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Open Letter to International Community in Bosnia & Herzegovina

4 December 2013

Open Letter to the International Community including: 

Mr. Peter Sorensen, Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina and European Union Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina,

Mr. Valentin Inzko, Office of the High Representative,

Ms. Anne-Marie Esper Larsen, UN Women,

Mr. Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, Embassy of the Russian Federation

Mr. Nigel Casey, British Embassy

Ms. Ulrike Maria Knotz, German Embassy,

Mr. Roland Gilles, French Embassy,

Mr. Hideo Yamazaki, Embassy of Japan,

Mr. Ahmet Yildiz, Embassy of the Republic of Turkey,

Ms. Lisa Helfand, Embassy of Canada to Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia,

Mr. Ruggero Corrias, Embassy of Italy,

Mr. Darius Jonas Semaska, Lithuania Embassy, Presidency of the Council of the European Union

Dear Mr./Ms.,

Recently we have been witnessing a new round of talks between leaders of few main political parties in regards to the implementation of the ECHR decision Sejdic and Finci vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina. The discussions are facilitated by the EUSR in BiH, Peter Sorensen and the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Stephan Fule. This process is conducted in a blatantly non-democratic and non-transparent fashion, divorced from BiH public sphere and concerns of its citizens.

We are well aware that the implementation of this decision can have major implications on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This decision can be an impeller for change and constitutional reform, which could put an end to the discriminatory articles in the constitution, based on ethnicity and/or gender, and could represent the basis for establishing a truly functional and democratic society. For this to happen the discussions on implementation of the ECHR decision and the constitutional changes need to be inclusive and transparent.

Our current Constitution is a product of the peace agreement negotiated between the international community and male elites representing the warring parties (both from within the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina but also the neighboring countries). The voices of BiH women have been excluded from all peace talks taking place since 1992, culminating in Dayton Peace Agreement that in its Annex 4 contains the Constitution of BiH. Our currently dysfunctional and awkward structure of the state was negotiated in a military base without any form of influence of the BiH citizens. Instead of putting forth an election process through which we define the political system we want to represent us, the Constitution actually only allows us to reiterate the results of war gains and participate in discrimination against the citizens of BiH (as confirmed by the ECHR decision).

The current process of implementation of the ECHR Sejdic and Finci vs Bosnia and Herzegovina decision once again excludes the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the process of the deciding about themselves, while the complete absence of women is even more symptomatic.

Thus, we are requesting the international community, primarily EU who is facilitating and supporting these talks, to start implementing the UNSCR 1325 and to ensure full participation of women, in the true spirit of the resolution that calls upon involvement of women in peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction.

Furthermore, we are asking the EU to stop supporting the culture of semi-formal, exclusionist and elitist (and strictly male) approaches by taking the discussion back to the official settings within the BiH parliamentary structures, and to ensure that before any constitutional changes can take place an efficient inclusive consultation process with the civil society (including women organization and organizations that work on women’s human rights) is put in place.

Failure to do this will delegitimize the whole process in the eyes of the BiH public.


In alphabetical order:

Centar za pravnu pomoć ženama Zenica

Fondacija “Imam petlju”

Fondacija “Jedan Svijet”

Fondacija Bosanskohercegovačka inicijativa žena

Fondacija CURe Sarajevo

Forum žena Bratunac

Helsinški odbor za ljudska prava u RS

Helsinšli parlament građana Banja Luka

NVO Gariwo

Organizacija žena “Lara” Bijeljin

Prava za sve

Sarajevski otvoreni centar

Udruženje ,,Majke Srebrenice,,

Udruženje “Žena BiH”

Udruženje “Žena ženama”

Udruženje “Žena žrtva rata”

Udruženje “Žene s Une”

Udruženje građana ,,Žene Srebrenice

Udruženje Medica Zenica

Udruženje Sumejja Gerc

Udruženje žena Forma F

Udruženje žena SEKA

Udruženje žene Banja Luka

UHD “Prijateljice”

Žene za Žene International

Ženska međunarodna liga za mir i slobodu

Božana Kordić

Cvijeta Novaković

Dubravka Kovačević

Emsuda Mujagić

Gorana Mlinarević

Gordana Vidović

Jasmina Čaušević

Jasmina Husanović

Klaudia Kuhulj

Klelija Balta

Lejla Mamut

Lejla Somun Krupalija

Lidija Živanović

Nada Golubović

Nejra Nuna Čengić

Nela Porobić Isaković

Samira Krehić

Selma Korjenić

Suzana Božić

Tanja Oručević Miletić

Viktorija Ružičić Tokić


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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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