Arria Formula Meeting on Women's Participation in Resolving the Syrian Conflict

Friday, January 17, 2014
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Security Council Arria Formula Meeting, 17th January 2014
Focus: Women’s participation in resolving the Syrian conflict

The Permanent Missions of the United Kingdom and Luxembourg to the United Nations co-hosted a closed Arria Formula meeting focusing on women’s participation in resolving the Syrian conflict. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) was a key partner in organizing the Arria, the speakers and attended the meeting. Three Syrian women civil society leaders representing the Syrian Women’s League, Syrian Women’s Network and the Syrian Women’s Coalition for Democracy briefed the Security Council. The aim of this Arria Formula meeting was for the Security Council members to learn more about women’s experiences in the conflict and recommendations on how the Council can realize the objectives of resolution 2122 (2013) in the Syrian context. The Arria took place one week before the Geneva II Peace Talks on Syria so was a particularly important time. The concept note circulated by the Permanent Missions of UK and Luxembourg reaffirmed that “peace and security for all in Syria cannot be achieved without peace and security for women in Syria.”

The conflict in Syria entered its third year after the male-led regime and opposition have repeatedly delayed starting negotiations for a cease fire or peace. With the upcoming Geneva II conference to start 22nd January, the Syrian women civil society leaders demanded women’s meaningful participation in the peace talks as well as ongoing peace processes. The delegates presented to the Security Council the outcome document with concrete objectives from a conference organized by UN Women on 12-13 January in Geneva with 50 Syrian women from diverse backgrounds. They asked for an independent women civil society presence at Geneva II conference, at least 30 percent quota of women on all negotiating bodies, and a strong and effective gender expertise team within the mediation team to ensure gender is mainstreamed throughout outcome documents and processes.

All 15 Council Members made remarks and asked questions, most were represented at Ambassador level, highlighting the importance of the meeting. Council members reaffirmed the importance of women’s role in peace processes, in pursuant to the commitments made by the Council in the seven resolutions adopted on the Women, Peace and Security agenda, from 1325 (2000) to 2022 (2013). The US Ambassador urged the UN and Member States to engage Syrian women directly. France specifically supported women’s participation in the negotiations parties and the senior gender advisor.

Recommendations for Council action from Members of Council included: 1) continuing to push before Geneva II and in the follow up to to strengthen the role of women in Syrian peace processes and address this issue in any further Council products (PRSTs or resolutions), including support for humanitarian access, 2) providing strong public support to the media about the role of women in discussions of Geneva II and ongoing peace processes, 3) pushing parties involved to recognize the outcome document adopted by Syrian women at the 12-13 January Geneva conference, 4) strengthening an integrated approach including by involving the Secretary General in the process to strengthen impact, and 5) working throughout the UN system to ensure refugee camps address issues of sexual and gender based violence.