Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (S/2015/942).

Date: 
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Countries: 
Afghanistan
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Participation
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Displacement and Humanitarian Response
Justice, Rule of Law and Security Sector Reform
Document PDF: 

Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (S/2015/942).

Code: S/2015/942

Time and Topic: Covering the period from 1 September 2015 to 10 December 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 2210 (2015), the Secretary-General report provides an update on developments in Afghanistan and the implementation of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) mandate. The number of WPS references has slightly decreased, both in terms of number (from eleven to seven references) and scope, since the last report (S/2015/684). In addition, the Observation section also makes only one references to women protection, marking one less references to WPS in the Observation section from the last report (S/2015/684). References to women center on women’s protection, with the report noting an increase in violence against women during the reporting period.[1] The report, however, still lacks analysis on gender and conflict. There are also several WPS concerns highlighted in the mandate that the report fails to provide sufficient information on.

Protection of Civilians

The report notes an overall increase in the level of security incidents during the reporting period as compared with the same period in 2014, particularly as the result of the temporary seizure of Kunduz City and 16 district centers by the Taliban.[2] Between 1 August and 31 October 2015, UNAMA documented 3,693 civilian casualties (1,138 deaths and 2,555 persons injured), noting a 26 per cent increase compared with figures from the same period in 2014.[3] The report further notes in the capture of Kunduz City alone more than 289 persons were killed and 559 injured.[4]While the reports notes that women were targeted by the Taliban in Kunduz City,[5] the lack of sex disaggregated data, including conflict-related casualties and injuries, makes it difficult to understand the gender-impacts of these security developments. Information is also not provided on incidents or the rates of conflict-related sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). In the Observation section, the Secretary-General directly mentions increasing reports of human rights violations against women.[6]The report also fails to provide any information on women’s protection concerns within the larger framework of protection of civilians, including any information on UNAMA’s mandated assistance to Afghan security forces.

Security Sector Reform (Support to Military and Police)

The report misses an opportunity to provide any information on the gender dimensions of security sector reform, including an update on the the implementation of police women’s councils, which has been present in all previous reports in 2015. Resolution 2210 (2015) acknowledges the implementation needs of the Ministry of Interior’s and Afghan National Police’s “gender integration strategy;”[7] however, no update on the implementation is provided. Resolution 2210 (2015) mandates the importance of an “ethnically balanced and women-inclusive Afghan security forces.”[8] The report also fails to provide any information on these mandate components as well as to discuss women’s protection within security sector reform in Afghanistan.

Demilitarization and Arms Management

The report cites 2 percent of civilian casualties have been attributed to explosive remnants of war.[9] In addition, the report notes mine-action partners, coordinated by the United Nations, cleared 78 minefields and four battlefields in the third quarter of 2015; however, the report estimates that 4,341 minefields and battlefields remain, affecting 1,607 communities across 258 districts.[10] In addition, in response to the use of explosive weapons in Kunduz after its capture by the Taliban, the United Nations coordinated the deployment of its mine-action partners to the city from 15 October onward to conduct emergency survey and clearance operations and provide mine risk education, destroying hundreds of items of unexploded ordnance.[11]

Without sex disaggregated data on civilian deaths, it is unknown how many women have lost their lives as the result of the mines. The report fails to provide any analysis on the relationship between women’s protection in Afghanistan and IEDs and mines. In addition, it is unknown whether Afghan women are participating in the clearance of mines.

Humanitarian Support

The report misses an opportunity to provide an understanding of the gendered dimensions of the humanitarian situation, including with regard to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), or on how gender-specific needs are being taken into account in the distribution of humanitarian aid. There are no references to women in the humanitarian assistance section of the report. In regards to the capture of Kunduz city, the report notes large rates of displacements,[12] particularly by women.[13] However, the report fails to provide information on humanitarian aid to these populations, particularly gender-sensitive aid to women, which should include access to sexual and reproductive health services. At a minimum, the report should provide sex disaggregated data on refugees and IDPs as well as for all cited persons receiving aid. In addition, the report should advocate for gender-sensitive provision of aid and the inclusion of civil society, including women’s organization, in the design, implementation, and monitoring of humanitarian assistance.

Human Rights

In regards to women’s protection concerns, the report cites reports of abductions of women and systematic searches targeting women’s rights defenders by the Taliban in Kunduz City.[14] On 28 September, the Taliban is cited to have commenced house-to-house searches using prepared lists of human rights defenders, in particular women human rights defenders, persons working for non-governmental organizations, journalists, UNAMA staff members and Government employees.[15] These activities are cited as the main cause of mass female displacement n Kunduz City.[16] The report also notes that the security situation in the north and north-east led to the forced suspension of services provided to vulnerable women, including shelters in several adjacent provinces.[17] In a similar incident, the report notes the stoning to death of a 21 year old woman accused of adultery by the Taliban in Ghor Province.[18]

The report misses an opportunity to provide sex disaggregated data on abductions, killings, and displaced persons from Kunduz city and to report on the gender impacts of the suspension of services as well as to report on any measures taken by the Government and UNAMA to aid women. Future reports should provide gender analysis on the Taliban. AT a minimum, the Secretary-General should advocate for women’s participation in all efforts to combat and prevent extremism, particularly violence perpetrated by the Taliban.

In regards to sexual violence, the report focuses on actions taken by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission to criminalize bacha bazi, a practice involving the sexual abuse of young boys. Draft legislation was submitted the Ministry of Justice on the criminalization of the practice.[19] In addition, a monitoring group, comprising the offices of the Attorney General, Ministry of Interior and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission to investigate and establish an oversight mechanisms designed to prevent the sexial abuse of children.[20] The report misses an opportunity to provide sex disaggregated data on sexual violence and abuse of children as well as to provide background information on the perpetration of such violence.

The report also provides an update on the National Action Plan for Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), citing Government roll-outs of the plan through online resource information and 11 global open day events across the country.[21] The report notes that participants of the open days underlined the need to ensure women’s meaningful participation in peace and political processes, despite the escalation in violence.[22]

Rule of Law

The report notes that the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluations Committee released a vulnerability-to-corruption-assessment of the national electronic identification card project, following identified concerns of corruption by civil society.[23] The report misses an opportunity to detail how the concerns of civil society are identified to the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluations Committee and if this kind of interaction is a regular occurrence.[24]

Overall, the report misses an opportunity to provide an understanding of the challenges women face in the judicial system as well as what improvements have been made to ensure their protection, including information on survivors of sexual and gender based violence access to judicial services. The report also fails to provide a status update on the implementation of the Elimination of the Violence Against Women Law, despite Security Council request of UNAMA to assist and to report on the Government of Afghanistan progress with its implementation.[25] The mandate further acknowledges women are especially affected by violence and calls for activities not only to maintain adequate legal protection, but also to mainstream commitments and ensure women fleeing domestic violence are “able to find safe and secure refuge.”[26] The report does not offer any analysis of the interaction between the awareness of legal provisions and changes in violence.

Political Process and Electoral Assistance

The report only provides on references to women in the political sector, noting President Ghani’s approval of the initial recommendations of the Special Electoral Reform Commission, including the recommendation to institute a quota for 25 percent of provincial and district election seats for women.[27] In 2013, the 20 percent quota for women’s seats had been abolished.[28] The report fails to provide any information on what led the Commission to make this recommendation as well as any information on the likelihood of its implementation.

Overall, the report misses an opportunity to provide a complete understanding of women in the political sector, including their challenges to political participation, particularly with regard to how resurgence of violence affects women’s participation in the political sphere. UNAMA is specifically mandated to assist women’s participation and monitor the gender implications of the implementation of political, peace and reconciliation processes.[29]  The report misses an opportunity to detail UNAMA’s support to Afghan women in this regard.

Ideal Asks

Future reports must advocate for the active protection of women and further engagement and monitoring by UNAMA 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, including the security sector. Future reporting must include a comprehensive discussion of the gender impacts of the Taliban, with a focus on the access to justice and health and reproductive services for survivors. In addition, reports should advocate for women’s full participation in all efforts to combat and prevent extremism. Reporting should systematically engage women’s civil society as consultants and participants. Information on the outcome of UNAMA engagements with women and civil society should also be provided.

_________________

[1] S/2015/942 para. 32, 68

[2] S/2015/942 para. 12

[3] S/2015/942 para. 28

[4] S/2015/942 para. 28

[5] S/2015/942 para. 32

[6] S/2015/942 para. 68

[7] S/RES/2210 (2015) Op. 16

[8] S/RES/2210 Op. 24

[9] S/2015/942 para. 28

[10] S/2015/942 para. 55

[11] S/2015/942 para. 55

[12]  S/2015/942 para. 46

[13] S/2015/942 para. 32

[14] S/2015/942 para. 32

[15]  S/2015/942 para. 31

[16]  S/2015/942 para. 32

[17]  S/2015/942 para. 32

[18] S/2015/942 para. 36

[19] S/2015/942 para. 35

[20] S/2015/942 para. 35

[21] S/2015/942 para. 36

[22] S/2015/942 para. 36

[23] S/2015/942 para. 43

[24] S/2015/942 para. 43

[25] S/RES/2227 Op. 6(e), 43

[26] S/RES/2145 (2014) op. 43

[27] S/2015/942 para. 7

[28] S/2015/942 para. 7

[29] S/RES/2210 OP. 16