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UPR of Colombia: A Victory for WILPF!

30 April 2013

If you have been following us these past few weeks, you may know that we participated in a pre-session to suggest recommendations for States to endorse and share them at the Human Rights Council during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Colombia.

Indeed, during the UPR, only States can make official recommendations, but NGOs play an essential, though informal role, providing them with ideas of possible recommendations and pushing them to make the right ones.

Therefore, WILPF International, in collaboration with WILPF Colombia, elaborated on various recommendations that you can download here.

We highlighted vital issues such as:

  • the absence of a National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security
  • the absence of women and gender experts in the main team of negotiators for the peace talks in Colombia
  • the lack of implementation of the Colombian Constitutional Court order 092 to end impunity for crimes of sexual violence against women
  • the worrying extension of the military criminal jurisdiction for crimes committed by public forces in Colombia
A success for WILPF

We are very glad to announce that both Ireland and Portugal endorsed WILPF’s recommendations for the review of Colombia.

Portugal reaffirmed the crucial importance of women’s participation in the current peace process, and expressly recommended that Colombia include women and gender advisors as part of the team of main negotiators, and develop a NAP for the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

Ireland called upon the Colombian government to ensure adequate space for civil society in the peace process, paying special attention to the participation of women and indigenous communities. He also stressed the need to create an inter-institutional system for monitoring the implementation of the UNSCR 1325.

The implementation of this resolution and the participation of women in conflict resolution and prevention and in disarmament is one of the main objectives of WILPF as a means of reaching long-lasting peace.

Photo of WILPF at the UPR of Colombia
WILPF keeping up you informed during Colombia’s UPR session

Furthermore, Ireland expressed concern about the high level of impunity and lack of access to justice for victims of gender-based violence, in particular sexual violence. Hence, they recommended that the Colombian government ensure the effective implementation of the Constitutional court order 092 dealing with the protection of women and their rights in the context of the conflict. To learn more, have a look at our recommendations.

What to do now?

The recommendations are now part of the UPR report (paras 117.2 and 117.6) and have been noted by the Government of Colombia. We regret that Colombia has only accepted 6 of 160 recommendations: they considered that the rest of them are already implemented or in implementation, they also rejected 26 recommendations and took note of 6.

Since Colombia only took note of our recommendations taken up by Ireland and Portugal, it’s a bit of a disappointment for us; however, we should clarify that all recommendations enjoy the support of the Human Rights Council and sometimes, thanks to public advocacy and pressure, States implement recommendations that they have not accepted. For this reason, one must not despair and keep advocating for all recommendations.

Amongst the few recommendations accepted, Colombia has accepted to take measures to ensure that the military criminal jurisdiction does not generate impunity, that military courts have a restrictive and exceptional scope, and that alleged human rights crimes in no case will be addressed by military courts. This was one of the recommendations we endorsed.

WILPF and in particular WILPF Colombia, will keep a very close eye now to monitor the implementation of these and other UPR recommendations. The UPR report will be an important advocacy tool to defend and protect human rights in Colombia.

We will keep you updated on further outcomes of the UPR report on Colombia; so stay in touch and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and to subscribe to our newsletter, so that you get the latest news.

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Thank you!

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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