Last Monday, December 10th, was Human Rights Day! A day around the world that was marked by calls for answers, accountability and action. It also was the final day of the 16 Days of Activism against gender violence campaign. WILPF actively participated and engaged in many activities throughout the campaign. For each day during the campaign, WILPF and several guest activists wrote and posted blog entries covering critical issues and many countries and regional situations from India to Colombia, from Palestine to Burma, from Australia to Nigeria. These are featured below in this ENews and on WILPF International website.
WILPF is sponsoring and co-sponsoring several events this month, including a special tribute to human rights activist and WILPF leader, Edith Ballantyne, at the WILPF International Office in Geneva. Further afield, PeaceWomen supported an event with WILPF-Nigeria in Enugu, Nigeria on “National Action Plan (NAP)- a recipe for reducing violence against women and promoting human rights in Nigeria". The event aims to raise awareness on UNSCR 1325 and CEDAW as tools that can be used in promoting peace and reducing conflict in Nigeria, and the importance of the process of national action planning in Nigeria. PeaceWomen prepared a NAP tool-kit for WILPF Nigeria to support the section's work and advocacy. To see more on NAPs, check out PeaceWomen's NAP initiative.
Here in New York, PeaceWomen participated in several events. On 12 December 2012 we continued our Panel Series on WPS with an event focused on Fighting Impunity for Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes, featuring the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Ms. Fatou Bensouda. See article below.
This last edition of PeaceWomen ENews for 2012 features highlights of these events and gives an overview and links to the recent CSW57 Stakeholders' Forum on violence against women. It also features our new publication - the Second Edition of the Women, Peace and Security Handbook - and includes an article on the Security Council's Annual Open Debate on WPS.
Finally, as we come to the end of 2012, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all our friends, partners and team members. PeaceWomen and WILPF are grateful to the dedicated and committed interns who have helped us with every aspect of our work.
Peace to all for the new year!
From the 13-14 of December, the PeaceWomen team attended a 2-day Stakeholders' Forum, in preparation for the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57). This Forum consisted of panel sessions that included stakeholders from government representatives, to UN officials, to private sector and civil society representatives. The rallying cries throughout the panel consisted of urges to end the stalemate and impunity that predominate over tangible solutions and commitments to end violence against women. The speakers called for a collective political agreement among member states that must be reached during the CSW 57 in March 2013, in an effort to address these issues.
Many speakers referenced women, peace and security issues, although no mention was made of arms, weapons and militarism. One of the prominent speakers, Charlotte Bunch, founder of the Center for Women's Global leadership, emphasized the unequivocal role that civil society organizations play in combating violence against women. She referenced a recent study using an original dataset of social movements and violence against women policies in countries over four decades, to illustrate that feminist mobilization in civil society, rather than political phenomena such as women's participation in government, is responsible for change in policy development.
Also, five women survivors of violence detail their successful struggles for policy and legislative reforms in their countries at a panel for survivors at the Stakeholders' Forum on Preventing and Eliminating Violence against Women.
For the 12th anniversary of 1325, PeaceWomen launched the second edition of the ‘Women, Peace and Security Handbook,' which examines the degree to which the Security Council has internalized the thematic agenda of Women, peace and security in its geographic work over the past 12 years, specifically in the Council's country-specific resolutions. This book builds on our monitoring work and is aimed at Security Council members.
Divided into twelve thematic chapters, the handbook is a reference guide for both progress made and action to be taken on the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The analysis assesses the consistency with which Council resolutions reflect the language and intent of SCR 1325. Good practice extracts from resolutions are presented and critical recommendations are made.
This Handbook is a call to action and a sincere effort to enhance the implementation of the Women, peace and security agenda. The recommendations call for the incorporation of more comprehensive language on women and gender in future country-specific resolutions.
On Friday November 30th 2012, the Security Council held its annual Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). On account of the Hurricane Sandy affects in greater New York area, the debate was rescheduled from its original date on October 29th 2012. The civil society speaker, Bineta Diop, speaking on behalf our coalition, the NGO Working Group, highlighted the contribution of women's organizations to international peace and security; the importance of conflict prevention; and the security threats women and women's human rights defenders face in conflict settings. On recently returning from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she echoed the voices of women she had met calling urgently for peace, security, protection and humanitarian assistance.
The debate addressed Secretary-General's annual report (S/2012/732) and the presidential statement (S/PRST/2012/23) adopted by the Council on 31st October 2012. The theme of the debate was “The Role of Women's Civil Society Organizations in Contributing to the Prevention and Resolution of Armed Conflict and Peacebuilding.” Given the tireless efforts civil society organizations in creating and implementing this broad agenda, the theme was welcomed and timely. Statements discussed a broad range of issues, ranging from National Action Plans (NAPs) to current conflict and crisis situations. Overall, few concrete or new commitments were raised on women's civil society organizations, the theme of the debate.
Speakers included: Michelle Bachelet, head of UN Women, Hervé Ladsous, head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and Ms Bineta Diop, Founder and President of Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS) – speaking on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, and over 60 member states.
On 12 December 2012, PeaceWomen, in partnership with the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination and the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein, hosted Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. This event was a part of our lecture series on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS).
Ms. Bensouda discussed the role of the International Criminal Court in the prevention and prosecution of sexual and gender based violence. She emphasized the indispensable role that civil society plays in shedding light on and combating impunity for gender based war crimes. Furthermore, Ms. Bensouda underlined the need to build partnerships to strengthen the rule of law and prevention of these crimes. Ms. Bensouda also discussed the recent implementation of gender based training for the prosecutors, reiterating the importance of a gendered perspective in the context of transitional justice.