Period: February 2017 - April 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 to potentially amend the electoral legal and institutional framework (para. 45), and security developments, including steady progress in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) (paras. 3, 26). 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. 57) and women’s enslavement (para. 55), as well as by the Government of Iraq (para. 24), and emphasises that the humanitarian situation remains fragile, with an estimated 500,000 civilians living under ISIL control (para. 62).
Of 84 paragraphs in the report, 15 (17,86%) include references to women and gender. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative continued his engagement with government officials, parliamentarians, representatives of political parties, women’s groups, civil society and religious and community leaders to advance inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation in post-ISIL Iraq (para. 42), including through the National Settlement Initiative (para. 43). On 20 March, UNAMI hosted a consultative forum with civil society organisations on the participation and representation of women in electoral processes (para. 47). In an effort to implement the joint communique on prevention of, and response to, conflict-related sexual violence in Iraq, which was signed on 23 September 2016, UNAMI has appointed a Senior Women’s Protection Adviser (para. 50). The report also introduces a UNDP-led pilot project to address the needs of women-headed households (This project is implemented in peri-urban areas, where local governments are concerned about possible re-radicalisation). In general, there is a significant increase in the number of references to women’s participation and gender-specific protection services, including one-stop integrated service centres for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (para. 62), provided by UNAMI and relevant actors.
While several efforts are undertaken by UNAMI and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative to promote women’s political participation, the report does not provide any assessment of the “meaningfulness” of women’s participation in politics in Iraq. In this vein, the UN Secretary-General should inquire UNAMI to provide training for female members of political parties and parliaments and support the development of women’s caucuses, as well as provide skill building and leadership training for women civil society members, women’s organisations and female journalists. Moreover the report does not provide any information on measures aimed at achieving general gender equality and tackling gender stereotypes, including by increasing women’s access to justice and supporting local women’s efforts to advocate for legal rights.
While discussing the implementation of the joint communique and announcing the appointment of a Senior Women’s Protection Adviser, the report however provides no information on its content. Moreover the report provides no information about the processes of reviewing and strengthening of relevant national legislations and their practical implementation. There is no discussion on efforts to build capacity for justice mechanisms at the local level and raise awareness for women on legal procedures. Military and security forces in Iraq should be provided training on prevention of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence; however there is no information about relevant efforts. Women are also disproportionately affected by the use and damage from arms proliferation as they are often used as intimidation in the perpetration of sexual violence. However the report does not discuss any efforts aimed at de-militarisation of the situation in Irag and ending impunity for all armed actors, both state and non-state.
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 meaningful 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. The UN Secretary-General should stress the importance of reviewing and strengthening of national legislations and their practical implementation to ensure women’s access to justice and protection services, including by legally allowing displaced women and girls to obtain Civil Status Identification documents without requiring verification of their identity by a male relative. The UN Secretary-General should also inquire UNAMI to support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence by establishing training programs for the security personnel and protocols for medical staff. In the next report, the UN Secretary-General should provide a detailed assessment of the performance of a recently-appointed Women’s Protection Advisor.
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 inquire UNAMI to work with the Committee for Women, Family, and Child of the Iraqi government to incorporate the civil society proposed amendments to the draft Family Protection Law, and compel the Council of Representatives to adopt the bill.