(New York) - The United Nations Security Council should immediately begin using measurable benchmarks to protect women caught in conflicts around the world and to ensure that women are included in peace negotiations, rather than delaying this step, Human Rights Watch said today.
In October 2009, the Security Council asked the secretary-general to prepare a set of indicators on the implementation of key Council commitments regarding women in conflict. The measures are to be presented today to the Security Council, which has the option of acting now or postponing action.
"This move has been a decade in the making," said Marianne Mollmann, women's rights advocate at Human Rights Watch. "There's no excuse for waiting another minute to take steps we know are needed."
Diplomats have indicated that it is likely that the Council will "take note" of the secretary-general's report. They said the Council is likely to defer any implementation of the indicators until at least October, the 10th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325, which laid out UN system and member state commitments regarding women in conflict. Resolution 1325 has been reported on annually since 2000, but without any consistency in the focus of reporting or specific expectations for outcome.
Further steps may be needed to implement all of the indicators recommended by the secretary-general, but the report also concludes that information is readily available and reliable for many of the indicators. The Council should endorse the immediate use of all indicators for which data exist, in particular in the UN reports on countries such as Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch said.
"Any real discussion of abuse of women in conflict depends on understanding the scope of the problem," Mollmann said. "This is a chance for the Security Council to make clear how urgent this is so that there can be actual numbers to report and a real way to measure success and failure."
Human Rights Watch also expressed concern a delay could mean that the benchmarks would become the main focus of debates around the 10th anniversary rather than commitments to overcome the problems the indicators are expected to highlight.
"Women in conflict-ridden countries deserve more than a commitment to collecting data when the Security Council looks at what it has done in the past 10 years to address their plight," Mollmann said. "We expect UN member states to follow through to empower women as peacemakers and to stop rape in war."