17 May 2013 Arria Formula Meeting on Implementing the UN Security Council's Women, Peace & Security Agenda - Perspectives from the Field: Gender Practitioners in UN Peacekeeping Operations

Friday, May 17, 2013
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Arria Formula Meeting on Implementing the UN Security Council's Women, Peace & Security Agenda - Perspectives from the Field: Gender Practitioners in UN Peacekeeping Operations

The Permanent Mission's of Australia and Guatemala to the United Nations in cooperation with DPKO organized the Arria Formula meeting. The focus was on the role of gender practitioners in UN Peacekeeping Operations. Panelists included Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous; Gaynel Curry, the first women protection adviser deployed in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS); Elsie Effange-Mbella, a senior gender adviser in the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO); and Lucien LeClair, a police adviser for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Other member states and civil society were also represented at the meeting. The aim of this Arria Formula was to demonstrate to Council members how Gender Advisors (Gas) and Women Protection Advisors (WPAs) fulfill different roles and how both add value to peacekeeping operations. (GAs are responsible for integrating a gender perspective into all aspects of a peacekeeping mission. WPAs have a specific mandate to address conflict-related sexual violence.)

Summary of the Speakers

Mr Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping (DPKO), focused on DPKO's mandate to protect and empower women and girls through its peacekeeping operations. He reminded the members that women and girls are among the most effected by war and armed conflicts. He urged Member States continue the work on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda especially through strengthening the role of civil society and reforming security systems so that it can better ensure protection and promotion of women's rights. Ladsus further mentioned the need to undertake diverse gender related activities. Gender Advisors and Women Protection Advisors fulfill their role in the field, but at the same time the security system needs to be improved. Finally, he emphasized that the employment of WPAs should be included in regular UN budgets, not just mission budgets.

Ms Gaynel Curry, First Women Protection Adviser (WPA) deployed in the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), shared her experiences from the set-up of the Women’s Protection Advisers as well as the rollout of the Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Arrangements (MARA) in response to conflict related sexual violence. WPAs can bring the added value of their strong expertise on sexual violence in conflicts that can enable efficient allocation of resources in order to respond to sexual violence in conflict effectively. The particular focus should however be on how and where to deploy the WPAs to maximize the efficiency of the program. Sexual violence as a multi-layered problem requires an integrated approach from the UN system. Curry stressed that the understanding of sexual violence phenomena still remains a challenge: not only among hosting government's stakeholders but also among colleagues within the UN mission. Curry emphasized the central focus on accountability, support and prevention. Since UNIMISS is the only mission with WPAs and it seems to already have positive impact, Curry encouraged building on existing structures rather that creating new. The example of the deployment of WPAs in UNIMISS can be used as an operational model in the future.

Ms Elsie Effange-Mbella, Senior Gender Adviser from the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), addressed the role of GAs in the UN Peacekeeping Operations. Effange-Mbella has significant experience in fronting the Women, Peace and Security agenda within the UN but also on the national level. In the DRC she has coordinated support from civil society, United Nations Agencies and government stakeholders for the development of DRC National Action Plan on SCR1325 (2010). As a Senior Gender Advisor for MONUSCO she has promoted first hand programs to enhance the rehabilitation of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict settings. Effange-Mbella emphasized the importance of building partnerships to promote the rights of women. Supporting local women's civil society organizations and training local partners on sexual violence has proved to be very efficient. However, technical support in the Parliament is also needed. Effange-Mbella has a clear focus on the need for active participation of women in all peace and rehabilitation processes. Despite the resources available to combat sexual violence in conflict, Effange-Mbella addressed the need to allocate additional resources for women’s participation more broadly.

Mr Lucien LeClair, UN Police officer involved in the project relating to Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), shared his experiences of working with security system reform in Haiti. After the earthquake in 2010, Haiti was plagued by sexual and gender based violence and other atrocities. LeClair worked under the SGBV Norwegian project on restructuring the police. In 2012 he also worked on Sexual and Gender Based violence issues in the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). At the meeting he discussed two main problems: under-reported cases of sexual violence and lack sensitivity by the police to the seriousness of sexual aggression. The program aimed to train local police officers on sexual and gender-based violence, teach them what sexual aggression is, how to investigate it, how to take the testimony from the victim and undertake further steps.

Comments and Remarks

Council Members reaffirmed the importance of the Women, Peace and Security agenda and in particular the need to work with gender practitioners in the field in order to strengthen this agenda. In the comments the Member States showed their support to the deployment of gender advisers and women protection advisers in the field. However, only Argentina addressed the deep roots of sexual violence in conflict: gender inequalities and the perception of women as men's inferior. Finally, NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, Women's Refugee Commission and Pax Christi spoke on behalf of civil society.

If you have questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact Barbara Trojanowska at barbara@peacewomen.org