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How to Put an End to Discrimination in Germany?

19 April 2013

Germany will soon be under review at the Human Rights Council (HRC) for its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), to be held on April 25th.

Before this review, UPR INFO organised a pre-session where civil society organisations and national human rights institutions are given the opportunity to share their assessment of the human rights situation and accomplishments in the country since the last review.

WILPF was there to monitor this pre-session on Germany, and here is a summary of the main issues that were raised.

We also issued several recommendations that you can download below regarding the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

Racial discrimination and violence

Respect of human rights in Germany still has some major flaw. Migrants endure increasing stereotypes and violations of their rights.

The German Institute for Human Rights expressed concerns about a series of racially motivated crimes (known as the “Kebab murders”) perpetrated by right-wing extremists and the lack of investigation on these murders.

Yet, beyond investigations, Germany has to strengthen its efforts to efficiently address the issue of racism, by adjusting its legislative framework, training police staff and prohibiting ethnic profiling by the police.

In addition to violence, migrants suffer from daily racial discrimination, especially undocumented migrants. Indeed, they have neither a guarantee to their right to healthcare and protection against work exploitation, nor full access to justice, since their personal data is transmitted to migration agencies as soon as they are involved in a judicial process.

According to Forum Menschenrechte, reforming laws is essential to put an end to racial discrimination, but social interventions on the ground would also be necessary, by implementing specific training and changing the public discourse in the media.

LGBT communities still being excluded

Another major issue pointed out by the panellists was the question of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) rights.

Indeed, same sex couples still do not enjoy equal rights with heterosexual couples: the right to stepparent adoption has been recognised, but joint gay adoption remains illegal. A more progressive law is expected in June 2013.

Moreover, transsexual people in Germany do not yet have the right to determine themselves their gender in identity documents. Their true identity is still denied, transsexuals are considered as men who want to live as women and women who want to live as men. Transsexuality should no longer be perceived as an illness or as a gender identity disorder.

Trafficking in women and children

Finally, the level of implementation of some international human rights conventions in Germany is not sufficient: many of these conventions have not yet been ratified by Germany, such as the Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation. There is a clear lack of legal protection of children from sexual exploitation and there is no comprehensive definition of child trafficking in the German legislation.

Trafficking in women is also an issue of great concern: the representative of Franciscans International stated that girls coming from all over the world, usually from poor and disadvantaged families, are victims of trafficking and sexual abuse. She denounced the fact that since its previous UPR in 2009, Germany has not properly addressed the issue of women trafficking, and called for more assistance and protection services for victims of trafficking.

What is WILPF doing?

WILPF regrets that during this pre-session, the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security was not mentioned. Germany has just launched its National Action Plan on the implementation of this resolution, but some gaps remain in this programme of action. That’s why WILPF International, in collaboration with WILPF’s German Section and PeaceWomen, has issued and shared some recommendations highlighting these gaps: download them here.

Because we think women’s involvement in prevention of conflict and post-conflict situations is an essential tool to achieve peace and full respect of human rights, WILPF is doing its utmost to advocate on this issue and to ensure that recommendations will be made on this matter at the upcoming UPR of Germany.

WILPF will attend this UPR session on Germany next week and we will keep you updated on the outcome of the review. So don’t forget to follow us on our website and our Facebook page!

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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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