Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2093 (2013), the African Union (AU) Commission submitted the report dated 13 February 2014 (S/2014/100) to update the Council on the main developments within Somalia during the period under review, the implementation of the AU Mission in Africa (AMISOM) mandate, and steps taken by the AU to implement Security Council Resolution 2124 (2013), which authorized an increase in the strength of AMISOM and support to the Somali National Army.
One paragraph in the report was dedicated to the topic of gender within AMISOM activities (para.20), highlighting the AU’s efforts to use gender mainstreaming as a tool in its Peace Support Operations. The AU Commission convened a workshop that sought to develop an AMISOM-specific strategy that addressed critical gender gaps in the Mission, and the workshop concluded with a gender mainstreaming strategy, “aimed at building gender competence within AMISOM through the development of appropriate capacity-building and organizational initiatives, integrating a gender dimension into AMISOM’s policies, programming and operations through identifying and addressing key gender concerns, and increasing communication and partnership by strengthening stakeholder collaboration and coordination on gender, peace and security in AMISOM.”
Beyond the one paragraph, there was no mention of women, peace and security concerns within the broader report, effectively evidencing the siloed nature of gender considerations in the Mission’s operations. Although a gender mainstreaming strategy is to be welcomed, the total absence of women, peace and security elsewhere in the report questions the significance of such an initiative. The report missed the opportunity to address women’s roles as active participants, mediators, negotiators and peacebuilders in reconciliation, federalism, constitution-drafting, electoral and security sector reform processes. It neglected to highlight the particular protection needs of women and girls, especially within the context of a buildup in security sector activity. Critically, it failed to even mention the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).
The report overlooked most of the recommendations put forward within the most recent MAP on Somalia (November 2013 – although Somalia was also addressed in the December 2013 MAP, the December points focused on UNSOM, not AMISOM). Human rights considerations, including women’s rights, were not forefront within the report, and there was no mention of preventing, monitoring and investigating abuses and violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including all forms of sexual and gender-based violence (several human rights strategies were touched upon, but the report offered few specifics or implementing details). The report did, however, speak to the recommendation regarding gender mainstreaming, but did not acknowledge resources towards effective implementation.
Although the current report emphasized the adoption of a gender mainstreaming strategy, which is a positive development, the previous report from the AU Commission, S/2013/371, offered much more attention to women, peace and security concerns, with attention paid not only to gender mainstreaming broadly, but also to the specific protection needs of women, the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, and the conduct and discipline of AMISOM troops and the efforts undertaken to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.