IWTC WOMEN’S GLOBALNET #358

ACTIVITIES & INTIATIVES OF WOMEN WORLDWIDE

 

PEACE MEDIATIONS SHOULD INCLUDE WOMEN & ADDRESS SEXUAL VIOLENCE: HIGH-LEVEL MEETING & UN REPORT

July 10, 2009

Tina Johnson & Helena Gronberg

 

  1. HIGH-LEVEL COLLOQUIUM DISCUSSES HOW SEXUAL VIOLENCE SHOULD BE ADDRESSED IN PEACE PROCESSES

 

  1. UN SECREATRY-GENERAL & MEMBER STATES CALL FOR WOMEN & OTHERS WITH EXPERTISE ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE TO BE APPOINTED AS MEDIATORS

 

Sexual violence is increasingly used as a tactic of war, with women and girls the primary targets. Research by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), however, shows that sexual violence is rarely mentioned in peace agreements, and failure to include these crimes has been linked to increased levels of peacetime rape committed by demobilized fighters and ordinary civilians. To coincide with the first anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1820, a high-level colloquium was held on the issue of addressing conflict-related sexual violence in peace processes. The UN Secretary-General has also stressed the importance of mediators in peace negotiations having expertise on the issue of sexual violence. In addition, UN members States have repeated the call for women to be involved at all levels of conflict resolution, including as mediators, to secure lasting peace and security.

 

1. HIGH-LEVEL COLLOQUIUM DISCUSSES HOW SEXUAL VIOLENCE SHOULD BE ADDRESSED IN PEACE PROCESSES

From 22–24 June 2009, a high-level colloquium was held in New York on addressing sexual violence in peace negotiations. It was co-organized by UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), on behalf of UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, in partnership with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. Participants included senior mediators, subject experts and women’s rights advocates.

 

Senior mediators admitted at the opening plenary that sexual violence was not something that they had felt themselves specifically mandated to address. Moreover, a number of obstacles to the inclusion of provisions on sexual violence in peace agreements were identified, including: resource constraints; a lack of systematic data on the intensity, frequency and circumstances of conflict-related sexual violence; the often weak domestic advocacy on this issue; compressed timeframes for concluding agreements; resistance among negotiating parties to full accountability; and failure to ensure adequate numbers of women mediators, negotiators, peacekeepers and ceasefire monitors.

 

However, the final plenary session ended with a collective acknowledgement among mediators that the colloquium had given them the perspective to see sexual violence as a routine part of their mandate. Participants generated a number of key principles for enabling mediators and negotiating parties to ensure that sexual violence is addressed in peace agreements and that these are consistent with both UNSCR 1820 and 1325, including:

1         Pre-ceasefire negotiations – including humanitarian-access and human rights agreements – to address sexual violence;

2        Ceasefires to prohibit and monitor for sexual violence;

3        Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR) to prevent sexual violence and ensure women’s security;

4        Justice processes to ensure that issues of sexual violence are addressed with equal priority to other international crimes; and

5        Peace agreements to specify sexual violence victims as reparations beneficiaries, and to address their socio-economic needs in recovery and development frameworks.

 

Over the coming months, these principles will be further refined, based on comments received during the colloquium as well as additional expert input, and turned into an Operational Guidance Note along the lines of those developed for other aspects of peace processes on the UN Peacemaker website.

 

For further information, see: http://www.unifem.org/news_events/event_detail.php?EventID=251

UNSCR 1820 can be found at: http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N08/391/44/PDF/N0839144.pdf

The UN Peacemaker website is at: http://peacemaker.unlb.org/index1.php#

 

2. UN S-G & MEMBER STATES CALL FOR WOMEN & OTHERS WITH EXPERTISE ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE TO BE APPOINTED AS MEDIATORS

The report of the Secretary-General on enhancing mediation and its support activities was launched on 8 April 2009. The report highlights the need for experienced and knowledgeable mediators and support teams and for mediators with the expertise to address such crucial issues as sexual violence. It underlines the importance of having women present at peace negotiations and commits to appointing more women as special envoys and representatives. For the full report see: http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N09/278/78/PDF/N0927878.pdf?OpenElement

 

The Security Council held an open debate on the report on 21 April 2009. Mr. B. Lynn Pascoe, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, addressed the Council beforehand on mediation processes and the report. It was noteworthy that Mr. Pascoe did not once mention women in his briefing.

 

During the debate, however, a number of member States – including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay – referred to the critical role of women. The absence of women at the mediation table, despite the calls in UNSCR 1325 and 1820 for their increased representation at all levels of conflict resolution and peace processes, was described as striking, and attention was drawn to the fact that to date not one single woman had been appointed chief mediator. States further emphasized the need for women to be part of peace negotiations in order to adequately address women’s perspectives and secure lasting peace and security. For complete statements and Mr. Pascoe’s statement see: http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/PRO/N09/308/25/PDF/N0930825.pdf?OpenElement

 

In a presidential statement (PRTS) issued after the open debate, the Security Council noted the low numbers of women in formal roles in mediation processes and stressed the need to ensure that women are appointed at decision-making levels and as high-level mediators as called for in resolutions 1325 and 1820. For the full text see:

http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N09/309/04/PDF/N0930904.pdf?OpenElement

 

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––-----------------------

 

IWTC Women’s GlobalNet is a production of:

International Women's Tribune Centre

777 United Nations Plaza

New York, NY 10017, USA

Tel: 1-212-687-8633;

Fax: 1-212-661-2704

Email: iwtc@iwtc.org

Web: https://www.iwtc.org

 

PLEASE NOTE:

For back issues of IWTC Women’s GlobalNet, go to our website at https://www.iwtc.org and click on GlobalNet. To subscribe, send your e-mail address and the name of the country where you work to joey@iwtc.org