Analysis: Progress and Challenges


How is the Security Council making progress on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda?

Since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 (2000), the Security Council has been developing the normative framework of Women, Peace and Security (WPS). Each of the additional WPS resolutions adds important elements to the framework. Most recently, the 2015 High-Level Review and UNSCR 2242 (2015) added important elements to improve member states' implementation efforts and called for the integration of the WPS Agenda throughout country-specific situations. This represents progress in establishing accountability measures on state commitments which all too often, go unfulfilled. The elements added in UNSCR 2242 (2015) include the creation of the Informal Expert Group on Women Peace and Security (IEG 2242),  proposals for peacekeeping reform including the provision of comprehensive pre-deployment training, calls for the generation of gender research and expertise, and calls for increased WPS- and gender-focused financial contributions.

SGBV is addressed in all resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. This represents both progress and challenges. Progress in that the protection aspect of the agenda has increased institutional tools to combat impunity, prevent and protect from conflict-related sexual violence. Progress has been made focusing on bringing justice for victims and recognising that sexual violence is a serious violation of human rights and international law. However, measuring progress remains a challenge since UNSCR 1325 (2000) had no implementation or monitoring mechanism.

Monitoring implementation has been a focus of recent action. Four examples include:

 In terms of internalising the Women, Peace and Security in the thematic and geographic work of Security Council, there has been a progress.

  • Resolution: Over 52% of monitored resolutions between 2000-2016 referenced women, gender or UNSCR 1325 (2000) since the landmark resolution was passed in October 2000. In contrast, less than 5% of resolutions mentioning women, girls or gender in the period between 1998-2000. However, for the year 2016, of the 60 resolutions adopted, 28 (48% contained WPS references, a decrease from 76% in 2015). The majority of references pertained to sexual and gender-based violence, followed by references to other human rights violations and women’s participation.
  • A closer analysis of the debates of the Security Council, shows an increase in references and incorporation of the WPS Agenda. However, the patterns show the incorporation remains marginal, ad-hoc and lacks consistency. Quantitatively, there has been increasing attention to the WPS Agenda in debates that the Security Council hold throughout 2016.

Further analysis and monitoring work on internalising the Women, Peace and Security in the thematic and geographic work of Security Council can be navigated in Security Council Monitor section of the website. WILPF’s Resolution Watch, Debate Watch and Report Watch monitors, extracts and analyses the gender content of work of the Council.

On February 24, 2017 the Security Council published a report detailing persisting implementation gaps in the Security Council's work on the WPS agenda. Among the highlighted data, the report outlines progresses in the establishment of the Informal Expert Group on Women Peace and Securty (2242) and the historic admission of women's civil society representatives to country-specific meetings. The report also provides comprehensive statistics on the integration of WPS language throughout Security Council Resolutions and Presidential Statements. Read the full report here!


Where are some of the gaps in the Security Council’s implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda?

The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda is still hindered by challenges. Despite some progress in policy, political recognition and a general increase in gender references, there remains a need for more systematic, consistent, and comprehensive implementation by the Security Council.

Some of these challenges include: accountability gaps, data gaps, analytical gaps, and the implementation gap within the Council.

Leadership and accountability through a concrete follow-up mechanism that includes regular review and assessment of the Council’s WPS work are not yet realised. These problems are reflected in the inconsistent integration of WPS commitments in the Council's reports, missions, briefings, presidential statements and resolutions.

The UN Security Council has increasingly incorporated language on women and gender into country-specific resolutions over the past 16 years. This progress must be acknowledged and encouraged. Between the adoption of UNSCR 1325 (2000), in October 2000, and November 2016, over 48% of monitored resolutions referenced women, gender or UNSCR 1325 (2000). In the period between 1998-2000, this percentage was lower than 5%.

As of November  2016, the Security Council passed 46 country-specific resolutions, of which 26 (56%), incorporated aspects of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The Security Council has adopted some new language in recent years, including references to civil society. For example, the resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina (S/RES/2315) (2016) called upon Bosnian leadership to stay responsive to the needs of their citizens through collaboration with local women’s organisations. This progress reflects the work of women’s groups and advocacy networks, but more consistent integration by the Security Council into its geographic work is needed

Conflict prevention work is underemphasised and inconsistently undertaken. Small arms and light weapons (SALW) are not given the attention they warrant. Useful language calling for gender-responsive disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes, in addition to security sector reform, is not employed consistently, despite the clear need.

Beyond resolutions, the Council’s lack of a systematic and comprehensive approach is seen also in its reports, missions, briefings, and presidential statements. While many country reports received by the Council address parts of the WPS Agenda, they are overall inconsistent. The Council’s presidential statements are also still inconsistent in addressing WPS-related matters. The Council’s record on presidential statements is perhaps the most startling.

In sum, the Security Council has not responded to the demands of women’s organisations and integrated WPS obligations systematically, nor has it advanced progressive language. Without this language and specificity, the gender dimension of this work is overwhelmingly neglected.