Thursday, May 14, 2015
Central Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Human Rights
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
Central African Region
Document PDF: 

Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Central Africa and the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (S/2015/339).

Code: S/2015/339

Period of Time and Topic: The report covers events from the period of November 13 2014 to 14 May 2015. The report provides an assessment of the major political and security trends in the Central Africa subregion and offers updates on efforts to implement the United Nations regional strategy to address the threat and the impact of the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Women, Peace and Security

In the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Central African region and the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), the Secretary-General details major political and security trends, emphasizing on-going violence, humanitarian developments, and human rights issues. Despite such expansive reporting, the WPS agenda is not highlighted, with only two direct references to women made throughout the entire report. The Secretary General notes that following attacks launched by Boko Haram in the Far North Region of Cameroon, incidents of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against women were reported and women were “systematically” taken into captivity for forced marriages.[1] In addition, the report observes that on 17 February 2015, Gabon was reviewed during the sixth session of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.[2]

References in Need of Improvement

In general, the report would benefit from a gender analysis of the ongoing regional conflict with Boko Haram. Despite mentioning Boko Haram’s tactical use of  SGBV, abductions, and forced marriages, the report would be strengthened by  framing the discussion of Boko Haram in terms of women’s protection, calling on both national and regional security forces to ensure women’s protection from Boko Haram and the end to impunity for this group. The report also should avoid the blanketed use of “human rights violations”[3] and make specific mention to violations committed against women, men, girls, and boys. In particular, distinguishing between “girls and boys,” rather than using the broader categorization of “children”[4] would also strengthen the discussion of human rights and Boko Haram. Without sex disaggregated data, the report does not provide clarity as to whether girls and/or boys are also experiencing SGBV, apart from abductions.

In the context of Gabon, the report would benefit from the inclusion of language regarding women’s participation. The report’s statement that Gabon underwent a  review by the Committee on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women gives no indication to the improvements, gaps, and/or issue areas within the country context.

Missed Opportunities

The Secretary General’s report missed a number of opportunities to highlight and advocate for  women’s protection and women’s participation in the Central Africa Region. In general, the report would benefit from additional sex disaggregated data wherever possible.

Despite reporting on the elections processes in all countries in the region, the report missed the opportunity to call upon the governments of the Central African Region to ensure the full and effective participation of women in all stages of the electoral process. The report provides no indication of how or if women are participating in elections, or in opposition to elections, national dialogues and/or violent protests. Sex disaggregated data of women candidates running for elected positions or data on the number of women elected officials in the case of Gabon is essential to better understanding  women’s participation. Further, the report notes that there have been “victims” of election-related violent protests in a number of countries, including Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Gabon.[5] Providing sex disaggregated data on deaths and/or injuries would also help to indicate whether a women’s protection element is necessary. In addition, National Dialogues on elections have also been called for in Chad, the Republic of Congo, and Gabon.[6] The report should have discussed whether or not women stakeholders are participating in National Dialogues.

In regards to human rights, the report missed an opportunity to discuss SGBV and to call for an end to impunity. The report makes only an indirect reference to women and human rights, citing the findings of the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic (CAR).[7] The Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry does outline the prevalence of SGBV in CAR and provides recommendations to end impunity as well as to prioritize women’s health.[8] The Secretary-General report missed the opportunity to report on this evidence of violence against women and  incorporate some of the key recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry.

In regards to the activities of Boko Haram, the report makes no mention of women’s protection or women’s participation. While violations against women are mentioned in the discussion on Boko Haram,[9] the report missed the opportunity to call for women’s protection from the group’s activities. The report also gives no indication as to whether human rights violations which occurred during counter insurgency operations against Boko Haram affected and/or involved women.[10] In addition, the Secretary-General’s report missed the opportunity to discuss women’s participation in counter terrorism and regional security arrangements. Although a number of meetings have been held to address Boko Haram as a regional security threat,[11] the report missed the opportunity to encourage women’s full participation in counter-terrorism efforts at the national and regional level.

More generally, throughout the report, “civil society organizations”[12] and/or “civil society leaders”[13] is utilized without any indication of the role of women and women leaders. The report should also discuss women’s participation in civil society in detail and the role of women’s civil society in peacebuilding processes. In addition, the report missed the opportunity to discuss the UN Regional Office for Central Africa’s engagement with women in the region, including women’s civil society organizations. Gender focal points should also have been identified within the UN mission. Women were also entirely absent in the discussion of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Piracy off the Coast of Guinea. The report should have called for an investigation into the gendered dimensions of piracy and the persistence of the LRA.

Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation

The report should be improved with an explicit reference to and analysis of all genders,

emphasizing diverse masculinities and femininities, including the dynamics between and among genders as well as the power relations and hierarchies at play, and the intersection of gender in all thematic issues.


[1] S/2015/339 (2015), para. 30.

[2] S/2015/339 (2015), para. 33.

[3] S/2015/339 (2015), para. 29, 30, 32

[4] S/2015/339 (2015), para. 30

[5] S/2015/339 (2015), para 3,5,7

[6] S/2015/339 (2015), para 4,6,7

[7] S/2015/339 (2015), para 29

[8] See S/2014/928, particularly “Recommendation” (e): “Rape and other forms of sexual and gender-violence has occurred in alarming numbers. The authorities should make a special effort to prosecute the perpetrators and police in particular females should be trained to provide support in such situations in the future. Top priority, however, for the local community with international assistance should be on… special attention to women who have given birth to children as a result of rape, and the provision of trauma counselling to assist the healing of the victims and their affected family members.”

[9] S/2015/339 (2015), para. 30

[10] S/2015/339 (2015), para 32

[11] S/2015/339 (2015), para. 13, 14, 15 

[12] S/2015/339 (2015), para. 33, 49, 69, 73, 74

[13] S/2015/339 (2015), para. 33