Implementation of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014)

Monday, March 23, 2015
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Peace Processes
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
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Implementation of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014)

Code: S/2015/206

Period of Time and Topic: Report covers the conflict from 1 to 28 February 2015

Women, Peace and Security

In the Secretary General’s thirteenth report on the conflict in Syria, pursuant to resolutions 2139 (2014) and 2165 (2014), the Secretary-General reports on the ongoing violence, human rights issues, and humanitarian access. The report improves on prior reports in providing increased sex disaggregated data on civilian casualties, specifying the number of women killed by state and non-state actors in most cases. The report also remarks on an instance in which a man was punished by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) because his wife did not meet strict ISIL dress codes.[1] While not specifically addressing the impact these dress codes are having on women in ISIL controlled territory, the reference highlights the gendered impact of the conflict. The Secretary-General also reported that the UNFPA reached “more than 32,300 people, mostly women and girls, with reproductive health and psychosocial services”.[2] In the final observations, the report remarks on the displacement of “ almost half the country’s men, women and children”.[3]

References in Need of Improvement

While strong in providing sex disaggregated data on civilian casualties, the report would benefit from providing sex disaggregated data on the cited human rights issues as well as the barriers to humanitarian access. As noted above, rather than referencing the women impacted by ISIL’s dress code as “wives” and focusing on the effect this has on their husbands, the reference would be strengthened by explicitly addressing the impact on women. In increasing the use of sex-disaggregated data, the report would also be strengthened by provision of sex disaggregated data  in reference to blocked aid delivery, and in the context of the continuing usage of siege tactics by both state and non-state parties to the conflict.

Missed Opportunities

There are many missed opportunities in the report, foremost with regards to women’s participation, but also in women’s protection. In general, the report must take into consideration the disparate impact of conflict on women. The Secretary-General misses the vital opportunity to consult with women and women’s organizations directly regarding their experience of the conflict. Without consulting half the population, it is impossible to accurately convey to the Council the gravity of the conflict and the ongoing human devastation. As called for in the above resolutions, the conflict in Syria will only be ended by a Syrian-led political solution. The report misses the opportunity to call for women’s full and effective participation in all stages of the peace processes, from negotiation of humanitarian freezes, to cease-fire agreements, to peacebuilding.

Regarding women’s protection, the report should identify the gendered dimensions of arbitrary arrests and detentions of Syrians by Government forces.[4] The report should also seek to expose the conditions of detention for female detainees. In describing the executions, abductions and restrictions on fundamental freedoms committed by Al Nusra Front (ANF) and ISIL[5], the report misses the opportunity to make known the impact of these atrocities on women living in Syria. Also, regarding the restrictions on aid, and the continued use of siege tactics, the report misses the opportunity to identify the potentially gendered impact of these practices.

In the final section, “Observations,” the Secretary-General notes the ultimate objective of his Special Envoy’s work in Syria is “an end to violence and a credible political transition to a country in which the rights of all communities are protected and the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians to freedom, dignity and justice are met,”[6] representing a missed opportunity to explicitly include women, and their rights and aspirations. In addition, the final paragraph, which links the lack of accountability to violations which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,  misses the opportunity to explain the  on-going conflicted-related sexual and gender-based violence may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation

The report should include explicit references to and analysis of all gendered concerns within the ongoing conflict in Syria. Particularly, the report should substantively engage with women and women’s organizations in order to better understand the impact of the conflict on women, from all sides. This includes sex and age disaggregated data, information on women’s participation in conflict resolution and peace processes, and women’s experiences as targeted of violence for expressing political dissent. In doing so, the report will also pave the way for the Council to better incorporate gender concerns in any forthcoming calls to actions.

[1] S/2015/206, para. 25

[2] S/2015/206, para. 44

[3] S/2015/206, para. 62

[4] S/2015/206, paras. 21, 22

[5] S/2015/206, para. 24

[6] S/2015/206, para. 67

[7] S/2015/206, para. 68