I have just returned from the international assembly of WILPF members at our Congress. The theme of the conference was "Women, Peace and Security (WPS)- Transforming the Agenda" and the WILPF members, delegates and participants engaged actively in the discussion of this theme and the many related issues. I was honored as the Director of PeaceWomen to make a presentation under the "Invest in Peace" Programme discussion. I presented the overarching messages of our work in WILPF on WPS; the latest updates on the WPS Agenda; and I updated the Congress on the important work of the PeaceWomen Project. I also facilitated a workshop with WILPF-Sweden and WILPF-DRC on SCR 1325 and indicators where we discussed national implementation and the potenti! al responses to the narrowing or "co-opting" of the WPS agenda.
The Congress endorsed a new four-year international program, selected the new executive board, and adopted numerous resolutions on thematic and geographic issues including one on SCR 1325 National Action Plans(NAPs) and one on the new agency, UN Women.
In the Resolution on NAPs, we noted that National Action Plans (NAPs) must focus on the prevention of conflict, including regulation of arms trade and disarmament to fully remedy violations of women’s human rights in conflict, WILPF calls for the application of a human security framework in the development of any NAP, and that NAPs must reflect the holistic spirit of SCR 1325 and include obligations articulated in Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Platform for Action, Critical Area E, calling for the control of excessive arms expenditure, and the UN Charter which calls for the “least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources” (Article 26). Read full>
In the Resolution on UN Women, we called on UN Women to adopt a rights-based approach to fulfill women’s rights and securing peace; to provide leadership and coordination across and within the UN system on gender and on women, peace and security; including on sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations Peacekeepers and personnel; and we demanded that countries follow through on their commitments and monetary pledges given the need for comprehensive funding of the programs and field offices of UN Women in meeting the expectation of women around the world, without reduction to existing civil society support.
In this ENews, we focus on the Congress, but we also include the latest updates on Security Council Monitor, announcement of the 16 Days Campaign, and as always selection of the latest news from around the world on women in conflict.
Below is a summary of the Congress for all to get a glimpse of the work and outcomes.
WILPF Congress Summary
“Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself.” - Jane Addams
From July 30 until August 6 2011, women from around the world gathered together for the WILPF International Congress in San José, Costa Rica. WILPF – the oldest women’s peace organisation in the world – will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2015 when women peace activists will meet in The Hague again to honour and reaffirm the work and principles of their foremothers in promoting peace. This meeting in Costa Rica was the last official Congress - the highest decision making body of WILPF and the final authority - before the centennial event. Over 120 peace women travelled from twenty-four countries to discuss the theme "Women, Peace and Security – Transforming the agenda" and the work of WILPF members, sections and international.
With great enthusiasm, the 2011 Congress formally endorsed five new WILPF sections – Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Spain, Mexico, and Pakistan – and recognized the innovative and strategic work which these groups have been doing on redefining security and advancing women as peacemakers. The Congress also adopted 11 resolutions, the international programme of work 2011-2015 and several statements. In addition to officially reviewing the work of organisation and its future direction, operational issues were dealt with including the election of the new executive committee and formation of new standing committees and working groups.
The new Executive Committee was elected with overwhelming support for the new International President, Adilia Caravaca (Costa Rica). Other elected officers include: Kerstin Grebäck (Sweden), Dr. Ila Pathak (India), Neelima Sinha (India), Martha-Jean Baker (UK) (Vice Presidents), and Nancy Ramsden (USA) (Treasurer). The outgoing Executive Committee and the out-going Co-presidents, Annelise Ebbe and Kerstin Grebäck, were thanked for their work.
This was a special Congress with the dynamic new Secretary General, Madeleine Rees, at the helm who inspired, and challenged the meeting to be creative, focused and impactful. Madeleine articulated the integrated vision for WILPF 2011-2015 in an inspiring presentation that included personal anecdotes and her motivation for joining the WILPF movement. She described the integrated approach as a sort of “WILPF jigsaw”- where the many pieces of WILPF work fit together to form the whole. Directors of WILPF’s two Projects, Ray Acheson (Reaching Critical Will) and Maria Butler (PeaceWomen), presented their respective work, reports and objectives to the Congress and were enthusiastically received by the WILPF members gathered in Costa Rica.
The Congress agenda was packed with discussions on WILPF themes and strategies for moving forward. Workshops and roundtables allowed for maximum participation and covered issues such as: Environment; Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons; Food sovereignty and security; Resolution 1325 – global indicators; and Armed violence against women. Young-WILPFer (known as Y-WILPFers) also played a significant role in this Congress and organised the Gertrud Baer Seminar and workshops.
The resolutions adopted reflected WILPF position on: the Arms Trade Treaty; Forced Migration; UN Women; Nuclear Weapons; SCR 1325 National Action Plans; the high-level meeting on the Durban Declaration; and on the situations in the Middle East; in Nepal; and related to the Arab Spring; Palestinian Prisoners; and on Costa Rica Militarization.
Participates also had a private viewing of the “Whistleblower” – a movie in which Madeleine, then head of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bosnia, is portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave. Following the screening of this horrific story, which takes place in the late 1990s when trafficking was at its height, Madeleine shared with WILPFers her experiences, the challenges and problems of human trafficking, sexual slavery, torture, and the role of UN, corporate contractors, and governments in these complex issues, and how WILPF can make a meaningful impact in this work.
The success of the WILPF Congress 2011 was testimony to the extraordinary Congress Coordinator, Karin Friedrich, and the host, WILPF- Costa Rica, and of course the many other WILPF sections who contributed financially and supported the organising efforts, particularly members of the Congress organization group.
Mrs. Sonia Picado, President of UN agency on Human Security, was honoured by WILPF Costa Rica and the Congress for her work. Anna Arroba Expert on Gender, Anthropology and Politics of the Body from Costa Rica and Sarah Masters of the International Network of Action on Small Arms (IANSA) made presentation to the Congress on the opening day.