Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia (S/2016/430)

Monday, May 9, 2016
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Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia (S/2016/430)

Code: S/2016/430

Date: 9 May 2016

Topic:  Covering the period from 1 January to 30 April 2016, the Secretary-General report provides an update on the major developments in Somalia and the implementation of SCR 2232 (2015) and SCR 2245 (2015) and implementation of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) mandate.


Women, Peace and Security Introduction

This report provides context for ongoing political restructuring and humanitarian challenges in Somalia and encompasses some women, peace and security (WPS) concerns. References to WPS issues have decreased in comparison to the previous report (S/2016/27), both in terms of quantity (from 15 to 13) and scope. There are six references to protection (S/2016/430, para. 50, 55, 58, 61, 81, 85) that broadly focus on human rights due diligence policy and preventing sexual violence in conflict. Six references to participation (S/2016/430, para. 2, 6, 25, 56,  57, 62) touch on several topics including political inclusion and efforts to prevent sexual violence. One reference contains encouragement from the Secretary-General in the “Observations” section (S/2016/430, para. 95). The report also dedicates two sections to WPS issues, which reflect both the protection and participation aspects of the agenda entitled, “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment” and “Prevention of Sexual Violence” (S/2016/430 paras. 56, 57, 61, 62). These are considered cross cutting issues in this report but are not mandated as such. Although the provision of these sections is positive, unfortunately, there are several WPS issues highlighted in the mandate for which the report fails to provide sufficient information or analysis. Furthermore, the report does not offer any gender analysis on the conflict itself, missing important opportunities to apply a gender lens in all sections.

Human rights, women and peace and security, and children and armed conflict

In four instances, the report details the continued work across and within organizations that was done to strengthen prevention and protection measures regarding sexual violence in conflict and human rights violations. UNSOM, United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) and the United Nations country team decided to “deepen collaboration” in the area of human rights and the protection of women and children by integrating specialized protection functions into the human rights component (S/2016/430, para. 85). Participants from African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) underwent pre deployment training on human rights due diligence policy and signed papers ensuring, among other things, that they would report any allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse through their command chain (S/2016/430, para. 81).

Adopting the human rights road map to end sexual violence in conflict was considered to be a gain by a Human Rights Council review (S/2016/430, para. 55) and segments of the national action plan on ending sexual violence in conflict were implemented during the reporting period, including a pilot women and children protection unit within the Somali police force, and the finalization of a sexual offences bill (S/2016/430, para. 61). However, coordination, funding and resources severely limited implementing the national action plan and to overcome challenges, the focus will be twofold: enhancing coordination with stakeholders by establishing a coordination cell embedded within the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development; and mobilizing resources towards full implementation (S/2016/430, para. 62).  Despite these efforts described above, during the reporting period there was an increase in reported violations against children (of the 993 affected, 166 were girls) (S/2016/430, para. 58) and only one case of rape involving the Somali security forces was documented (S/2016/430, para. 50).

The reference to sexual violence could have been improved by using language and provisions contained in WPS resolutions, especially Resolution 2122, which demands “complete cessation with immediate effect by all parties to armed conflict of all acts of sexual violence” within specific time-bound commitments, and details how and what needs to happen to halt sexual violence (S/RES/2122, OP.10). Additionally, survivors of sexual violence should be treated with dignity throughout the justice process, be protected and receive redress for their suffering (S/RES/1820 (2008), OP. 13; S/RES/1888 (2009), OP. 6). Long-term efforts to prevent sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict environments have several central elements: women’s political, economic and social empowerment, gender equality and the involvement of men and boys to combat all forms of violence against women, as affirmed by Resolution 2106 (S/RES/2106, PP. 5), all of which should be fostered in Somalia.

Political process

During the reporting period, Somalia determined proceedings for the 2016 electoral process and reconfigured political power by instituting a system of checks and balances. In this context, three initiatives were launched that focus on the WPS agenda. First is the High-level Partnership Forum that “highlighted the urgency of strategic intervention and further investment” in the WPS agenda, and featured Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) plans to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (S/2016/430, para. 56).  Second, electoral proceedings agreed upon during the reporting period state that a total of 30% of the seats in both newly-established houses of Federal Parliament and electoral college are reserved for women (S/2016/430, para. 2), a decision welcomed by the Secretary-General who pledged United Nations support for this goal (S/2016/430, para. 95). Third, the Interim South-West Administration regional assembly, which is 21% female, held its first plenary session (S/2016/430, para. 6).

The reference to the meeting on WPS at the High-Level Partnership forum could have been improved by including information about who attended and who the FGS considers its’ WPS ”partners.” Females should have been at the forefront of this meeting, to retain their agency and steer the “much needed attention…[and] new momentum” for the 2016 electoral process. In order to strengthen these references, future reporting and mandates should invoke WPS resolutions, particularly Resolution 2122 (2013) which details how gender equality and empowerment of women should be promoted through provisions in mission mandate renewals, especially provisions to facilitate women’s full participation and protection in election preparation and political processes (S/RES/2122 (2013), OP. 4). The report missed an opportunity to divulge details about the first public outreach exercise on the constitutional review process, hosted by the 21%-female Interim South-West Administration (S/2016/430, para. 22).

Electoral assistance

The United Nations and European Union supported Somali women, in order to promote the WPS agenda, in two ways. First, through training programs on gender-responsive elections, and governance and leadership; and second, through a celebration of International Women’s day, which focused on women’s participation in the 2016 electoral process (S/2016/430, para. 25). This open day served as a venue for activities organized by civil society organizations and ministries for women; and as a platform for women leaders such as Parliament members, ministers and representatives of civil society organizations, to “share their concerns” at a joint panel discussion (S/2016/430, para. 57).

The reference could have been improved by including more details, especially any outcomes or analysis, of the International Women’s day celebration. The initiative is commendable, but the report does not disclose concrete steps or plans towards implementing gender-responsive training programs and overcoming hurdles, despite that plans in this capacity are included for another WPS-issue: sexual violence in conflict (S/2016/430, para. 62). Another improvement would be the inclusion of plans that focus on women’s participation in the 2020 electoral processes (S/2016/430, para. 24). When conducting post-conflict electoral processes and constitutional reform, it is important for member states to ensure women’s full and equal participation in all phases of electoral processes (S/RES/2122 (2013), OP.8), but the report missed an opportunity to enumerate women’s participation in constitutional reform or the election processes themselves (S/2016/430, para. 20-25).  

Ideal Asks for WPS Transformation

Mandates for the missions reported on during this period include scant WPS references. Five basic areas should be addressed in order to transform the situation for women in Somalia, and although included in reporting, they make no mention of women’s inclusion. The areas include rule of law (RoL) (S/2016/430, para. 26-36), humanitarian situation (S/2016/430, para. 64-69), disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), security sector reform (SSR) and terrorism. First, sustainable peace requires, among other things, integrated gender equality in all areas of society, including rule of law and justice activities. Because the role of law is one of the key elements of conflict prevention and the peace process, including post-conflict peacebuilding, women should be systematically and fully integrated into building these measures (S/RES/2122 (2013), PP. 11). Second, Gender programming is extremely important in humanitarian responses and relevant actors should ensure women and women’s groups participate meaningfully in the programming and provision processes, and that aid for women be protected and funding be tracked (S/RES, 1889 (2009), OP. 1; S/RES/2122 (2013), PP. 8, 9; S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 3, 16).

Effective mechanisms for DDR processes can be developed through consultation with women and women-led organizations (S/RES/1820 (2008), OP. 10). Women should be effectively participating in efforts that address sexual violence concerns in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes. This includes establishing protection mechanisms for women in cantonment sites, civilians who live in close proximity to them, and in communities of return. Trauma and reintegration support should be offered to women formerly associated with armed groups and female ex-combatants (S/RES/2106 (2013), OP. 16.a). Next, to help build a security sector that is accessible and responsive to all, especially women, local women should be encouraged to participate in the national and armed security forces; the presence of women peacekeepers may encourage that (S/RES/1888 (2009), PP. 15). Women should also be encouraged to be included in security sector and effective vetting processes, towards the goal of excluding perpetrators of sexual violence from the security sector (S/RES/2106 (2013), OP.16.b). Finally, at the core of the UN’s strategy to prevent violent extremism is empowering women through their participation in developing strategies and interventions to counter terrorism and violent extremism. Funding should be committed to projects which address gender dimensions and women’s empowerment in this regard (S/RES/2242 (2015), OP. 13).