There will be some 35 countries making statements in Montreux today. But there will be no voice for the people who have the greatest stake in these talks: the women of Syria and civil society. 

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) warns that the decision by the UN and Arab League of Nations not to include women in the Geneva 2 peace talks could hamper efforts to bring about peace in Syria.

Netherlands, Norway and the UK were among a number of states who had supported the motion to include women in the talks as part of their responsibility to uphold UN Security Council resolutions 1325 and 2122.

“We are extremely disappointed at the decision which goes against the wishes of a significant number of UN member states,” says Madeleine Rees, WILPF Secretary General.

“Furthermore the absence of this vital civil society voice will compromise the ability of the Geneva 2 talks to broker a deep and viable peace.”

She adds that “as historically, every peace negotiation that has excluded women has failed, there is high statistical likelihood that any peace deal would also fail.”

WILPF regards the decision as a “missed opportunity” to actively include members of Syrian civil society who will inevitably have a major role in implementing the outcome of decisions in the long term.

By excluding civil society the UN has “disconnected” the talks from local and community level input.

WILPF is calling for women to still be allowed a dynamic and active role in the consultative civil society forum and any other bodies set up to end the conflict.

WILPF and its partner organizations will continue to fight to ensure that women are heard and represented in all peace building processes as their role is vital if peace is to be sustainable.

Established in 1915, WILPF is active in 32 countries. Its mission is to end and prevent war, ensure that women are represented at all levels in the peace-building process, defend the human rights of women and promote social, economic and political justice.

Syrian women, together with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), will be in Montreux, Switzerland on the 22nd of January. They will be available throughout the day to answer questions and discuss the current conditions and situation in Syria as well as women’s role in the Geneva II peace talks.