Date: 20 June 2016
Topic: This report by the Secretary-General is on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), covering the time period from 1 April to 3 June 2016.
Women, Peace and Security Introduction
Pursuant to S/RES/2252 (2015), the Secretary-General report provides an account of major developments in South Sudan, including updates on the current political, security, and humanitarian situation. Across its ten references to WPS issues, the report is fairly balanced between the participation and protection aspects of the women, peace and security agenda. As the number of references decreased since the last report (S/2016/341), so too did the quality of those references, both in the depth and breadth of the reports’ consideration of the WPS agenda. References to women in the latest report (S/2016/552) focus on the protection aspects of the agenda, particularly the perpetration of sexual violence, however the report also makes one reference to the possible eviction of, “economically vulnerable returnee women” (S/2016/552 para. 37). The report’s consideration of women’s participation is more well-rounded than its consideration of women’s protection, including the transitional government, women in peacebuilding, women’s peace conferences, and HIV/AIDS training. Overall, the report takes a step back from the usually high quality and cross-cutting analysis from past reporting on UNMISS and South Sudan.
Components of the Mandate and “Other”
Protection of Civilians
The report’s only inclusion of the women, peace and security agenda in reporting on UNMISS’s protection of civilians mandate is briefly mentioning UNMISS programs that focus on, “enhancing the role of women as peacebuilders in their communities” (S/2016/552 para. 27). This reference should have been much more detailed and addressed the geographic and ethnic diversity of the women who participated, access for women and women’s civil society organizations to these programs, if women participated in the design of the programs (and in the programs themselves), and what the outcomes were, including if they addressed women’s concerns at local and national levels. Overall, the reporting on protection of civilians also should have been more detailed to include information on women’s participation and protection in UNMISS activities. Despite highlighting the three tiers of UNMISS work in protection of civilians, the report only included the reference to women in peacebuilding under the first tier. There should have been much more information on women’s participation and concerns in other programs to implement the peace agreement and engage political dialogue, although it is worth mentioning that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ellen Margrethe Løj, is a woman (S/2016/552 para. 26, 27). The report also misses further opportunities to include women’s unique protection needs in the second tier of protecting civilians under threat of physical violence, including protection of civilians sites, and the third tier of establishing a protective environment (S/2016/552 para. 28-31, 63). The report should have included women’s participation in the design of any protection sites ; processes within those sites, including community policing initiatives and interactions with UNMISS staff (SCR 1820 (2008), OP 10); and patrols outside of the sites, including their timing and geographic distribution, to ensure they meet women’s needs for protection while conducting livelihood activities (SCR 1888 (2009), OP 25; SCR 2106 (2013), OP 21; SCR 2122 (2013), OP 5). Additionally, any effort to promote the voluntary return of displaced persons must include women and take into consideration their security concerns, in addition to including the participation of civil society as per UNMISS’s mandate (S/RES/2252 (2015), OP 8(a)(vi)).
Support to military and police for stability and security
The report’s consideration of the security situation was entirely gender-blind. The report detailed attacks by region, including UNMISS observation, but did not include sex or age disaggregated data on attacks and who participated, or those killed or displaced (S/2016/552 para. 11-18). Similarly, the report did not include if the attacks included sexual and gender-based violence and if survivors had access to medical care, ongoing psychosocial counseling and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services (SCR 2122 (2013), PP), as well as access to justice mechanisms. The report highlighted UNMISS coordination with national entities to improve the security situation in order to support implementation of the peace agreement, which was also gender-blind. The report should have included women’s participation in implementing the agreement as per SCR 2252 (2015), OP 14, as well as SCR 2122 (2013), OP 7. The report did not consider the gendered impacts of increasing the levels of UNMISS personnel, opposition troops and police officers in Juba and other parts of the country, including how those changes would affect women’s security, freedom of movement and risk of sexual and gender-based violence (S/2016/552 para. 43-45). Furthermore, the report should have included women and women’s groups in UNMISS’s press briefings and civil society and community outreach, as well as the UN radio program, as per SCR 2242 (2015)’s request for the DPKO to integrate women’s needs and gender perspectives in all policy and planning processes in OP 4 (S/2016/552 para. 48).
Security Sector Reform
The report did not include any information on the implementation of UNMISS’s security sector reform mandate components. At a minimum, the report should have highlighted UNMISS and government consultations on SSR and call for women’s participation and gender balance in the security sector institutions and processes (SCR 1820 (2008), OP 10; SCR 2106 (2013), OP 16(b); SCR 1888 (2009); SCR 2122 (2013), OP 4). The report also should have included women’s protection concerns, including sexual and gender-based violence, and included vetting for sexual violence for security sector personnel (SCR 1820 (2008), OP 10; SCR 2106 (2013), OP 16(b)).
Demilitarization and arms management
The report’s brief consideration of demilitarization did not consider the women, peace and security agenda. The report failed to include women’s needs or participation as fighters, dependents or local citizens in the selection of cantonment sites (S/2016/552 para. 5). The report also did not include women’s participation or concerns when calling on the parties to the conflict to, “abide by their obligations to demilitarize Juba,” and address their issues through dialogue (S/2016/552 para. 60). The report should have included women’s participation and empowerment in all, “efforts related to the prevention, combating and eradication of the illicit transfer and the destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons,” (SCR 2242 (2015), OP 15), as well as the link between small arms and light weapons and the perpetration of SGBV (SCR 2117 (2013)).
The report does not provide analysis of either the gender dimensions of the humanitarian situation or the ways in which the humanitarian response, including emergency responses and contingency planning, are responding to gender-specific needs; however, the report includes some information and data on women in the humanitarian sector. The report mentions high rates of sexual and gender-based violence as part of its reporting on a humanitarian assessment (S/2016/552 para. 20). Additionally, the report mentions that a nun serving as a doctor was shot and killed while driving an ambulance (S/2016/552 para. 21). The report also includes some data on women and girls accessing education, treatment for malnutrition and reproductive healthcare, including post-abortion care (S/2016/552 para. 24). These references could have been much stronger if they had included reporting on the context of the situation for women, including the approximate number of women displaced in the assessment area; if any of the other aid worker casualties were women, working on women’s rights, or from organizations focusing on women’s needs; and the gendered impacts of the food shortage, to show how the humanitarian situation and the delivery of humanitarian aid is affecting women, men, girls, and boys differently. The report’s section on humanitarian assistance is, however, gender-blind. The report missed the opportunity to include women’s participation and the gendered impact of programs to demine roads and schools, to ensure women’s mobility and girls’ education were not negatively affected, as part of efforts to ensure that all humanitarian assistance mainstreams gender (SCR 1325 (2000), OP 12) (S/2016/552 para. 41, 42). The report also should have included women’s participation in the design and implementation of demining activities, including restoring access to water and risk education and safety briefings to ensure women, men, girls, and boys were reached by the educational programs to ensure their safety and ability to carry out livelihood activities (S/2016/552 para. 42). In addition to their participation, obstacles to women’s participation in all humanitarian activities should be addressed (SCR 1325 (2000), OP 12). Finally, the report does not include the women, peace and security agenda in the passage of the Non-Governmental Organizations Act 2016, or the effects of postponing its implementation, including on organizations who focus on meeting women’s humanitarian needs (S/2016/552 para. 8).
The report provides some information and analysis particular ways in which women’s rights are being violated as well as information on sexual and gender-based violence, but does not provide a comprehensive gender analysis of the human rights situation (S/2016/552 para. 39). During the reporting period, the government of South Sudan held a series of workshops on conflict-related sexual violence for the working group tasked with overseeing, “the implementation of the joint communiqué on conflict-related sexual violence,” and requested the UN’s assistance with organizing a national workshop on sexual violence crimes. The SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict met with top government officials and requested they and the opposition merge their implementation plans on conflict-related sexual violence to ensure accountability and exclude those responsible from the, “reconstitution of the national armed forces” (S/2016/552 para. 39). This reporting was limited to ideas that should happen at an official level, without including information on whether the workshops produced any results and if the government and opposition looked like they would consider merging their plans to ensure accountability for sexual violence. The report should have also included women and women’s civil society organizations’ participation in the design and implementation of both the workshops and the accountability plans to ensure they addressed women’s concerns and were survivor-focused, including addressing stigma (SCR 2106 (2013), OP 21).
The report misses the opportunity to report on incidents of crimes of sexual and gender-based violence when it detailed human rights abuses in conflict areas (SCR 1888 (2009), OP 24), including a gender-sensitive response with gender-specific health and judicial services for survivors, and include sex and disaggregated data in the reporting of all human rights violations (S/2016/552 para. 32). The report also highlights a government land survey reportedly related to providing public services, which could, “result in the eviction of economically vulnerable returnee women” (S/2016/552 para. 37). While the report’s inclusion of a human rights concern for women other than sexual and gender-based violence was positive, the reference could have contained more context on the situation for these women, including why they had returned and how they were more economically vulnerable than other women in the area. The report could have also considered the kind of humanitarian and economic support needed to empower these women. Unfortunately, the report also misses the opportunity to include whether women were among those detained in violation of their human rights and the unique concerns and needs those women had, in addition to reporting on whether sexual and gender-based violence was among the human rights violations all detainees survived (S/2016/552 para. 33-35). Further, the report misses the opportunity to include women human rights monitors’ unique security and access challenges and if women human rights defenders and civil society organizations were part of UNMISS’s human rights reporting (SCR 1888 (2009), OP 26), and girls’ specific human rights concerns, including education and sexual and reproductive health services in addition to sexual and gender-based violence, and sex-disaggregated data when reporting on violations against children (S/2016/552 para. 38, 40). Finally, in the section on cross-cutting issues, the report provides some additional sex-disaggregated data on women’s participation in HIV/AIDS awareness training and outreach (S/2016/552 para. 49). The report should have detailed how women and women’s civil society organizations participated in the design and implementation of all programs to ensure they met women’s needs, were accessible to a diverse and representative group of women, and that all outcomes were gender-sensitive.
Rule of Law
The report did not include any information on the implementation of UNMISS’s rule of law mandate components. At a minimum, the report should have provided information on the gender dimensions of the legal system, specifically women’s rights and protections, and acknowledged any gendered issues with the legal system, such as unlawful detentions or torture, and provide sex-disaggregated data (SCR 1889 (2009); SCR 2122 (2013)). Additionally, the report should have included efforts to, “bring perpetrators of sexual violence in conflicts to justice and to ensure that survivors have access to justice, are treated with dignity throughout the justice process and are protected and receive redress for their suffering” (SCR 1888 (2009), OP 6). The report also should have highlighted women’s participation in the justice sector and how their professionalization contributes to advancing rule of law institutions, including improving their gender-sensitivity and effectiveness (SCR 2106 (2013), OP 16(c)).
Political and electoral processes
The report does not provide any gender analysis of the political situation, but there is one reference to the formation of the transitional Government of National Unity, which notes that only the “government” met the 25% quota for women’s participation, while the opposition fell short and the other parties failed to nominate any women for ministerial posts (S/2016/552 para. 4). While this mention follows up on the quota for women’s participation in government, the report did not provide any analysis of why, overall, women’s nominations were rather low and did not meet the quota, including barriers to their participation in the nominating process and patriarchal, societal norms dictating traditional roles for women. Furthermore, the report fails to include women’s participation in the appointment of presidential advisors, the formation of the Legislative Assembly and the committee to establish state boundaries, which has the potential to escalate local conflicts over resources (S/2016/552 para. 6, 7, 62). Women’s participation and concerns were also absent in reporting on the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict, which should have included women’s participation in all aspects of the agreement (SCR 1325 (2000), OP 2, OP 8; SCR 1889 (2009), OP 1) (S/2016/552 para. 2). The report, further, failed to consider the gendered implications of Vice-President Riek Machar and other opposition leaders’ return from exile in April, including the security situation and economy, humanitarian aid and political reconciliation, as their return has the potential to either improve the situation, including for women, or lead to a relapse in violence, which has a particular negative impact on women (S/2016/552 para. 3, 17, 58). The section on cross-cutting issues highlights UNMISS’s national women’s peace forum in April, in which over 700 women participated, as the culmination of 16 sub-national women’s peace forums (S/2016/552 para. 47). “The forum highlighted the important role of women in the peace process, the protection of women and girls against sexual and gender-based violence and the prevention of conflict” (S/2016/552 para. 47). UN-Women also held a national women’s peace conference, “to strengthen collaboration among women’s networks and organizations and develop an effective mechanism for women’s inclusive and accountable participation in the implementation of the peace agreement” (S/2016/552 para. 47). The report should have included how women participated in the design of the conferences and forums and how the women’s peace forums fit into the broader context of implementing the peace agreement to ensure women’s voices are integrated throughout the process and are heard at all levels (SCR 1889 (2009), OP 1; SCR 2122 (2013), OP 7(c); SCR 2242 (2015), OP 1). In the observations section, the report included civil society organizations in the implementation of the peace agreement alongside the government of South Sudan (S/2016/552 para. 59); however, the report should have included information on women’s civil society organizations’ participation, as well and included a gender lens in the ratification of a permanent constitution; security sector reform; economic reforms; and establishment of justice and reconciliation institutions in the agreement. Overall, the report misses an opportunity to recognize, “the important role of women and women’s civil society organizations in peace processes and [to express] concern at the lack of women in these processes, including in formal roles” (SCR 2122 (2013)).
International cooperation and coordination
The report notes the Special Representative of the Secretary-General continued to coordinate international support for the peace process. The report does not detail, however, if the representatives she met with included women or entities and individuals who promote the women, peace and security agenda. The report should have also considered gender and women’s rights, concerns and participation in, “monitoring and responding to negative propaganda that could undermine the peace process, advocacy for unimpeded humanitarian access, encouraging coordination with international partners to address the national economic crisis and calling for the urgent operationalization of the transitional security institutions” to ensure a gendered implementation of each with women and women’s civil society organizations’ full and meaningful participation (S/2016/552 para. 46).
The report mentioned UNMISS’s implementation of the zero-tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse, including through the standing task force, memorandum of understanding with NGOs, and newly inaugurated immediate response team (S/2016/552 para. 52). The report should have used survivor language and included gender-sensitivity training for all staff. All investigations should be in line with international law and survivor-centered (SCR 1888 (2009), OP 7). The report also missed the opportunity to include women’s participation in UNMISS through sex-disaggregated data on mission personnel and on attacks against the mission, to highlight women’s unique protection concerns within the mission (S/2016/552 para. 50, 51, 53-55).
The report should have integrated and mainstreamed the women, peace and security agenda, as per UNMISS’s mandate, by including a gender lens and information on the situation for women in all sections of the report, instead of siloing the agenda into a section on cross-cutting issues. It should also have included analysis on the impact of any changes in the security situation and any programs or activities on women and included women’s participation in their design and implementation at all levels. For example, the protection of civilians reporting should have included women’s participation and concerns, linking women’s participation with protection, in all three tiers instead of only one and included sexual and gender-based violence. Future reporting on sexual and gender-based violence must be more comprehensive by focusing on providing context for sexual violence and sex and age disaggregated data throughout the reports, as well as reporting on the work of civil society organizations, including women’s groups, to prevent and respond to sexual violence. The report should have, additionally, considered women’s agency throughout, highlighting women and women’s civil society organizations’ participation and concrete contributions. The report also could have been much stronger by considering both conflict prevention and broader demilitarization in South Sudan by examining the drivers of violence, including structural inequalities and how efforts to implement the peace agreement interact with them and existing gender inequalities.