The Office of the Senior Adviser - Lessons to be learned
The Office of the Senior Adviser has over the past year provided strategic support to strengthen efforts by the UN system to combat sexual violence in the DRC under the aegis of UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict. Based in the Office of the UN DSRSG/Humanitarian Coordinator/Resident Coordinator, the Office has developed a comprehensive UN system-wide strategy, in close coordination with the UN Country Team and other partners, to strengthen prevention, protection, and response to sexual violence in the DRC and provide a framework and platform for action.
The nature of the Office is likely to shift. The Senior Adviser/Coordinator is departing DRC shortly to assume other functions. Some of the key achievements of her Office are:
- The conceptualisation and development of the Comprehensive Strategy to Combat Sexual Violence in DRC;
- The inclusion of the Strategy's components in a range of inter-agency and government work plans and reform proposals (such as on Security Sector Reform, Army and Police reform plans, Judicial Reform, Protection Cluster work plans and the development of National Health Protocols);
- Increased awareness of the complexity and transversal nature of sexual violence;
- Initial inventory conducted of existing and planned international activities;
- Highlighted gaps, such as lack of coordination, unreliable data, quality of programmatic responses, fragmentation of donor responses etc.;
- Developed a software package for a database on sexual violence to promote better collection of data;
- Initiated streamlining of coordination mechanisms; and
- Increased dialogue and debate at policy and strategic level on sexual violence, both nationally and internationally.
To learn broader lessons from this strategic support, UN Action is conducting currently an assessment of the function of the Senior Adviser/Coordinator, to be able to develop recommendations to guide UN Action's future support to the UN System in the DRC and in other conflict-affected countries. The DSRSG/HC/RC has requested on-going strategic support from UN Action to guide implementation of the Comprehensive Strategy, enhance policy dialogue with the DRC Government, and to further strengthen UN system coordination and programming.
At the same time, the Senior Adviser is finalising a reflection of lessons learned to submit both to the DSRSG/HC/RC and to UN Action. Some of the salient observations and recommendations are as follows:
- Coordination and the creation of a common platform for agencies posed a major challenge, inter alia due to perceived mandate conflicts and competition for funding. These difficulties abated considerably due in part with the lengthy consultation process and discussions. There is now a platform for further action and discussion in the form of the Strategy, with UN entities coming together more coherently;
- Discussions and consultations were extended deliberately beyond UN Agencies, with INGOs, the ICRC, EUPOL/EUSEC, and key national NGOs, notably those involved in the justice sector. This strengthened the conceptualization and potential for practical application of the Strategy's components;
- The Strategy has already been integrated in several national programs (The Road-Map of the Minister of Justice, the UN Stabilization Strategy for Eastern DRC, the work-plan of the Sous Groupe Thématique, police reform plan - Plan mixte Police/FARDC, the national action plan for the protection cluster, etc.);
- At this stage, an important challenge exists for MONUC to improve the coordination of approaches and incorporation of the strategy into its substantive activities, particularly in view of its explicit mandate under SC Resolution 1856. For example, (1) through improved information sharing between MONUC civilian and military components, to allow for better planning and monitoring of the impact of initiatives to prevent sexual violence; (2) through developing a policy on the establishment of a vetting mechanism, aimed at excluding members of the security forces, in particular, in line with international human rights standards and best practices.