Report of the Secretary-General:
On the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701
March 8 2017
The report provides an update on the implementation of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL), pursuant to Resolution 1701 (2006), for the reporting period of 5 November 2016 to 28 February 2017. The Security Council has ordered: the immediate cessation of hostilities between Israeli and Lebanese forces, including Hizbullah; the return of control over all Lebanese territories to the Government of Lebanon; increased financial and humanitarian support from the international community, with particular concern for the plight of more than 1 million refugees currently hosted by the state of Lebanon; and empowered the United Nations Assistance Mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to monitor the situation on the ground, support Lebanese forces enforcing the Blue Line, and ensure humanitarian access. Resolution 1701 (2006) is gender blind, while the UNIFIL mandate includes a single aim relevant to the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda: compliance with the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA). As such, later reports have addressed the WPS agenda on a solely provisional basis, beyond the scope of the mandate.
The area of operations under UNIFIL’s purview remained relatively secure throughout the reporting period, however, no progress was achieved among the parties to this conflict regarding the implementation of Resolution 1701 (2006) and the adoption of a permanent ceasefire. In Mid-December Prime Minister Saad Hariri formed a new government, providing political stability after more than two years of political standoff and a vacant presidency. UNIFIL’s overall relationship with the civilian population remains positive, however a number of incidents occurred during the reporting period which indicate a degree of opposition from local groups. Lebanon’s stability continues to be highly contingent on the development of the situation in neighbouring Syria, as well as on the resources taxed by the influx of refugees from both Syria and Palestine.
Based on this report, no significant changes in the situation for women were indicated over the reporting period. Of 91 paragraphs in the report, 6 (6.5%) included references to Women, Peace, and Security. The references were largely related to UN goals and participation data, providing little to no information regarding the situation for women in the area of UNIFIL operations. This data represents a 38 percent increase in WPS integration from the previous reporting period, which included included only 4 references out of a total of 85 paragraphs (4.7%). Despite the increase, the content and context of these references have not illustrated any significant developments related to the status of women during the reporting period, nor to the level of discourse on the topic.
Though the Secretary-General reported on the number of women deployed in UNIFIL forces (S/2017/201 Op. 66) and welcomed the commitment by Lebanese Leaders to introduce a parliamentary quota to ensure women’s representation (S/2017/201 Op. 84), little insight was offered regarding the overall status of women in Lebanon’s political life. In 2016 the Global Gender Gap Index ranked the political empowerment of women in Lebanon among the world’s lowest, at 143 out of 144 total countries considered. At present, only 2 percent of parliamentary seats in Lebanon are held by women and while women’s economic participation and opportunity fares slightly better in the state, it is broadly apparent that significant progress is required to empower Lebanese women socially and politically. In this light, and in light of the correlation between women’s empowerment and state security and development, it is concerning that so little consideration was afforded to these issues in the report.
The Secretary-General did not report on the gendered dimensions of UNIFIL early warning and stabilisation activities. The majority of prevention efforts mandated in Resolution 1701 (2006) are relevant to suppressing the flow of arms entering Lebanese territories, with secondary emphasis on economic reconstruction. The linkages between arms flows, women’s human security, and state development are such that gender perspectives cannot be excluded from such discussions if the mission is to achieve success. It is crucial that women be engaged in preventing the emergence, spread and re-emergence of conflict, through participation in disarmament and stabilisation efforts.
Lebanon current hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, and though this reality is acknowledged in the report, no references apply a gender-lens to this issue. As is stands, Syrian and Palestinian refugee women suffer significant human rights violations in Lebanon, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and trafficking. As it stands, the only references to SGBV in the report were related to allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation filed against UNIFIL (S/2017/201 Op. 67) which, though vital, speak nothing of developments pertaining to risk or response beyond this narrow context.
The absence of information regarding social, economic, or political developments in the lives of women within the UNIFIL mandate zone is particularly concerning as it indicates a failure to monitor the progress or efficacy of gender advisement and training initiatives disseminated by UNIFIL staff among local populations. The few references indicating UNIFIL outreach to improve community resilience or engage with local leaders comprise general notations which offer no indication of implementation or impact. The ambiguity of these references allows the mission to report progress without corroboration or evidence of success, and is disquieting amidst reports of continued rights violations from external sources.
Implementation at local, national and regional levels should increase coordination and mobilisation to ensure a gender perspective is fully integrated into all pillars of institutional work. High-impact and effective strategies must include monitoring and evaluation processes which identify the differential impacts of conflict, extremism, and arms proliferation on the lives of women and measure developments in these areas. The mission should identify and allocate sufficient resources from the regular budget for implementing these activities and support.
The victimisation of women in conflict situations is strongly exacerbated by arms proliferation. Future reports must note the disproportionate impact which mines and arms have on women in Lebanon. The Mission should facilitate gender analysis regarding the impact of weapons, including the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, small arms and light weapons and nuclear weapons on women, and address the promotion of women’s rights through reporting that focuses on advancing gender equality with a focus on preventing arms transfers that facilitate sexual and gender based violence.
Lebanon currently hosts over 1 million refugees. Like conflict, displacement disproportionately impacts women and results in intersecting challenges to their lives and livelihood ranging from socio-economic and civil rights restrictions, to increased vulnerability to sexual and gender based violence. Future reports must recognise the gender specific needs of women refugees, and relevant policies and projects must include gender perspectives to ensure the protection and empowerment of women and girls.
To address women’s political participation in Lebanese politics, future reports must delineate obstacles to this goal and propose solutions through which the United Nations can improve this situation. Gender equality should be promoted through codification in mission mandates to facilitate women’s meaningful participation and protection in political processes.
Future reporting must include specific examples of mission efforts to facilitate women’s full participation in peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction processes, including in monitoring and evaluating implementation. Where specific gender-sensitive provisions in peacebuilding are not mandated, the Secretary-General should press the Security Council to include WPS indicators throughout future mission tasks relevant to reconciliation and reconstruction.
On March 8 2016, the Secretary-General published his report on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006) on the situation in Lebanon.