Period: November 2016 - January 2017.
Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2299 (2016), the Security Council extends the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) until 31 July 2017 and calls upon the Government of Iraq to continue to provide security and logistical support to the United Nations presence in Iraq (OP1). Also this resolution highlights the need to accelerate the coordinated implementation of monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations (PP4).
The report provides an update on the implementation of the UNAMI mandate and outlines the major political achievements, including efforts undertaken by the Government of Iraq and UNAMI to promote inclusive national reconciliation (paras. 3, 7, 23), and security developments, including steady progress in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) (para. 14). Despite the progress achieved, the report highlights innumerable instances of serious and systematic violations of international humanitarian law and gross abuses of human rights perpetrated by ISIL, including mass abductions (para. 38), child recruitment (para. 40) and women’s enslavement (para. 41), as well as by the Government of Iraq (para. 43), and emphasises that the humanitarian situation remains fragile due to the funding constraints (para. 77).
Of 79 paragraphs in the report, 13 (16,45%) include references to women and gender. A series of roundtables on national reconciliation has been hosted by UNAMI to solicit the views of community leaders, academics, youth, women and intellectuals across the country (para. 23). However the majority of references to women in the report focus broadly on women’s protection needs, particularly in regards to armed conflict, terrorism and other acts of violence (paras. 34, 41, 42, 51). It demonstrates specifically that UNAMI is engaged with the Government on the joint communique on prevention of, and response to, conflict-related sexual violence in Iraq, which was signed on 23 September 2016, emphasising that the protection of women and girls should be central to all peacebuilding and justice-seeking efforts in the post-ISIL period (para. 29).
The Deputy Special Representative is reported to call for the full participation of women in reconciliation processes at the national and community levels and to underscore the importance of continued efforts to change negative social norms (para. 29). However the report does not provide any information about specific efforts undertaken by relevant stakeholders to promote the full participation of women in political processes and institutions (S/RES/2299, PP. 25). For example, the section on electoral assistance remains gender-blind, eliminating a necessary focus on the need for women’s meaningful political participation. Moreover the report does not mention any efforts of UNAMI or the Government of Iraq to support the role of women’s organisations in building sustainable peace in Iraq (S/RES/1889, OP1).
The report highlights innumerable instances of serious and systematic violations of international humanitarian law and gross abuses of human rights, including mass abductions (para. 38) and women’s enslavement (para. 41). In regards to the joint communique, the report however provides no information on its content and services available to survivors, including the provision of medical care, ongoing psychosocial counselling and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, as mandated by UNSCR 2233 (2013). The report also does not provide any update on the status of the “swift” deployment of dedicated expertise such as Women Protection Advisors aimed at the acceleration of the coordinated implementation of monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, as mandated by UNSCR 2299 (2016).
At the national and local level, early warning systems can be used as communication channels to prevent violence. Gender mainstreaming is also crucial to successful prevention efforts. However the report is generally silent on the issue of the incorporation of a gender perspective and the participation of women in preventing the emergence, spread and re-emergence of conflict and political violence. The report does not discuss any systems in place that aim at the prevention of radicalisation and political violence.
The report provides some guidance on the inclusion of women in reconciliation processes; however there is no discussion on what systems are in place to ensure of women’s leadership and support for women’s organisations (S/RES/1889, OP1) and on what has been done to ensure gender mainstreaming in all policies and processes related to peacebuilding in Iraq. Even though National Action Plan (NAPs) is a key mechanism through which Governments identify their inclusion and equality priorities and commit to action, the report does not reference the progress achieved to implement the UNSCR1325(2000) National Action Plan in Iraq.
As the conflict between ISIL/Daesh and Iraqi Government forces, with assistance from the international counter-ISIL coalition, continues to dominate the security situation, future reports must apply a gender lens to the security situation and provide information and gender analysis on all human rights violations, regardless of the perpetrators’ international status. Likewise, the UN Secretary-General should inquire UNAMI to support women’s organisations in their work to prevent violent extremism and rehabilitate former extremists and further report on ways in which women are included in the country’s national prevention initiatives and early warning mechanisms.
Future reports must stress the importance of those Member States conducting post-conflict electoral processes and constitutional reform continuing their efforts, with support from United Nations entities, to ensure women’s full and equal participation in all phases of electoral processes (S/RES/2122, OP 8). The report should include more detailed information about the steps undertaken by UNAMI to support women’s participation in all peace and security processes. The Security Council members should also request information on efforts by the Iraqi Government to allocate funding for the implementation of Iraq’s National Action Plan (NAP) for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
The report has to provide a comprehensive update on how the UNAMI mission is working to address challenges faced by women in conflict-affected areas and whether there have been any changes in UNAMI deployment, such as increased deployment of Women’s Protection Advisers. The UN Secretary-General should also inquire UNAMI to support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence by establishing training programs and protocols for medical staff.
The Security Council should ensure ending impunity for all armed actors, both state and non-state, and request the Government of Iraq to ensure that all perpetrators of crimes are brought to justice in line with international humanitarian and human rights law. The UN Secretary-General should also provide information about the status of the draft Law on the Protection against Domestic Violence and the amendments proposed by Iraqi civil society, which include provisions that provide legal coverage for local NGOs to run shelters for women and other vulnerable individuals.