The Overall Story of Debate Watch

The Security Council meets twice annually on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS). The Council holds open debates on Sexual Violence in Conflict around April and open debates on the broader WPS Agenda in October of each year.  Monthly, it also meets on a range of other topics, where WPS issues should be incorporated.

Security Council debates have increasingly referenced and incorporated the WPS Agenda over time. However, the Council’s work to internalise WPS remains marginal, ad hoc and inconsistent across both country and thematic areas. In the period between 2010 and 2018, the Permanent Five, on average, referenced WPS in 36.86 per cent of all Security Council open debates, with a fluctuating trend overall. This went from 35.38 percent in 2010 down to 24.8 percent in 2014, back up to 46.41 percent in 2015, back down to 32.22 percent in 2016 (slightly lower than in 2010) and back down to 22.5 per cent in 2017. However, in 2018, the Permanent Five referenced WPS themes in 64.29 percent (the maximum during the period under review) of the open debates, reflecting an increase of over 40 percent since 2017. This may reflect the fact that the 20th anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 1325 is approaching in the year 2020, as relative high results in 2010 and 2015 were demonstrated around the 10th and 15th anniversaries of the adoption (35.38 and 46.41 percent, respectively). This illustrates that attention to gender issues often remains tied to public spectacles and a single-country leadership, 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 to a country-specific action is the use of the veto. In the reporting period, Russia used the veto the most. It vetoed 16 out of 18 Security Council draft resolutions between 2010 and 2018. China also used the veto frequently: 6 out of 16 draft resolutions, all addressing the situation in Syria. The United States used the veto twice in 2012, once in 2017, and once in 2018 to veto draft resolutions 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 recognised that more systematic attention needs to be paid to implementing the WPS Agenda in its work. Taking action on this recognition is critical.  WPS concerns are not an add-on. They are an obligation of the Council, and part of its mandate. Awareness of this obligation should be reflected in member states statements and action regardless of the focus of the debate.

Find more information on the Permanent Five's compliance with the WPS Agenda in the period between 2010 and 2016 here>>

Find more information about what Feminist Security Council Agenda looks like here>>