Period: 15 September 2017 to 28 February 2018
Pursuant to Security Council Resolutions 2348 (2017) and 2389 (2017), the Security Council requested a report on the implementation of the commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Region. Resolution 2348 (2017) requests MONUSCO to take fully into account gender considerations as a crosscutting issue throughout its mandate and to assist the Government of the DRC in ensuring the participation, involvement and representation of women at all levels. Resolution 2389 (2017) also urges continued regional and international support for initiatives aimed at promoting inclusive dialogue amongst national stakeholders and stresses the importance of opening political space to enable the full and free participation of peaceful political parties, civil society and the media, as well as the full participation of both men and women in the political process.
The report highlights four major challenges to peace and security in the region: (i) the increasing activities of armed groups, especially in the DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR), (ii) stalled political processes across the region, and in Burundi and the DRC in particular, (iii) the regional humanitarian crisis, (iv) serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, especially in Burundi and CAR. At the 26 and 27 February 2018 review of the implementation of the Framework, experts and representatives of signatory countries, guarantor institutions, international partners and civil society noted the progress made, including through the neutralisation and weakening of some negative forces; cooperation on security, economic and judicial matters; and greater ownership of the Framework by the signatory countries. However, the progress remains modest compared to the expectations raised by the Framework, as evidenced by persisting conflict, political crises, the continued presence of armed groups, illegal cross-border activities and the ongoing displacement crisis.
References to the role of women include their involvement in peace, political and development processes in the region. During the reporting period, the Office of the Special Envoy continued to promote the role of women in peace and political processes in the region, including during the September 2017 field visit of the Technical Support Committee to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Due to resource mobilisation efforts by the Office of the Special Envoy, grants were allocated to grass-roots women’s organisations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. In this context, the Secretary-General encourages greater efforts to ensure the effective advancement of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in the region, in coordination with the Women’s Platform for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework.
Of the 97 paragraphs in the report, only 6 (slightly over 5 percent) of them include reference to women and gender. Specifically, the report notes that during the Special Envoy’s meeting with the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the two agreed on joint activities in the areas of women’s empowerment, natural resources, displacement and judicial cooperation. women representatives participated in the field visit of the Technical Support Committee to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Subsequently, regional leaders agreed, at the eighth high-level meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism, to address the situation of women and children in transit camps for disarmed FDLR elements as a matter of urgency. On 22 February 2018 in Nairobi, the Advisory Board of the Women’s Platform for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework held its ninth meeting, recommending greater support to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in the region and the organisation of missions to Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan by the Women’s Platform and the Regional Women’s Forum of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to promote the role of women in peace and political processes. They also encouraged the convening of a meeting of ministers for gender to endorse the regional plan of action for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and to address shrinking space for women in political processes in the region.
Such acknowledgment of the role of women’s organisations in the implementation of the PSC Framework is important; however, the report does not provide suggestions on how better integrate women civil society organisations in regional policy-making. Also, discussing the electoral process in the DRC, the report did not shed light on a 5% decrease in female voter registration and the potential impact of the newly adopted electoral law on women’s political participation. Finally, considering worsening of the human rights situation in the DRC, the report could have demanded the government of the DRC to drop charges against women human rights defenders and peace activists, release protesters, and ensure accountability for relevant acts of violence.
Future reports by the Secretary-General must reflect the Security Council’s commitment to the WPS agenda and provide updates on the implementation of gender-sensitive programming on both political participation and security concerns. The PSC Framework could be further reinforced by:
Ensuring effective and dynamic protection of women human rights defenders under threat of physical violence within the Framework;
Providing sex-disaggregated data on the effect of political and refugee crises on women IDPs and refugees to ensure that humanitarian assistance is effectively tailored to the varying needs of women;
Providing in-depth monitoring of the Women’s Platform for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework activities in supporting women’s organisations;
Including women civil society organisations in regional disarmament efforts;
Focusing on political solutions which include local actors, victims of war and civilians such as the women groups, youths, religious actors, local non-governmental organisations, and advocacy groups;
Including women in prevention efforts around electoral cycles, possibly on the model of the Women’s Situation Rooms;
Re-aligning the region’s financial and technical needs with MONUSCO’s budgetary allocations.