Each year, WILPF holds a seminar in Geneva to mark the occasion of the International Women’s Day. This annual seminar tries to combine the two focus areas of the WILPF secretariat, i.e. women’s rights and disarmament, in order to raise awareness of important issues that the world faces today.
This year’s seminar aims to bring together different actors working with the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), such as diplomats, NGOs and academics, in order to raise awareness about gender-based violence (GBV) and the unregulated international arms flow and to highlight the necessity to include such a reference in the upcoming negotiation on the ATT on the 18-28 March.
WILPF’S STRONG POSITION TO INCLUDE GBV IN THE ATT
Already in spring 2012, in preparation for the first round of UN negotiations of the ATT, WILPF, together with IANSA Women’s Network, Amnesty International and Religions for Peace, published a Joint Policy Paper on Gender and the Arms Trade Treaty. This paper was a united call to explicitly include gender-based violence in the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) criteria.
A criterion in the Arms Trade Treaty should require states not to allow an international transfer of conventional arms where there is a substantial risk that the arms will be used to perpetrate or facilitate acts of gender-based violence, including rape and other forms of sexual violence.
WHY INCLUDING GENDER IN THE CRITERIA OF THE ATT?
It is clear that the arms trade has specific gender dimensions and direct links to discrimination and gender-based violence. The unregulated arms trade often facilitates violence against women, as both states and non-state actors fuel violence and conflict by the mere presence of weapons in societies.
During armed conflict, sexual violence is in many cases widely as well as systematically employed against civilians. At the same time women are in some states disproportionately affected by high levels of fire arms-related homicides and by domestic violence.
By including a criterion on gender-based violence in the ATT, arms transfer could be limited to perpetrators of such violence and at the same time women’s rights and gender equality could be strengthened. Furthermore, it could this way be acknowledged that both arms exporting as well as importing countries somehow have a joint, however different, responsibility to prevent crimes of gender-based violence.
TAKE ACTION AND HELP US SUPPORT THIS CAUSE
WILPF encourages you to follow our blog in order to get an update on the seminar next week.
In addition, we have launched on 11 February a petition that encourages everyone to show that preventing gender-based violence is a priority, and that governments must do their utmost to ensure such a provision in the ATT.
We would like to strongly encourage you to join us in this work and sign our petition. We need you.