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CEDAW Settles the Link between the WPS Agenda, Disarmament and Women’s Rights

19 November 2013
The Committee adopted its general recommendation 30

After more than two years in the making, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (the Committee) has finally adopted its general recommendation on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations. This adoption represents an important step forward as it promotes an integrated approach to women’s rights that includes many elements from the women, peace and security agenda and from the disarmament agenda.

In this document, the Committee outlines the concrete measures States parties can take to ensure that women’s human rights are protected before, during and after a conflict. The general recommendation ensures that the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (the Convention) applies in all forms of conflict and post-conflicts settings.

image blog CEDAW GR 30
In the picture, members of CEDAW Committee as shown in the materials for the webinar on CEDAW by the Human Rights Programme.
WILPF participated to the drafting process

WILPF was involved in the entire drafting process, from the document’s inception to its adoption. The Committee used our expertise to strengthen language on disarmament, the Women, Peace and Security agenda and, especially, on the arms trade.

The Committee adopted many of our suggestions, however, our most important contribution has been the Committee’s inclusion of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in this General Recommendation. At WILPF’s behest, the Committee specifically recommends all member States to sign, ratify and implement the ATT, underlining its importance for women’s rights.

The Arms Trade Treaty attempts to regulate the international transfer of arms. Thanks to WILPF’s advocacy, the treaty includes legally binding obligation for States parties not to authorize any export of arms if there is a risk the arms in question could be used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence.

The integrated approach is featured in the general recommendation

In paragraph 26 of the general recommendation, the Committee stresses “the need for a concerted and integrated approach that places the implementation of the Security Council agenda on women, peace and security into the broader framework of the implementation of the Convention and its Optional Protocol.”

WILPF’s integrated approach aims at bringing together issues of peace and security with women’s human rights. This approach is instrumental in addressing the root causes of conflict and violence and acknowledging that there are many factors related to security, arms flow, militarization and economic inequality that can impact  women’s rights as enshrined within the Convention.

It is worth noting that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted resolution 2122 on the same day that the Committee adopted its general recommendation. The resolution aims at removing barriers to women’s full participation in all efforts to prevent, resolve and rebuilt from conflict. The UNSC resolution makes strong references to human rights and features an integrated approach to peace, security and human rights. Another concrete illustration of the integrated approach is the participation of Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to the Women, Peace and Security debate of the Security Council.

At the international level, WILPF International Secretariat fully engages with the work of the UN to promote women’s rights in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations. Here, a picture of a side organized by the Human Rights Programme to raise awareness on the role of women in the DRC.
At the international level, WILPF International Secretariat fully engages with the work of the UN to promote women’s rights in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations. Here, a picture of a side organized by the Human Rights Programme to raise awareness on the role of women in the DRC.
The Convention and women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations

The general recommendation provides authoritative guidance to States, and to some extent non-State actors, on how to implement obligations under the Convention. In other words, the Committee enlightens States and other stakeholders on how to use the CEDAW Convention to ensure and promote women’s rights in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations.

The Committee recommended many measures related to the Security Council agenda on women, peace and security, on women and conflict prevention, on disarmament (including references to the Arms Trade Treaty), on gender-based violence, on trafficking, on participation of women in the decision making process, on the security sector reform, demobilization and reintegration and on access to justice. One example is the inclusion of at a recommendation to address the gendered impact of international transfers of arms, especially small and illicit arms including through the ratification and implementation of the ATT. You can find many other recommendations in the document.

What to do next?

You can read the general recommendation No. 30 on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations.

This general recommendation is a great tool for advocacy, on both the national and the international level.

On a national level, WILPF sections and branches can use the general recommendation to push for their States to adopt adequate measures to promote women’s rights including the ratification and implementation of the ATT.

At the international level, WILPF and other organizations can now discuss issues related to security, arms flow, and the economic and social aspects of the women, peace and security agenda, with an even stronger legal basis thanks to this General Recommendation.

Now, we can more firmly demand that States guarantee the rights of all women by all necessary means, including reducing militarization and pursuing disarmament.

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Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

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

VICE-PRESIDENT

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

PRESIDENT

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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Demilitarisation

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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