Peace, Security, and Cooperation framework in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - 4 October 2016 to 28 February 2017.
These reports provide updates on the implementation of mandates concerning the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the Peace, Security, and Cooperation (PSC) Framework in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, pursuant to Resolution 2277 (2016).
Pursuant to Resolution 2277 (2016), the Security Council has ordered: the implementation of all state obligations to the Peace, Security, and Cooperation (PSC) framework in the region; comprehensive national efforts to mitigate threats posed by illicit transfers; stabilisation efforts including security sector reform (SSR), disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration (DDR) programmes, and rapid reaction forces; increased regional and international engagement to facilitate political and economic development; the assurance of open and free electoral processes in the state; and procedures to ensure accountability for human rights violations and combat impunity.
The Secretary-General has previously recommended the reduction of MONUSCO forces (S/2015/983) alongside the development of an exit strategy. The MONUSCO mandate is centred around the protection of civilians and stabilisation efforts including the protection of human rights and the strengthening of state institutions. Resolution 2277 (2016) recalls all relevant resolutions on Women, Peace and Security (WPS); urges the government of the DRC to facilitate the participation of women and civil society in electoral processes; requests that MONUSCO incorporate gender perspectives throughout its policies and provide assistance in ensuring women’s participation in political, peacebuilding, and reconstruction efforts; calls on the Secretary-General to include gender specific data in his reports; condemns widespread sexual and gender based violence (SGBV); and calls upon all actors involved to combat SGBV through training, gender advisement, the implementation of all relevant protection and response policy, and the implementation of the UN zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by mission forces.
The area of operations under MONUSCO’s purview deteriorated over the reporting period as political agreements concerning the transition between the conclusion of President Joseph Kabila’s term and forthcoming national elections stalled, resulting in widespread political violence. Threats to civilian populations have increased significantly, as once localised incidents of community based and ethnically motivated violence have spread beyond the boundaries of the conflict affected East, resulting in nationwide insecurity. The continued mobilisation of militarised groups in the North and South Kivu, Ituri, and Haut-Uélé provinces have necessitated extended operations among Congolese and MONUSCO forces. Increased attacks by armed groups against local and displaced populations have led to surging death tolls, incidences of sexual violence, human rights violations, and the propagation of community and ethnically based defence militias.
Of 65 paragraphs in the report, 4 (6 percent) included references to Women, Peace, and Security. The references were largely focused on death tolls and incidences of sexual and gender-based violence, providing little to no information regarding the social, economic, or political status of Congolese women’s lives, nor other relevant data. This data represents a 63 percent decrease in WPS integration from the previous reporting period, which included 11 references out of 85 total operatives (13 percent). Additionally the content and context of references was significantly stronger in the previous cycle, primarily through the inclusion of data regarding women’s participation and mission implementation efforts to prevent SEA.
Of 87 paragraphs in the report, 8 (9.2 percent) included references to Women, Peace, and Security. In comparison, S/2016/840 concerning developments from 9 March to 20 September 2016, included 6 references out of a total of 75 paragraphs (8.1 percent). This data represents a 13.5 percent increase in WPS integration between these two reports. Furthermore the majority of relevant data in the current cycle was highly substantive, regarding efforts to advance the Women Peace and Security Agenda in the region through initiatives such as forums for women to strengthen their leadership capacities and the establishment of fundraising mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of the WPS agenda.
The prevalence of the gender sensitive language throughout Resolution 2277 (2016) comprises a robust framework for the implementation of the WPS Agenda in the DRC. There is significant variance between the reports on these frameworks, despite both originating from the dual mandate of Resolution 2277. This dynamic is symptomatic of the larger trend within the UN system to silo efforts on relevant agendas to specific mechanisms rather than integrating implementation across all entities. Implementation within the PSC, though encouraging, does not excuse the failure to implement mandated WPS provisions within MONUSCO. A secondary source of concern is the inconsistency in the integration of relevant WPS analysis between reports, such as the considerable decrease in gender perspectives between MONUSCO reports.
In accordance with MONUSCO’s mandate to incorporate gender perspectives throughout its policies and ensure women’s participation various fora: S/2017/206 does not provide any information regarding efforts undertaken by relevant stakeholders to promote the full participation of women in political processes and institutions. For example, where previous reports reflected mission engagement with local women leaders to raise civilian peace awareness or disaggregated data pertaining to women voters during electoral cycles, current sections on these issues remained gender-blind. The report reflects no mission efforts to fulfill the gender sensitive elements of its mandate concerning equal representation in transitional agreements, institutions, and legislative processes; inclusivity in electoral processes; or the preservation and access of political spaces. On the other hand, S/2017/208, dedicated an entire section to the promotion of women, youth, and civil society within the mandate zone, which delineated broad scale efforts to increase women’s leadership and empowerment within political and electoral structures. However, neither report provided insight regarding women’s role in recent security developments or the impact of the conflict on their lives
The reports indicate a significant increase in incidences of conflict-related sexual violence amidst broader trends of increasing intercommunal violence, and reflects mission efforts to protect civilian populations from such violations. Within S/2017/206, no new measures to implement the protection elements of the MONUSCO mandate were reported, rather, the Secretary-General indicated that preventative training and awareness raising activities continued to occur (Op. 52). Where incidences of SEA occurred, including cases attributed to MONUSCO peacekeepers, no information was offered regarding accountability for these crimes. Similarly, S/2017/208 lists an October 2016 report by the Office of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes on ensuring victim’s access to justice (Op. 78), however the document does not specify any actions taken to implement these measures. This comprises a key failure to report on the implementation of the mission’s justice mandate and the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on SEA.
Specific components concerning the prevention of conflict in Resolution 2277 (2016) are gender-blind, nonetheless gender considerations are required to be implemented as a cross-cutting issue throughout all MONUSCO and PSC activities, including through early warning and stabilisation activities. Gender mainstreaming is crucial for the success of prevention efforts and has been reported on in previous cycles, yet the current report fails to offer any gender perspective on the participation of women in preventing the emergence, spread and re-emergence of conflict or political violence.
The reports provide no guidance regarding the inclusion of women in reconciliation or stabilisation activities. Relevant language pertaining to mission support for local conflict-resolution initiatives reference the inclusion of other key groups such as community leaders and youth populations, yet fail to address the role played by women’s organisations in these efforts. For reconciliation, it is essential that both entities fulfill their responsibilities to ensure gender mainstreaming in all policies and processes related to peacebuilding in the DRC.
At a minimum, future reporting must include consistent and explicit analysis on the gendered impact of this conflict, including through the provision of sex-disaggregated data regarding women’s participation in political, DDR, and humanitarian situations. The Secretary-General must also provide analysis regarding the impact of mission activities on women and gender relations of power in the territory. Furthermore, the broad focus of the mandate in recalling all relevant resolutions on Women Peace and Security provides significant opportunity for the Secretary-General to address gender in a more broad and transformative context than individual operatives allow, such as by highlighting the interlinkages of violent masculinities and militarisation with SGBV and promoting the rights of non-binary individuals. Efforts to implement the WPS Agenda in the DRC must not be siloed between these two entities, and must instead be integrated equally across all institutions.
Report recommendations should call on all relevant parties, including the Security Council, to ensure women’s increased participation to address discrimination and other structural obstacles to women’s representation in governance and peace processes. Future reporting must continue to reflect women’s participation in MONUSCO peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts, as well as measures to strengthen women’s participation in decision-making roles. Women’s organisations must be continuously engaged to allow for the integration of localised contexts on women’s security needs, rights violations, and access to support services.
Report analysis must move beyond the provision of statistics on sexual violence and human rights violations to address the drivers and impact of these crimes. Recent events and activities related to WPS in the region, including the contexts of displacement, intercommunal tension, and macroeconomic decline should all be integrated into protection dialogues. Furthermore, data pertaining to women’s access to victim’s services including discussion or persisting barriers and challenges must be addressed.
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.