Field Missions

Does the Security Council incorporate the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda when it travels on field missions?

This section monitors Security Council periodic field trips or missions to conflict and post-conflict countries, normally to locations where there is a Council-mandated mission.

Field missions provide a rare and unique opportunity to better understand the impact conflict has on women, their efforts to resolve hostilities, the challenges they face in seeking to raise awareness and address these issues, and the gender dimensions of situations on the Council's agenda. Council members can receive direct information on the implementation of its WPS Agenda on the ground and raise key concerns with relevant stakeholders. Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) acknowledged that these missions should: “take into account gender considerations and the rights of women, including through consultation with local and international women’s groups.” WILPF monitors, where information is available, select missions to analyse the WPS content of the trips and the incorporation of gender issues in final reports.

Security Council Resolution 2242 adopted in October 2015 recognised the importance of interacting with civil society, particularly organisations, during field missions and specifically in deploying gender advisors and providing technical support.

As of 15 November 2017, the Security Council went on five field missions in 2017.

In March, the Council sent a mission to the Lake Chad Basin region (Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria) to enable members to assess the security and humanitarian situations, while increasing the international focus on a conflict that has received less attention than other crises.

A month later,  the Security Council organised a visit was to Colombia to express the support of the Council for the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement. 

From June 22-24, the Security Council visited the Republic of Haiti to reaffirm the support of the Security Council to the Government and the people of Haiti for the purpose of contributing to its stability and development; review the implementation of resolution 2350 (2017), with a focus on the conclusion of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the transition to the new United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH); and identify the necessary measures for the successful implementation of the mandate of MINUJUSTH.

Then in September, the Security Council visited Ethiopia to strengthen partnership and enhance cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union in the areas of peace and security. 

Lastly, in October, the Security Council conducted a field mission to the Sahel,  during which it visited Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. One of the goals of the visit was to provide the members of the Council with a first-hand assessment of the situation on the ground and an opportunity exchange views with the various actors on the ground of the Secretary-General’s recommendations aimed at strengthening international support for the Joint Force.

In 2016, the Security Council went on five field missions.  

From 21 January to 23 January the Security Council took a field mission to Burundi and Ethiopia. In Burundi, the Council members met with elder statesmen including the Minister of Foreign Affairs and President Pierre Nkurunziza, independent media representatives, civil society organisations,  and the Burundian representative for the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights to discuss paths to ending the conflict. Following, these meetings, the council flew to Ethiopia to meet with the African Union to share key messages from their visit to Burundi and reflect on the situation in Somalia. Women, Peace and Security considerations were not featured in any of the dialogues from this trip. 

The second Security Council field mission was in March, to Mali, Guinea Bissau, and Senegal. Women Peace and Security featured prominently at the dialogues in this mission. In Mali, the women's civil society groups the Security Council met with reflected the systematic discrimination they face and expressed concern for the low levels of women allowed to participate in Malian peace negotiations. Issues of women's human rights including access to justice, were highlighted. 

In May, the Security Council travelled to Somalia, Kenya, and Egypt. In Nairobi, the council met with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to discuss the challenges of the Somali political process, hosting refugees, and the threats posed by Al-Shabaab. In Egypt,  The Council met for the first time with representatives of the Arab League to discuss peace in the Middle East, the refugee crisis, and the situations in Libya and Somalia. Finally, in Mogadishu, the Council met with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Prime Minister Sharmarke and the regional leaders of Puntland to discuss the state's progress towards stability. The council also met with women's civil society representatives to ensure a strengthened role for women in the government of Somalia. 

Lastly, the Council visited South Sudan and Addis Ababa in September 2016 and DRC and Angola in November 2016. During the mission to South Sudan, the Council engaged with the Transitional Government of National Unity and civil society, including women’s representatives, on the impact on South Sudan’s communities and their views about next steps. During the visit to DRC and Angola, gender-specific issues have not been discussed. 

In 2015, the Security Council the Security Council went on two field missions. From January 23-25, the Council travelled to Haiti, where it met with President Michel Martelly, opposition political leaders, and civil society groups including women's organisations. The primary focus of the visit was the state's lapsed parliament, ensuing political crisis, and persisting humanitarian crisis. However, through the Council's meetings with women's civil society, the WPS agenda was given a platform in the dialogue. Issues of women's participation and access to justice were featured

Then between March 9 and 13, the Council visited Burundi, Ethiopia, and the Central African Republic. Among its meeting with heads of state and members of the security sector to assess progress in implementing Resolution 2149, the Council met with members of women's civil society. Themes of disarmament, displacement, and conflict resolution were prominent in discussions, as were issues of Women Peace and Security. The topics broached ranged from increasing women's participation, offering protection from SGBV, integrating the WPS agenda into reconciliation processes, and deploying women protection advisors in MINUSCA.

In 2014, the Security Council the Security Council went on two field missions.  From 1 February to 3 February the Security Council took a field mission to Bamako, Mali (MINUSMA). There, in the town of Mopti, the Council members met with armed groups, civil society organisations, the European Training Mission (EUTM) and Operation Serval- the French military operation which aimed to oust Islamist extremist groups in the area. Although they discussed disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and the return of state authority to the north, no Women, Peace and Security considerations were made.

The second Security Council field mission was in August to Belgium, South Sudan and Somalia. In Belgium, the Council members commemorated the anniversary of World War I, in South Sudan they discussed the conflict and humanitarian disaster, and in Somalia members discussed support for the government. This trip to South Sudan and Somalia did include Women, Peace and Security considerations, gender language in the terms of references  and meetings with women’s civil society and women leaders in both South Sudan and Somalia.

Data from the Global Indicators (S/2014/69) show us that in 2013, the Security Council undertook two field missions, to Yemen in January and to the Great Lakes Region and Addis Ababa in October. No references to women, peace and security were included in terms of reference of the Council’s mission to Yemen (S/2013/61) or briefing on the findings (S/PV.6916). The mission report (S/2013/173), however, mentions the need for attention to women’s rights in Yemen’s political transition and in the drafting of the new constitution, and includes concerns about lack of access to services, including life saving reproductive health services. Issues regarding women’s protection and participation were included in the terms of reference of the Council’s mission to the Great Lakes region (S/2013/579), particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the mission met with women leaders and civil society representatives and engaged with high-level officials on accountability issues for sexual violence. However, there was no related substantial reporting in the briefing to the Council (S/PV.7045), although the mission report (S/2014/341) contains references to ending sexual violence in connection with fighting impunity.

Previous years missions included. According to our analysis, of the 13 missions taken prior to the adoption of Resolution 1325, the Security Council met with civil society representatives in only 7 missions (53.8%). The Council only met specifically with representatives of women's groups in one mission (7.7%), to Western Sahara, although the final report did not include gender issues.

PeaceWomen Recommendations on Field Missions

→ Ensure the context-specific realities of women in the country are reflected in the Terms of Reference of the mission, thus providing clear guidance on the centrality of Women, Peace and Security to the maintenance of peace and security in the regions being visited
→ Ensure the Ambassadors on the mission are well-briefed on the current challenges women’s rights defenders are facing, and that the Ambassadors meet with local civil society actors
→ The final report on the mission should incorporate the spectrum of the challenges women are facing, from violence to structural barriers to participation in social, economic and political spheres
→ The Security Council missions should organise a thematic mission focused on Women, Peace and Security, comprising visits to countries that represent a range of situations; this will ensure Council Members can speak directly with those actors on the ground who know what has worked, and what not worked, in practice