Monday 29 February marks the beginning of the 31st session of the Human Rights Council. The session is an opportunity for WILPF to bring its advocacy and address the root causes of war. It is also a chance to bridge the gap between the international and local levels, by providing information about human rights and human rights violations on the ground. Women’s human rights are often forgotten, and WILPF makes sure that they stay on the agenda.

Our focus during the Human Rights Council sessions is to integrate disarmament and the women, peace and security agenda within the work of the Human Rights Council. And in doing so, we will remind countries of their human rights obligations, whether they are directly implicated in an armed conflict, or indirectly contributing to it. Arms exports or the endorsement of peace negotiation processes that do not include women are some examples of how actions of States may affect the human rights of those enduring armed conflicts elsewhere.

[FACTBOX: The Human Rights Council]

This inter-governmental body is responsible for assuring the promotion and protection of Human Rights around the world, but also effective coordination and mainstreaming of human rights within the UN system. The Council convenes regular meetings three times a year and this will be its 31st session. The Council can investigate human rights violation or best practices with a country-focus or thematic focus. Some of the upcoming reports that will be studied include Libya, Eritrea, Syria, but also migrants or the right to food. NGOs in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) can participate in the Human Rights Council’s sessions as Observers. Through this status, we can, among other things, organise side events and deliver statements on issues relevant to the work of the Council. To learn more about human rights bodies, have a look at our previous webinars

What We Do

For the 31st session, WILPF will organise two side events and deliver several oral and written statements.

8 March 2016: Right to Food for Women

Food security is an essential part of human security, and women are often not only instrumental to ensure the right to food within communities, but also especially vulnerable to food insecurity.

The trajectory of the global economy encourages an agribusiness-dominated food system, which results in land-grabbing and displacement, rural-to-urban migration, and exploitative working conditions. These phenomena contribute at the same time to food insecurity and to fuelling conflict and constitute a root cause of war.

This economic model, and imposed food system, together with cultural (patriarchal) practices also view rural populations and their natural resources as production banks, rendering women invisible or reducing them to their role as mothers and caregivers and condemning them to diverse kinds of violence.

WILPF will be co-sponsoring a panel with FIAN International (Food First Information and Action Network) and many other NGOs to affirm: No Right to Food and Nutrition Without Womens Rights.

11 March 2016: Peacebuilding Defines our Future Now, Women Activism in Syria

The event will bring to light Syrian women’s grassroots organisations, how they act as both peacemakers and social rebuilders.

Advocacy Work

WILPF uses statements at the Council to influence the decision-taking processes at the Council, but we also provide expertise. Statements are based on hard facts that are sometimes unknown or not taken into consideration for political interests, such as women’s rights or arms exports. Raising such issues at the Human Rights Council guarantees that they can no longer be ignored.

WILPF will advocate for arms transfer, disarmament and peacebuilding to be included in the debates on human rights mainstreaming. We will also put focus on the impact of climate change on the health of women.

WILPF will help bring voices from our members from Eritrea, today part of different sections of WILPF around Europe, to the Human Rights Council. They want to call for a stop of the proliferation of weapons, kidnapping and human trafficking that the people of Eritrea are suffering from.

WILPF will also comment on the reports by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and human rights in Lebanon.

We will join the Treaty Alliance in commenting the report on Transnational Corporations and other business enterprises with regards to human rights.

More updates coming soon!