In our continuing look at the Feminist Peace Network’s story as part of Women’ History Month, we were a signatory to this letter in 2003. In retrospect one wonders if this should be an annual call. Imagine if we took this path instead of using embargoes and no-fly zones.
TIME OUT! WOMEN CALL PREEMPTIVE STRIKE FOR PEACE
Open letter to the United Nations Security Council
Women call a Preemptive Strike for Peace as the clearest expression of our informed, collective self-interest. Peace best enables our lives and the lives of our offspring, our brothers, fathers, spouses and partners, families, friends, neighbors and fellow human beings, wherever they live. Peace among humans is the necessary condition to rescue our beleaguered planet and it may well be the imperative for species survival.
According to the Global Action To Prevent War: “The past century was the most lethal in human history. There were 250 wars, including two worldwide wars and a cold war, with more dead than in all previous wars of the past two thousand years. Over six million more have died even after the cold war ended, when things should have changed for the better.
This situation must not continue into this new century and it does not have to.”
WE cannot allow it. We Must Act Now. Our approach is not idealistic. It is a pragmatic, relevant, achievable response to war. Everywhere (and historically) non-combatant women, adolescent girls and children are the most brutalized victims of war. Violence against this population is the most relentlessly cruel and widespread violence of war. All conditions that produce and reproduce such violence should be intolerable to every woman and man and to every institution designed to organize human life.
What We Want
We request the UN Security Council
- To join us in calling TIME OUT on war. To help mobilize every UN Agency, especially all those mandated with the protection and well being of women and children, to invoke the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Beijing Platform on Women, to declare the impending war on Iraq (and by default in the whole region), illegal, irresponsible, immoral, unnecessary and untenable showing a blatant disregard for the lives of women, adolescent girls and children. If anyone claims we can fight a war and protect the human rights of this population, we ask the question, what of the human rights of every human being to whom every human woman’s life is attached, and what of the universal nature of human rights?
- To request the Secretary General to submit information for consideration –in step with the weapons inspection and disarmament of Iraq–on the condition of women in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Caspian Basin the USA and Britain as their lives embroil in the stresses of war in its every phase…impending (USA, Britain, Caspian Basin); escalating (Iraq); under foreign military occupation (Afghanistan).
- To hold the line on war, enforcing the weapons inspection and disarmament project in Iraq unhindered and un-pressed for time by all parties.
- To call for unhindered, immediate and ongoing restoration of the critical life-support infrastructure in Afghanistan and Iraq and clean up of the depleted uranium contamination in both countries
- To mobilize with the NGO’s Global Action Plan To Prevent War and The Hague Appeal For Peace for implementation of their programs of action moving towards the Abolition of War. The time to act is now, before the military machine roars into full gear and runs amok.
- To recognize that the UNSC Iraq weapons inspections and disarmament project has laid the groundwork and precedent for universal weapons inspections and disarmament and to push and call for it in every forum.
- To call an emergency global conference on The Root Cause of Conflict and The Culture of Peace. The conference will deliberate upon the problems and prospects of the Oil Industry and the International Weapons Industry and articulate action plans and timelines for their conversion to socially useful and sustainable industries. We propose that the conference be held in Baghdad as soon as possible, drawing ‘stakeholder’ participation from NGO’s and labor unions, government and industry.
- To mobilize UNESCO to hold a Middle East Cultural Festival in Iraq by early fall. The festival should include scholarly forums/ conferences on religion and peace, for example, Islam, Judaism, Christianity and World Peace, Mapping Peaceful Paths for our Children’s Children’s Children; health and healing, ecology and human culture, youth culture. We envision a great surge in International travel on missions of goodwill to replace the cold and cruel insanity of the war fever.
On October 28th. 2002, in the Secretary-General’s Statement To Security Council on Women, Peace and Security, Mr. Kofi Annan reported, …“patterns of discrimination against women and girls tend to be exacerbated in armed conflict…. But if women suffer the impact of conflict disproportionately, they are also key to the solution of conflict…However, with a few exceptions, women are not present at the formal negotiating tables and at formal peace negotiations. The report calls for greater representation of women in formal peace negotiations… The world can no longer afford to neglect the abuses to which women and girls are subjected in armed conflict and its aftermath, or to ignore the contributions that women make to the search for peace”.
Mr. Kofi Annan’s report was based on a 179 page study undertaken by his office in response to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. This historic resolution was unanimously adopted following an open discussion on October 24 & 25, 2000 when for the first time since its establishment in 1947, the UN Security Council (UNSC) considered war from women’s perspective. Better late than never.
UNSC Resolution 1325 reiterates the importance of bringing gender perspectives to the center of attention in all UN peace-making, peace-building, peacekeeping, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. The resolution provides a number of important operational mandates. They include:
- Increase representation of women in decision-making for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict and peace processes (paras 1 and 2);
- Increase appointment of women as special representatives and envoys (para 3);
- … support local women’s peace initiatives; and ensure protection and respect for the human rights of women and girls (para 8);
- Ensure respect for international law applicable to the rights and protection of women and girls (para 9);
- Adopt special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence (para 10);
- Ensure that Security Council missions take gender considerations and rights of women into account, including through consultation with local and international women’s groups (para 15);
- The Secretary General to carry out a study on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, the role of women in peace-building and the gender dimensions of peace processes and conflict resolution and submit a report to the Security Council (para 16);
- The Secretary General to include in his reporting to the Security Council progress on gender mainstreaming throughout peacekeeping missions (para 17)
Any resolution is only as good as its full implementation. While the UN Secretary General’s study was underway, UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund For Women) commissioned a simultaneous, independent study reporting similar conclusions. Each of these studies and both should have certainly mobilized the UN system to call the UN’s overarching mandate into full operation. The Preamble to the Charter establishing the United Nations says:
WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
- to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
- to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small
- to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
- to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom
AND FOR THESE ENDS
- to practice tolerance…in peace with one another as good neighbors
- to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security
- to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest…
HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS
Clearly, war is not a “condition under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”.
Yet here we are, sliding precipitously into the Bush administrations WAR ON TERROR in terrifying and unconscionable disregard of the findings of two exhaustive reports and in direct contravention of our collective obligation under UNSC Resolution 1325 and a host of other treaties including the UN Charter and the UN Universal Declaration Of Human Rights.
Women and men of good conscience must not allow this outrage. We are resolved to mobilize all resources in our power for peace. We urge every United Nations agency all National missions to the UN (signatories to the UN Charter) and all NGO’s to do the same.
We believe that the only appropriate follow up to UNSC Resolution 1325, is to implement the Hague Appeal For Peace: Replacing the law of force with the force of fair and just law. Ours is a human rights response. We assert our inalienable, common human right to Live Free of tyranny.
We have come through the bloodiest century in human history, with multiple, unprecedented, global attempts to chart a course for peaceful conflict resolution between and within nations. We have delineated in binding treaties, much of the international legal framework for peace. We have expressed our vision and intent in words. Now we must implement our common human will in action.
In the USA, Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange and other leading women activists are mobilizing against the escalating war on Iraq under a Code Pink Alert. Starhawk, one of the leaders explains: “a Code Pink alert: signifying extreme danger to all the values of nurturing, caring, and compassion that women and loving men have held. We choose pink, the color of roses, the beauty that like bread is food for life; the color of the dawn of a new era when cooperation and negotiation prevail over force”.
Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness has helped to maintain a steady flow of Peace Teams into Iraq since the first Gulf War. Across the globe, organizations like Women In Black, Global Women Strike, have sent women into strife ravaged areas to be peacemakers. The Women’s International League For Peace and Freedom was founded on such actions.
In September, UNIFEM helped form a coalition of women in Azerbaijan to do peace work in the region. These are just a few of the many actions of Peace Women. Women of extraordinary courage and will are putting their lives on the line alongside men of conscience and humanity to prevent war. And this is not accounting for all the hundreds of thousands of courageous men organizing worldwide to avert war and work to bring us the sustainable world we envision.
Like the newly formed coalition in Azerbaijan, invoking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Beijing Declaration and Action Platform, the final documents of the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Women in Development: Equality Development and Peace Between Men and Women in the 21st. Century, the UNSC Resolution 1325, and CEDAW we invite all Women, all peace-loving institutions and all peaceful people of the world to join our call.
TIME OUT! WOMEN CALL PREMPTIVE STRIKE FOR PEACE.
ENDORSING ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS
Women’s International League For Peace And Freedom, NY Metro
Evelyn Mauss (board Member Physicians For Social Responsibility, Consultant National Resources Defense Council -for identification only)
Deborah Gorham, Prof. Emerita, Dept.of History/Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Professor Harriet Alonso City College NY, Women’s Peace Historian, Author
Feminist Peace Network