On Monday 1 September, the Human Rights Council held a special session on the human rights situation in Iraq. At the end of this session, a resolution was adopted by consensus: it condemns the human rights violations and abuses resulting from the terrorist acts committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated groups. According to this resolution, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will very soon dispatch a mission to Iraq in order to investigate violations and abuses of international human rights law committed by terrorist groups in Iraq.

WILPF regrets that this resolution does not include any gender perspective. The terminology regards women exclusively as victims and not as actors and peace builders.

The major concerns during the session were violations of international humanitarian law and human rights, such as a rising number of internally displaced people and overall killings. Member States such as Argentina, Croatia, Bangladesh, the Netherlands (among others) raised their concern for sexual violence, rape, child marriage and forced conversions. The risk of a plausible ethnic genocide was addressed by the Council, as well as by several Member States.

The importance of women’s participation

Women should be equally included in the decision-making and peace process, as required by the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325. The impact of violence on women is not getting the needed attention. Peace processes that do not take women into account have proven to be unsustainable. Recent peace-making cases can account for it: Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, and more recently Syria.

Addressing women and their efforts in this scenario will not only enable them to positively influence the situation, but will also make a transition to peace more feasible and sustainable.

Fighting for visibility

Iraqi women continue to actively engage in various efforts. They seek to deter the heinous consequences conflict has on them, their families, their communities and their country.

The Iraqi Women Network is one of our partners in Iraq within the framework of our MENA1325 project. We have jointly submitted a statement to the Human Rights Council for this special session. It endorses 90 women’s organisations and groups and gives a general outlook on the abuses that women have been enduring in Iraq, especially since the beginning of ISIL’s attacks against the population.

WILPF also submitted a statement, in collaboration with MADRE and the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), to urge Member States to consider the particular impact of the current situation on women, and to point out the issues of gender-based violence and discrimination, honour killings, and forced, under aged, and temporary marriages.

WILPF brings you closer

The High Commissioner will present a report on its findings at the 28th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2015, as well as an oral update at the upcoming session in September. WILPF will closely follow the decisions that will be made on this matter by the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and we will keep you updated through our blog or WILPF’s Human Rights Programme’s newsletter.

What is your government’s position on this matter? What do you think about it? Now is the time to act!

Remember you can follow the Human Rights Council’s sessions live.