"War is an international business"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

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"War is an international business." These words of our WILPF sister, Annie Matundu-Mbambi (President of WILPF- DRC), resonated throughout the 2012 AWID International Forum on Women's Rights and Development held in Istanbul, Turkey.

The past month has been an exciting time for WILPF, with sections from Colombia, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and Sweden all taking part in AWID 2012. I have also just returned from Cairo, Egypt where I met with women and human rights activists to discuss gains and challenges provoked by the revolution, as part of WILPF's Middle East and North Africa project.

Representing WILPF at AWID, Annie explored and exposed the links between the global economy, the international peace industry and the on-going exploitation, corruption and injustice present in her home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Annie reminded us that when we - global feminists - discuss “transforming economic power to advance women's rights and justice” (the theme of the AWID Forum), we must challenge the increasingly dominant political economy of war and militarism. These critical links, on which WILPF has focused, were discussed during in-depth sessions on Militarism, Violence and Conflict and also in a series of very important articles on the same theme. A must read is Cynthia Cockburn's article "Peace movements: violence reduction as common sense". WILPF also facilitated a session specifically on women's security and militarism, with a focus on promoting women's active participation in security politics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Costa Rica, and Colombia. Madeleine Rees (WILPF SG) reflected on the conference as an "incredible experience" for her and WILPF and reminded us that "understanding the economy has been one of WILPF's main concerns since 1915, and I believe it is of crucial importance for us to keep prioritizing, exploring and growing our knowledge in this area." To find out more about the Forum, please click here.

Picture: WILPFers: Ailhyn (Costa Rica), Sameena (Pakistan), Maria (PeaceWomen), Joy (Nigeria), Ximena (Colombia), Annie(DRC), Bexi (Colombia) — in Istanbul, Turkey.

With energy from my experiences in Istanbul, I traveled to Cairo where I spoke with women and human rights activists about the role of women in post-revolution Egypt. These women expressed their apprehension regarding the upcoming May 23-24 Presidential elections. They also emphasised the importance of ensuring a gender sensitive Constitution. Amongst other things, we discussed the politicisation of Islam in the changing landscape of Egyptian politics, strategies to increase women's role in decision-making, and enduring, effective security sector reforms.

This trip to Cairo was part of the WILPF Middle East and North Africa (MENA) project, involving national discussions with experts and grassroots activists from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen. The outcome of the project will be the selection three participants from each country to come to Geneva to present and discuss the results of these local consultations in connection with the 20th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) taking place in June 2012.

In other news, the UN Secretary-General is currently recruiting for a new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict to replace the current SRSG Margot Wallström. WILPF NY, Geneva and our national sections has worked together with Margot Wallström and her office since the formation of the mandate 2 years ago. We believe in the importance of this senior UN position to work with civil society to address the root causes of sexual violence and focus on prevention. We expect the Secretary-General to appoint an individual who can challenge the status quo and also legitimately represent and respond to the demands of those affected by conflict. WILPF as a member of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security signed on to a joint letter to the Secretary-General expressing the need to select a qualified replacement with demonstrated work experience for the role.

Finally, the CEDAW Committee is currently doing regional consultations on proposed general recommendation on women in conflict and post conflict. For background on this see here. >>

This issue of PeaceWomen/WILPF E-news includes further reading on Security Council monitor article, work by WILPF's Reaching Critical project, and articles and news from peacewomen.org.

Picture(right): Estilita (WILPF Costa Rica) with Poster "Women will Smash Patriarchy" at March in Istanbul, Turkey.

WILPF at AWID International 2012

WILPF representatives were very pleased with the opportunity to be active participants at AWID 2012 International Forum: Transforming Economic Power to Advance Women's Rights and Justice, holding a session on women's security and militarism “From the Beijing Platform to Resolution 1325 - military expenditure and its consequences for women's security”.

WILPF was represented at AWID by the Secretary General Madeleine Rees, personnel from the New York, Geneva, and Sweden offices and representatives from the national sections in Colombia, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Pakistan.
WILPF was very visible at the Forum running a session focused on Challenging Militarism. In addition, Annie Matambu, President of WILPF DRC participated in the solidarity roundtable: Using Economic Power to Promote Changein Conflict Zones: Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo and was a panelist for the In-Depth Session on Militarism, Violence and Conflict, a forum focusing on discussing ideas and strategies to move the Women, Peace and Security agenda forward. In addition, the President of WILPF Pakistan participated in the panel discussion following the screening of the movie I Came to Testify.

An information booth was set up by WILPF members in order to provide information on the organization to other women activists participating in the Forum. The booth provided an excellent networking opportunity for WILPF representatives and was a great success.

Michelle Bachelet's Briefing to the Security Council on Protection and Participation of Women in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations

On the 24th of April Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, and Hervé Ladsous, Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations briefed the Security Council on Women, Peace and Security. The open briefing was followed by closed consultations with Council members. Briefings by the head of UN Women such as this provide an important opportunity to hear about the situation of women's rights and must be continued by the Council.

“in conflict resolution, women's participation and gender expertise provide a firm foundation for women's post conflict participation”.

Opening the briefing, Bachelet's statement emphasized the vital role women play in reconstruction and resolving conflict. Here, Bachelet highlighted the ongoing collaboration between UN Women and the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) to better integrate women into mediation bodies and conflict resolution actions globally.
Noting the opportunity presented by elections to enhance women's participation, Bachelet spoke of the joint initiative with civil society, ‘Women's Situation Room for Peaceful Elections', designed to ensure women's protection in campaigning and voting during the Senegalese elections last month.

Please click here for a full summary of Bachelet's Briefing.

Security Council Open Debate on Nuclear Proliferation, Disarmament and Security

On the 19th of April the Security Council convened to discuss Nuclear Proliferation, Disarmament and Security. Sadly no mention of gender was made with all speakers including the Secretary-General choosing to ignore the clear link between the proliferation of nuclear arms and material, heightened militarism and its negative effect on women's security.

Please click here to access a full summary of the debate on Reaching Critical Will.org

Security Council Open Debate on International Peace and Security (Illicit Flows)

On April 25th the Security Council convened under the Presidency of the United States to discuss challenges related to the illicit flow of arms, drugs, chemical and biological weapons and people across borders.

The debate on this topic was highly unsatisfactory from a gender perspective, failing to mention the negative impact that trafficking in arms, people and drugs has on women's security and rights. Council members bear the responsibility for this gap, which is particularly notable given the documented links between the proliferation of arms and increased violence against women, not to mention the disproportionate impact of human trafficking on women's security, especially in areas characterized by armed conflict and displacement.

Please click here for a full summary of the Debate

Report Watch

PeaceWomen/WILPF is pleased to announce the launch of Report Watch on our website. This project provides analysis of the women, peace and security content of reports presented to the Security Council by the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General's reports are crucial to providing accurate and full information on the security situation as it relates to women. In tandem with Resolution Watch, Report Watch provides a full analysis of the gaps, weaknesses, and strengths in resolutions and reporting. PeaceWomen believes this reporting will lead to more effective Security Council action and more comprehensive reporting on the women, peace and security agenda. Analysis of country reports is provided by the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security.

May Update for Peacewomen's NEW National Implementation Page

Check out PeaceWomen/WILPF's newest addition to our website, the SCR 1325 National Action Plan Initiative.!!!!

36 countries have NAPs – you may have been involved and continue to monitor implementation. PeaceWomen wanted to bring this work together and highlight that NAPs are only effective if the process is consultative and implementation is tracked.

You can find all NAPs and analysis of Civil Society Participation and also WILPF advocacy. Also we show examples of budgets and indicators, as well as thematic priorities such as disarmament.

Since there are lots of questions about what a NAP is, we included a Frequently Asked Question function to explain the content and process of NAP development. This we hope will support civil society in countries hoping to push their government to draft NAP process. This is still work in progress so please send your comments, input and information to me at Isabelle@peacewomen.org.

NAPs in News:
NEPAL/PHILIPPINES: Nepal Officials Visit Kalinga to Share Peace Plans
N-Peace Indonesia's Second National Dialogue on NAP P4K Ignites CSO Activity
Meeting of the National Coordination Group On "National Action Plan for 2012-2015"
UN Women Promotes the Integration of Peace and Security Issues into the National Action Plan

Reaching Critical Will Update from the NPT in Vienna

Once again states parties, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations are meeting to start the review cycle of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Reaching Critical Will (RCW) has been in Vienna for the past two weeks coordinating the NGO presence and producing the NPT News in Review, a daily publication that reports on both the NPT plenary sessions and side events.

RCW launched it latest publication Assuring destruction forever: nuclear weapon modernization around the world and presented a monitoring report on the implementation of the 2010 NPT Action Plan. Both were well received and can be found on the RCW website.
Please click here for more details on the conference sessions, statements, working papers, and national reports.

Summary by Lily Gardener

The Whistleblower Campaign

The Whistleblower Campaign has begun a 21 Questions discussion on the Facebook page.
This is a prelude to the campaign launch in June, and the idea is to engage, educate and build an online audience for future campaign activities.

On 24th of May, Madeleine Rees will hold a legal conference in conjunction with The Graduate Institute in Geneva, discussing the application of international law to trafficking and sexual exploitation and abuse in the context of peacekeeping. The outcome will serve as a strong foundation for the campaign.

How to get involved until June?

Join the Facebook page and participate
Follow the campaign on Twitter and spread the word!

Other Advocacy Opportunity

The Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Rashida Manjoo, will focus her 2013 report on the “Due Diligence Obligation to address Violence against Women.” Ms. Manjoo is seeking information to prepare a global study to be submitted to theHuman Rights Council. The study will analyse the implementation of due diligence by States according to Article 4 (c and d) of the UN Declaration on Elimination of Violence against Women.

Individual experts, organizations, and NGOs who wish to create reports of consultations, emerging practices, and documents for consideration for the annual report are welcome to send relevant submissions to vaw@ohchr.org.

Summary Paper on the Due Diligence Standard for Violence against Women