The Security Council meets twice annually on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The Council holds an open debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict around April and an open debate on the broader Women, Peace and Security agenda in October of each year. It also meets on a range of other topics. The Council should incorporate women, peace and security issues into all of its discussions and actions.
Security Council debates have increasingly referenced and incorporated the Women, Peace and Security Agenda over time. However, the Council’s work to internalise Women, Peace and Security remains marginal, ad hoc and inconsistent across both country and thematic areas. In the period between 2010 and 2016, the Permanent Five, on average, referenced Women, Peace and Security in 31.71 percent of all Security Council open debates, with a fluctuating but slightly declining trend overall1. This went from 35.38 percent in 2010 down to 24.8 percent in 2014, back up to 46.41 percent in 2015 (the maximum during the period under review) and back down to 32.22 percent in 2016 (slightly lower than in 2010). Relative high results in 2010 and 2015 were demonstrated around the 10th and 15th anniversaries of the adoption of Resolution 1325 (35.38 and 46.41 percent, respectively). This illustrates that attention to gender issues often remains tied to public spectacles, rather than integrated consistently on a day-to-day basis.
Unfortunately, political concerns usually trump the Council’s agenda. The Permanent Five have an inconsistent record of country-specific action, limiting political progress in these countries. A particular obstacle on a country-specific action is the use of the veto. In the reporting period, Russia used the veto the most. It vetoed 7 out of 9 Security Council draft resolutions between 2010 and 2016. China also used the veto frequently: 5 out of 9 draft resolutions, all addressing the situation in Syria. The United States used the veto once in 2012 to veto a draft resolution on the situation in the Middle East. France and the United Kingdom did not use the veto at all during the reporting period.
The Council has recently recognized that more systematic attention needs to be paid to implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in its work. Taking action on this recognition is critical. Women, Peace and Security concerns are not an add-on. They are an obligation of the Council. Awareness of this obligation should be reflected in member states statements and action regardless of the focus of the debate.
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