The Security Council met to discuss the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security pursuant to S/2013/721. The Council heard statements from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations in Afghanistan and member states. Speakers discussed positive trends in security, political and economic transitions with caution, as violence against civilians continues by non-government forces and humanitarian challenges persist. Speakers welcomed the consultative loya jirga’s recent endorsement of the bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and the United States, and member states affirmed support for peace and security in Afghanistan in the post-2014 period. Preparations for the upcoming 2014 presidential and provincial elections continued and speakers expressed concerns regarding the security threats at polling sites. Finally, the majority of speakers emphasized the role of both international and domestic cooperation in meeting the goals set forth in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework.
Women, peace and security issues are discussed on numerous occasions by the majority of speakers. Critical issues discussed reflect both women’s protection and participation concerns. Regarding women’s human rights protection, speakers urged for the implementation of the elimination of violence against women law, noting an increase in registered reports of violence against women, yet prosecution and convictions for these crimes remains low. Concerns over continued violence against women civilians and calls to both promote and protect women’s human rights in light of transition were echoed by numerous speakers. Specifically, speakers called for added protections for women at polling sites and in all election processes, emphasizing the role of the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) in ensuring women’s political right to participation in elections. Women’s inclusion and participation in the elections as both candidates and voters was highlights by numerous speakers. Particularly, Rwanda expressed regret that there was no qualified female candidates for president and articulated that women’s increased participation as candidates and voters will contribute to the legitimacy and transparency of the election process. The need for greater women’s participation in ANSF was expressed by Argentina and Morocco. Canada noted its financial support to train election observers, with a specific focus on training women. Additionally, Canada discussed the need to consider the rights of women in all legislation, including the Afghan Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. Further, the important role of women in conflict resolution and reconciliation was articulated by Canada and Argentina. Finally, Australia urged the Afghan government to finish the country’s 1325 Action Plan.
Speakers missed the opportunity to incorporate a gender perspective in regards to humanitarian access and delivery, and there is no explicit mention of mainstreaming gender in the work of UNAMA in light of the upcoming mandate renewal. Additionally, the United States fails to mention gender or any element of the women, peace and security agenda during the meeting.
Compared to the recommendations put forth in the December 2013 MAP the meeting’s record is adequate. The MAP calls for women’s participation in all political, peace, security and reconciliation processes; for a gender lens in protection concerns, including increased efforts to end violence against women and women’s human rights defenders; for support for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission; for a gender lens in all legislation; finally, the Council should emphasize that women’s rights cannot be compromised in light of the security transition; and
Encouragingly, speakers expressed the importance of women’s political participation in all election processes and in the ANSF, and called for women’s human rights protection and promotion in light of transition as well as for upholding women’s human rights in legislation, including the penal code. The meeting could improve with a specific emphasis on protections for women’s human rights defenders and for calls to strengthen the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
The current meeting of 17 December 2013 (S/PV.7085) is on par with the previous meeting of 20 June 2013 (S/PV.698). Both meetings highlight the protection of female civilians and women’s human rights promotion and protection in the upcoming security and political transitions as well as the need for women’s participation in political, peace, security, and reconciliation processes in line with the Tokyo Accountability Framework. The current meeting places greater emphasis on women’s participation in the upcoming elections and all election processes, given the immediacy of the April 2014 presidential and provisional elections. Further, Canada explicitly references the need to consider women’s human rights in the Afghan Penal and Criminal Code in the current meeting, absent from the previous meeting. Unfortunately, the United States made no reference to women, peace and security in comparison to the two references made in the previous meeting.
The Quarterly report to the Security Council on the operations of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) (S/2013/750) was submitted to the Security Council on 18 December 2013.
Security Council Report on the operations of ISAF, pursuant to resolution 2120 (2013), provides an update on the operations of ISAF from 1 August to 31 October 2013. The report welcomes the recent ISAF mandate renewal until 31 December 2014. ISAF’s focus is to continue preparing the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to assume full responsibility for security operations by the end of 2014. ANSF continues to make progress towards becoming a completely field force, however challenges remain and the force is not yet self-sustaining. During the reporting report, violence continued with several major attacks that have garnered significant media attention, however the Taliban-led insurgency has failed to achieved its stated goals during the 2013 fighting season. ISAF continues to play a vital role in civilian protection.
Issues of women, peace and security are reported in regards to the internal and external operations of ISAF; the activities of the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior and Independent Electoral Commission; and in regards to attacks on female Parliamentarians and police officers.
Missed Opportunities to address women, peace and security center upon key women’s protection concerns. The report fails to employ a gender lens in regards to civilian protection as well as IDP and refugee return. Further, there is no mention of efforts to protect and prevent acts of sexual and gender-based violence, nor is there mention of services for survivors. The report does not explicitly discuss the implementation of a gender perspective in ISAF’s civilian protection activities.
In relation to the recommendations put forth in the October 2013 MAP, the report’s record is mixed. The MAP calls on ISAF to support women’s political participation in election processes; the Afghan National Police; civilian protection effects; civilian reparation efforts; and to support efforts to end impunity for war crimes; and to support gender integration in government institutions The report mentions women’s participation in elections preparations, in the Afghan National Police ; and in government institutions. The report could improve by providing sex-disaggregated datas in reporting on civilian deaths as well as employment of a gender lens in civil protection efforts. Additionally, there is no mention of protecting human rights defenders. Finally, there are no explicit mentions of ISAF’s efforts to end impunity for war crimes or support in the reparation process.
The numerous mentions of women, peace and security issues in the report to the Security Council on the operations of ISAF 18 December 2013 (S/2013/750) is a substantial improvement from the previous report of the Security Council 17 September 2013 (S/2013/558) The current report improves a significant increases in references to women, peace and security issues. Women’s political participation in upcoming elections as well as a greater emphasis regarding gender integration in government institutions is noteworthy. Both reports mention the importance of and challenges that continue in ensuring women’s participation and successful integration of women in the Afghan National Police.