WILPF Advocacy Documents

Iraq, Kuwait

The Gulf War and International Law

Arms Trade and Industry | Chemical Weapons | Disarmament | Explosive Weapons | Human Rights | Justice and Accountability | Racism | Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
5 July 1997
Document type:
Body submitted to:

The 25th Triennial Congress of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 1-6 July 1992 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia:

Before, during and after the Gulf War, there were and continue to be serious violations of international law.

There are legal and binding international instruments regarding war under which the parties to them are accountable for their actions. These include the Charter of the Nuremburg tribunal, the Geneva and Hague Conventions and Protocols, and also the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Conventions on Civil and Political, and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

These instruments contain prohibitions against inflicting harm on civilian populations, prohibitions against acts or threats of violence against civilian populations, against starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, against attacking or destroying installations indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, against attacking installations which have the potential of releasing dangerous substance into the environment, against means of warfare which may cause damage to the natural environment and thereby prejudice the health or survival of the population, and against he use of excessive force.

In addition, there are international laws regarding the protection and basic rights of specific populations. These are stated in the 1974 General Assembly Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflicts and the 1990 Declaration of the World Summit on Children.

WILPF is concerned that the US and ‘allied’ forces have violated all of the above stated prohibitions in the bombing of Iraq. If we hold Iraq accountable for its invitation of Kuwait, the new must also hold the US accountable for its invasion of Panama and Grenada, and for violations of international law in Child, Nicaragua, Angola and other parts of the world.

If we oppose the use of force against a sovereign people, and if we condemn Iraq for the invitation of Kuwait, if we support UN security Council resolutions, and if we oppose occupation, then the same standards should be held to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Lebanon, its defiance of SC Res. No. 2423 (1967) and SC Res. No. 338 (1973) and its violations of human rights and the Geneva and Hague Conventions. The Israeli government has consistently defied Security Council resolutions, yet continues to receive billions of dollars of US aid every year.

WILPF urges Individuals and organizations to press for:

A. Accountability for the actions of US and allied forces during the Gulf War with regard to violations of international law;

B. Recognition that to continue humanitarian sanctions against Iraq is a violation of the 1974 General Assembly Declaration and the Declaration of the World Summit on Children;

C. The health and survival of Iraqi children not to be linked to the behaviour of its government;

D. The application of a single standard of international law.

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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

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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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