Updated on 29 September 2016
Chapter 8: SUBSIDIARY BODIES
Section 6: Thematic subsidiary bodies
Status and work programme of Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security
A related article on this website reports that on 13 October 2015, by its resolution 2242 (2015), the Security Council expressed “its intention to convene meetings of relevant Security Council experts as part of an Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security to facilitate a more systematic approach to Women, Peace and Security within its own work and enable greater oversight and coordination of implementation efforts.”
The article noted that during the adoption meeting, although the representative of the Russian Federation voted for resolution 2242 (2015), he stated:
“We do not agree with the view that there is a need to set up an informal expert group on issues
relating to women and peace and security. . . . It is also inappropriate to refer this issue to such a structure within the Security Council, owing to its informal character.” (S/PV.7533)
Possibly in part owing to the position of the Russian Federation, on 4 January 2016, when the Council issued its Note by the President setting out the bureaux of its subsidiary bodies for 2016 (S/2016/2), the list did not contain the leadership of the Informal Experts Group (IEG 2242) established three months before.
However, although not officially named in the presidential note, Spain and the United Kingdom took up the responsibility of serving as Co-Chairs of the IEG 2242. This marks the first time that a subsidiary body of the Security Council, other than a Council mission to the field, has been co-chaired. This arrangement was earlier presaged by the fact that Spain and the United Kingdom had served as co-penholders for resolution 2242 (2015). In addition to the co-chair arrangement, it was decided that UN-Women would serve as the secretariat of the Informal Expert Group (see S/2016/672).
Early in 2016, Spain and the United Kingdom established an active programme of work for the IEG 2242. In their communications, the two Co-Chairs asserted that the Informal Expert Group was “intended to enable the Security Council to receive actionable information related to women, peace and security in specific countries affected by conflict, in order to better oversee implementation by relevant UN entities and the country concerned.” Such an orientation distinguishes the IEG 2242 from other, more informal groups of Council experts whose primary focus is the drafting of outcome documents. The country-specific orientation established by the IEG Co-Chairs is also reminiscent of the country-specific focus of the Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, which has proved to be a relatively effective mechanism.
Beginning in February 2016, the IEG held a first round of meetings on four countries: Mali (29 February), Iraq (29 April), the Central African Republic (15 June), and Afghanistan (13 July). Each of the meetings was addressed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) or Deputy SRSG, and in some cases, also by a UN-Women country representative and other UN officials engaged in gender affairs and women’s protection matters.
As the country-specific meetings of the Informal Expert Group gained momentum, Spain and the United Kingdom took another step towards institutionalizing the IEG 2242 by writing, in their capacity as Co-Chairs, to the Council President requesting publication of summary notes on each of the meetings. Under cover letters all dated 29 July, the first two summaries published were on the 15 June 2016 meeting on the Central African Republic (S/2016/672) and the 13 July 2016 meeting on Afghanistan (S/2016/673). And more retroactively, the Co-Chairs requested publication of summary notes on the 29 February meeting on Mali (S/2016/682) and the 29 April meeting on Iraq (S/2016/683).
The summary notes, as published, make clear that the country-specific meetings held by the IEG 2242 have not been merely informational, but also action-oriented. Each meeting has included the presentation of recommendations by UN-Women, and sometimes by SRSGs and other participants, for furthering the implementation of the women and peace and security agenda in the country at issue. And regarding each country under consideration, the Co-Chairs affirmed that a second, more focused meeting would be held before the end of 2016. This second round of meetings began in the early fall of 2016, starting with a meeting on Mali held on 14 September.
In addition, in the cases of Iraq and the Central African Republic, the Co-Chairs requested the respective UN missions to identify some specific goals – relating to the women and peace and security topics discussed – that could be achieved in the coming 6 to 12 months and beyond, and on which the Group would follow up.
Thus despite the initial reticence of at least one Council member to accord the Informal Expert Group full status as a Security Council subsidiary body, the IEG Co-Chairs have positioned the Expert Group to implement a proactive agenda in keeping with its resolution 2242 (2015) mandate to “facilitate a more systematic approach to Women, Peace and Security” by the Council, as well as to “enable greater oversight and coordination of implementation efforts.” Moreover, the publication, beginning in July 2016, of summary notes on the IEG’s country-specific meetings suggests that the Co-Chairs have gained sufficient support among all Council members for raising the profile of the Informal Expert Group, while also rendering its work more transparent.
Already in its first year of existence, the IEG has had a concrete impact on the renewal of mandates, such as those of UNAMI (resolution 2299 (2016) and MINUSMA (resolution 2295 (2016). Resolution 2295 (2016) in fact establishes several priority tasks relating to women in MINUSMA’s mandate, including
“to take fully into account gender considerations as a cross-cutting issue throughout its mandate
and to assist the Malian authorities in ensuring the full and effective participation, involvement
and representation of women at all levels and at an early stage of the stabilization phase, . . . [and]
to assist the parties to ensure women’s full and active participation in the implementation of the Agreement, and further requests enhanced reporting by MINUSMA to the Security Council on this
The initiatives of the Informal Working Group have also led to the inclusion of more strategic information relating to women and peace and security in the Secretary-General’s reports – particularly the Special Report on the strategic review of MINUSCA (S/2016/565) and the 29 September 2016 report on Mali (S/2016/819) – and also in the terms of reference for the Security Council mission to Mali in March 2016 (S/2016/215).
(This update supplements pages 48-49 and 551-556 of the book.)