Human Rights Council: Promoting & Protecting Human Rights of Women and Girls in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here.  All meeting summaries can be found here.  Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-fifth regular session can be found here.

In 2020 we commemorate the twentieth anniversary of one of the most recognized resolutions passed by the Security Council: Resolution 1325. This resolution inaugurated the Women, Peace and Security agenda, which is fundamentally a Human Rights agenda. As the Secretary General has stated in his latest report on Women, Peace and Security, the main challenge remaining is the implementation of the commitments envisaged in this agenda. As the Human Rights Council is the most specialized body on Human Rights within the UN, its commemoration of this hallmark resolution at the Council is essential if we want to critically advance its implementation and make our commitments to women and girls around the world a reality.

For this reason, the core group formed by Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Finland, Iraq, Namibia, Tunisia and Spain decided to put forth for the first time at the HRC a resolution on this set of issues entitled “Promoting and protecting the human rights of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325.” The resolution was adopted by consensus and cosponsored by 66 States.

This initiative builds on a Joint Statement drafted with the collaboration of UN Women, UNESCO and UN University for Peace, and read by Jordan and Spain at the 41st session of the HRC on behalf of 64 States. It specifically builds on the priority that the WPS agenda represents for Spain’s foreign policy.

This resolution not only provides an opportunity to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the WPS agenda; it more extensively fleshes out the Human Rights aspects of the agenda.

On the one hand, it recognizes and vindicates women and women's organizations as agents of peace and of policy-making in conflict resolution. This is the very transposition of the right of women to equally and meaningfully participate in all phases of conflict and post-conflict situations, including peacebuilding.

On the other hand, it seizes the occasion to condemn violence against women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations, especially sexual and gender-based violence, in the strongest terms.

The key deliverables of this resolution are mainly four. First and foremost, it is the first time that a resolution encourages States to bear the WPS agenda in mind in relation to the Universal Periodic Review, the Human Rights peer review mechanism established by the HRC. Thus, States are invited not only to make recommendations on these issues, but also to include WPS themes in their national reports.

Secondly, for the first time at the Human Rights Council, States are called upon to create an enabling environment to promote and protect women mediators’, women peacebuilders’ and women human rights defenders’ rights in the conflict cycle.

Thirdly, the HRC mandates the High Commissioner to mainstream WPS issues, where appropriate, in its work, as well as inviting it to hold consultations with women organizations and peacebuilders.

Last but not least, the Council mandates the High Commissioner Office to elaborate an analytical report on the state of play of implementation of the WPS agenda in the work of the Council and its mechanisms with a view to issue recommendations to stakeholders. Additionally, this report will be presented to the plenary of the HRC in the framework of an interactive dialogue.

Though the outcome is timely and relevant for the work of the Council in the implementation of the WPS agenda, it needs to be stressed that this resolution is in fact breaking up silos and enhancing a coordinated action that enables real and transformative change in the WPS agenda. It represents an important step to reinforce our commitments to the United Nations and the multilateral system at its 75th anniversary, recalling that its 3 pillars, Development, Security and Human Rights, are intertwined and mutually reinforcing.


Article by Clara Cabrera

Ambassador at Large for Gender Equality in Foreign Policy

Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.