8022nd Security Council Meeting: Peace and Security in Africa

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SIX OFFICIAL 10-Aug-2017 02:18:21
Donors, neighbouring countries and other partners must invest in holistic solutions to the multiple crises faced by Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council heard at 8022nd meeting.
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Amina J. Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and one of four women leading the recent African Union-United Nations mission to Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, described the 19-27 July visit as “the first of its kind” — a high-level mission focused entirely on women, peace and security. She was joined by the Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the African Union Commission’s Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, she said, adding that, besides meeting with Heads of State and other officials, they had spent most of their time with the women and girls most affected by conflict.

“We were four African women, from two organizations, visiting two countries, with one goal: advancing peace by advancing the equality, empowerment and well‑being of women,” she said. Both Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo suffered dismayingly low levels of political participation by women and were experiencing conflicts marked by high levels of sexual and gender-based violence. Noting that both countries also faced grave humanitarian crises, she called upon donors to bridge funding gaps and went on to outline some of the complexities on the ground. In northern Nigeria, for example — where 1.9 million people had been displaced and 8.5 million were in need of assistance — abductions, forced marriage and the use of women as suicide bombers had taken a terrible toll. Sexual exploitation in the camps — including the “sex-for-food” variant — was an alarming new trend, while, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, both State and non‑State armed actors continued to perpetrate violence.

Emphasizing that the joint mission had been intended to “put life into” Council resolutions on women, peace and security, she said “we’re working to change the narrative” as the mission represented a new effort to address the most vulnerable segments of the population. Going forward, such missions would be conducted not just in Africa, but in many regions. Noting that the distribution of food in camps for displaced persons should be carried out by women, not men, she urged the United Nations to take real action to impact people’s lives.

Tété António, Permanent Observer for the African Union, said the “solidarity mission” had enabled the African Union and the United Nations to better assess the positive role that women could play in advancing peace, security and development. Emphasizing the need to support the social and economic empowerment of women in order to prevent marginalization that could lead to exclusion and radicalization, he added that more joint humanitarian assistance was needed in conflict-affected regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Citing some of the mission’s recommendations, he stressed the need for a greater focus on enabling the return and empowerment of the internally displaced, as well as refugees and on stabilizing countries facing peace and security changes.

Bolivia’s representative, speaking as Council members took the floor, said “this trip could be the first of many” of its kind, not only in Africa, but around the world. The crime of conflict-related sexual violence — one of the most inhumane possible — was no longer being perpetrated in the shadows, and now was the time for the international community to tackle it at both the global and national levels. Noting that the violent extremism perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria was leaving deep scars in the country’s female population, he warned against any attempts to legitimize profits obtained through forced prostitution or allow the use of tax havens by terrorists. He also voiced concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reports of sexual violence and cases of executions and arbitrary detentions.

The United Kingdom’s representative, meanwhile, said the mission had brought home to the Council the “horrific and disproportionate” impact of the conflicts in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on women and girls. The reports coming out of the latter’s Kasaï region, in particular, “should make us all sick to our stomachs”, he said, pointing to rampant sexual and gender-based violence and the 400,000 children currently at risk of severe acute malnutrition. “We need to break the cycle” of violence in both countries, he stressed, noting that the Governments bore the primary responsibility in that regard and must respect both human rights and humanitarian law in doing so.

Likewise, France’s representative said the violence in Kasai had reached an untenable level and urged the Congolese authorities to cooperate fully with the panel of experts that the Human Rights Council set up in June. The Secretary-General must meanwhile establish a special inquiry to shed light on the death of two experts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions committee, she said.

Senegal’s representative said the mission’s composition, beyond just being symbolic, was an excellent example of cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union. “This concerted model of action is undoubtedly one more step in implementing resolution 2242 (2015),” he said, referring to the text intended to improve the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. The joint mission had gathered critical information and convened important meetings with senior Government officials, as well as women and girls on the ground, which would enable the Council to bolster its work in support of that agenda, he said, adding that an African Union meeting to be held next month would provide another opportunity to follow up on it.

Nigeria’s representative described a range of national laws and programmes aimed at addressing the crises facing his country, including a revised action plan for the implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) and related resolutions, the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission and initiatives to re‑radicalize convicted terrorists and secure the release of the remaining abducted Chibok girls. In addition, it had established on 5 August the Judicial Commission to investigate human rights abuses committed by military personnel in the country. While the perpetrators of sexual violence must be held accountable, the State’s capacity to do so — and the prevalence of weak structures and institutions — must also be addressed. “Dealing with the political economy of conflicts in a more holistic manner is crucial to finding potential remedies,” he said.

Also speaking were representatives of the United States, Russian Federation, Italy, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Uruguay, Japan, Sweden, Kazakhstan, China and Egypt.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 12:22 p.m.
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