WILPF Advocacy Documents


Statement to the UNHCR on Palestine

Human Rights | Women’s Participation
6 March 2003
Document type:
Body submitted to:

            The circumstances oblige me to begin with a commentary on the refusal of the Commission to inscribe a special session on Iraq on its agenda.  This refusal seems to us hypocritical: how can we treat human rights violations in a situation in which the cause of the violation is deliberately ignored?

            Palestine has been the object of innumerable resolutions adopted by the Security Council, none of which have ever been applied by Israel.  Furthermore, Israel possesses arms of mass destruction, biological, chemical, and nuclear, and militarily occupies foreign territories.  This situation has never incited the United States to treat Israel as Iraq is treated today.

            Thus, Palestine has been inscribed on the agenda in sessions of the Commission of Human Rights each year for a long time.  Declarations and resolutions have proceeded without effect.  But today, the context is different.  In effect, the United Nations has just received a blow which many think may be fatal to it: the world’s superpower has decided to launch a war in spite of the opposition of the Security Council and despite an unprecedented mobilization of international public opinion.  This entry into war has been accompanied by the diffusion of misleading information destined to construct arguments justifying the war and to drown the truth of its real motivations.  But this truth is gleaned from texts defining the strategy of the networks that prepared the election of the current President of the United States of America.  It is about, no more, no less, than guaranteeing the hegemony of the most conservative sector of American society over all of America and the over the whole of the world for the 21st century.  

To what use then do we attempt to found some hope in the Commission here reunited.  If we can scorn the Security Council, what could we not permit ourselves here, in this power-less conclave?  What’s the use of reaching a conclusion by a resolution, by propositions that will only be buried?  What’s the use of speaking of Palestine, since the world will have soon only one master, who will organize everything according to his will?  President Bush announced, shortly after the beginning of the war, that in the after-war arrangements, there could possibly be a place for a Palestinian state.  He did not specify his thoughts on this nor define this famous place.  He explained neither why this would be possible only after the war’s end, nor why he tolerates relaunching the program of violent expropriation of the Palestinian people by Israel.  In fact, this declaration had only two goals: on the one hand, to attempt to calm the Arab world whose leaders were awaiting this pseudo concession in order to justify their cowardice and their servility, and on the other, to announce a pretext: the victory against Iraq is the beginning of a reorganization of the Middle East according to the plans and interests of the United States, more exactly of the most conservative sector of American society.             

If we thus intervene here today, it’s because we think that this policy is failing.  Far from bringing about a guarantee of hegemony for this century, it is encouraging a global awareness and generalized rejection of this hegemonic project.  There will be of course innumerable shocks, confrontations in succession.  The war against Iraq is the beginning of a Third World War, but of a strange war, unlike any other.  In this war, the struggles for Law, Justice, Peace, and for a Humanityworthy of itself, will be the principal battle fronts.  February and March demonstrated this to us: the world’s youth are the bearers of this battle.  In Lausanne on Thursday, March 20, at the heart of the anti-war protest, a Palestinian man returning from a trip to Ramallah, presented his hope.  I quote: “But I find hope again in seeing this new-born European generation, a generation that refuses silence and that believes in justice and peace.”

            Thus, if it is certain that the United States will militarily win the war it is engaged in, except only if the Arab world rises up together in its entirety, they have already and from this point on lost the war in spirit, principally in the spirits of those who will construct the world of tomorrow.

            In this context, the Palestinian question will find its solution, and this solution will not be the dreamt-of arrangement of the current U.S. president.  In this context, far from succumbing to the contempt of the current United States Administration, the institutions of the UN will be developed, transformed, reinforced, and democratized.  In this context, the present Commission will see itself recognized as possessing an increasingly effective authority.  This is why we plead again here the cause of the Palestinian people in introducing a resolution that I propose to take to a vote:

            The 59th session of the Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations asks the Palestinian government to present to the Security Council a proposal for the organization of the Palestinian State, according to the desired modalities of the Palestinian people, in view of accelerating the recognition of this State by all States of the world.

Your donation isn’t just a financial transaction; it’s a step toward a more compassionate and equitable world. With your support, we’re poised to achieve lasting change that echoes through generations. Thank you!

Thank you!

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