On Thursday, 21 August 2014, the Security Council held an open debate on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security with a focus on Conflict Prevention. The debate focused on concrete ways to prevent armed conflict by better utilizing tools found in Chapter VI of the UN Charter. The Council also reaffirmed various conflict prevention and resolution measures such as sanctions, peacekeeping operations, human rights mechanisms and preventative political missions. It also highlighted the role of civil society organizations in warning and facilitating prevention as well as the role that women played and can play in this regard.
As a result of this debate, SCR 2171 was adopted which targeted system-wide conflict prevention. The debate featured a total of fifty-nine statements and a total of nineteen speakers referenced gender.
As the representative of Denmark stated during this debate, “Women remain the single most underutilized resource for more effective peacemaking and peacebuilding. Experience shows that empowering women and supporting their full and active participation in peace-related political and economic decision-making can lead to more inclusive and lasting agreements.” Despite this undeniable statement, only one-third of the speakers addressed issues pertaining to gender- of which six speakers referenced sexual violence and two referenced SCR 1325.
Within those nineteen statements that made gender references, a variety of topics were addressed, including: women in the decision-making process, the importance of the inclusion of women's groups, preventing violence against women, the importance of women's political participation, the significance of women as an integral part of the peace process, as well as women in conflict prevention and conflict resolution efforts. Similarly, SCR 2171 referenced women in civil society, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, post-conflict peacebuilding and encouraged that women be invited to participate in these efforts.
Of note, both the representatives of Canada and Thailand referenced eight different roles of women in conflict in their respective statement. This statistic perhaps shows a trend witnessing a more in-depth discussion of gender by some representatives, although the majority of representatives forego making gender-sensitive statements altogether. Interestingly, although the theme of this debate was conflict prevention, only two of the speakers referenced disarmament: the representatives of Russia and of Brazil, neither of which were gender sensitive in their statements..
The focus of this debate, and SCR 2171 was that conflict prevention should be implemented system-wide, which largely means inclusive of local and regional networks. Along those lines, in terms of potential methods of implementation, the Security Council aimed to more effectively use the tools of “negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement and resort to regional and subregional organizations and arrangements, as well as the good offices of the Secretary-General.”
Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, stressed that human rights violations were “a prelude to larger conflict” and that the state of world affairs “hammer home the full cost of the international community's failure to prevent conflict.” Many speakers emphasized that national governments are responsible for preventing conflicts in their respective countries.
SCR2171 is a comprehensive resolution strongly suggesting recommitting to the principles of the Charter and to commit to the tools and human resources that can be used to prevent the conflict through peaceful cooperation before it results in wide-scale violence.
Statements will be posted shortly.