Tag Archives: WILPF

Latest SCR 1325 news

The latest peacewomen 1325 enews has been published looking forward to the year ahead.

The PeaceWomen Enews compiles the latest Women, Peace and Security news from around the globe – highlighting the leading stories from the peacewomen.org portal. The past month was not a quiet one, with several independent campaigns for governmental political participation emerging from women in the Pacific and steps being taken to combat sexual and gender based violence in Colombia and the DRC. The penchant for mass protest which dominated 2011 continued into the new year, with women taking to the streets in support of austerity measures in Nigeria, dancing en masse in protest of ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel and marching naked in the streets in north-east India in opposition to small arms trafficking and gun violence. PeaceWomen vocalizes our strong support for women’s groups demanding their rights and continuing the work of peacekeeping, peacebuilding and the prevention of conflict around the world.

Read the full edition here.

London Briefing Paper

London WILPF have been campaiging on Human Trafficking in relation to the sale of sexual services around the London Olympics 2012. The branch have produced this breifing paper which makes a number of recomendations for tackling human trafficking and making sure that the public are aware that having having any form of sex with a trafficked person is against the law.

Read the full briefing here.

Recent Branch Actions

Sheffield and Orpington Branches have been busy taking action for our Challenge Militarism: Invest in Peace campaign.

Sheffield took a message of support to the Occupy Sheffield camp recently.  They were delighted to receive it and are displaying it on their marquee, seen by many passers by.  The Branch  has found some new supporters at the camp and hope they will get involved with WILPF.

Members ran a stall at the annual Peace and Craft Fair on 12 November, gettihg a lot of signatures to a letter on the need to switch spending from militarism to to avoid the proposed cuts in welfare provsion and public pensions, which were semt to the Prime Minister.Orpington Branch had a stall in Orpington High Street on Friday 25th the UN Day starting the 16 days of action “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!”.  Six members and supporters gave out 400 of the attached leaflet and took signatures on the attached letter linking violence against women and militarism, addressed to David Cameron.   On  Saturday the remaining leaflets and the letters to a Common Cause event (Congolese women) for the 16 Days of Action where I was able to talk about WILPF and get more letters signed.  Altogether around 50 letters will be posted to David Cameron this week.

WILPF United to Campaign for the 16 Days of Activism

“From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!”

WILPF sections and members around the world today – November 25 – engage in collective activism demonstrating our roots as one global women’s peace movement by our united participation in the global 16 Days Campaign.

The 2011 theme of the 16 day campaign “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!” directly links to WILPF’s vision and work. For 96 years now, WILPF has led the way as part of a global movement, towards full disarmament, gender equality, racial and economic justice, and an end to all forms of violence.

“We should never forget to do activism. It is what works. It’s absolutely central to WILPF”, says Madeleine Rees (WILPF Secretary General) to a large gathering of WILPF-ers.

WILPF sisters worldwide from Pakistan to USA expressed their enthusiasm to set about realizing the 16 days challenge. Worldwide WILPF sections are organizing a variety of inspiring and strategic activities to build on both the message of WILPF and that of the 16 days campaign!

“It is inspiring to be the Secretary General for an organization that gathers so much enthusiasm and determination”, continues Madeleine Rees. With countries spending enormous amounts of money every year on militarism, together we call for a shift in priorities in order to achieve sustainable development, gender equality and peace!

WILPF sections in over 16 countries will take part, including Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, DRC, Germany, Finland, India, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Switzerland, Sweden, the UK, and USA, as well as activities in Geneva arranged by the International Office of WILPF.

Statement on UN Peacekeepers involved in sexual abuses in Côte d’Ivoire

WILPF International issued the following statement on UN peacekeepers involvement in sexual abuses in Côte d’Ivoire.

There is academic research, literature, documentaries, recently the film the Whistleblower, and most pertinently, the accounts of women in countries which experience conflict, all of which document the link between militarization and the sexual exploitation of women, including through trafficking. The UN and those who occupy on humanitarian grounds are part of this militarization and it is foreseeable that without effective regulation, investigation, prosecution and punishment, then a climate of impunity for crimes committed against women and girls will prevail.

In the case of Côte d’Ivoire it seems that the lack of these procedures has again lead to the commission of acts of serious sexual violence against women and young girls. The disclosure by Wikileaks of a US embassy cable citing sexual exploitation by troops from Benin, proves again the vital role that must be played by civil society in ensuring that the such conduct is exposed. It was civil society organizations and an international civil servant principled enough to stand up for what was right, which exposed similar crimes being committed by Moroccan Peace keepers in 2007. The outcome of that expose was an apology from the Secretary General of the UN to the Moroccan government! This time the UN has been a little more robust, but within its own lights and policies; there was a year long investigation, perpetrators were identified, some 16 soldiers, of which 10 were in command positions, were sent home in April and are barred from serving in the UN. As a UN spokesman stated, the commanders failed to maintain an environment that prevents sexual exploitation and abuse.

The question must be asked, however, as to how, given the experience of Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Liberia, Chad, Haiti, to name but a few, the ultimate sanction for those who aid, abet and commit acts of rape is simply to be repatriated. It is possible that they could face criminal charges in their home country, but how many actually do? If this had happened in time of conflict then these acts would fall to be considered as war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture. Simply by changing the nomenclature from combatant to peacekeeper, the sanction is changed from criminal to administrative with no real accountability.

A random poll of ten underage girls in Toulepleu Côte d’Ivoire by Save The Children U.K. in 2009 found that eight performed sexual acts for Benin peacekeepers on a regular basis in order to secure their most basic needs. “Eight of the ten said they had ongoing sexual relationships with Beninese soldiers in exchange for food or lodging,” whilst not conclusive as to the extent of the abuse it is indicative. The UN says that there have been 42 complaints since 2007 but nothing this year but this is to cling to false indicators. Women are unlikely to make a complaint when they are dependent on those they are complaining about, its how the system works. Abuse of authority and position of power will ensure that the indicator of complaints received will never give realistic assessments as to the extent and nature of the problem.

The UN must re-think how it ensures compliance with international law. There have been strong developments under human rights law as to how that applies in situations of occupation and humanitarian crisis. The UN should embrace these and develop effective measures to ensure implementation. These should include changes to the ostensible zero tolerance policy. As to believe that this will prevent abuse without a fundamental cultural shift in how men relate to women in conflict is naïve. Change the way the UN interprets functional immunity which at present is not in accordance with international law and facilitates impunity. Demand screening of all personnel recruited and ensure that there are binding agreements with Troop Contributing Countries as to their responsibilities to train, monitor, investigate and prosecute offenders. There should also be strict reporting obligations to the UN on actions taken and the UN itself should ensure that no troops will be accepted unless measures are in place and are demonstrably adhered to.

These are small steps in real terms and would represent only a beginning, a small start to address an issue which has for far too long been considered of little import to the big picture of keeping peace between men!

The .pdf version of this statement can be found here.

Run for WILPF

There is still time to register for the Adidas Women’s 5K in London and raise money for the WILPF Charitable Trust. The 5K takes place on September 11th in Hyde Park and is a fun run (or walk) for women of all ages.

Register online and get started collecting sponsorship. You will need to add the WILPF UK Section Charitable Trust as the charity you would like to support. Your registration fee is £15 – £5 of which will go to the trust.

WILPF is reliant on donations from supporters, your money goes along way towards supporting WILPF’s international work at the UN and developing campaigns and research, supporting actions like our Voices of African Women and Human Security campaigns.

We are committed to helping you fundraise and can provide tips and tools to help you achieve your fundraising target. Email us for more information.

WILPF Congress 2011

WILPF Congress July 30th - August 6th 2011, San José, Costa Rica

Women, Peace and Security – Transforming the agenda

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.

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.

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,  now WILPF Secretary General, 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.

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.

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.

A full report is forthcoming.

Article about US Okaying Israeli Attack on Unarmed Flotilla Mentions WILPF

Yesterday’s Stephen Zunes’ article entitled “Washington Okays Attack on Unarmed US Ship” published in Foreign Policy in Focus mentions WILPF, which is one of the coalition of groups that support the flotilla that is carrying peace and human rights activists bound for the besieged Gaza Strip. You can read the article here:


1 July 2011

Statement on Jeju Island and the US Naval Base

In the village of Ganjeong on Jeju Island, off the coast of South Korea, local people are struggling to prevent the construction of a new US naval base. The base is intended to service US Navy Aegis destroyers that hold Raytheon’s missile “defence” systems. South Korean peace activists argue that the base will build-up offensive military systems in North East Asia, undermining security and prompting military responses from China and North Korea. Villagers also oppose the base because of the loss of farm land, where they have grown rice, garlic, tangerines, and more on the fertile land. The base will destroy the local environment, including coral reefs named by UNESCO as key environmental treasures. The Navy intends to pour concrete over the rocks and marine life to make wharfs for the Aegis destroyers.

At a village meeting in 2007, the vast majority of villagers voted to oppose the base. They have launched lawsuits against the construction; they have held protests and engaged in civil disobedience against the construction efforts; their encampments have been raided and protestors have been injured and arrested; and some have even engaged in hunger strikes. Yang Yoon-Mo was arrested on 6 April 2011 for locking himself under earth moving equipment intended to begin construction. He began a hunger strike that lasted for 60 days, until Bishop Kang U-il of Jeju Catholic Diocese convinced him to stop and go on struggling in solidarity with the other activists. Sung-Hee Choi, who was arrested on 19 May for holding a sign that read “Do not touch any stone or flower,” went on hunger strike untilYang was released from jail on 1 June. She will go on trial on 10 June.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) expresses solidarity with the people of Ganjeong in their struggle to stop the construction of the naval base. Military bases are a visible structure of militarism and imperialism; they waste economic resources of the “home” country and destroy environmental, social, political, and financial resources of the “host” country; and they undermine the lives and livelihoods of local people. Violence against women and girls around military bases is a particularly aggravated problem that results from the interconnections of militarism, imperialism, racism, and sexism. Overseas bases also undermine more constructive forms international cooperation and engagement and perpetuate militarism and military spending.

WILPF International calls upon members in all of its National Sections to contact the Korean Defence Attaché assigned to Washington, DC at defenattache[at]yahoo.com, the South Korean Embassy in Washington at +1.202.939.5600, and/or the South Korean and US embassy in one’s own country to call for the immediate cessation of construction of this base.

WILPF International also encourages its members to follow developments on the island through the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space blog and the Save Prof Yang and Sung Hee-Choi of Jeju Island Facebook page and to support the trip of Global Network board member MacGregor Eddy to Jeju Island to bring international messages of solidarity to the people of Gangjeong village. MacGregor Eddy (who is also a WILPF member) from Salinas, California has been a leader in the international effort to build support for the people on Jeju Island. Please consider making a donation to the Global Network to help fund her trip.

Download a PDF version of the statement