Time and Topic: Covering the period from 13 July 2015 to 26 October 2015, the report covers the key developments in Iraq and provides an update on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI).
Women, Peace and Security
In pursuant of Resolution 2233 (2015), the Secretary-General report provides an update on developments in Iraq and the implementation of the United Nations Support Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). The number of WPS references has slightly increased (from nine to eleven), since the previous report (S/2015/530). In addition, the Observation section (for the first time in 2015) provides more than one reference to WPS concerns. While the report still emphasizes women’s protection concerns in relation to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the report provides more information on civil society and women’s participation than previous reports. However, the report still lacks any gender analysis on gender and conflict, and misses key opportunities to identify women’s participation concerns in Iraq, particularly with regard to countering ISIL.
Security Situation and Demilitarization and Arms Management
The report misses the opportunity to provide an understanding of the gender dimensions of the security situation in Iraq, particularly in regard to continued between ISIL and associated armed groups and Iraqi security forces, Peshmerga, allied tribal, and volunteer fighters. The report provides no information on women’s participation in the fight against ISIL, despite known reports of women’s participation in Peshmerga forces. In addition, the report does not mention women’s protection concerned, even regard to the deadly incidents in Baghdad and Diyala Governorate. The report cites an increase in civilian casualties (1,739) and injuries (3,046) from the last report, totaling 18,457 civilian casualties in Iraq since the start of 2015. At a minimum, the report should provide sex disaggregated for cited civilian causalities and injuries. In the observation section, the report should have called for support to women’s leadership and participation in all efforts to combat ISIL.
The report missed an opportunity to provide an understanding of the gendered dimensions of the humanitarian situation in its discussion of multiple campsites, including Camp New Iraq, Camp Hurriya, refugees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs), or on how gender-specific needs are being taken into account in the distribution of humanitarian aid to the 8.6 million people in need. The report provides only two references to women. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) boosted vegetable production for rural populations in Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk and Anbar, “with particular attention to households headed by women.” In addition, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) continued to support women’s centres, which provided gender-based violence information and services to 29,530 women and girls.
At a minimum, the report should provide sex disaggregated data on refugees and IDPs as well as for all cited persons receiving aid in the cluster system. The report misses an opportunity to provide context information on households headed by women as well as information on women and girls serviced, particularly whether or not the SGBV is solely carried out by ISIL and its affiliates. The report also lacks a discussion of the gender-sensitivity of emergency response and contingency planning.
The report only provides information on the women’s human rights violations perpetrated by ISIL and its armed associates. The report estimates that 1500 “women and children of the Yazidi community” remain in captivity by ISIL, and cite human rights abuses including targeted civilian attacks, extrajudicial killings, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and forced recruitment. The report also notes that five persons alleged to have been associated with the Mutahidoon Alliance, three of which were females.
The report misses a significant opportunity to recognize the differential impact on the human rights of women in Iraq by ISIL, particularly those in the Yezidi community. No analysis is provided on the gender dimensions of ISIL activities, despite the continued citation of ISIL’s sexual abuse and enslavement of Yazidi women and children. The report further misses an opportunity to provide any information on women’s human rights abuses in Iraq beyond ISIL.
Political Activities and Electoral Assistance
The political situation in Iraq continues to be volatile. The report notes that protests by civil society and youth groups erupted in August, calling for better services, better governance, and an end to government corruption. In addition, the report notes following the endorsement by the Council of Representatives of reform packages, Prime Minister al-Abadi dissolved the multiple ministries, including the Ministry of Human Rights and Women’s Affairs. The report, however, misses the opportunity to provide any information on how the absence of these ministries will affect human rights and women’s rights and services throughout the country.
The report also details UNAMI assistance in the political sector. UNAMI continued to support Iraq’s implementation of the National Action Plan on Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000). UNAMI also co-organized a conference on the role of public opinion-makers in supporting political and community reconciliation (September 2015), which was attended by more than 100 media, academic and civil society representatives. The report further notes that the Independent High Electoral Commissioned agreed to UNAMI’s focus on gender among other issues in electoral assistance.The report miss an opportunity to provide any information on the outcomes of these engagements and/or what a focus on “gender” by UNAMI will entail.
In regards to counter terrorism, the report notes that UNAMI, along with the State Ministry of WOmen’s Affairs and the Kurdistan Region High COuncil of WOmen’s Affairs, jointly organized a two day national conference on the theme “Empowering women to address the impact of terrorism,” held in Erbil on 3 and 4 August 2015, which was attended by government officials, civil society representatives, and religious leaders. Recommendations from the conference included the need to accelerate efforts to release women and girls abducted from ISIL and provide comprehensive services for women affected by conflict. The report, however, misses an opportunity to provide information on whether the government was willing to implement the recommendations as well as any other outcomes of the conference.
Rule of Law and Judicial Matters
The report misses an opportunity to provide any information on women in relation to the rule of law, despite having included this information in the prior report (S/2015/305)
Support to State Institutions
In the Observation section of the report, the Secretary calls on the Government of Iraq and civil society “not to lose sight of the need to proceed with national reconciliation.” This reference also should have specifically included women’s organizations and advocated for government to establish formal consultations with civil society throughout the process. In addition, the Secretary-General underscore the need “for all relevant parties in the region” to take into account the protection of women and girls at risk of sexual violence in all counterterrorism, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution measures. This reference should have specifically mentioned women’s participation, so that women’s protection measures cannot be used an excuse to prohibit women’s participation in all counterterrorism, peacebuilding, and conflict resolution efforts.
Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation
In the context of the grave violations to human rights committed by ISIL and its affiliates, reports must advocate for the active protection of women and further engagement and monitoring by UNAMI of the situation of women. It is critical that reports mainstream gender as a cross-cutting issue, providing at a minimum sex-disaggregated data on the humanitarian, security, judicial, and political situation. The situation for women should be provided in all relevant sections of the report. Future reporting must include a comprehensive discussion of SGBV, with a focus on access to justice and health and reproductive services for survivors. Reporting should systematically engage women’s civil society as consultants and participants in humanitarian, electoral and SSR processes.