United Nations Security Council Open Arria Formula Meeting
"Synergies Between SC Resolutions on Women Peace and Security and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)”
(Photo By Sarah Tunnell/WILPF PeaceWomen)
Date: December 5, 2016, 10:00 to 12:00 hours.
Location: United Nations HeadQuarters Conference Room 1
H.E. Mr. Elbio Rosselli, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the United Nations
Mr. Yannick Glemarec, Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme UN Women
Ms. Pramila Patten, Chair of the CEDAW Task Force on GR 30
Ms. Maria Victoria Cabrera-Balleza, International Coordinator, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders
The Security Council open Arria Formula meeting on the synergies between United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on Women Peace and Security (WPS) and the Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was convened by the states of Uruguay and Spain, on December 5, 2016. The meeting was framed as a critical opportunity to exchange views on potential synergies between the two frameworks, enhance the implementation of the WPS Agenda through the CEDAW mechanism, and to encourage the integration of international law and policy within the UN. The key outcome of the meeting was the endorsement of the CEDAW Committee’s reporting and monitoring tools as a means of implementation. As mutually reinforcing frameworks, the potential synergies of CEDAW and the UNSC WPS resolutions in normative development, guidance, and accountability are integral to progress. The CEDAW Committee’s efforts are particularly notable for their inclusion of shadow reports from civil society organisations, which enhance, inform, and authenticate reports from member-states. The briefers at the meeting offered recommendations and action steps for member states to utilise the convention within their implementation efforts, to include gender perspectives in conflict prevention and disarmament procedures, and to increase financial contributions to the WPS Agenda. Security Council members and participating member states expressed a mix of support for the Agenda and concern for the potential duplication of labour among UN entities.
H.E. Mr. Elbio Rosselli: The Ambassador representing Uruguay introduced the meeting and offered opening remarks which underscored the threats faced by women and girls at a global level, the fundamental value of the WPS agenda, and the resource available to the UNSC in CEDAW. He noted that there is a direct and indissociable link between women’s rights and peace, that progress on the agenda requires coherent and comprehensive responses, and that CEDAW provides a toll for concrete and tangible results.
Mr. Yannick Glemarec: Mr. Glemarec reaffirmed the centrality of women’s rights in the maintenance of international peace and security, and emphasised the precedent of General Recommendation No. 30 (GR 30) on Women in Conflict Prevention, Conflict, and Post-Conflict Situations for implementing WPS frameworks before, during, and after conflict. He offered three recommendations to member-states for strengthening linkages between UNSC resolutions on WPS and CEDAW. 1) UNSC members should leverage information provided by the CEDAW Committee to inform resolutions. 2) State parties should submit reports on their implementation effort to the Committee, which include efforts specific to the WPS Agenda. 3) The UNSC should facilitate knowledge sharing by inviting human rights and gender experts to present briefings to the council.
Ms. Pramila Patten: Ms. Patten stressed that despite significant normative developments in the WPS agenda over the last 16 years, considerable challenges remain. She noted that both CEDAW and the UNSC WPS resolutions are crucial political frameworks for advancement and should be used to enforce and enhance each other. Ms. Patten’s statement highlighted the complementary nature of GR 30 to a broad spectrum of issues and legal mechanisms, including the UNSC WPS resolutions. The Committee regularly urges state parties to develop WPS National Action Plans (NAPs), commit to financing the Agenda, recognise the intersecting forms of discrimination experienced by women and accordingly implement substantive gender equality. Finally, Ms. Patten offered examples of the highly detailed recommendations the Committee offers conflict states such as Syria, emphasised the need to expand the scope of gender-based violence beyond sexual violence, and noted the negative impact arms trade on women’s lives.
Ms. Maria Victoria Cabrera-Balleza: Ms. Cabrera-Balleza established irrefutable linkages between women’s rights and the proliferation of conflict. She highlighted the significance of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in reducing violence, the role of civil society actors influencing armed parties, and the need for localised and inclusive dialogues. Ms. Cabrera-Balleza asserted that CEDAW is particularly important for implementing UNSC WPS resolutions because of the mechanism’s vigorous reporting process and its inclusion of civil society reports to inform the implementation dialogue. Ms. Cabrera-Balleza emphasised provisions within GR 30 urging non-state actors to protect the rights of women enshrined in the convention, promoting women’s participation, advising the adoption of strategies to prevent setbacks, and facilitating the development of constructive guidelines. Ms. Cabrera-Balleza also highlighted the integral role of financing instruments such as the Global Acceleration Instrument (GAI) in generating progress on the WPS Agenda.
Security Council Members:
United Kingdom: The representative of the United Kingdom reaffirmed the state’s commitment to the WPS Agenda, endorsed implementation tools such as the GAI, and agreed with the panel’s assessments regarding CEDAW’s reporting and monitoring value. The representative headed off reservations from other member states regarding the proper platform for this discussion, and conceptualised the day’s discussion as a natural meeting point for human rights and security perspectives on Women Peace and Security. The representative also welcomed opportunities to engage further with civil society regarding next steps and expressed support for a new UNSC WPS resolution integrating GR 30.
Egypt: The representative of Egypt stated the the WPS Agenda’s four pillars of protection, conflict prevention, participation, and relief and recovery are universally applicable, but devoted much of his statements to reservations regarding the scope of the WPS Agenda and CEDAW. He noted that synergies needed to be clarified in three areas: first, whether the mechanisms were relevant in countries not in conflict or post-conflict; second, that general recommendations were not legally binding and subjective in nature; and third, that the WPS agenda was universally applicable, while CEDAW was only applicable to signatories, therefore complicating any potential synergies.
Malaysia: The representative of Malaysia stated that prior to adoption of 1325, CEDAW set the benchmark for women’s rights in the international community. She noted that despite widespread support, implementation and progress remains far behind expressed commitments. The representative expressed appreciation for the guidance of the CEDAW Committee, remarking that advancing equal rights and empowerment does not happen in a vacuum.
Spain: The representative of Spain stated that the eight WPS resolutions and CEDAW should be mutually enforcing to ensure substantive gender equality in conflict and peacebuilding. He recognised the commendations offered by the Committee as one of the most valuable tools available to the international community. The representative condemned the high number of reservations issued by CEDAW signatories, asserting that they undermine and diminish a document which must be fully implemented. Additionally, the representative noted that civil society shadow reports are best poised to implement resolutions on the ground, and states that individuals should be able to report to the CEDAW Committee.
United States of America: The statement of the representative of the United States underscored that the elimination of discrimination against women is central to international peace and security. She remarked that despite marked progress, the examples of success on the WPS Agenda are confined to a handful of cases. Speaking to the United States’ domestic politics, the representative noted that the Obama administration hopes to see the Senate finally ratify CEDAW, as it is the key to improving peace and security. Finally, the representative noted that the UN and member states must dismantle institutional divisions in all aspects of its work, echoing the remarks from panelists calling for the integration of typically siloed frameworks.
New Zealand: The representative of New Zealand noted that GR 30 illustrates the linkages between UNSC WPS resolutions and CEDAW, and that WPS resolutions must be premised on model of substantive equality. He expressed that New Zealand is a strong advocate of women throughout the four pillars or the agenda and outlined some of the implementation steps the state has taken. New Zealand has adopted a NAP and is finalising first implementation report, has created an all female defense force team to provide training on conflict prevention through the inclusion of women, and actively ensures women’s participation in domestic institutions.
Japan: The representative of Japan submitted a statement centred around the implementation gaps of the WPS Agenda. He noted that the UNSC’s WPS resolutions have made clear that women’s rights are central to international peace and security, however the lack of detailed normative and operational guidance has led to lots of commitments but few actionable measures. The representative highlighted the violations of women’s rights by non-state actors including extremist groups and expressed that it was vital to address the crimes of these actors, however the UNSC has not yet developed pathways.
Senegal: The statement of the representative of Senegal endorsed both CEDAW and the UNSC WPS resolutions as important tools for achieving the rights of women. He expressed that potential synergies between the two act to bolster the commitments of ratifying parties and that their complementarity is undeniable. However the representative noted that such effort must be transposed and implemented effectively. He spoke additionally about the domestic implementation efforts in Senegal, stating that Senegal has had experience establishing structures to promote engagement of women in preventing violence and facilitated prevention through establishing structures to detect acts of violence.
Ukraine: The representative of Ukraine recognised the UN’s progress in advancing issues of women and gender, but stated that institutional commitments have been more rhetorical than real. He welcomed the opportunity to explore integrated approaches to implementing the full range of the WPS Agenda in conflict and post-conflict situations. The representative echoed his colleagues’ designations of CEDAW’s strong complementary impact with the WPS agenda and the value of its reporting system.
Russian Federation: The representative of the Russian Federation issued a statement welcoming the attention afforded to issues of gender equality through this forum. She briefly outlined the various UN entities addressing aspects of gender issues, noting that the scope of organ overlap warranted consideration to ensure efficacy and equal distribution of labour, while avoiding duplication and the waste of resources. Like the representative of Egypt, the representative of Russia expressed doubts regarding the jurisdiction of CEDAW over states not party to the convention, which limit the possibilities of synergies between these mechanisms.
Venezuela: The representative of Venezuela illustrated that women and girls continue to suffer disproportionately at a global level, highlighting the feminisation of poverty, lack of education, low rates of participation, and SGBV. She endorsed CEDAW as an instrumental mechanism for tackling the root causes of conflict and remarked that the participation of women at all states of conflict is vital for prevention and resolution. The representative echoed the concerns of the Russian Federation concerning the mandates of UN entities and the need to avoid duplications of labour.
Angola: The Representative of Angola stressed the importance of women’s equal participation within the maintenance of international peace and security. He stated that, despite a global trend towards increased participation, women are still not provided the opportunity to participate in a meaningful or substantive capacity.The representative advocated for the incorporation of gender perspectives throughout all UN efforts, including adopting special measures to protect women and girls from violence. Finally, the representative noted that the synergies between CEDAW and UNSC WPS Resolutions provide an opportunity to maximise the impact of norms and standards on the WPS Agenda.
France: The representative of France conceptualised the meeting as a response to the global demand for a comprehensive approach on Women Peace and Security. He highlighted the findings of the high-level study on WPS and advised that the Council must support the recommendations of UNWomen at operational levels. The representative outlined France’s efforts at a domestic level to implement the Agenda, emphasising the state’s two National Action Plans.
Non-Security Council Members:
Switzerland: The representative of Switzerland described the state’s commitment to encouraging exchanges and increasing information on the WPS agenda since 2012. The representative offered support for the CEDAW Committee, particularly for the opportunity for member-states to receive detailed and comprehensive policy recommendations.
Sweden: The representative of Sweden expressed support for strengthening the synergies between CEDAW and UNSC WPS resolutions. He also committed to keeping the implementation of the WPS agenda at forefront of Sweden’s agenda during its tenure in the UNSC, beginning in 2017.
Philippines: The representative of the Philippines stated that the implementation of CEDAW and the UNSC WPS resolutions are mutually reinforcing. The representative states that synergies should be strengthened in useful way without duplicating labour. Finally, the representative described the state’s domestic implementation efforts, including women’s role in the state’s 2014 peace agreement.
European Union: The representative of the European Union (EU) advocated for the full and effective implementation of the WPS agenda, and reaffirmed the priority of the Agenda within EU frameworks. The representative also outlined gender-based discrimination as a key issue within the WPS agenda
Kazakhstan: The representative of Kazakhstan offered support for the efforts to strengthen synergies between CEDAW and UNSC WPS resolutions. He highlighted GR 30 as a vital tool to accomplish this goal and described Kazakhstan’s domestic efforts to implement the agenda, including through increasing women’s participation in peace negotiations.
Italy: The representative of Italy offered a statement suggesting that one way to strengthen the implementation of CEDAW and UNSC WPS resolutions would be to incorporate relevant recommendations and frameworks in NAPs. The representative also reaffirmed her state’s commitment to the Agenda and, like Sweden, promised to prioritise it during the state’s imminent UNSC term.
Estonia: The representative of Estonia stated that the role of governments must be highlighted in the implementation of CEDAW and UNSC WPS resolutions. The representative called on all non-member states to adopt CEDAW and provide financial support to the WPS agenda. The representative also described the state’s domestic implementation efforts.
Australia: The representative of Australia offered support for CEDAW and the WPS Agenda, stating that women are too often excluded from political life. The representative placed particular emphasis on the role of civil society in implementation efforts. Specifically, the representative stated that the information provided in civil society shadow reports should be used to directly inform response efforts.
Netherlands: The representative of the Netherlands illustrated the state’s strong support for the WPS Agenda and noted that it has also ratified CEDAW. The representative welcomed the normative framework developed over the last 15 years, but noted a lack of implementation. The representative identified GR 30 as a key method for overcoming implementation barriers.
OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
In the current state of exacerbating violence and militarism in the world, WILPF welcomes the CEDAW Committee’s increased attention to reminding states of their extraterritorial human rights obligations. Upholding women's rights and state obligations are crucial to building a sustainable peace based on gender justice and demilitarised security.
A year after the launch of the Global Study, the international community is now aware that gender equality is the number one predictor of peace, and feminist movement building is the number one predictor of policies on reducing violence against women. Yet we still have not moved beyond commitments to accomplishments in conflict prevention, promoting gender equality, and building de-militarised security mechanisms.
If the Security Council is serious about Women, Peace and Security, then stronger action to address the root causes of violence and the militarisation of societies, including proliferation of small arms and light weapons, is required. Allowing militarised response to crisis only perpetuates cycles of violence and conflict.
Therefore, the Security Council must
Take action to strengthen conflict prevention efforts including through concrete disarmament efforts
Integrate women’s human rights in all aspects of its work, promote gender equality and women’s rights; and
Establish formal consultative forums with women’s civil society to ensure gender lens in the prioritisation, coordination, development, and implementation of policies and programmes.
In this regard take action to:
Call for states with military operations to use their influence with local governments to ensure respect for women’s human rights;
Ensure that training, investigation, and accountability mechanisms are in place for peacekeeping troops and put civilian contractors under same regulations as military personnel for SOFA agreements;
Commit to desisting from war crimes;
Cease arms transfers to local countries that facilitate gender based violence, carry out surveillance against women human rights defenders, and oppress human rights;
Develop plans to implement the SDGs including 16.4 on illicit arms as alternative to militarised policies;
Until and unless women’s participation and rights, including economic and social rights, are supported and realised, the international community will not achieve sustainable security and peace.
We look forward to your rapid action on the points above.