On the 19th of January the Security Council held an Open Debate, under the Presidency of South Africa on the importance of the rule of law as one of the key elements of international peacekeeping, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. The Council adopted a Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2012/1) which in its fifth paragraph says that the Security Council reiterates its concern about the situation of the most vulnerable groups and displaced persons including women. The paragraph also says that the Council expresses particular concern about sexual and gender-based violence in conflict situations and recalls in this regard SCR1325.
Of the 15 UN Security Council Member statements, 6 countries mentioned women/gender or made references to the women, peace and security agenda (WPS). Those countries were Azerbaijan, Germany, India, Portugal, United Kingdom and USA. Non Security Council States or others who mentioned WPS included Brazil, Mexico, Austria, Costa Rica, Estonia, Finland, Mexico, Peru and the European Union. Those speakers who mentioned WPS have had their statements published on this site. The debate focused on punishment of those who had committed crimes against humanity and violated international law and almost all speakers stressed the fight against impunity and that the role of the International Court of Justice should be strengthened. Other themes that were discussed during the debate were the importance of not only technical assistance when it comes to transitional justice processes but also a respect for human rights, reconciliation mechanisms and how the United Nations could change or alter their rule of law programmes.
Regrettably, not even half of Security Council Member States mentioned gender or women in relations to the topic of the debate. In contrast, almost every non-Security Council country that spoke, including the European Union, mentioned gender issues and women in their statements.
Austria, Costa Rica, Estonia, Germany, India, and Portugal emphasized gender equality and voiced concern for the vulnerability of women and their protection in conflict and post-conflict situations. Austria, Brazil, Estonia, Portugal and the United States referenced women's access to justice and sexual and gender –based violence.
Of particular note was Estonia's reference to SCR 1325, which “should remain high on the agenda of the United Nations.”
In referencing their newly launched National Action Plan (NAP), the United States stated that women were “not just victims of war; they are agents of peace and essential to building the rule of law in any society.”
10 countries included women as an important factor in transitional justice processes and/or highlighted the specific rights and needs of women. Some countries used general terms as gender equality or women's rights, some used substantive language that referred to financing and specific actions to address gender issues. The correlation between peacekeeping and women was not mentioned as much as it could have been, SCR 1325 was only mentioned by one single country and little focus was given to women's role and participation in post-conflict recovery.
The following countries made statements regarding the theme of the Open Debate.
Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark,Estonia, Ethiopia, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Iran, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Solomon Islands, SriLanka, Switzerland, Togo, UK and USA.
The total number of countries or UN & Civil Society including the European Union speakers that made statements during the debate was 41.
*Bolded countries or UN & Civil Society speakers were those who mentioned WPS or gender.