Children and Armed Conflict Debate: Lack of Gender Sensitivity Narrows Possibilities for Peace

Written by: Zainab Alam

On 8 September 2014 the UN Security Council held an open debate on Children and Armed Conflict. Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict briefed the Council for this debate and over 60 speakers participated. It has been about six months since the Security Council's last open debate on Children and Armed Conflict, which was held on 7 March and unanimously resulted in Resolution 2143. This debate focused on the effects of current global conflicts on children. It highlighted that although gains have been made in the protect of children in recent years, these gains have been overshadowed by global crises. Amongst the challenges mentioned were the grave situations in Gaza and Syria and the threats of Boko Haram and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Only 25 of 60 speakers included gender considerations in their statements, particularly around issues of sexual exploitation, gender-based violence, and the importance of protecting women and children from being victims of violent conflict. Only two speakers - the UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation and the representative of Sudan - mentioned the importance of including women in peace processes. Despite requests from the Council in SCR 2122 for the integration of Women Peace and Security (WPS) concerns, about 60 percent of statements were still gender blind. Moving forward Council members must make it an imperative to make statements addressing WPS issues, so that political will is mobilized towards a greater implementation of the WPS agenda.

Read Full Analysis on debate here.