#16 Days: Progress on Women, Peace and Security Issues

“UN Women for Peace” march marking International Women’s Day in 2013. Photo credit: Mark Garten / United Nations.

“UN Women for Peace” march marking International Women’s Day in 2013. Photo credit: Mark Garten / United Nations.

Report Review: Cross-Cutting Report on Women, Peace and Security (2014) by Security Council Report

Security Council Report, an independent non-for-profit organisation that provides “information about the activities of the UN Security Council and its subordinate bodies” for the stakeholders and the general public, published the 4th Cross-Cutting Report on Women, Peace and Security in April 2014. This and preceding cross-cutting reports on women, peace and security specifically deal with women, peace and security issues and the way the Security Council addresses them. In general, the reports track the new work of the Security Council as it relates to women, peace and security matters, analyze relevant statistical information, and highlight relevant trends.

The fourth report is quite comprehensive in nature even though it focuses mostly on the developments in the last year. It starts by discussing and analyzing key developments at the thematic level in the following areas: Security Council activity on women, peace and security; “Arria-Formula” meeting on women, peace and security; field perspectives from gender practitioners in peacekeeping operations; and the work of the Special Representative on sexual violence in conflicts. Next, it dives into a cross-cutting analysis for 2013 by looking at Security Council resolutions, country-specific presidential statements, Secretary General’s reports on country-specific situations, and UN Mission mandates. Furthermore, it analyzes the application of UN’s Zero-Tolerance policy and the work of the several Security Council Sanctions Committees. Lastly, it briefly discusses Security Council’s dynamics as they relate to women, peace and security agenda.

The report discusses various women, peace and security related trends that deserve a special mention. On the thematic front, one unfortunate trend has been that the Security Council’s language has become more restrictive: using “sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations” instead of “conflict-related sexual violence”. The former usage ensures that reporting is done only in situations where security is a matter of “international peace and security and therefore is outside the purview of the Security Council”. As a result, it forgoes the reporting of sexual violence outside of armed conflict or post-conflict situations. Another thematic trend is the domination of protection-related language in the Security Council resolutions; the resolutions focus much less on the participation of women. Indeed, of the nine resolutions in 2013 with “new, substantial and operational references to women, only one included comparable references to both protection and participation elements”.

The most intriguing section of the report is the cross-cutting analysis for 2013, which provides a statistical analysis for women, peace and security in country-specific decisions of the Security Council. For instance, of the 30 resolutions on country-specific situations that could be reasonably expected to refer to women, 28 actually referred to them. Moreover, in the operative paragraphs of these resolutions, only 73.3 percent contained references to women and 65.6 percent mentioned women, peace and security issues. In addition, the report examined country-specific and thematic presidential statements, which are statements made by the President of the Security Council on behalf of the Council, adopted at a formal meeting of the Council and issued as an official document of the Council. They are usually made “in response to a significant development on the group in situations on the agenda or to highlight key points following a thematic open debate.” Of the 12 country-specific presidential statements that could reasonably be expected to address the women, 10 actually contained a reference to women. Of the nine thematic presidential statements that could reasonably be expected to address women, four actually did – which was a decrease from five out of six in 2012.

The report concluded with some recommendations for the Security Council, some of which are as follows:

  • Cease to view women, peace and security as an add-on component to a mandate rather than being a central part of it
  • Request more robust reporting on gender issues and include a separate section on women, peace and security in the Secretary-General’s country-specific reports
  • Request troop-contributing countries to undertake pre-deployment training in order to prevent sexual abuse by their troops

Overall, the report clearly outlines how women, peace and security issues are approached by the Security Council. These issues are clearly more on the forefront of the Council decisions than they were in the past; however, as the report demonstrates, there is still much Security Council can do push women, peace and security agenda forward.


Margaryta Yakovenko is a recent graduate from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. She specializes in peacebuilding, conflict resolution, and security sector reform. She is currently interning with Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada.

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