Latest News



Addressing Root Causes Through Accountability on the 2030 Agenda

The United Nations 2018 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development provides one avenue for accountability under the Sustainable Development Agenda.

Image credit: WILPF
Dawn Nelson
28 July 2018

By Dawn Nelson, WILPF US Earth Democracy Committee Member

As an American, I am keenly interested in United States accountability both domestically and globally. The United Nations 2018 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development provides one avenue for accountability under the Sustainable Development Agenda.

Last week, I went to New York to be part of this year’s HLPF, which provided a review focusing on “transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”. In the process, 46 nations reviewed the progress towards the 2030 Agenda sustainable development goals (SDGs). Sustainable Development Goals on water (Goal 6), energy (Goal 7), cities (Goal 11), responsible consumption (Goal 12), forests (Goal 15), and partnerships/means of implementation (Goal 17) were  analysed by a variety of stakeholders.

Listening to countries highlight their progress on SDGs, several positive developments stood out. I was encouraged to hear several ministers discuss the pressing importance of peacebuilding if there is to be any measurable success of the 2030 Agenda. Many Member States also highlighted the need for the inclusion and equality of women and girls, showing promise of national-level leadership on human rights, peace and equality. It was heartening to see the voluntary local review contributed by New York City, the urban host of the HLPF at UN headquarters.

However, systematic barriers that prevent transformation still remained unchecked.

The extent of poverty in the US as detailed in a recent special UN report (that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has denied as true) was a reality left unaddressed. The US could easily have reported on SDG11 on the lack of affordable housing in cities across the nation, but there was not a word about it while millions of people continue to suffer. With the United States pulling out of the Human Rights Council, denying American poverty exists, and contributing to numerous atrocities globally, it is clear we need to strengthen mechanisms for accountability.

As the timeline to 2030 dwindles, the impacts and perpetuation of a war economy (especially by many Security Council members) is not taken into consideration as a key obstacle. Sometime during the HLPF, I caught a headline that the US was calling for NATO allies to double military spending. Among numerous parallel discussions, the importance of moving away from military spending and channelling funds into public services to ensure human rights were barely addressed.

When these concerns were introduced at the HLPF, it was largely only due to active civil society engagement, especially by women civil society. In the review session on SDG17, the representative of Women’s Major Group presented a group statement, which addressed the detrimental impact of current spending patterns around privatisation, militarisation and arms trade, as well as conditionalities linked to funding provided by international financial institutions (IFIs), to the progress towards the realisation of the 2030 Agenda. However, these calls often fell on deaf ears: some countries took issue with references to human rights, noting that there are other mechanisms and platforms to address such concerns.

Since the HLPF platform has yet to allow for independent civil society shadow reports (unlike the much stronger human rights procedures), we can only hope civil society contributions are taken into earnest consideration.

Leaving progress to the whimsy of moral appeals is not enough. Accountability is necessary for transformation to happen.

Will there be progress at least among those who stand in solidarity, or will the process lead to an erosion of political will?

I am hopeful that this year’s outcome will serve to strengthen resolve and catalyse new leadership to emerge on the global stage.

Perhaps we will see some of this in 2019, when there is not only a review of SDG16 on peace, but also a review of the HLPF modalities under the auspices of ECOSOC in July and a second HLPF segment with heads of state at the General Assembly in September.

As we work to strengthen accountability both domestically and globally on women’s rights and peace, we must demand that the international community make political, not just technical change, that promotes a power shift away from patriarchy and toward feminist peace.

Ensuring the meaningful participation of civil society in the HLPF, and supporting democratic spaces for the tenacious advocates who are leading the way for political change, will be essential moving forward.

Share the post

Dawn Nelson

Dawn Nelson is a member of WILPF Environment Working Group.

Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris facilisis luctus rhoncus. Praesent eget tellus sit amet enim consectetur condimentum et vel ante. Nulla facilisi. Suspendisse et nunc sem. Vivamus ullamcorper vestibulum neque, a interdum nisl accumsan ac. Cras ut condimentum turpis. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Curabitur efficitur gravida ipsum, quis ultricies erat iaculis pellentesque. Nulla congue iaculis feugiat. Suspendisse euismod congue ultricies. Sed blandit neque in libero ultricies aliquam. Donec euismod eget diam vitae vehicula. Fusce hendrerit purus leo. Aenean malesuada, ante eu aliquet mollis, diam erat suscipit eros, in.


WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

Skip to content