention initiatives. Gender mainstreaming is also crucial to successful prevention efforts. However the report is generally silent on the issue of the incorporation of a gender perspective and the participation of women in preventing the emergence, spread and re-emergence of conflict and political violence. The efforts of civil society are also not taken into consideration.
There is no discussion on what systems are in place to ensure of women’s leadership and support for women’s organisations (S/RES/1889, OP1) and on what has been done to ensure gender mainstreaming in all processes related to peacebuilding in Iraq. Even though National Action Plan (NAPs) is a key mechanism through which the Government is expected to identify their inclusion and equality priorities and commit to action, the report does not reference the progress achieved to finance and strengthen the implementation of the UNSCR1325 (2000) National Action Plan in Iraq.
As the conflict between ISIL/Daesh and Iraqi Government forces continues to dominate the security situation, future reports must apply a gender lens to the security situation and provide information and gender analysis on all human rights violations, regardless of the perpetrators’ international status. The UN Secretary-General should also inquire UNAMI to support women’s organisations in their work to prevent violent extremism and rehabilitate former extremists and further report on ways in which women and gender analysis are included in the country’s national prevention initiatives and early warning mechanisms.
Future reports must stress the importance of ensuring women’s meaningful participation in all phases of electoral processes (S/RES/2122, OP 8). The report should include more detailed information about the steps undertaken by UNAMI to support women’s participation, including as members of civil society, in all peace and security processes. The UN Security Council members should also request information on efforts by the Iraqi Government to allocate funding for the implementation of the UNSCR1325 (2000) National Action Plan in Iraq.
The report has to provide a comprehensive update on how the UNAMI mission is working to address challenges faced by women in conflict-affected areas. The UN Secretary-General, in this regards, should provide more details on the implementation of the joint communique and evaluate the performance of a recently appointed Senior Women’s Protection Adviser. The reporting should subsequently include more information on Women, Peace and Security, allowing for obtaining gender-specific information and sex-disaggregated statistics. The UN Secretary-General should encourage the Government to pass the draft Family Violence Protection law with proposed amendments from Iraqi women’s rights organisations, including provisions that legalise non-governmental shelters for women and other at-risk individuals.
The UN Secretary-General should encourage accountability for serious human rights violations against all groups by all sides, including SGBV, sexual slavery, abduction and human trafficking by ISIL and reports of beatings and unlawful detention by Government forces and allied militias during military offensives. In the face of the most heinous crimes, including an ongoing genocide against the Yazidi and other ethnic minorities, the UN Secretary-General should also request the UN Security Council to take immediate measures in line with the UN Genocide Convention. The UN Secretary-General should further expand the scope of current reporting efforts to record all gender-based crimes including crimes against women human rights defenders, LGBTIQ persons, men and boys, civilian women and girls with actual or perceived ties to ISIL and persecution of individuals who do not conform to gender norms to ensure accountability for all perpetrators.