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Debate Watch

Protection of Civilians in Conflict, 9 November

On November 9 2011, the Security Council, under the Presidency of Portugal, held an Open Debate on the thematic agenda item: Protection of Civilians (PoC) in Armed Conflict. Consistent with recent PoC debates just over a third of the statements, or 20 out of 48 made explicit reference to gender. The Council did not adopt an outcome document. Receiving critical attention with regard to gender was the need to recognize and combat the increasing prevalence of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in conflict. Here, several countries including the US, Germany, Portugal, and Sri Lanka reiterated the need to mainstream gender perspective and training into all UN prevention, mediation, and peacekeeping efforts and to increase efforts to ensure justice for victims of sexual violence in conflict (SViC).

Regarding SViC at Security Council level, Germany noted and praised the commencement of the Security Council's new monitoring and reporting arrangement on SViC. France called for the systematic inclusion of sexual violence as grounds for Security Council endorsed sanctions. Drawing a parallel between lack of respect for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law and the prevalence of violence against women in conflict, several speakers including Phillip Spoerri of the ICRC and representatives of Honduras, Canada, the EU, and Luxembourg noted that more could be done by the Security Council in this area and emphasized the need to strengthen accountability mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court. Read Full summary

Working Methods of the Security Council, Nov 30, 2011

On the 30th of November the Security Council convened to discuss progress, and challenges linked to its current Working Methods. Although the debate saw a high number of speakers take the floor, references to the women, peace and security agenda were seldom heard with only 5 from 40 speakers making gender references. Countries mentioning gender included the US, Belgium, Australia, Germany and Finland, with all five focusing on the increase and the need to further augment Security Council interaction with Special Representatives on gender and sexual violence, UN Women and the Peacebuilding Commission. In addition, the US emphasised how The Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security is able to inform the Council's actions through inclusive and transparent dialogue between Council and non-Council members. Finally, Australia called on the Council to issue a standing invitation to the Executive Director of UN-Women and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict to attend all meetings and debates. Read Full summary

Summaries by Dominique Lardner