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Forgotten Conflicts, Still a Responsibility

6 June 2013

During the 23rd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), WILPF and our partners World YWCA and Femmes Africa Solidarité organised a side event on forgotten conflicts to discuss how the HRC could address all armed conflicts in a more holistic way. We invited distinguished panellists from Madagascar, Western Sahara and the Central African Republic.

Photo of the side event on forgotten conflictsIndeed, the South of Madagascar, Western Sahara or the Central African Republic, these and many other so-called ‘low intensity conflicts’ are often forgotten or ignored by the international community, focusing on hotspots where violence is higher.

However, serious human rights violations such as forced displacement, repression, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, enforced disappearances and violation of freedom of speech, often take place in these contexts. Furthermore, when conflicts remain unaddressed, the danger of violent outbreaks remains and can be hastened at any moment by the flow of arms from neighbouring conflicts and vice-versa.

The stagnation of conflicts also prevents the social and economic development of the population, including the realisation of gender equality. On the contrary, it contributes to the militarisation of society through the uncontrolled flow of small arms. This has devastating effects on violence against women, domestic violence and other forms of violence.

Nevertheless, global attention will often not come until violence is very widely spread and the presence of arms is out of control. A participatory approach to support the struggle of women for their equal participation in conflict prevention, peace-building, post-conflict reconstruction, ensuring women’s groups are included at all stages in the international peace and security process, will be essential.

Photo of the side event on forgotten conflicts

A serious process in addressing the prevention of the outbreak of violence by the Human Rights Council would include a follow up mechanism of low intensity conflicts safeguarding the principles of prevention and participation.

WILPF, World YWCA and FAS recommend:

  • That States address the root causes of violence
  • That the HRC is vigilant to have a universal scope and to emphasize on the prevention of conflicts rather than limiting their response to addressing the armed conflicts already taking place
  • That the HRC pays attention to the impact that the flow of arms has on the population and especially on women and children and that they strictly refrain from selling arms to areas where human rights violations are taking place
  • That States implement the UN Security Council resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888, 1889 and 1960 and fully include women and civil society in the prevention and mediation of armed conflict and other conflict situations
  • That States sign, ratify and apply the Arms Trade Treaty


WILPF published an article on the current crisis in Madagascar, check it out if you want to know more!

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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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