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CEDAW Endorses WILPF's Recommendations on the DRC

15 August 2013

In the context of the review of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by CEDAW (the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women), we wanted to raise awareness about the need for effective implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the linkage between the flow of arms and militarization and sexual violence.

WILPF DRC submitted a shadow report to CEDAW called “Gender-based violence and the small arms flow in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – A women, peace and security approach”. WILPF DRC President, Annie Matundu Mbambi, participated in an informal lunch meeting with NGO representatives and Committee members during which she made a statement on the proliferation of light arms in the DRC in light of UNSCR 1325. Prior to the review, we also organised a panel on a different vision on women in the DRC.

Side event DRC
Panel on a different vision on women in the DRC. Photo by Joanna DuFour.
UNSCR 1325 was discussed during the review

During the formal review, which took place on 11th July, the Minister of Justice of the DRC stated that the relevant provisions of UNSCR 1325 should be included in national law and in the National Constitution. She highlighted the creation of a body to monitor the implementation of UNSCR 1325. She also talked about the use of women as a weapon of war.

During the dialogue, a CEDAW member raised a question on the ratification of the ATT as well as on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their impact on the security of women. These questions were inspired by our shadow report and our panel event.

The head of the Congolese delegation, however, argued that the flow of arms is created and maintained by armed groups. She remained evasive on the ratification of the ATT and said that the government had created an inter-governmental group on arms trade.

These answers did not meet our expectations, as the linkage between small arms flow and the widespread of sexual violence is evident. Our section president, Annie Matundu Mbambi, had explained this linkage on many occasions. Indeed, in most cases of sexual violence, survivors declare that the perpetrators were armed, even in those cases in which the perpetrator was a civilian and not a member of the army or an armed group.

WILPF’s recommendations in CEDAW’s report

In its concluding observations, the Committee emphasized its concerns about the limited regulation of the arms trade, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their impact on the security of women. This was a huge success for us, as we advocated for these recommendations to be included in the concluding observations.

We also welcome the fact that CEDAW raised concerns about the shocking levels and nature of violence and sexual atrocities against women, the failure of the authorities to prioritize the protection of civilians and the denial by key state officials of the extent of violence against women in conflict-affected areas.

The Committee urged the DRC to prevent gender-based violence and to ensure access to justice and protection for victims. It called for the effective implementation of the National Action Plan for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325. The Committee emphasized the need to ensure the effective regulation of the arms trade, to control the circulation of illicit small arms and to consider the ratification the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty.

The Committee experts also recommended that the DRC significantly enhance the inclusion and representation of women in peace negotiations and also ensure their representation in provincial security committees.

The DRC will have to start implementing these recommendations immediately and report back to the Committee in two years. We were glad to see the Committee endorse our recommendations.


You can read the concluding observations of the Committee on DRC.

We, in particular WILPF DRC, will monitor the implementation of the recommendations in the DRC. The concluding observations will be an essential advocacy tool to defend and protect human rights in the DRC and in particular to implement UNSCR 1325. It will also be very important to refer back to these recommendations when other human rights bodies review the DRC.

In the next two years, we will have to multiply our efforts to promote the implementation of the recommendations. Please share, debate and bring the message from our DRC section forward!

We will keep you updated on further outcomes of this process; so stay in touch and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or even better, subscribe to our newsletter, so that you get the latest news directly in your inbox.

As always, we’d love to know your thoughts on these issues.

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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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