Addressing reprisals against women human rights defenders

40 civil society experts from conflict-affected areas have made recommendations to UN Member States on how women human rights defenders and peacebuilders can engage safely in Peace and Security processes.

The recommendations, summarized in the report “Protecting women human rights defenders in conflict”, are available here. It details key challenges and recommendations on how the UN and the international community can address challenges, such as reprisals.

The recommendations include the need for more consistent political support for women human rights defenders and peacebuilders, and the recognition of their right to participate in decision-making on peace and security issues.

“The frequency and severity of reprisals of women in conflict areas have had an alarming increase. It is even a risk for women representatives who brief the Security Council. That is why Norway decided to place the issue formally on the Security Council’s agenda in our Presidency. We wanted to hear directly from the civil society and supported consultations with 40 civil society experts”, Ambassador Mona Juul said.

The consultations, that took place over three days in January 2022, were organized by UNWomen, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the NGO Working Group on Women, peace and security. The civil society activists were from Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Representatives from global organizations working on issues related to the Women, peace, and security agenda were also present.

Their recommendations were shared with UN Member States ahead of Norway’s Security Council signature event, and the first ever formal open debate on the theme “Protecting participation: addressing violence targeting women in peace and security processes”.

The final report was published ahead of the annual open debate on Women, Peace, and Security in the UN Security Council on October 20th. It also served as expert inputs for the UN Secretary-General’s annual report on Women, peace, and security, which put special emphasis one of his five goals for the next decade: to make the defense of women’s rights one of the most visible markers of the United Nations work on peace and security. In particular, the protection of women human rights defenders and peacebuilders.

“The protection of women’s participation in peace and security processes will continue to be of high priority for Norway in the UN”, said Juul.