Document Title: Report of the Secretary-General on developments in Guinea-Bissau and the activities of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS)
Period of Time and Topic: This report was on the implementation of the mandate and key developments since the last report of 19 January 2015 (S/2015/37).
The report offered an uneven analysis of gender in the implementation of UNIOGBIS’s mandate in Guinea-Bissau. References to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda covered both women’s protection and participation concerns, but favoured the latter. UNIOGBIS’s reporting on implementing a gender perspective into peacebuilding activities should be held as an example for future UN mission reporting, despite some required improvements. There was a high use of sex and age disaggregated data, however it was not uniform throughout the report. In terms of consistency in strategic mission reporting, this report follows its predecessor of the same type report (S/2015/37). It is noted that the support to sanctions regimes component of the mandate in resolution 2157 (2014) was not reported on.
Security sector reform (SSR)
This section analyses UNIOGBIS’s mandate to assist national authorities in implementing the national SSR strategies. The report was almost gender blind on this explicit section, with the exception that SSR and gender are discussed in the section on human rights. Despite this, the only references to WPS were in regards to UNIOGBIS’s support to police, justice and corrections. They were two inclusions of sex disaggregated data: first, 2 women among 11 magistrates that graduated from UNDP supported Judicial Training Centre; and, 400 women from 3,200 officers from internal security institutions were registered to a national vetting and certification process. While these are important inclusions, the report should have provided a more comprehensive gender lens on Guinea-Bissau’s internal security institutions, and discussion regarding the promotion of women protection and participation issues in UNIOGBIS supported SSR activities.
First, the report failed to provide a gender lens on the development of the national policing and internal security strategy plan (2015-2020). UNIOGBIS held 6 workshops with national counterparts to develop the roadmap, however failed to provide information regarding the attendees. The report should have included efforts to promote the participation of women and civil society at these workshops, and the degree to which gender and gender training was deliberated. Second, there was no reported women’s or civil society participation in the African Union-led joint security sector assessment mission conducted between 2 -12 March, 2015. The mission was to identify priority areas to support inclusive nationally run and owned SSR. The success of such a venture depends on the inclusion of all stakeholders, especially that of women and civil society. UNIOGBIS and national authorities should have championed the participation of women and civil society to secure a truly national and inclusive SSR action plan, to ensure the protection of women’s rights within the security architecture, and promote their inclusion as officers and personnel of Guinea-Bissau’s security institutions.
Human rights, WPS, and children and armed conflict
This section analyses UNIOGBIS’s mandate to assist national authorities in promoting and protecting human rights in Guinea-Bissau. As part of its WPS obligations, this section also analyses UNIOGBIS’s mandate to incorporate a gender perspective in peacebuilding activities in line with Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008). In light of this, the report covers both women’s protection and participation issues, but focuses more on the latter. And, overall there is a good use of sex and age disaggregated data.
With regards to the first mandate subcomponent, the report makes a number of references to WPS protection issues. First, the report discusses the efforts between UNIOGBIS, police and judicial authorities in combating and preventing female forced marriage. Specifically, as a result of the mediation and other services provided by the Association of Friends of the Child, they were able to return 5 girls to their families, aged between 13 and 19, and a further 26 girls were rescued and cared for by the Association. Second, the report mentions UNIOGBIS’s commitment to support human rights advocacy and collaborate with law agencies to achieve legal recourse for gender-based crimes. Finally, the report referenced the three traditional gatherings, as held by UNIOGBIS, on working to abolish domestic violence, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation.
These represent a positive engagement with WPS issues, however the report could have made these stronger in a number of ways. First, with regards to the UNIOGBIS traditional gatherings, there should have been sex and age disaggregated data provided on the approximately 800 community-based representatives in attendance. And finally, the report missed an opportunity to divulge the presence of women or women’s organisations among 60 members of local human rights movements at a UNIOGBIS workshop in Bissau on international human rights treaties and their application to Guinea-Bissau legislation. This type of information is vital in monitoring and analysing the efforts to promote and protect women’s human rights by UNIOGBIS and Guinea-Bissau authorities.
With regards to the incorporation of a gender perspective into peacebuilding activities, the report provides a comprehensive outline of UNIOGBIS and national authority activities. It should be commended that this issue commands a specific section within the report, and that the language utilised reflects an above average understanding of WPS’s role in peacebuilding. The report makes a number of important references. First, and despite the absence of sex and age disaggregated data, UNIOGBIS conducted training for 40 police officers, civil society and women’s groups on the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence. Second, UNIOGBIS and the UN Women facilitated a workshop for women parliamentarians and leaders of specialized commissions, which resulted in the establishment of the National Network of Women in Parliament. This development, officially known as the Canchungo Declaration, is vital for promoting women’s participation as decision-makers and leaders at all levels, and provides the impetus and technical capacity for introducing and passing legislation “…through a gender lens…” Third, the report referenced the National Network of Women in Parliament’s key priorities, which are: the introduction of a women’s quota on the back of an electoral and political party review; a circulation of female genital mutilation laws; and, combating domestic violence. Fourth, UNIOGBIS, the Ministries of Defence and Internal Administration conducted two gender mainstreaming workshops for 52 men and 18 women military and police personnel. This built capacity within the security architecture to design and operationalise gender sensitive SSR policies. Finally, the 2015-2017 Peacebuilding Priority Plan, in line with Government strategy for addressing the root causes of conflict, among a number of areas, made women’s access to political and economic participation and empowerment a priority.
Rule of law (ROL)
This section analyses UNIOGBIS’s mandate to assist national authorities in promoting and establishing ROL. This section was limited in its engagement with WPS, however the cross section between ROL and gender is discussed in section that discusses human rights protection. Unfortunately, this exhibits the propensity for UN reports to inability to address gender as a crosscutting theme. In addition, UNIOGBIS missed opportunity to provide sex and age disaggregated data on the 6 officers and 6 staff it supported to be trained for the Transnational Crime Unit. The report should have also provided information on efforts to promote the inclusion of female personnel and the conduction of gender training.
This section analyses UNIOGBIS’s mandate to provide national authorities with political support, and assist with national reconciliation. The report made one reference to WPS on this part of UNIOGBIS’s mandate. In the context of building confidence through good offices, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Miguel Trovoada maintained regular consultations with the community, including women’s organisation in coordination with leaders from all sectors. This is a positive inclusion, and should be maintained in future reporting. However there was one missed opportunity that weakened UNIOGBIS’s engagement with WPS and the political process. The report referenced the outgoing recommendations of the members of the Organizing Commission of the National Conference towards the Consolidation of Peace and Development, which included the development of a public outreach program to determine the mission of the new Commission. This is in the interest of achieving national reconciliation and healing and dialogue, and should have discussed the full and equal participation of women and civil society.
Support to State institutions
The section analyses UNIOGBIS’s mandate to assist and strengthen national authorities to function effectively and constitutionally. UNIOGBIS provided limited information in this section of the report, and did not engage with WPS. It also missed an opportunity to provide a gender lens on the UNIOGBIS supported initiative to increase engagement between civil society and the National Assembly to strengthen local socioeconomic development. The report should have expanded to include information on which civil society was consulted and whether women and women’s organisations were encouraged to participate.
International cooperation and coordination
The section analyses UNIOGBIS’s mandate to support the coordination of international and partner assistance. The report was gender blind on this part of UNIOGBIS’s mandate and failed to address gender concerns for funding and international assistance. The report should have provided the specific amounts allocated in funding for gender related programs as called for in resolutions 2122 (2013) and 2242 (2015), and the report of the Secretary-General on women, peace and security.
Ideal asks for WPS transformation
While the report excelled in some areas, overall it was inconsistent in providing a gender perspective across UNIOGBIS’s entire mandate. Future reports must improve all areas of reporting, with additional attention on the following mandate components, political process, international cooperation and coordination, and support to state institutions. Reporting on efforts to secure women’s protection concerns with regards to rule of law was limited, and should also be considered a priority area for future reporting. Additionally, sex and age disaggregated data must be provided throughout the document.
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