Period of Time and Topic: Report covers the conflict from 10 March 2015 – May 2015
Women, Peace and Security
In the Secretary General’s report on the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, pursuant to paragraph 43 of Security Council resolution 2211 (2015), the Secretary General reported on implementation of the PSC Framework, the electoral process and implementation of the MONUSCO mandate.
The report makes several commendable references to women’s political participation in the DRC, both on the percentage of participation and the efforts made by the mission to encourage participation. In upcoming provincial elections, 12% of candidates registered are women. On the newly appointed National Human Rights Commission, 4 of the 9 members are women. The Mission continued “to advocate… for an increase in the proportion of women as voters and candidates for elected offices,” and sensitized women’s associations and political parties to increase women’s participation in upcoming elections. The Mission also supported convening of 60 women leaders from the women’s platform of the Peace, Security and Cooperation framework. The report also notes that MONUSCO participated in training women prison officers.
Regarding women’s protection, the report made note of many instances of sexual and gender-based violence. While many references did not specify the gender of the survivors, two instances did, first in the alleged rape of 15 women by the FRPI, and the “rape of mainly Luba women by Twa elements.” In discussing the separation of children from armed groups and the number of child casualties from conflict-related violence, the report specified separately the number of girls and boys affected. The report also noted efforts to address and prevent sexual and gender-based violence by the government under the FARDC action plan. [10a]
References in Need of Improvement
While the acknowledgement of alarming and widespread sexual and gender-based violence is essential, the report fails to specify the gender of the survivors in 12 of the 15 instances referenced. With regard to gang rape and widespread rape by parties to the conflict, the assumption is the survivors are women. However, it remains necessary to specify the gender, as was done in the reference to “sexual mutilation against men.” All data regarding sexual and gender-based violence should be disaggregated by gender wherever this information is available, and when unavailable should be sought out.
While the report specifically commends the national armed forces for making pledges for combat sexual violence, the mandate actually contains stronger language, authorizing MONUSCO to support the Government in implementation of the zero tolerance policy for human rights violations committed by the security sector. The report would also be strengthened by noting that the conflict-related sexual violence being committed may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The mandate also calls upon the government, with the support of MONUSCO as appropriate, to provide “all necessary services and protection to survivors and victims [of sexual violence]” yet makes no reference to whether such services are being provided.
While the mandate did contain favorable requirements regarding implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, and required the Secretary General report on the “impact of the conflict on women”, the report only does so in reference to sexual and gender-based violence. While the impact of rape as a tool of war is devastating, the conflict surely impacts all women, not only survivors of SGBV. It appears the Secretary General made no effort to reach out to women’s organizations or even individual women to solicit their input of the impact of the conflict. The Council cannot begin to address the impact of the conflict on women if it is not contained in the report. The mandate requires the Mission to consider gender as a cross-cutting issue, but the Secretary General missed the opportunity to report on women’s involvement, or the need for greater involvement in DDR processes and security sector reform, as was requested in the mandate. In describing DDR processes, the Secretary General did mention the number of male combatants disarmed, but then goes on to list the number of dependents also in the DDR program without specifying their gender.
The mandate also calls on the Government of the DRC to ensure freedom of expression and assembly for “actors from civil society including women” yet in the report when the Secretary General notes the restriction of fundamental freedoms, and the targeting of political opponents and human rights defenders, he misses the opportunity to report specifically on the impact on women human rights defenders, and potentially women’s groups experiencing these restrictions. The Secretary General also misses the opportunity to call for women’s participation in national dialogues and other peacebuilding processes. The report would also be strengthened by providing sex and age disaggregated data on civilian casualties and the increasing number of IDPs and refugees in the country. Also, as MONUSCO has entered regular strategic dialogues with the Government of the DRC and the UN on the exit strategy for MONUSCO, the report failed to note whether women as stakeholders are being consulted in this process. The mandate also called for the swift deployment of WPA’s but the report makes no mention of whether this requirement was fulfilled.
Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation
The report should include explicit references to and analysis of impact of the conflict in the DRC on women. At a minimum the report should provide sex disaggregated data on those impacted by the conflict. The report should substantively engage with women and women’s organizations in order to better understand the impact of the conflict on women, from all sides. This includes information on women’s participation in conflict resolution and peace processes. And in reporting on women’s participation, or lack therein, should call for their increased participation and visibility. Women must take an equal and effective role in ending the conflict. In keeping with the mandate, MONUSCO must strengthen their monitoring, reporting and analysis of gendered concerns in the conflict.