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We Must End Violence to End Violence: The Urgent Call for Peace in Israel and Palestine

Throughout October, UN member states convene in the General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security to discuss matters of weapons and war. With the explosion of violence in Israel and Palestine last weekend, WILPF’s Disarmament Programme Reaching Critical Will is calling on all states to prevent the genocide of Palestinians, including by working for an immediate ceasefire, stopping arms transfers and military aid to and from Israel, and compelling Israel to end its bombardment and siege of Gaza and its use of white phosphorus.

Image credit: Ray Acheson
Ray Acheson
16 October 2023

Once again, bloodshed has become the backdrop to the First Committee’s work. Last weekend, horrific violence exploded in Israel and Palestine. On Saturday, 7 October, Hamas attacked Israel with thousands of rockets, broke through the border fence enclosing Gaza, and killed and detained hundreds of Israelis. Hamas’ brutal attacks against civilians are violations of international law and war crimes. In response, Israel has escalated its own war crimes, intensifying its siege of Gaza and carpet bombing the open-air prison it created to effectively imprison more than two million Palestinians for 17 years under the apartheid policies of a settler colonial state.

The catastrophic consequences of Israel’s 75-year occupation of Palestine largely dominated the First Committee’s interactive “right of reply” segments this past week. Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, with both explosive and incendiary weapons, is particularly relevant for the Committee’s work. But the larger dynamics at play all point to the wider issues underscoring all First Committee work, including militarism, colonialism, and hypocrisy.

To read the full article and explore the in-depth analysis of the ongoing conflict and the urgent need for peace, click on the link below.

“We must act. We must do what we can, no matter how little it may seem, to save lives. A ceasefire is the first step. For any of us to abdicate from our responsibility to act is to once again go along silently in the stream of bloodshed.”

Joshua P. Hill

Taking action to break the cycle of violence

It is imperative to prevent further atrocities and loss of life. For this, an immediate ceasefire and a release of those detained by both Hamas and Israel is necessary. A durable and fair peace will only be achieved by eliminating the root causes of violence and oppression. The international community cannot wait for yet another escalation of hostilities to create a realistic path for justice and peace. It must act now.

Despite the repression of those speaking out against the ethnic cleansing and potential genocide of Palestinians, there has been an outpouring of solidarity globally from Baghdad to Paris. Activists in the United States have organised direct actions against companies supplying weapons to Israel, such as L3Harris and Elbit Systems. Some governments have spoken out against Israel’s siege and bombardment of Gaza.

All members states and the responsible bodies of the UN must uphold the UN Charter and other international law, including by:

  • Calling for an immediate ceasefire;
  • Calling for an end to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas by all parties, and for an end to the use of incendiary weapons by Israel;
  • Demanding that Israel lift the siege on Gaza and ensure access to goods essential to the survival of the people in the enclave;
  • Demanding that Israel abide by its obligations under international law and make all necessary efforts to protect civilian populations in the Occupied Palestinian territories, and also calling on Israel to end the occupation;
  • Reinstating humanitarian aid so as to avoid collective punishment of Palestinians by donors and member states;
  • Initiating a UN-brokered process for peace and justice that centres Palestinian voices and perspectives to enable a move towards peace;
  • Ending military and other support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its apartheid regime, including by imposing an arms embargo on Israeli weapon imports and exports;
  • Not criminalising, condemning, or repressing nonviolent action in solidarity with Palestinians;
  • Implementing the recommendations in the 2022 report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; and
  • Recognising Palestinian statehood.

Delegations to the First Committee have an opportunity to support the above, particularly on the issues related to weapons and armed violence, including by:

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Ray Acheson

Ray Acheson is the Director of WILPF’s Disarmament Programme, which provides analysis, research, and advocacy across a range of disarmament issues from an antimilitarist feminist perspective. Acheson represents WILPF on the steering committees of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, and the International Network on Explosive Weapons.

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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. 

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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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