Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2016/233)
Date: 9 March 2016
Topic: This report by the Secretary-General is on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), covering the time period since the last report of 24 December 2015.
Women, Peace and Security
The Secretary-General’s report gives an account of major political, security, human rights and humanitarian developments, and updates on the implementation and possible force transformation of the mandate of MONUSCO. While reporting on the protection pillar is equally strong as in previous reports, including a separate one paragraph section dedicated to sexual violence, the report does not pay any attention to to additional concerns relating to the WPS agenda, such as references to the impact of women representatives in the national political dialogue or women’s participation in the electoral process, as well as localized peacebuilding efforts. The only other reference to women’s concerns is made with regard to the severe humanitarian situation in IDP camps and “further displacement of some of the most vulnerable populations, especially women and children” due to the dismantling of IDP sites. Ultimately, the report reiterates MONUSCO’s commitment to the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuses for all UN personnel. Compared to the previous report, this one does not include any information or sex-disaggregated data on MONUSCO-led activities such as trainings for national police personnel. Given that it further misses the opportunity to follow up with the previously reported implementation of legal assistance for victims of sexual violence, other than briefly stating in the observation section that the implementation of the FARDC sexual violence action plan is progressing, reporting on WPS-concerns has rather declined compared to the last reporting period. While the separate section on sexual violence with detailed accounts on the numbers of incidents is of unquestionable importance, the failure to consistently apply a gender lens leads to the assumption of an overall unawareness for gender-sensitive reporting on aspects other than protection concerns.
References in Need of Improvement and Missed Opportunities
Considering the deepening mistrust by opposition parties and civil society organizations regarding the national dialogue, initiated by the President to resolve issues around the stalled electoral process, the report could have highlighted whether women’s civil society organizations had been included in electoral procedures to ensure that women’s concerns, including facilitating their participation, are adequately addressed. Considering the President’s continuous consultations with a variety of national stakeholders, as well as high-level consultations undertaken by the Chairperson of the AU commission and the Secretary-General upon his visit, the report completely missed the opportunity to highlight whether women representatives - other than Ms. Eve Bayaiba from the opposition movement - and women’s civil society organizations were part of theses processes. Moreover, the report fails to account for women’s participation in MONUSCO-supported reconciliation activities and the “establishment of a traditional peace committee to improve inter-communal relations.” Ensuring women’s participation in all decision-making processes is crucial as only a gender-balanced view on the deteriorating political, security and humanitarian situation on the ground can ensure that the varying needs of women, men, girls and boys are adequately addressed.
The section on DDR programming is completely gender-blind as it does not provide any insight into whether women ex-combatants and women associated with armed groups are addressed in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration strategies and whether DDR programming is informed by the voices of local women’s civil society organizations to ensure that reintegration strategies are responsive to the needs of women ex-combatants, including through offering comprehensive psycho-social and livelihood support.
Protection of Civilians
Reporting on the security situation is also completely gender-blind and does not detail whether and how women are affected differently, including by displacement. Reporting on the effects of the Community Alert Network system, as well as the MONUSCO-led joint assessment missions to identify protection concerns,completely fails to detail whether women were part of the mission teams. It further missed the opportunity to detail whether these teams consulted with local women’s civil society organizations to confirm that women’s specific security concerns are taken into account and ensure that future protection strategies are responsive to incidents of sexual and gender-based violence, including by adequately training peacekeeping personnel and establishing reporting and investigation mechanisms that are easily accessible and accountable to the claims of survivors of SGBV.
Considering the deteriorating humanitarian situation, particularly at IDP sites, the report could have further detailed whether gender-sensitive needs assessments have been or will be conducted to ensure that humanitarian assistance is effectively tailored to the varying needs of women, men, girls and boys.
Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation
Pursuant to resolution 1925 (2010) on the mandate of MONUSCO, particularly OP 12 (c) & (f) on the protection of civilians including women-specific provisions; resolution 2053 (2012), OP 15 on the full and effective participation of women in the electoral process; and resolution 2147 (2014), OP 11 and 27 on women’s participation in stabilization activities, security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes, future reports by the Secretary-General must reflect the Security Council’s commitment to the WPS agenda and provide updates on the implementation of gender-sensitive programming regarding both participation and security concerns. Applying a gender lens throughout the report will ensure that all genders are adequately represented and their particular needs in regards to the volatile security, political and humanitarian situation are being met.
In view of the upcoming elections, future reports must give detailed accounts on the measures taken to ensure women’s full and equal participation at all stages of the electoral process, including the involvement of women’s civil society organizations, to ensure that women are able to run for office as candidates and trained as election observers, in order to create an enabling and safe environment for women to vote and approach observer staff to report irregularities.
In view of the debates around an effective transformation of the MONUSCO force, including emphasizing the political role of MONUSCO to facilitate the national dialogue, specific attention must be paid to mainstreaming gender across all mission activities, specifically ensuring women’s full and equal participation in all decision-making processes.