Period of Time and Topic: Report covers the conflict from 1 to 31 January 2015
Women, Peace and Security
In the Secretary General’s report on the conflict in Syria, pursuant to resolutions 2139 (2014) and 2165 (2014), the Secretary-General continued to focus on the violence committed on all sides in the ongoing conflict as well as the humanitarian constraints within the country, providing improved sex disaggregated data on the deaths of women, as well as information on barriers to accessing healthcare. The increase in sex and age disaggregated data is noteworthy. The report provides data on the number of women killed by both government forces and non-state actors. The Secretary-General also reports that of the 5,000 people displaced due to fighting between Government forces and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), near Deir ez-Zor airport, the displaced persons were “mostly women and children”. The report also notes that two women were executed by the Al Nusra Front (ANF) for alleged adultery. Lastly, the report notes that Government security personnel inexplicably removed midwifery kits and reproductive health kits from aid convoys,during the loading process.
References in Need of Improvement
In general, the report would benefit from additional sex disaggregated data wherever that data is available. When referencing the execution of two women for alleged adultery, the references can be strengthened by additional language on gender-based violence. In this scenario, women lost their lives for a charge aimed solely at women, meant to inspire fear in other women. This type of execution should be named as gender-based violence and its perpetrators held accountable as such. The report does not make a single reference to the occurring conflict-related sexual or gender based violence (SGBV). The Security Council should recognize that SGBV cannot be prevented or address if it is not identified . Withholding access to potentially lifesaving health care, including midwifery and reproductive health kits, should also be identity as a type of gender-based violence in the report.
As in the prior report, the Secretary-General wholly missed the opportunity to consult with women and women’s organizations on their experience of the conflict. An understanding of women’s experience in conflict is essential to address, end and prevent future conflict. The report makes no mention of women’s participation in conflict resolution, negotiations for a cease-fire or any other peace processes. While the Secretary-General emphasizes the need for a political solution to the conflict, no recommendations are given as to how such a solution can be the accomplishment, nor is the crucial role that women must play in that process discussed. The report would be greatly strengthened by paying additional attention to women’s participation throughout the report.
Regarding women’s protection, the Secretary General misses another opportunity to report on detention centers and abductions of human rights defenders and journalists. The number of detained women human rights defenders, and female journalists must be established. The Secretary-General should also make strong inquiries into the conditions of detention and report on such conditions. In the references to besieged areas and restrictions on humanitarian aid, the Secretary-General should investigate their disparate impact on women. There is also no mention of conflict related sexual and gender-based violence, which is certainly occurring, by both state and non-state actors. The report also fails to address the unique experiences and needs of internally displaced persons (IDP)women. It also misses the opportunity to draw links between the rise of violent extremism in Syria, and its impact on Syrian women, both in negotiating with extremists in controlled territory and their potential experiences of abductions and forced marriages.
Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation
The report should include explicit references to and analysis of all gendered concerns within the ongoing conflict in Syria. Particularly, 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 sex and age disaggregated data, information on women’s participation in conflict resolution and peace processes, and women’s experiences in violence, particularly as targets for expressing political dissent. In doing so, the report will also pave the way for the Council to better incorporate gender concerns in any forthcoming calls to actions.