Period of Time and Topic: This report by the Secretary-General is on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), covering the time period between 26 May 2015 and 15 September 2015.
Women, Peace and Security
The Secretary-General’s report gives account on major developments in Darfur, including updates on the current conflict dynamics, the political, security and humanitarian situation and the mandate implementation of UNAMID. While it expresses concern with the grave security and humanitarian situation for civilians, particularly those affected by internal displacement, it does not apply a gender lens to consider whether and how women are affected differently. The report does not include any specific references to the WPS agenda, such as mentions of WPS resolutions, and only sporadically reports on women’s human rights abuses, including conflict-related sexual violence.The rare mentions of women are thus solely in relation to the protection pillar of the WPS agenda. More specifically, the report mentions patrols by UNAMID military personnel in IDP camps “to respond to the security needs of internally displaced persons, including women and children, while collecting firewood or engaged in farming activities.” Another mention refers to the provision of UNAMID-led education sessions to inform 25,000 civilians, including women and children, about the risks of explosive remnants. In its considerations of the prevalence of SGBV, the report provides concrete numbers on two occasions, accounting for cases documented by UNAMID and identifying rape as a common crime with 42 registered incidences during the reporting period. It also reiterates the particular security threats and vulnerability to sexual violence that women IDPs face while pursuing activities such as collecting firewood or farming activities in the surroundings of IDP camps. Further, the report gives account on community policing activities, including sensitization trainings on SGBV, for IDPs.
References in Need of Improvement and Missed Opportunities
Reporting on women’s concerns in accordance with the WPS agenda could have been stronger in several instances. While identifying the concrete number of women casualties in an active conflict zone might be challenging due to limited reporting and investigation mechanisms, one can assume an overall unawareness for gender-sensitive coverage, given that there are no such references at all. Particularly the reporting on violence in locations that are assumably frequented by women, such as the incident of “looting and burning of a local market”, would have benefited from specific references to women casualties.
The report would have been much stronger if it had included women’s participation in the ongoing political dialogue to gain gender-balanced perspectives on the root causes of violence in order to work towards the “sustainability of peaceful coexistence between local communities.” In its reporting on the scheduled launch of the national dialogue that, according to President Bashir, would ensure the participation of “opposition parties and holdout stakeholders”, the report does not specify whether civil society, particularly women’s civil society organizations, are included as stakeholders and whether measures are taken to ensure women’s participation. Further, there is no mention of women’s participation in the meetings of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) with government officials and UNAMID and no account is given on whether their visit of an IDP camp involved talks with IDP women. Concludingly, one can assume an overall unawareness for the participation pillar and the centerpiece of the WPS agenda, i.e. recognizing women’s participation as fundamental for the success of all conflict resolution, peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts.
Conflict resolution and mediation efforts:
There is no mention of women’s participation in traditional mediation mechanisms to prevent and resolve inter-communal conflicts to ensure the “sustainability of peaceful coexistence between local communities.” Further, reporting on UNAMID-supported mediation through “engagement with national and local government, traditional mediators, tribal and community leaders and relevant institutions under the Darfur Regional Authority, as well as other stakeholders” completely misses the opportunity to specifically refer to the participation of women leaders and women’s civil society. Particularly the section on land disputes and access to farmland would have highly benefited from gender-sensitive information, including whether women are particularly affected by disputes over land titles and by incidents of cattle-rustling.
Internal displacement and Protection of Civilians:
The report would have highly benefited from commenting on whether UNMISS or any of the UN agencies operating in Darfur, including the World Food Programme, had conducted gender-sensitive needs assessments to identify whether and how women, particularly those in IDP camps, are affected differently in order to effectively tailor humanitarian assistance to their needs. The report further fails to mention whether humanitarian assistance includes measures to specifically cater to women’s needs such as secure access to sanitation facilities as well as hygiene and health assistance, including reproductive health, family planning and maternal health services. Additionally, information on whether local civil society organizations, particularly women’s civil society, were consulted in the design and implementation of delivery mechanisms for humanitarian assistance would have been desirable. In its mention of the continuous challenges regarding humanitarian access, including visa denials for the elected Senior Women Protection Advisor, the report would have been stronger by additionally commenting on whether organizations working on women’s concerns, including reproductive health and family planning provisions, face additional challenges or restrictions.
Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation
Pursuant to resolutions 1769 (2007) on the mandate of UNAMID, particularly OP 55 (vi) on WPS; resolution 1828 (2008), OP 15; resolution 1881 (2009), OP 14; resolution 2003 (2011), OP 22; and resolution 2063 (2012), OP 15, future reports by the Secretary-General must reflect the Security Council’s commitment to the WPS agenda and provide updates on the implementation of gender-sensitive programming regarding both participation and security concerns. Applying a gender lens throughout the report will ensure that all genders are adequately represented and their particular needs in regards to the volatile security, political and humanitarian situation are being met.
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 S/2015/729: P32