Letter to Condoleezza Rice from the Ad Hoc Coalition of Palestinian and Israeli Women

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


February 11, 2005 – (NYT) Fatouma spends her days under the plastic tarp covering her tent, seated on a straw mat, staring at the squirming creature in her arms.

February 9, 2005 - (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency and its partners in Kenya have launched a project to strengthen existing actions to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence against refugees.

February 6, 2005 - (Reuters) The United Nations on Sunday painted a damning portrait of women's rights in Iran, saying they had insufficient right of appeal against violence and were being sentenced to death on flimsy evidence. Drawing upon her own status as a Muslim woman, Yakin Erturk, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, summed up with a cautionary note from the Koran. "It will be asked from the girls who were buried alive: 'For what sin were we murdered?"' she said, quoting from the section of Islam's holy book entitled al-Takwir.

February 6, 2005 – (WeNews) Female Chechen suicide bombers have committed atrocious violence and roused fear in Russia and one Chechen woman was convicted recently of terrorism. Her lawyers, however, argue that she was framed by authorities eager to catch a "black widow."

February 4, 2005 - (Daily Champion - Lagos) Three years ago, 2002, Police statistics showed that four to six females were raped daily in Lagos. But 60 per cent of rapes in the area was said to be unreported officially. Subsequent official and newspaper reports indicate that the frequency of rape, especially of minors, has rapidly increased nationwide, particularly in such cities as Lagos, Enugu and Cross River State. By official estimate, 70 per cent of the cases was not reported officially.

January 18, 2005 - (Information Clearing House) Emmanuel "Toto" Constant was served with a lawsuit today that accuses him of responsibility for torture, crimes against humanity and the systematic use of violence against women, including rape, during the country's brutal military regime in the early 1990s. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of several women who survived savage gang rapes and other forms of extreme violence, including attempted murder.

January 2005 - (Salon.com) On the 9th of January 2005, former Prime
Minister Mahmoud Abbas won the Palestinian Presidential elections. His government has its work cut out for it in the context of the ever-expanding imperialist incursions of Israel. The Palestinian authority post-Arafat continues to work on state-building, security issues, to free political prisoners, and to ensure justice for those former citizens who have been pushed into refugee flights.

For more country-specific women, peace and security news, CLICK HERE

For more international women, peace and security news, CLICK HERE

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Civil society parallel side events during the Review and Appraisal of the Beijing Platform for Action can be found at:

Katarina Salmela of Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI) is compiling a list of women, peace and security events that will take place during the two weeks of the Review. The compilation will be made available at http://www.peacewomen.org/un/Beijing10%20/beijing10index.html

To-date, over 200+ organizations and networks have signed on to the civil society letter on the reaffirmation and implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. To view the signatories, CLICK HERE.

The Bureau of the Commission on the Status of Women has begun governmental consultations on the outcome document of the Review, called the political declaration. Governments will begin more formal negotiations on the document during the week of 21 February. The Bureau of the Commission and the member States of the Commission plan to adopt the political declaration on the afternoon of 4 March, in order to allow the Heads of State, First Ladies, and ministers, who will be participating in the Review, to take home the political declaration for their national International Women's Day celebrations.

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Women Demand Peace and Equality: CODEPINK's Planned Actions for March 2005
CODEPINK, a US-based national network of women committed to peace and social justice, is organizing events in New York City and around the country to mark International Women's Day and the 10 year Review and Appraisal of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA). We stand opposed to US efforts to undermine the BPFA, and in support of its strong, international application. We are coming to New York City to remind the member states at the UN that women's issues are still vital, and to demand peace and equality for women everywhere.

We're scheduling many events in New York City, including social events like a poetry slam on March 6th and a reception on March 7th. On March 6th, we're holding an all-day activist training camp on the campus of Barnard College, a women's college in uptown Manhattan, with workshops on art and activism, media and public relations, and anti-racism, among others. That evening, we'll co-host a poetry slam with New York's Sacred Slam. On Monday, March 7th, CODEPINK and other activist women will meet at a dessert reception to network and meet fellow activists. And, on March 8th, International Women's Day, CODEPINK joins with a coalition of women's and progressive groups for a women's march and rally, under the banner of "Women Demand Peace and Equality!" All women are invited to all of our activities.

For more information, including specific date and location info, visit our website at www.codepinkalert.org or email Emily Regan Wills at newyork@codepinkalert.org.

For timely information on the Review and Appraisal of the Beijing Platform, CLICK HERE.

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The World Social Forum and Resolution 1325
Regina Birchem, WILPF International President
14 February 2005

The 5th World Social Forum, Porto Alegre, Brazil, 26- 31 January 2005 was the largest held so far. More than 155,000 persons from 135 countries participated in 2500 activities held in 250 tents, warehouses, or bio-structures made of natural materials such as straw or of bricks made from recycled products. The Youth Camp with 35,000 youth was integrated in the area of the WSF meeting sites along the Guaiba river and lake.

WILPF members organized a 3-hour workshop on Women, Peace and Security: Implementation of UN Resolutions 1325. Examples of how 1325 is used in the political situations of Colombia and El Salvador led to an audience-wide discussion of the meaning and significance of 1325 in various situations within the context of a holistic view of human security and women's role in peace and conflict. Interpretation in French, Portuguese, Spanish and English by voluntary language specialists made the seminar possible.

The discussion, which was dynamic and interactive, led to the recommendation that trainings in Resolution 1325 be given at future social forums. This is consistent with the WSF Charter of Principles to provide a meeting place to debate alternatives in building a globalization in solidarity respecting the human rights of men and women of all nations.

In 2006 the World Social Forum will be “mundialized” – spread out through the world in regional social forums following the methodology and political criteria of the WSF Charter of Principles. The aim is to make the WSF decentralized and closer to the reality of social movements world-wide and vice-versa. With new horizons the 2007 WSF will be in Africa – where in Africa is still to be decided.

The above report is available on WILPF International's website at: http://www.wilpf.int.ch/events/2005WSF.html

Regina Birchem is compiling a more comprehensive report of the World Social Forum which will be available at: http://www.wilpf.int.ch/events/eindex.htm

For NGO and civil society reports, papers and statements, UN and government reports, and books, journals and articles on women, peace and security issues, CLICK HERE.

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Letter to Condoleezza Rice
Ad Hoc Coalition of Palestinian and Israeli Women
6 February 2005

The following letter was delivered to the Executive Secretariat that travels with Condoleezza Rice during her recent visit to Israel (Feb. 6). It was also the subject of articles in the English and Hebrew editions of Ha'aretz newspaper on February 7, 2005.

Dear Madame Secretary,

We welcome you on your mission to the Middle East.

We the undersigned are Palestinian and Israeli women, members of organizations from both sides of the political divide, who call upon you to use your good offices to bring women into the peacemaking process, and thereby advance peace in the region.

For the past two decades, women in the Middle East have been at the forefront of peacemaking efforts. On both sides, women have worked to end the violence and militarization of our respective societies, have vigorously opposed the human rights abuses, and have even forged peace agreements that would bring a just end to the occupation.

Women are the majority stakeholders in this enterprise, with proven expertise in reconciliation and rapprochement, yet not a single Israeli woman, and only one Palestinian woman, has held an official role at any Middle East peace summit. This is not only in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, mandating the involvement of women in all areas of national decision-making, but a squandering of formidable skill, talent, and experience that both nations can ill afford.

...We ask for your intervention, Madame Secretary, in breaking the silence imposed on women. We ask that you meet with a combined delegation of Israeli and Palestinian women peacemakers, a forum that would allow us to present our views, and that you seek additional ways to promote the involvement of women in the peacemaking process. We believe that our involvement would hasten the advent of peace.

We wish you success in your efforts, and offer our partnership in all initiatives for peace.

Ad Hoc Coalition of Palestinian and Israeli Women
P.O. Box 10252, 91102 Jerusalem
Tel: (02) 672-5293; Fax: (02) 671-5778
Responses may also be directed to cwp@coalitionofwomen.org

For the full letter, which includes the list of signatories, CLICK HERE.

For NGO and civil society reports, papers and statements, UN and government reports, and books, journals and articles on women, peace and security issues, CLICK HERE.

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Gender References from the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) General Debate
31 January - 1 February 2005
Compiled by the PeaceWomen Project, WILPF UN Office

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Jean-Marie Guehenno* opened the General Debate of the UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, followed by the statements of 47 government members of the Special Committee, 4 of whom spoke on behalf of political or regional groupings. Of the 47 statements, 10 governments** made no references to gender issues.***

It is worthwhile to note that governments made more references to gender issues at this year's General Debate than last year's; of the 42 countries who presented statements during the 2004 General Debate, 27 made no reference to gender issues. Also, a number of governments that only made passing references to gender issues in last year's General Debate chose to feature it more substantively this year.

The majority of the gender language included in governments' statements referred to the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers in the context of the allegations against peacekeeping personnel in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). However, this language was in most cases addressed in a vacuum, with little attempt to explore the connection to gender mainstreaming as a preventive mechanism. In addition, many of the governments that did note the connection between gender mainstreaming and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse tended to use disappointingly weak language which has been repeated year after year and is not particularly action-oriented.

A sampling of this gender language – the stronger as well as the less action-oriented - is excerpted below:

… We believe that an increased participation of female peacekeepers would positively contribute towards addressing the issues of DDR involving female combatants, would minimize sexual abuse and exploitation by the UN peacekeepers and would also help in building confidence between the mission and the local population.

…Efforts towards mainstreaming of gender issues throughout peacekeeping operations are encouraging, although a lot more needs to be done. While calling on member-states to consider increasing the number of female military personnel for peacekeeping operations, it behooves the Organization to also manifest its commitment on gender mainstreaming by appointing more women as Special Representatives of the Secretary-General as well as to senior command appointments at missions.

…Given the complexities of matters pertaining to gender in a present day environment of gender-based violence, the misconduct of peacekeepers mainly towards women and children and the benefits to be derived from women emerging from post conflict situations in having positive role models, it is essential that the respective gender units be provided with sufficient human and financial resources. There should also be continued collaboration with other entities in the United Nations system on matters relating to gender and the protection of children.

Morocco, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)
…We favour a gender perspective being integrated in the planning and implementation of peacekeeping operations and support the call for an increase percentage of female personnel at all levels in the field, particularly women from the developing countries.

New Zealand, on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZ)
…The mainstreaming of gender in all UN peace support operations, for which member states have repeatedly called, together with a much enhanced role for women in both headquarters and in the field, are also essential to the efforts to eliminate sexual exploitation. We especially welcome DPKO's focus in the course of the current year on establishing procedures for gender mainstreaming throughout the Department's operations, and for implementing the elements of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) as they relate to peace support operations.

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Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: Overview of Recommendations Proposed
Concrete recommendations shared by a number of governments included:

* The development of a standardized code of conduct applicable to all UN peacekeepers;
* The development of an evaluation mechanism to measure the performance of peacekeeping personnel based on the standards of personnel conduct and discipline;
* A request to the Secretary-General to prepare a comprehensive report with recommendations on sexual exploitation and abuse, at the earliest possible date, which he had previously offered to the C-34 (see A/59/608); and
* A request for a resumed session of the C-34 as soon as possible in order to consider the report of the Secretary-General upon its release.

* Mr. Jean-Marie Guehenno, opened the C-34 Session with his reflections on the most important developments in UN peacekeeping in 2004 and their implications for 2005. One of the three developments he highlighted concerned the allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers in the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC (MONUC). For his remarks on the allegations and the broader problem of sexual exploitaion and abuse by UN peacekeepers, CLICK HERE.

** Brazil, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Observer), Malaysia, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, Zimbabwe

***These statistics do not include the following 6 statements, which PeaceWomen has yet to receive: Egypt (Arabic); Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic); Nepal; Algeria; Russian Federation; and Venezuela. Regarding statements available only in French and Spanish, PeaceWomen has briefly reviewed them and included them in the statistics, though they are not yet excerpted in the full compilation: Ecuador (includes gender references); El Salvador (includes gender references); Guinea (includes gender references); and Peru (includes gender references). PeaceWomen plans to carry out a more detailed review of these statements shortly.

For a compilation of gender references from the General Debate, compiled by PeaceWomen, CLICK HERE.

For more information about the C-34, including the current 2005 session, CLICK HERE.

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Secretary-General Writes Letter to the Security Council Introducing New Measures for UN Peacekeepers in DRC to Address Allegations of Widespread Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
9 February 2005

In a 6-page letter to the UN Security Council, the Secretary-General presented a set of new measures, put in place last week by the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), in response to the allegations of widespread sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers. The measures include a non-fraternization policy - a ban on sex with the local population - a curfew for military contingents, comprehensive training and awareness-raising for all mission personnel, and proposals for improving recreation and welfare facilities for peacekeepers.

These new measures apply only to MONUC peacekeepers, and within the mission, they apply exclusively to military personnel. However, the Secretary-General does intend for these new measures to have some impact on the other peacekeeping missions; in an interview with The Independent, he remarked "I want to use this to send a message to all the 17 UN peacekeeping missions around the world." Within MONUC, there is also a possibility the new measures may be extended to civilian personnel as well.

In his letter to the Security Council, the Secretary-General made a special appeal for 100 extra military police and French-speaking qualified investigators with special skills in sexual exploitation and abuse cases.

In addition, the letter from the Secretary-General reviews the different initiatives implemented to-date by MONUC, DPKO, and other UN actors. These initiatives include the deployment of a multidisciplinary investigative team currently in DRC, led by Assistant Secretary-General Angela Kane, and the establishment of a multidisciplinary Task Force, based at Headquarters, currently undertaking a variety of Headquarters and field-oriented initiatives.

The Secretary-General's letter is available at: http://www.peacewomen.org/un/pkwatch/discipline/SGletterMONUC05.pdf

For related news coverage, CLICK HERE.

PeaceWomen's Gender and Peacekeeping Index: http://www.peacewomen.org/un/pkwatch/pkindex.html

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UNIFEM on the Ground in Iraq on Election Day

On 30 January 2005, Iraqi women participated in an historic election, marking the first time most of them had ever had the opportunity to participate in their governments in a meaningful way. Despite restrictions on travel and insecurity in some regions, Iraqi women turned out to vote in higher than expected numbers. In fact, some observers reported that in some areas, women went to the polls first so as to gauge the security conditions before men ventured out to cast their ballots. UNIFEM staff and partners were on the ground working with voting officials and supporting women as they went to cast their ballot.

UNIFEM has collated testimonies about the election from staff and partners, providing a powerful testament to the desire Iraqi women have for democratic governance. These testimonies are available at: http://www.womenwarpeace.org/iraq/docs/newsfromthefield.pdf

CNN's Lou Dobbs interviewed UNIFEM Programme Officer Bushra Samarai about the dramatic turnout of women in Iraq. A transcript of the interview is available at: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0501/30/ldt.01.html

More information on the impact of decades of conflict on Iraqi women, Iraqi women's peace-building and activism and UNIFEM's programmes in the country are available on UNIFEM's Iraq Country Profile, available at: http://www.womenwarpeace.org/iraq/iraq.htm

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Women Peacemakers and UN Security Council Resolution 1325: A Map
International Fellowship of Reconciliation's (IFOR) Women Peacemakers Program (WPP), and International Peace Bureau (IPB)

Developed as part of the annual May 24 International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament activity pack, this 1325 map is used in WPP nonviolence trainings with women's groups to provide practical examples of how women peacemakers can use Resolution 1325.

According to WPP, during their trainings, which have so far been held in Aceh, Cambodia, Colombia, DR Congo, Romania, Rwanda, among others, approximately half of all participants have never heard of 1325. The remaining half are either skeptical of how a UN resolution will have any impact on their work, or are at a loss as to how to implement the resolution. The map, in poster form, the examples and the language included are intended to make 1325 more accessible and widely known.

WPP plans to update the map on a regular basis. The map is available on the WPP website: www.ifor.org/WPP.

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Beijing +10 Overview Calendar for February and March 2005: http://www.peacewomen.org/un/Beijing10%20/OverviewCalB10.pdf

"Women Say No to Nuclear!": A Seminar for International Women's Day
8-9 March 2005, Geneva
For more than 20 years a dedicated group of NGOs in Geneva have organized a seminar on or around International Women's Day – 8 March. This year's seminar will take place at the Centre Internationale de Geneva and will begin at 15.00h on 8 March. We will continue through the day on 9 March, and conclude with a presentation to the Conference on Disarmament in the Palais des Nations on 10 March. We invite you to join this seminar to hear women and men speak about the challenges facing the international disarmament regimes and collaborate on ways to move this regime forward to a sustainable peace. The theme for this year's seminar will be "Women Say No to Nuclear!". For more information see: http://www.wilpf.int.ch/events/2005march_seminar.html

Seeking Essay Submissions: War Stories: Gendered Analysis of Media Coverage
Deadline: March 31, 2005
The Commentary and Criticism section of Feminist Media Studies is inviting brief essays (1,000-1,500 words) which examine media coverage of war and conflict with a gender lens. The essays will be part of a special issue of Feminist Media Studies on "Media Gendering of War and Conflict". All essays must offer a feminist analysis of media processes. The stylebook for Feminist Media Studies is available at: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/authors/rfmsauth.pdf. Please email your essay by March 31, 2005, to Karen Ross, k.ross@coventry.ac.uk, and Sujata Moorti, smoorti@middlebury.edu.

For the complete calendar, CLICK HERE.

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1. Women, Peace and Security News
2. Beijing +10 Update: 13 days To Go
3. Feature Report: The World Social Forum and Resolution 1325 (WILPF)
4. Feature Statement: Letter to Condoleezza Rice from the Ad Hoc Coalition of Palestinian and Israeli Women
5. Gender and Peacekeeping Update: Gender References from the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) General Debate & Secretary-General Writes Letter to the Security Council Introducing New Measures for UN Peacekeepers in DRC to Address Allegations of Widespread Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
6. UNIFEM Update: UNIFEM on the Ground in Iraq on Election Day
7. Feature Resource: Women Peacemakers and UN Security Council Resolution 1325: A Map (International Fellowship of Reconciliation's Women Peacemakers Program, and International Peace Bureau)
8. Women, Peace and Security Calendar