WILPF Advocacy Documents

France, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States of America, Yemen

HRC42: Statement on Yemen

Arm Transfers | Disarmament | Explosive Weapons | Extraterritorial Obligations | Gender-Based Violence | Human Rights | Human Rights Violations | Women’s Human Rights
10 September 2019
Document type:
Body submitted to:
Human Rights Council

Statement on Yemen

UN Human Rights Council 42nd session (9 – 27 September 2019)

Item 2: Interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner’s report on Yemen

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom commends the Group of Eminent Experts’ (GEE) efforts to bring to light the blatant violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law by all parties to the conflict in Yemen. We are concerned that the Government of Yemen has not granted the GEE permission to enter the country, thereby hindering adequate access to victims and witnesses.

The GEE’s report and its 274-page long supplement [1] constitute a significant departure from last year’s report [2] in terms of gender-sensitive analysis by highlighting how women, girls, men and boys are differentially affected by the conflict, and how pre-existing structural discrimination against women and girls has been exacerbated by the armed conflict and is leading to the emergence of “new oppressive gender norms.” We welcome the GEE’s efforts to include such gender-sensitive analysis and urge them to adopt a consistent gender-responsive approach throughout their  work, as this is crucial to document the full extent of human rights violations.

We also note that the GEE findings underline broad patterns of sexual and gender-based violence committed by all parties to the conflict, but are also cognizant of the fact that the stigma associated with reporting these crimes makes the documented cases a mere sample of the actual extent. WILPF calls on all parties to immediately stop such violations and to ensure investigation and accountability of perpetrators at all levels of the chain of command.

We call on all states and relevant actors to exert pressure on warring parties to immediately release all arbitrarily detained and forcefully disappeared persons in Yemen. Civilians must never be used as bargaining chip for military gains. WILPF underlines the importance of the GEE’s comprehensive documentation of cases of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances.

Mr. President,

The severe human cost of the conflict on civilian lives, infrastructure and protected objects has been exacerbated by the extensive proliferation and use of arms, ranging from explosive weapons – notably used by the Saudi-led Coalition – to guns, firearms, and anti-personnel landmines used by Houthis. This disproportionately impacts on women and girls’ access to medical and education services, social protection and livelihoods, and jeopardizes their security and freedom of movement. We echo the GEE’s observation that a continued supply of weapons to warring parties perpetuates the conflict and suffering of the population. We call on states transferring arms and providing military support to the Saudi-led Coalition, particularly France, the UK, both parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, as well as on Iran and the USA, to immediately cease such transfers so as to abide by their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.

In this regard, we would like to ask a  question to the GEE: in the  report to this session of the HRC on economic interests of the military, the Independent International Fact Finding Mission (IIFFM) on Myanmar highlights in detail how arms transfers may have contributed to gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law; they did so including by identifying States and companies responsible for such transfers. [3] We would like to ask whether the GEE would consider taking such an approach in future reports?

[1] 3 September 2019: Report of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts as submitted to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014 – A/HRC/42/17

3 September 2019:Conference Room Paper – Report of the detailed findings of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen A/HRC/42/CRP.1. This is a 274-page long report submitted as a supplement to A/HRC/42/17 and setting out the detailed findings of the GEE.

Both reports are available on this webpage: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/YemenGEE/Pages/Index.aspx

[2] 28 August 2018: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights containing the findings of the Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts and a summary of technical assistance provided by the Office of the High Commissioner to the National Commission of Inquiry A/HRC/39/43

[3] The economic interests of the Myanmar military Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, A/HRC/42/CRP.3

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 WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations. She holds a PhD in Social Work and currently works at the University of Texas as the Director of Human Trafficking Research at one of the university’s think tanks. Of Mexican descent, born on the US and Mexican border, and raised between the two countries, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. She is also involved with the American Red Cross as a volunteer, trainer, and researcher focused on post-disaster aid distribution and work with undocumented Latinxs. 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

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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.

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