Period of Time and Topic: Report covers the conflict from 1 to 31 May 2015
Women, Peace and Security
In the Secretary General’s sixteenth report on the ongoing conflict in Syria, pursuant to S/RES/2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), and 2191 (2014), the Secretary General reported on the ongoing violence, human rights issues, and humanitarian access. This report improves upon the last report in providing some sex-disaggregated data on civilian casualties. The report also mentions the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) planned execution of a woman for alleged witchcraft. The only other reference to women is in noting the lack of maternal health services in many areas due to the intensification of conflict.
References in Need of Improvement
All data regarding civilian casualties, provision aid, delivery of services, arbitrary arrests, detentions, and forced disappearances should be disaggregated by gender wherever this information is available, and when unavailable, should be sought out. Although this report, like the fifteenth report, notes that information contained herein is based on data available to UN agencies and reports from the Government, it is clear from prior reports it is possible to obtain better sex and age disaggregated data. Also, several times throughout the report references to women were coupled with “women and children”. In doing so, the impact of the conflict on women is seen as linked to that on children, serving to diminish the recognition of each population’s unique needs and potentially having an infantilizing effect on the reference to women.
This report, like the prior report, misses the opportunity to provide a gender analysis of the ongoing conflict, and to uphold its commitments under Resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014). These resolutions at a minimum should condemn sexual and gender-based violence and call for an inclusive political solution. This report does not mention sexual or gender-based violence, which is a rampant, ongoing human rights violation. By not applying a gender-analysis, the report has several blind spots. In discussing the ongoing use of siege tactics by the Government and non-state actors, the report fails to inquire as to who is most impacted by these tactics. The report also fails to investigate the impact of severe restrictions on humanitarian aid. The impact of the conflict on the situation of women is therefore unknown. In addition, the report notes the Syrian government’s targeting of human rights defenders, but misses the opportunity to specify if women’s human rights defenders in particular are being targeted by the state.
The Secretary General also misses the opportunity to call for women’s inclusion in the peace building process, particularly with regards to the ongoing Geneva Consultations. Women’s participation in the consultations is neither noted, if they are indeed participating, nor demanded, if they have been prevented from participating. It appears that women’s civil society has not been consulted. If half of society is not consulted or represented, the report then cannot provide a holistic and accurate picture of the ongoing conflict. In particular, the report would benefit from an analysis of women’s issues in ISIL-controlled areas, as well as analysis of the experience of women in government detention centers. There are many women on the front lines of humanitarian aid provision and their experiences and contributions are also being sidelined.
Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation
The report should include explicit references to and analysis of all gendered concerns within the ongoing conflict in Syria. At a minimum the report should provide sex disaggregated data on those impacted by the conflict. The report should show substantial engagement with women and women’s organizations in order to better understand the impact of the conflict on women, from all sides, including 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 building peace and rebuilding Syrian society. In reporting on the experiences of Syrian women and calling for their participation, the report will also pave the way for the Council to better incorporate gender concerns in any forthcoming calls to actions.
 S/2015/468 para 22.
 S/2015/468 para 56.
 S/2015/468 para 11, 13.
 S/2015/468 para 46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52.
 S/2015/468 para 37, 38, 39.