The report of the Secretary-General dated 18 June 2014 pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2145 (2014) provides an update of the UN activities in Afghanistan in regards to humanitarian, development and human rights efforts since the previous report of 7 March 2014 (S/2014/421). The report is divided into several sections: Relevant Developments (Political, security, regional cooperation); Human Rights; Implementation of the Kabul Process and Coordination of Development Assistance; Humanitarian Assistance; Counter Narcotics; Mission Support; and Observations. The report mainly focused on providing an update regarding the ongoing 2014 Presidential and Provisional Council elections and the political engagement demonstrated by the candidates and civilians despite high security challenges. The second round of voting took place on the 14 of June and final results were to be announced on 22 July. Upon the completion of the inauguration on 2 August, further discussions on foreign military withdrawal and the establishment of a new legal system will occur with Afghanistan’s new elected administration and other international representatives.
Promotion of women’s human rights, participation and also protection concerns are discussed on numerous occasions throughout the report. In the context of the electoral process, to promote women’s voting rights, the Independent Election Commission issued new voter cards to civilians of which 35 percent were women. To provide safety and security for female voters, the Ministry of the Interior trained 581 women police officers and recruited “female searchers” for polling days. The female searchers act as security officers, hired to identify signs of treat and prevent conflict; they play a significant role in protecting voters. On 20 May, the preliminary results showed 97 female winners, out of 492 total candidates. In addition, the report references efforts to strengthen legal frameworks protecting and promoting women’s rights by noting that the Minister of Finance hosted members of parliament and representatives from the international community to promote implementation of laws that eliminate violence against women in Afghanistan.
Although the report addressed various concerns regarding women’s political participation, it did miss an opportunity to address the challenges women face accessing the economic, and social life in Afghanistan. A gender perspective in regards to the rights of civilians, refugees, and internally displaced persons is also missing from the report. Finally, the report lacks a gender lenses of the overall conflict in Afghanistan, the counter-narcotics efforts, and the human rights violations.
In relation to the recommendations put forth in the June 2014 MAP the report’s record is adequate. The MAP calls for the protection and participation of women human rights defenders; strengthening of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission; maintaining the tracking and enforcement of the EVAW law; and calls on the Council to stress that women’s human rights must not be compromised in the midst of the security transition or peace negotiations. The report also mentions UNAMA and various Afghan ministries partnering to enhance both women’s political participation in election processes and promoting the implementation of the law on the elimination of violence against women in the country. However the report neglects to address the effectiveness of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the needs of the internally displaced population within the country who seek support. Lastly, both UN entities and the Afghan government reiterate that human rights, particularly women’s human rights must not be sacrificed during the transition to a new government.
The widespread mention of women, peace and security issues in the current report is on par with the previous report of the Secretary-General (S/2014/163). The current report improves with statistics on violence committed against women and the growth of women in political and legal capacities. The current report also provides general data on IDPs in the country, however the report lacks any consideration of the humanitarian situation pertaining to women, or the gender-specific needs of women and girls IDPs and refugees. In general there is greater emphasis in this report on women’s participation and protection during the 2014 Presidential and Provisional Council elections in comparison to the previous report.
The president of the Security Council issued a statement on the Situation in Afghanistan on 25 June 2014 (S/PRST/2014/11).
The president of Security Council made a statement regarding the first round of elections at the 7208th meeting of the Council on 25 June 2014 on the situation in Afghanistan. The president noted the importance of the elections to Afghanistan’s transition and democratic development; commends participation in the elections despite security risks; calls on Afghan electoral institutions to uphold the integrity and transparency of elections; and condemns violence aimed at disrupting the electoral process perpetrated Al-Qaida and other extremist groups.
The president incorporates issues of women, peace and security in the statement by explicitly commending women’s participation in the electoral processes. Women’s important role in Afghan-led peace, democracy and stability is also explicitly articulated.
In relation to scope of the presidential statement, the statement adequately incorporates a gender lens. One improvement would have been an explicit call condemning all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, and attacks against women’s human rights defenders.
In relation to the recommendations put forth in the March 2014 MAP, the statements record is substantial. The MAP calls for an array of points regarding women’s participation, empowerment, and protection concerns in election, more broadly peace and security processes.
The Security Council met on 25 June 2014 to discuss the situation in Afghanistan (S/PV. 7208).
The Council convened on 25 June 2014 to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan. Included in the meeting were Argentina, Australia, Chad, Chile, China, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America. Member States placed emphasis on the recent election for Afghan president, the illicit narcotics trade, and their security concerns. Women, peace and security concerns were relegated largely within the discussion regarding security sector reform, women’s political promotion, and GBV.
Women, peace and security concerns around the Afghan police force, recent presidential election, changes in the Criminal Procedure Code, and GBV were discussed in S/PV.7208. The majority of the female-oriented discourse surrounded women’s roles in the recent election; much of it commendation for the Afghan government. In 2014, over 2.5 million women cast ballots in the first round of voting (United States). Member States were keen to identify the 13,690 trained female searchers and 581 female police for the election (Nigeria). In regards to women’s rule of law concerns, the Afghan courts amended the code to allow women to testify against relatives thereby increasing the prosecution of familial domestic violence cases (Lithuania). Concerns regarding the Government of Afghanistan’s lack of implementation of the law on the elimination of violence against women were also raised.
With emphasis placed on the recent presidential election, security, and the mitigation of the illicit narcotics trade, Member States failed to adequately address women’s political promotion, protection concerns as IDPs and as both victims and participants in the black market opium trade. Consistently, Member States either called on or commended the Afghan Government for its all-inclusive transition planning. However, only one substantial references was made for women’s involvement in the political process as not only voters, but leaders. Three campaign platforms ran women as vice-presidential candidates and 296 of the 2,591 provincial council election candidates were women (Nigeria). While Member States did comment on the deteriorating humanitarian satiation, no calls were made for gender specific services nor any for the ensured access to these services. Regarding the narcotics trade, only the President of the Security Council referenced the resulting threats illicit drugs had on women (President). However, this reference was insubstantial as women were conflated with children thus ignoring gender-specific concerns surrounding the narcotics trade.
Unlike the recommendations provided by the recent June 2014 MAP report, the meeting consisted mostly of commendations of the Government of Afghanistan’s current actions regarding the promotion of women voters and the recruitment and training of female police officers. The recent MAP report urged for the Council to call for greater female involvement in both peace jirgas and political peace processes, women’s right to mobility, and enforcement of CEDAW. In light of these recommendations, Member States did urge the Afghan government to abide by CEDAW.
During the recent quarterly debate on Afghanistan, Member States addressed women, peace, and security concerns in terms of women’s participation in the political process, women’s protection and rights, SGBV, and women’s participation in the security sector. In comparison, Member States during this debate failed to substantively address women’s protection, SGBV, and women’s participation beyond that of the election. It should be noted that their inclusion of data regarding women’s participation as voters is a positive sign, however women’s leadership needs to be addressed in greater detail. Overall, while it is commendable that Member States focused on women’s participation during the recent election and the recent code amendment, the overall discourse regressed given their debate consisted mostly of praising the recent Afghan election rather than discussing viable solutions and applications of the overall women, peace, and security agenda in Afghanistan.