Peace at Risk?: Colombian Prospects under the New Administration in Times of Uncertainty
By Katherine Ronderos, WILPF Colombia (LIMPAL) President
Members of LIMPAL (WILPF Colombia) and Red de Empoderamiento de Mujeres de Cartagena y Bolívar raising awareness on peace and women’s rights in the public transport on the 2018 International Women’s Day in Cartagena, Bolívar (Photo: LIMPAL)
In 2016, there was a historic Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People’s Army (FARC-EP) to end an armed conflict that was tearing the country apart since 1964. Thanks to long and hard advocacy by women’s organisations, the Agreement addressed several issues important for women, including women’s political participation, disarmament and gender-based violence.
However, signing the Peace Agreement was only the first step towards sustainable and long-lasting peace.
Today, Colombia is again on the road to the political transition. In June 2018, right-wing candidate Iván Duque won the presidential elections.
Many peace leaders have been concerned with the election results because the new government has expressed his willingness to re-open the commitments of the peace agreement. This includes revisiting the advancements made on gender equality and women’s rights to reduce the guarantees of women and the LGBTQI community affected by the armed conflict.
In particular, the transitional justice system now risks losing its mandate to investigate crimes committed by the military and high level politicians, including on sexual and gender-based violence. Reintegration commitments are now also at risk: underfunding and misprioritisation of demobilisation and reintegration could undermine the transition process for ex-combatants, women in particular, from the newly formed political party Alternative Revolutionary Force of the Common (FARC) and limit opportunities for their political participation. In addition, lack of political support for peace agreement implementation also could support rekindling of tensions and violence with particular impact on women human rights defenders.
WILPF’s Colombian section LIMPAL (Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad) has long called for action by the Colombian government to address sources of violence and insecurity for women human rights defenders associated with the existence of other armed groups and the extensive proliferation of arms throughout the country. This includes ongoing calls to ratify the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), create a UNSCR 1325 National Action Plan, develop stronger mechanism to control arms to prevent the increasing number of killings of women and sexual violence with firearms, and strengthen strong social institutions to ensure realisation of women’s livelihoods, political participation, justice and human rights.
In May and July 2018, LIMPAL with WILPF International participated in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the pre-session of the CEDAW Committee respectively. Together, we presented a series of recommendations and key questions to the United Nations and the Colombian government, calling for action to strengthen implementation of the peace process, guarantee the achievement of commitments on women’s rights in the implementation phase, in particular the DDR process, and contribute to strengthening gender conflict analysis in further reforms and implementation efforts.
A year and a half since the Colombian Peace Agreement was signed, peace is at a pivotal point in Colombia. Ensuring accountability for gender and women’s rights commitments as part of holistic agreement implementation from a feminist-pacifist perspective is essential to addressing emerging risks. Supporting the critical work of women peace leaders who face daily security risks is a critical part of this process.
By Mikayla Varunok, United Nations Monitor
Members of the Women’s Major Group wearing dark blue scarves to raise awareness about the need to protect and engage women’s human rights and environmental defenders (Photo: WMG)
As part of our work to strengthen holistic action on disarmament, gender equality and peace, and mobilise awareness about the importance of local women’s peace work, WILPF engaged around the 9-18 July 2018 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). We monitored the Forum around the issues relevant to gender, peace and means of implementation, launched the #WomenLead2030 Campaign and worked with our coalition Women’s Major Group to push for the implementation of the SDGs to work for women in conflict.
Our experience at the HLPF has demonstrated that the 2030 Agenda provides a unique opportunity to bring diverse constituencies together and mobilise action that promotes conflict prevention and creates a new kind of economic development that promotes women’s human rights and protects the environment. However, corporate power, technical approaches, lack of women civil society’s meaningful participation, as well as increasing distancing from human rights foundations mean substantial challenges to realising the SDG’s transformative intent remain. It is important to recognise that people are not just left behind by accident: They are excluded as a matter of design. To improve people lives, we need to disarm violence, invest in gender justice and build economies and political governance for feminist peace.
As we prepare for the 2019 review of SDG16, we invite you to call on the SDG16 leaders and those who will submit their reports for review in 2019 to put implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda at the heart of their action on peaceful societies.
Read WILPF’s monitoring analysis of the 2018 High-Level Political Forum here>>
Find WILPF US’ Reflections from the 2018 High-Level Political Forum here>>
Learn more about WILPF’s #WomenLead2030 Campaign here>>
By Colleen Bromberger, UN Security Council Monitor
Wide view of the Security Council as Nickolay Mladenov (on screen), UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, briefs the Security Council meeting on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question (Photo: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)
On 24 July 2018, the United Nations Security Council convened an open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Speakers highlighted the importance of ending the violent conflict in Israel and Palestine, particularly increasing violence the Gaza strip; ceasing construction of Israeli settlements and destruction of Palestinian homes; and upholding the two-state solution for securing peace and stability in the region. With only one substantive reference made by the representative of Sweden about the importance of integrating women in the peace process, speakers generally failed to address the importance of the gender issues in peace and security in the Middle East.
To fill in the gaps, WILPF has been working with the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC) to highlight the gendered impact of the Israeli prolonged military occupation on Palestinian women. Together, we have called for the active participation of women in the peace process and brought attention to the grave number of women who have been disproportionately impacted by the violence, including as the result of excessive and disproportionate use of force by the Israeli occupation forces against peaceful Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza.
In order for the peace process to begin in a holistic manner, solutions in the Council must similarly include the voices of women and civil society organisations, including by incorporating women’s experiences and perspectives into the peace process and enhancing the capacity of women and civil society to equally participate in peace negotiations. Integrating gender analysis also has the potential to create new space for discussion, which could break the historical stalemate at the Council. Innovative leadership is needed to move the discussion forward.
Read WILPF’s Analysis of the UNSC Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question here>>
Find WILPF-WCLAC Joint Submission to the UPR of Israel here>>
Find WILPF Statement on the UPR of Israel here>>
Read WILPF’s Analysis of the UNSC Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict here>>
By Marina Kumskova, WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security Programme Associate
Opening of High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States (Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten)
In 2000, WILPF was part of the feminist movement leadership that successfully pushed for the recognition that women were relevant to international peace and security through the creation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda. As part of our work to transform gendered norms, WILPF monitored the first ever United Nations High-level Conference on Counterterrorism held 28-29 June 2018 in order to identify how to address militarised challenges and strengthen strategic action for prevention, justice and peace.
While Member States focused predominantly on the role of development as the key milestone of prevention and continued to support militarised approaches to counterterrorism, civil society representatives were at the forefront of demanding inclusion of women and a gender perspective in the discussion. Indeed, a holistic WPS Agenda requires an approach to addressing terrorism demands that focuses on prevention and does not legitimise and promote perpetual crises. Non-violence and justice for women’s human rights must be the first priority strategy.
Read WILPF’s Reflections from the first ever United Nations High-level Conference on Counterterrorism here>>