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.
On 12 July 2011 the United Nations Security Council (SC) held an open debate on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC). The Council unanimously adopted Security Council Resolution 1998 (2011) declaring schools and hospitals off limits for armed groups and military activities. In addition, all parties that have attacked schools and hospitals are to be held accountable and placed on the Secretary-General's annual list of those who commit grave violations against children as a new trigger in CAAC listing/ “naming and shaming” mechanism.
Gender references were not prevalent in many of the statements; however, there were some notable gender dimensions to the Debate. During the Debate 18 delegates made references to targeting of girls and/or sexual violence in armed conflict. References were made to the latest Women, Peace and Security Resolution 1960 (2010) and its links to the CAAC Resolutions. References also included concerns of sexual violence and rape against children in armed conflict; special attention was given to girls' schools and targeted attacks on girls.
On 20 July 2011 the United Nations (UN) Security Council (SC) held an open debate on the maintenance of international peace and security and the implications of climate change. For a full analysis on the Debate please see here.During the debate, some 65 delegates discussed different ways of approaching the issue. Several delegates disagreed with the Security Council addressing the topic of climate change, stating it is an encroachment on other UN mandates, such as the General Assembly, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Control (UNFCCC), and the Economic and Social Council. While other delegates supported the Security Council's focus on climate change, and what the President of the Republic of Nauru called “the greatest security threat of our time”.
A gender dimension was seldom seen in the statements given by the speakers. Iceland and Finland both made statements highlighting the role of women in creating change and also being more vulnerable to displacement as a result of climate change.
Please check our website for a full analysis of these debates, on our Security Council Monitor.
Security Council Report Debate Watch by Leila Brollosy
Under Security Council Monitor, we have created a new sub-section "About Women, Peace and Security agenda in the Security Council" to provide some further background information.
CEDAW General Recommendation on Women in Situations of Armed Conflict and Post-Conflict
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) held its 49th session at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 11-29 July 2011.
The Committee began its consideration of country reports on Tuesday 12 July 2011, with Costa Rica. The following meetings will consider reports submitted by Zambia, Italy, Ethiopia, Republic of Korea, Nepal, Djibouti, and Singapore. For a detailed schedule of the meetings, please see here.
See CEDAW section of our website.
The CEDAW Committee held a general discussion on the protection of women in conflict and post-conflict situations on 18 July 2011 in the context of provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The purpose of the general discussion was to commence the Committee's process of elaborating a "General Recommendation on Women in Conflict and Post-conflict Situations".
The general recommendation aims to provide appropriate and authoritative guidance to States Parties on the measures to be adopted to ensure full compliance with their obligations to protect, respect and fulfil women's human rights during times of armed conflict and in all peace-building processes, which includes the immediate aftermath of conflict and long-term post-conflict reconstruction.
As the drafting process of the proposed GR moves forward, PeaceWomen/WILPF will be monitoring events and resources related to the CEDAW GR, including basic documents and reports, civil society statements, CEDAW Committee documents and any other relevant information. We will post this information here.
Concept Note: General Discussion on the Protection of Women's Human Rights in Conflict and Post-Conflict Contexts: Issued by the CEDAW Committee
CEDAW General Discussion on Women in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations 18 July 2011: Summary of General Day of Discussion
NGO Expert Working Group Paper Supporting and Elaborating the CEDAW Concept Note for the General Recommendation on Women in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations: Prepared by a coalition of NGOs including WILPF.
See all document on PeaceWomen page here
WILFP submited a written statement to the CEDAW Committee in advance of the General Day of Discussion outlining primilary WILPF recommendation on the issues concept note.
We noted that for nearly a century, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has advanced women's participation in preventing armed conflict by focusing on the root causes of war and the promotion women's rights. In the statement we draw the Committee's attention to five key areas for development in the CEDAW General Recommendation (CEDAW GR): 1) Language on prevention, disarmament & military spending; 2) linking the GR with other UN mechanisms; 3) further expansion of the interdependence of all rights; 4) the situation of women under occupation; and 5) the issues of trafficking.
Call for Action: The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence
Starting planning your participation in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.
The 16 Days Campaign is an international campaign, which hundreds of organisations participate in. It happens every year from November 25- International Day Against Violence Against Women- and December 10- International Human Rights Day- in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.
The 2011 theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!”
RCW and Arms Trade Treaty Prep Committee
WILPF Reaching Critical Will (RCW) Updates:
The third session of the preparatory committee for the UN Conference on an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from 11–15 July 2011. The purpose of the PrepCom is to make recommendations on the elements that would be needed to attain an effective and balanced legally-binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms. The ATT is to be negotiated in July 2012.
To read about the importance of Women's role in implementing a humanitarian arms trade treaty, please read the perspective of Jasmine Nario-Galace from International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) here.
On July 30 until August 6 2011, WILPF Congress gathered in San José, Costa Rica.
For information and documents on the international Congress, click here
For questions, please contact the coordinator of the conference at firstname.lastname@example.org
Situation in the Middle East
Militarization in Costa Rica
Situation in Nepal
Arms Trade Treaty
Migration is not a crime
National Action Plans
Women Arab Spring
Other WILPF News
WILPF monitored and reported on the 17th Session of the Human Rights Council, in Geneva, Switzerland, here.
The 17th session of the Human Rights Council, was presided over by Ambassador Sihasak Phuangketkeow of Thailand. The overall objective of the Council is to monitor and advance the human rights records of its 192 UN Member States. WILPF international attended and participated in all sessions that paid particular attention to the issues of women, peace and, security, including dialogues with Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts, Interactive Dialogues, Universal Periodic Reviews and complementary Side Events.
WILPF U.S. Section's National Action Plans(NAP) +The Whistleblower Campaign
US-WILPF is currently undertaking an initiative focused on the US National Action Plan on SCR 1325 and a campaign on the "Whistle blower" the film.
US-WILPF has drafted a position paper on the NAP outlining recommendation calling for broad civil society consultation and changes to domestic policy. This has been endorsed by a number of women's organizations including the CWGL, Wand and others.
Please read more about the campaign:
1. Review the policy statement on the U.S. SCR 1325 National Action plan, calling for broad civil society consultation and changes to domestic policy.
Download White Paper : WILPF-US WhitePaper NAP 1325, 2011 [PDF, 231KB]
2. Promote WILPF + Whistleblower Campaign by promoting participation in the on-line survey to determine civil society priorities for the U.S. SCR 1325 National Action Plan and support in publicizing the WILPF + Whistleblower facebook page.
See info and links on: http://www.peacewomen.org/portal_initiative_initiative.php?id=1276
For more information, please contact the President of WILPF U.S., Laura Roskos at email@example.com.