Posts Tagged ‘peacekeeping’

Role of women in peace and security being rolled back (WSP@20)

April 30, 2019

On 22 March 2019 (a global gender, peace and security consultant and a former executive director of the New York–based NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security) posted this piece “The WPS agenda is almost 20, but it’s not time to celebrate yet”:

Next year, the United Nations women, peace and security (WSP) agenda turns 20, and with that will come high-level commemorations to mark this important anniversary. However, 2020 can’t be viewed only through a celebratory lens, as fundamental challenges continue to plague the agenda. Women’s civil-society organisations working on peacebuilding, conflict prevention and gender equality remain drastically underfunded, even though investment in gender equality is a proven conflict-prevention strategy. Women human rights defenders are increasingly targeted, while the international community remains largely silent. Of most concern, women also continue to be locked out from formal peace processes……

The recognition [in 2015/16] that all crises and conflicts have gendered elements is a positive development that can be attributed to the collective push in 2015 for context-specific implementation of the WPS agenda. Then came 2017 and the US-led cuts to peacekeeping budgets. The NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security was among the organisations to raise the alarm that gender posts were being disproportionally cut and downgraded. That came less than 18 months after the Security Council adopted resolution 2242, its eighth WPS resolution, which among other things called for the systematic deployment of senior gender advisers to provide strategic gender advice throughout all phases of missions and processes.

In 2017, language in the mission mandate for Afghanistan relating to women’s rights and participation and girls’ education was removed under the guise of streamlining the mandate. Fortunately, those provisions were reinserted in the 2018 version of the mandate following significant advocacy from WPS civil-society organisations and key council members. The removal of gender roles and WPS references in mandates showed how fragile gains are and how easily gender provisions will be cut for cost saving or political expediency.

A study commissioned by UN Women found that women’s participation increases the likelihood of a peace agreement lasting 15 years by 35%. That finding is systematically referenced by WPS-friendly governments as evidence of the agenda’s importance. Despite all the positive statements, women continue to be absent from peace negotiations. Peace agreements also remain devoid of gender provisions.

We only have to look at the past four months to get a grim picture of how exclusive talks continue to be. Libyan women were largely missing from high-level peace talks held in Italy in late November 2018. Yemeni women were sidelined from the January 2019 talks in Stockholm, and Afghan women were excluded from the closed US–Taliban talks in Doha. Over the past few years, Afghan women have repeatedly warned of the dire consequences that closed-door talks with the Taliban could have for women’s rights.

Last year, the UN secretary-general reported that 2017 was the first time in two years that most of the signed peace agreements that the UN had helped to broker lacked any gender references. Expressing his concern at this downward trend, he called for a redoubling of efforts to promote gender-inclusive processes and agreements. The question remains: how has this backsliding been permitted, given that so many national governments now align themselves with the WPS agenda, have implemented national action plans and support the proliferation of regional women mediators’ networks. It seems that WPS continues to be sidelined in favour of other political priorities.

The WPS agenda was established as a result of a groundswell of advocacy from women activists around the world demanding equal access to peace and security decision-making. Nineteen years later, the fight to ensure women’s participation has yet to be won, but women peacebuilders haven’t given up. In 2020, the resilience and determination of conflict-affected women should be celebrated.

Essential elements of the WPS agenda are being roadblocked due to a lack of political action. It’s time for states that call themselves friends of the agenda to draw a line in the sand and cease supporting talks that exclude women.

Update on the impact of US cuts to the UN budget

February 21, 2019

Here is what you need to know about how the budget deal between President Trump and Congress will impact the United Nations.

UN Peacekeeping is underfunded.

The budget deal includes$1.551 billion for the “Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities” account. This is the budget line that funds most of America’s contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations, including key missions in Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon and more.  The $1.551 billion appropriated by Congress falls short of this rate by nearly 3%. At issue is an arbitrary “cap” of 25% that Congress imposes on US dues to UN peacekeeping, despite the fact that at the UN, the US had agreed to pay 27.9%. The gap between what is assessed and what is paid by the United States results in an underfunding of UN peacekeeping operations and the accumulation of arrears by the United States, now to the tune of $750 million.

This underfunding of UN peacekeeping is contributing to a major cash crisis for UN Peacekeeping operations. Last month, the UN Secretary General sent a letter to every UN ambassador, warning them that a $2 billion shortfall means the UN only has a few months of cash on hand to sustain its peacekeeping operations.  This budget passed by congress only adds to the these uncertainties facing UN Peacekeeping.

The UN regular budget is properly funded

The “Contributions to International Organizations” account funds the regular budget of the United Nations and also the core budgets of some UN agencies, like the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization. The Congressional deal includes over $1.3 billion for this account, which represents a funding level commensurate with the rates the United States is assessed as a dues paying member of the UN. In other words, it is the proper funding level.

The caveat here is that the Trump administration may still try to withhold, or slow walk, the disbursement of these funds in an attempt to punish the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Last year, the White House sought to withhold $27 million in payments to the UN, which it calculated was roughly the amount that the UN would spend to fund the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and also the UN Human Rights Council. ..

The Budget Deal Thwarts the Trump Administration’s Attempt to Kill UNICEF

In its budget request last year, the White House sought to completely eliminate an account known as “International Organizations and Programs.”  (UNICEF is also funded through this account)…

Congress did not agree to these gratuitous cuts, and maintained a funding level for this account consistent with previous budgets, to the tune of $340 million. The budget also includes consistent funding levels for global health programs like the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Additionally, the budget includes consistent levels of funding for refugee related programs, including the UN Refugee Agency and the UN Relief and Works Agency, which supports Palestinian refugees. (Alas, it is likely that the administration will nonetheless withhold the disbursement for UNRWA for political reasons.)

In sum, with the exception of UN Peacekeeping, American commitments to the United Nations remained consistent with America’s traditional role as the indispensable member state of the UN.

For more detailed analysis (and the original data upon which this post was written) see this memo from the Better World Campaign.

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/03/01/without-more-extra-budgetary-funding-human-rights-work-in-the-un-is-in-trouble/