#UNSC Res 2272: Shouldn’t the UN do more?

*by Seble Mulugeta

Peacekeepers can play an important role in protecting civilians, especially women and children from sexual violence during armed conflict. Since the early 1990s, mandates for United Nations’ (UN) peacekeeping missions explicitly include provisions for the protection of civilians. Yet, a series of Human Rights violations especially with regards to women and children by male peace keepers in several African PeaceKeeping and Support Operations (PSOs) have been observed and recorded. In 2014, French peace keepers were accused of sexually exploiting children in the Central African Republic (CAR) triggering a massive scandal in the UN.

The UN and the AU have both clear mandates as to the details of the protection of civilians during peace missions including the protection of women and children. Furthermore, both institutions have taken steps to mainstream gender in the sector of peacekeeping.   Policies like UNSC 1325 have informed the adoption of the 2010 UN frame work related to gender mainstreaming. Its purpose is to ensure that the needs of men and women in host societies are met adequately. In addition to UNSC 1325, UNSC 1820, specifically addresses the issue of sexual and gender based violence in armed conflict. The resolution urges concrete measures to protect women from Sexual Gender Based violence. Additionally, the resolution also calls for training to help prevent, recognize and respond to incidents of SGBV and encourage member states to deploy a higher percentage of women.[1] The AU on its side has incorporated those principles in the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa despite the fact that a concrete Gender Mainstreaming policy in its Peace Support Missions is still being developed. Yet, the success of gender mainstreaming, however, depends on how seriously international actors incorporate it in their policies and implement it on the ground.

According to recent UN reports there are 124,746 personnel serving in 16 Peacekeeping Missions worldwide. In 2015, 69 sexual abuse allegations claims against peace keepers were made, an increase from 52 in 2014. Out of the recent claims that were made 1/3 are accusations against UN Peacekeepers operating in the Central African Republic.[i] This has made the news due to the extent of the abuses. In 2015, French troops deployed by the international community to protect civilians from crisis in the CAR are accused of not only sexually abducting and raping women but also children as well. In this particular case, the pain for the victims is not only related to the abuse itself but also to the sense of betrayal by the people they trusted would protect them.

In 2014, the UN has launched an inquiry into this CAR sexual abuse scandal and the measures were harsh. The head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in CAR, General Babacar Gaye was fired in August 2015 and the UN is currently reviewing a mechanism for the punishment of the peacekeepers involved in the crime.

The UN approaches accusation of sexual violence and abuses through two specific frameworks. One relates to its sexual violence as well as Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (‘SEA”) clause concerning acts committed by its staff members. In fact, it is articulated through its clear gender protection and safeguard mechanism. The second one derives from its UN Human Rights mandate and principles enshrined in the preamble of its charter and operationalized through a number of Security Council resolutions and UN polices. As such, sexual violence in the UN is not merely a disciplinary matter, but a serious Human Rights violation as well.[2] Yet, the implementation process is questionable, that is why gender based violence by peacekeepers is occurring constantly.

On March 11 2016, UNSC resolution 2272 was adopted, in reaction to the increased number of Sexual abuse cases by peace keepers. With the push from UNSG Ban Ki Moon, the new resolution stipulates “three steps that a country should take if its personnel are accused of sexual exploitation or abuse [are] to investigate, hold the personnel accountable and inform the secretary-general of the progress of investigation”.

Yet, the resolution does not address all challenges of gender based violence and abuse. For acts that happened at the UN level, the prosecution should be under and by the UN itself. Reporting it back to member states for investigation and prosecution delays the justice victims deserve. Even if the perpetrators were to be prosecuted in their member states, what guarantee do victims have that there are clauses and mechanisms to deal with gender based violence in those states. In fact, many of the countries that deployed their troops and listed By Ban Ki Moon as perpetrating gender based violence are still countries that have not well developed frameworks for gender. Moreover, developing countries in Africa are places where the majority of women live a subordinate life under an extensive patriarchal system. Even so, all have different levels of punishments and gender sensitive policies for the same sexual abuse act committed.

Therefore, it would have been better if the UN addresses all these gaps by developing a mechanism or even an ad-hoc court of its own to specifically address issues of sexual abuse in peacekeeping missions. The UN should set a standard that all should adhere to because we still have in this 21st century countries that lack gender sensitive and friendly policies and frameworks.

*Seble Mulugeta (seble.m@ipss-addis.org ) is a Research and Policy Dialogue Officer at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies. With an MA Gender Studies, she is interested and passionate about issues of gender especially the advancement women’s rights and voice in the realm of peace and security in Africa. All views expressed in the AfSol blog are solely the views of the authors and do not in any represent the views of the IPSS or APSP. For more information on AfSol Blog, please contact research@ipss-addis.org.

[1] Marie Deschamps chair Hassan B.Jallow yasmin sooka, 17 Decmeber 2015

[2] ibid


#Planet5050: Will Africa get there in 2030?

Step It Up for Woman

By *Elshaddai Mesfin

In late September 2015, the United Nations (UN) hosted a gathering for the celebration of 20 years since the adoption and implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. In the presence of high level officials, academicians, gender and women issues experts as well as representatives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), it was stressed that governments and the world in general must commit to closing the gender gap by 2030 under the campaign “#Planet5050”, Step it up for Gender Equality in 2030. This is in support and spirit of Goal 5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be attained by the same year.

Women are the other half of humanity, yet their voice is still missing from global politics and economy. Creating environments that are conducive for women to achieve their full potential is, according to UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, ‘a goal that Heads of State (HoS) have to ensure by making it a national priority. According to McKinsey Global Institute, in  a “full potential” scenario in which women play an identical role in labor markets to that of men, “as much as $28 trillion, or 26 percent, could be added to global annual GDP by 2025.” Therefore, achieving equality for men and women by 2030 is not only a social and moral issue, but also one that is economically critical for a world whose economy is ever more stagnating.

The same logic also applies for having women at decision making levels; Africa has come a long way in this regards. The AU has named 2015 the Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063 and 2016: African Year of Human Rights with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women. Dr. Zuma is the first woman Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), President Ellen Johnson of Liberia is the first African Woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize; Amina Mohamed is one of the first African Woman to be proposed for the post of UN Secretary General; Rwanda has the highest number of women in Parliament (more than 50%) in the continent; South Africa has the highest parity rates when it comes to employment. Yet here comes the paradox. These leading women do not represent at all the overall African Women population who remain excluded from the politics and economy of their respective countries and continent. They are the exception.  Even if they were to represent the rest, how audible would their voice be in the men dominated and dictated world of politics, economy and culture? As such, despite the pledges and commitments that were made, action and implementation are still missing.

This image is the same in peace and security. 15 years since UNSC 1325, women, globally, only represent less than 10% of negotiators in peace agreements despite the fact that peace agreements where women are present are likely to be sustainable by 23%. 10 years since the adoption of Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Africa remains the continent where much more is needed for women. In a continent devastated by conflicts, women are the first victims as refugees, IDPs, and rape victims. In Africa, South Sudan is the worst place to be women in a conflict zone next to the Democratic Republic of Congo with high rates of rape.

The protocols, charters and legislations and even the campaigns that enable women to reach their full potential are there. African leaders pledged their support for the newly established HeforShe campaign for instance. This is one that argues that gender is not only about women but also about men, men supporting women. But what is missing as Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has put it is the “unbending political will”, one that is to make the issue of women equality a “national priority”. In a three step plan developed by the UN, governments are to not only promote and campaign for #Planet5050 but also invest in women equality. Governments have to put in place clear budgets targeting the advancement of women in society through the creation of the foundations of the needed conducive environments. This means investing in social campaigns that are to eliminate discriminations and prejudices of women and thus propel by 2030 parity at all decision making levels.

But is gender equality a national priority for our African governments? Is it a national priority for the African citizenry? One can be skeptic about the prospects. Gender parity is unlikely to be a priority at a time where issues such as: fighting the waves of extremism especially in the Horn and West Africa Region, handling the migration crisis, dealing with the regression of democracy with the new pattern of third termism, and the need to find ways to support the ever growing African Peace Keeping Missions are pressing.  Maybe #Planet5050 is an ambitious goal for the continent? At the pace we now have, it is unlikely that Africa will achieve gender equality in the next 15 years.

 * Elshaddai Mesfin Haileyesus (elshaddai.m@ipss-addis.org ) is a research intern in the Research, Policy Analysis and Dialogue (RAPD) Department the Africa Peace and Security Programme (APSP), a joint programme of the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) and the African Union (AU). All views expressed in the AfSol blog are solely the views of the authors and do not represent the views of the IPSS or APSP. For more information on AfSol Blog, please contact research@ipss-addis.org


COP 21: what did Africa get from the ‘landmark deal’?

*by Pomi Ayalew

As of 2015, Africa’s CO2 emissions are estimated at less than 7% of the world total, according to the AFDB. Sub-Saharan African, with the exception of South Africa, only contributes to 2% of the world CO2 emission. However by 2080, an increase of 5 to 8% of arid and semi-arid land in Africa is projected under a range of climate scenarios. Also by 2080, due to climate change, it is likely that 75% of the African population will be at risk of hunger, according to the FAO. Africa’s population is expected to rise to at least 2.4 billion by 2050 with some of the countries doubling or even tripling their numbers and making Africa the region with the largest population growth. After months of preparation, the African Group of Negotiators went into the COP21 with the expectation and aims of limiting CO2 emission, increase Africa’s access to climate finance, and get a clear commitment for balanced implementation for both mitigation and adaptation. The question is did they get their way or did the Paris COP 21 fail Africa?

COP 21 Image

In the new climate change agreement, that has been referred as ‘the best deal to save the planet’; developing countries have been part of the coalitions that has been pushing for strong commitments for both adaptation and mitigation. Compared to the last climate agreement, the Paris Agreement takes in to account the situation of the developing world. Under the ‘same but differentiated’ action, all developing countries are to be part of the efforts of both mitigation and adaptation.

Under the mitigation decision though it highly focuses on the developed countries, developing countries have to participate in cutting down GHG emissions. By voluntarily submitting their national emission cutting plans, developing countries are encouraged to move into a green economy era. As countries’ commitment to reduce emissions is on voluntary basis, African countries will be able to define their commitment based on their priorities. Furthermore the Paris agreement encourages developing countries in to focusing their policies into adaptation efforts. These alternative policies will be supported by the provision of finance, technology, and capacity building.

In addition to the adaptation and mitigation commitment, the major gain for African countries is that of the issue of adaptation finances. The Paris Agreement states that based on the need and policies of the country, adaptation cost would be distributed in a transparent manner for developing countries. Also, the decision that developed countries agree to continue the existing commitment of providing finances for developing countries is a good step towards financing adaptation efforts. It further states that this existing finance of $100bn USD per year shall continue till 2025 and a new plan will be designed at the COP in 2025.

Furthermore on the 1st December 2015, the third day of COP 21 staged an African Pavilion. This important side event was attended by African heads of states and governments and was chaired by the French President François Hollande. The gathering identified the problem Africa faced because of climate change and the type of solution that the continent needs. Different organisations have expressed that Africa needs climate justice. In an interview given to the BBC African Business Report, African Development Bank’s President Akinwumi Adesina advocated for climate justice and the ‘polluters pay’ principles for Africa. He went on to say that polluters must bring balance and help Africa move to a renewable energy economy.

Moreover, other stakeholders have called up on the shortcoming of the Paris Agreement. Climate activists are calling the agreement weak but important. Scientists are calling it ‘just the beginning of a process’ where the global commitment ‘gets us roughly halfway’ to where the world needs to be. Legal analysts have called attention to the fact that the agreement is non-punitive for countries that fail to comply with their targets and commitments, as a major loophole. In an article published on the Guardian, Adesina said, “COP-21 is a forum where Africans went not to beg, but to make the case that they want to be a part of the solution.  We want to put Africa at the forefront of the global development agenda. In Paris, we have mobilized $10 billion in commitments for the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative. Africa comes to COP 21 not just with real ‘Asks’, but with real ‘Gives’ too.”

With the agreement adopted by all nations present, the major question that the 200+ state representatives and 40,000 negotiators in Paris needed to ask was that if we don’t move on from the fossil fuel economy: will societies be able to feed their populations? Will the poor and vulnerable be able to survive? And would the world be able to avoid new wars? – Did the Paris agreement answer all these and other questions? That remains to be seen as the Agreement comes in to action.

Furthermore what the world leaders have realized is that climate change is a collective action problem because the individual and collective incentives to reduce carbon emissions are different. There is a strong collective benefit in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And for African countries, the implementation of this agreement and the phasing out of fossil fuel economy is an issue of life and death.


*Pomi Ayalew (pomi.a@ipss-addis.org) is a member of the Communications Department at IPSS. She has an MA in Peace and Security from IPSS. Her interest range from climate change to gender equality. Her article was originally  posted on the IPSS website on December 18 2015.

Do you have an opinion on contemporary African Peace and Security issues? Send us your article/blog post on research@ipss-addis.org

Looking beyond COP-21 to tackle climate change induced conflicts in the Horn

By Fana Gebresenbet*

We are now more certain of the anthropogenic causes of climate change, but what that change entails, especially for tropical Africa, is not yet concretely established. For the Horn of Africa what various circulation models have been consistently predicting was shattered by a paleoclimate study published on 9 October 2015. This study, which covered the past two millennia, has confirmed that the region’s long rains showed a steep and persistent decline in the past century, coinciding with global warming/emission of greenhouse gases. Based on this, the predictions tell that the region gets drier, thus droughts becoming more frequent and intense in the future. This increase in aridity is further exasperated by temperature increases. Despite the stochastic nature of its methodology, this study confirms of the hard days to come in our region.

Beyond its direct (and obvious) economic and public health impacts, predictions of increased aridity foretell times of more intense competition and (violent) conflict. That is what historical studies of decline in temperature (thus reduction in agricultural productivity) and war related deaths for the northern hemisphere (Europe and China) tell. And correlation between climate induced drop in productivity and conflict is not new in the Horn.

The argument advanced here focuses on what the region’s governments should do to preclude the possibility of climate change induced conflicts. There is no debate on the fact that climate change could stress the limits of societies and state institutions. However, agreeably, climate change induced conflict is not inescapable. With the right knowledge, institutions, and policy frameworks the threat could be minimized and diffused. Climate does not dictate human behavior and interactions. Short of this, the likelihood of conflict incidence and severity increases to the extent that a community/society did not put the appropriate response mechanisms and institutions in place beforehand.

Thus, governance, as well as institutional and technological innovations to deal with a forthcoming unknown future, play a crucial role to dissuade climate-induced conflicts. Hitherto attempts should be adopted at a multi-level governance framework, as climate is a multi-level commons. In fact, the global platform is becoming prominent to deal with the global phenomenon of climate change as is often visible in the triennial Conference of the Parties meetings, with the 21st underway this December 2015 in Paris, France. In these meetings, Africa has attempted to have a stronger voice by speaking as one. Through a recent creation of the most vulnerable countries, the V-20 are concerting their efforts to influence major climate financing decisions to be reached in CoP-21. Of the twenty, six are from Africa: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda and Tanzania. Yet, is the global level, the most important level to deal with climate-induced conflicts?

Seen from the surface, it appears that climate finance has become yet another source of funds leaders of developing countries claim from the developed world. Not questioning the rationale of this position and without reducing the importance of global solutions to climate change, it would be fair to question if an external, and merely financial, solution will solve potential conflict implications of climate change. There is no debate on the indispensability of a multi-level governance scheme for climate change, with the triennial meetings, such as this year’s Paris meeting, taking the lead and regional organizations, states and civil society organizations playing active roles.

If climate change contributes to (violent) conflict, most of such conflicts will be at local levels. Decisions reached at global or national levels will not necessarily be implemented with the same spirit at local levels. As a typical example of collective action problem, if there is little trust among different local actors a free-rider problem will challenge climate deals. To tackle this problem, climate change negotiations should consider centers of power, other than the global and national, and go polycentric.

Fana Gebresenbet (fana.g@ipss-addis.org) is a Lecturer at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), Addis Ababa University. Currently he is a PhD Candidate in the joint program of Global and Area Studies offered by the Addis Ababa and Leipzig Universities. He also worked as a research assistant in the Africa Program of the UN-affiliated University for Peace. Fana has published on issues relating to development, environmental/climate security, pastoralism, and resource conflicts.

AfSol Enshrined into the African Standby Force!

AfSol is being operationalized with the African Standby Force due to hold its first exercises!

African Solutions in Peace and Security

African Solutions to African Problems (AfSol) is now being implemented with the African Standby Force(ASF) holding its first exercises before its full operationalization in December 2015 writes the Daily News from Egypt.

Please follow the link for more information.


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