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What We Think about the New Women, Peace and Security Resolution

On 23 April 2019, under the German presidency, the UN Security Council held the annual Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict (SVIC), which focused on accountability for sexual violence and survivor-centred approaches.

Image credit: WILPF International Secretariat
WILPF International Secretariat
29 April 2019
Inas Miloud, a Libyan activist as one of the Speakers at the UN Security Council Debate Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Inas Miloud, a Libyan activist as one of the Speakers at the UN Security Council Debate Sexual Violence in Conflict. Photo credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

On 23 April 2019, under the German presidency, the UN Security Council held the annual Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict (SVIC), which focused on accountability for sexual violence and survivor-centred approaches.

A key outcome of the debate was the adoption of the ninth resolution on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 2467), which focuses on a survivor-centred approach and accountability. The resolution was adopted with 13 votes in favour, 0 against, and abstentions from Russia and China.

The negotiations over the Resolution were fraught. German civil society who work with front-line defenders came out with a public statement in advance of the debate arguing that if negotiations suggested a resolution that would weaken the WPS agenda, it should not be introduced in the Council. Despite this, the resolution was pushed forward.

The most difficult issues in the negotiations were language on whether to establish a mechanism (i.e. a formal working group of the UN Security Council) on sexual violence in conflict and on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of victims of sexual violence.  It is understood that concerns were raised about a formal mechanism by several actors and groups. During negotiation, States, in particular, Russia, China, and the US opposed the mechanism so therefore no new working group was established. In the final stages, the US proposed compromise language to proposed language on SRHR, but the final text ended up making no direct reference to SRHR. Although this leaves language in SCR2106 OP19 as precedent language, the absence of this commitment in the context of growing attacks on women’s rights indeed still sets a bad precedent.

Following the passage of the resolution, France, Belgium, South Africa, and the United Kingdom spoke about the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for survivors. South Africa stated that “text calls for survivor centered approach, while denying survivors SRH when they need them most. Council is therefore telling survivors that consensus is more important than their needs”.  Indeed, moving forward, a holistic, survivor-centred approach must include appropriate multisectoral services for all survivors of sexual violence, such as clinical treatment of rape, medical, psychosocial and legal services, including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care and rights such as access to emergency contraception, safe termination of pregnancy, and HIV prevention and treatment.

In the end, UNSCR 2467 did introduce new language on a survivor-centered approach to sexual violence, which called for prevention and response to be non-discriminatory and specific, and respect the rights and needs of survivors including vulnerable or targeted groups (Operative Paragraph 16).  It also asks for a gap assessment and recommendations by the Secretary-General in his next report (2020). It is essential that survivors, women-led civil society and service providers are part of the design of this assessment.  Despite problematic backtracking on SRHR, the resolution may therefore create other opportunities for women-led civil society to use some of the new text to conduct national and human rights advocacy, strategic litigation, and mobilisation that supports survivors.

For WILPF, the bottom line on evaluating new resolutions and mechanisms at the Security Council is whether or not such initiatives create change for women on the ground.

Moving forward to 2020 and the 20th  Anniversary of UNSCR 1325, it will be important to remember that solutions that change local women’s lives require political will and concrete action, not further resolutions.

Read our full analysis of the annual debate and Resolution 2467.

To get the latest updates on the Women, Peace and Security agenda, follow our PeaceWomen website.

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

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WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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