Friday, June 10, 2016
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Justice, Rule of Law and Security Sector Reform
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
Document PDF: 

Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security (S/2016/532).

Code: S/2016/532

Date: 10 June 2016

Topic: The report provides an update on the implementation of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) mandate and summarizes key political and security developments and regional and international events related to Afghanistan.


Women, Peace and Security

Pursuant to Security Council resolution 2274 (2016), this report provides an update on political and security developments in Afghanistan and progress towards the   implementation of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) mandate.[1] The report contains seven WPS-related references,[2] which is a small increase when compared to the previous report (S/2016/218); all references focus on protection-related issues. The references are primarily included in the context of information provided regarding mission or government activities. The report does not include analysis related to the gendered dimensions of the situation, nor does the report include sex and age-disaggregated statistics, although there are several sections of the report which would have benefited from both gender analysis and inclusive quantitative data, including in the discussion regarding targeted killings, suicide attacks and the usage of improvised explosive devices.[3] The report does not align with the expectations contained in either the UNAMA mandate or the normative women, peace and security framework, which expects all reports of the Secretary-General to include both information and analysis on women’s participation in the areas of human rights, humanitarian support, rule of law, demobilization, demilitarization and reintegration (DDR), and political processes.


References in Need of Improvement and Missed Opportunities

Protection of Civilians

The report notes that given that armed clashes increased by 14% in the first four months of the year, overall security incidents decreased by 3% during the period under review.[4] As the report mentions, between 1 January and 31 March, the task force on monitoring and reporting verified 343 security incidents, resulting in “161 children killed, including 43 girls, and 449 others (336 boys and 113 girls).”[5] With the exception of the aforementioned paragraph, the report does not provide any sex and age-disaggregated data on the civilian casualties nor any information on how women are affected by the security incidents. Future reports should provide sex and age-disaggregated data on civilian casualties that could better represent the demographic distribution of conflict-related casualties. Future reporting should also provide a gender analysis in assessment of threats to civilian populations, consult local women’s civil society to address their security concerns and detail the measures taken to protect civilian, in particular women and girls, as per Resolutions 1820 (2008) and 2122 (2013).[6]


Security Sector Reform (SSR)

The report misses an opportunity to provide any information on the extent to which SSR efforts were gender responsive, as well as whether or not women participated in SSR in any capacity. Resolution 2274 (2016), which renewed the mandate for UNAMA in March 2016, encourages the Afghan government to pursue a “self-sufficient, ethnically balanced and women-inclusive Afghan security forces” and mandates UNAMA to continue supporting women police associations, the report fails to cover any progress of these activities.[7] Although the report notes the continued efforts to “professionalize the Afghan National Police and strengthen community-oriented policing,” it misses an opportunity to provide a gender analysis of the policy and its implementation and fails to integrate women’s participation and protection needs into the SSR process.[8] In accordance with Resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015)[9] and Afghanistan’s 1325 National Action Plan (NAP 1325), future reporting should give details of the training, mentoring and empowering efforts to increase the functionality, professionalism and accountability for both women and men in Afghan security forces.


Demilitarization and Arms Management

The report misses an opportunity to discuss the gender dimension of the demilitarization and arms management efforts, as per Resolutions 2117 (2013), 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015).[10] The report notes that mine action partners, coordinated by the UN, cleared 42 minefields and three battlefields in the first quarter of 2016, but it does not mention whether women participated in the process.[11] Future reporting should provide more information on whether local civil society and women’s organizations are consulted or engaged in the mine action or other arms management efforts. In addition, as per Security Council resolution 2274 (2016), which focuses on attacks against civilians, the Security Council expresses serious concerns at the destabilizing impact of the flow of weapons to the Taliban, including small arms and light weapons (SALW), military equipment and improvised explosive devices (IEDs);[12] future reporting should provide information on the gender impact of the transfer of illicit SALW and the mission’s assistance to the Afghan government in combating illicit weapon transfer.


Humanitarian Assistance

The report notes that the humanitarian situation remains precarious, with an increase of conflict-induced internal displacements,[13] and a decreasing number of refugees returning through the UN voluntary repatriation programme might reflect the uncertainties of the political, economic and security environment.[14] However, the report misses an opportunity to integrate gender considerations into UNAMA’s activities and the reporting. The report mentions that the UN supported the Afghan government in developing a “voluntary repatriation and reintegration strategy to address the challenges faced by the returnees;” however, it is unclear whether any gender-specific concern is included in the design and implementation of the repatriation and reintegration programme.[15] Future reporting should engage with women’s groups in the design and implementation of the humanitarian actions and provide more information on the integration of gender considerations across humanitarian programming, including ensuring the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of female IDPs and refugees, per the obligations contained in the resolutions adopted on women, peace and security, including Resolution 2242 (2015).[16]


In addition, the report notices that funding for food, nutrition, health care and refugee and returnee programmes remain particularly low, but it does not provide any detail on financing WPS-related programmes.[17] Pursuant to Resolution 2242 (2015),[18] future reporting should provide more information on the budget and financing situation of WPS-related programmes, including the budget devoted to reproductive and psychological health services and livelihood assistance for female refugees and IDPs.


Human Rights

The report contains three references to women in the section on human rights, focusing on violence against women and health services to women in prison. The report mentions the Afghan government’s efforts to address violence against women and implement the national action plan on Secretary Council resolution 1325 (2000) and the mission’s support to eleven women protection centres and five family guidance centres for survivors of domestic violence.[19] Further, on 18 April, UNAMA published a report assessing prison health services and found that vulnerable groups, including women and accompanying children, have difficulties obtaining health services in prison.[20] The report also notes that UNAMA trained 322 people in Farah and Khost provinces, including 134 women, on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and Resolution 1325 (2000) and 133 provincial council members from nine northern and north-eastern provinces, including 27 women, on human rights and gender mainstreaming in monitoring and evaluation.[21]


The report misses an opportunity to provide sex and age-disaggregated data on domestic violence and violence against women as well as to provide background information on the perpetration of such violence. The report can be improved by providing an evaluation of these training sessions and including women’s recommendations for addressing violence against women and improving gender equality. Future reporting should consult with local civil society and women’s groups and call on the Afghan government to systematically engage women’s organizations in its efforts to protect women’s rights. Moreover, future reports should analyze the outcome of UNAMA’s support and services to SGBV survivors for the Council’s consideration, as per Resolution 2106 (2013).[22]


Rule of Law and Judicial Matters

The report misses an opportunity to discuss the gender dimension of the legal system and women’s participation in strengthening the rule of law. The report notes UNAMA’s efforts to advocate a moratorium on the death penalty, respect for fair trial and the expediting of legal reforms and provides an account about children detained in juvenile rehabilitation centres and high-security facility with adults.[23] However, the report fails to provide any information on women’s access to judicial services and any effort to eliminate gender inequality in accessing judicial services and legal protection. In addition, the report should have followed up on the Afghan government’s effort to increase the number of female judges, as mentioned by Resolution 2274 (2016).[24]


Political Process and Election Assistance

The report only provides one reference to women in the political process; noting that the government of Afghanistan is drafting its national priority programmes, including women’s economic empowerment plans.[25] The report misses an opportunity to discuss the challenges women face in political and electoral processes, given that UNAMA is mandated to support the full and safe participation of women in the electoral process.[26] In the latest mandate renewal, Resolution 2274 (2016) requests the Secretary-General to continue to include in his reports “relevant information on the process of integration of women into the political, economic and social life in Afghanistan,” but the report fails to detail UNAMA’s support to Afghan women in this regard and fails to provide any update on the progress of promoting women’s political representation and participation in policy-making.[27]


Drugs and Crime

The report mentions that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released a report entitled “Afghanistan opium survey 2015,” which included a section on the the role of Afghan women in opium poppy cultivation for the first time.[28] The report concluded that motivated by the additional cash income, women actually have a limited influence on whether to grow poppy or opt for alternative crops. The report’s recognition of women’s role in opium farming is positive; future reporting should acknowledge women’s role as well as strengthen research and analysis on the gender dimensions of  opium cultivation and production, the impact of post-conflict environment on women’s economic opportunities and the intersectionality of gender, household power dynamic and the opiate economy.


Future reporting should include more information on the Afghan government’s counter-narcotic efforts and its implementation of the National Drug Control Strategy,[29] in particular the gender aspects. Future reporting should also provide a gender analysis of the National Drug Control Strategy and increase the gender sensitivity of the alternative livelihood programmes, in collaboration with the Afghan government and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime.


Ideal Asks

Future reports should seek better balance between women’s participation and protection needs even when the security situation remains dire. Future reports should advocate for the active protection of women and further engagement and monitoring by UNAMA of the situation of women and provide comprehensive sex-disaggregated data on the political and security development, peace processes, SSR, disarmament and arms management, human rights and humanitarian situations. Reports should evaluate the efforts by the Afghan government and UNAMA in preventing and prosecuting violence and discrimination against women and reflect women’s organizations’ recommendations in the report. Moreover, future reporting should include a discussion on the gender impact of the Taliban and follow up on the progress of WPS-related programmes and programmes focusing on promoting gender equality, including Afghanistan’s NAP 1325 and women’s economic empowerment plans. Finally, future reporting should mainstream gender as a cross-cutting issue and systematically engage women’s civil society as consultants and participants for advancing the implementation of the WPS resolutions.


[1] In resolution 2274 (2016), the Security Council renews the mandate of UNAMA until 17 March 2017. See S/RES/2274 (2016), OP. 4

[2] S/2016/532, para. 27, 29, 30, 33, 36, 39, 50

[3] S/2016/532, para. 12

[4] S/2016/532, para. 13

[5] S/2016/532, para. 27

[6] S/RES/1820, OP. 9; S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 15

[7] S/RES/2274 (2016), OP. 28, 30

[8] S/2016/532, para. 41

[9] See relevant paragraphs in S/RES/2122 (2013), PP. 12; S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 7

[10] See relevant paragraphs in S/RES/2117 (2013), PP. 10, 14, OP. 12; S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 14; S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 15

[11] S/2016/532,,, para. para. 47

[12] S/RES/2274 (2016), OP. 33

[13] S/2016/532, para. 42

[14] S/2016/532, para. 43

[15] S/2016/532, para. 43

[16] S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 16

[17] S/2016/532, para. 49

[18] S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 1

[19] S/2016/532, para. 29, 30

[20] S/2016/532, para. 33

[21] S/2016/532, para. 30

[22] S/RES/2106 (2013), OP. 19

[23] S/2016/532, para. 53, 26

[24] S/RES/2274 (2016), OP. 46

[25] S/2016/532, para. 36

[26] S/RES/2274 (2016), OP. 13

[27] S/RES/2274 (2016), OP. 52

[28] S/2016/532, para. 50

[29] S/RES/2274 (2016), OP. 41