50.50 Women, Peace &amp; Security https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/15351/all cached version 23/07/2018 13:00:59 en Activist Reham Al-Bader’s death in Yemen shows the dangers women face providing lifelines in conflict https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mohammad-naciri-hanan-tabbara/reham-al-bader-yemen-women-conflict-assistance <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women in Yemen are challenging the death and destruction around them, often paying a heavy price. Yet, their voices and skills are still sidelined.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Human rights activist Reham Al-Bader (left)."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/1.jpg" alt="Human rights activist Reham Al-Bader (left)." title="Human rights activist Reham Al-Bader (left)." width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Human rights activist Reham Al-Bader (left), Elaf Samir Noman (middle), and Naseem Al-Faqeeh (right) taking a break during the distribution of food baskets in Taiz, Yemen in October 2016. Photo: courtesy of Hobi Laha Humanitarian Organization. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>On 8 February, <a href="http://www.arabnews.com/node/1244276/middle-east">human rights activist Reham Al-Bader Al-Dhubhani and her colleague Mu'men Saeed Hammoud Salem</a> were killed while delivering humanitarian aid in Taiz, a city in southwest Yemen which has experienced some of the most intense fighting since the ongoing conflict escalated in 2015.</p><p dir="ltr">Civil society and ad-hoc initiatives have provided essential lifelines to people in the besieged city. Many of these efforts have been spearheaded by courageous women. “Reham was like a bee, you could find her everywhere in Taiz giving goods to people,” her friend<a href="http://www.arabnews.com/node/1244276/middle-east"> Dalia told Arab News</a>. “Those who know Reham, they know the loss for Taiz.”</p><p dir="ltr">The war in Yemen has extracted grave tolls on civilian life. According to United Nations figures,<a href="https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/en/operations/yemen"> 16,200 people have been killed including 10,000 civilians</a>, and more than <a href="https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-2018-humanitarian-needs-overview-enar">3.4 million</a> have been displaced. The country’s infrastructure, health, and education systems have been decimated. A <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/12/21/one-million-people-have-caught-cholera-in-yemen-you-should-be-outraged/?utm_term=.d691625a8b53">million people contracted cholera</a> in the world’s largest outbreak of the disease.</p><p dir="ltr">Land and sea blockades of commercial goods including some humanitarian aid have compounded the crisis, pushing a country that has suffered from debilitating poverty to the brink of famine. Yemen faces what many have described as the ‘worst humanitarian crisis in the world,’ with more than <a href="https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemen-2018-humanitarian-needs-overview-enar">22 million people in need </a>of life-saving assistance.</p><p dir="ltr">Yemen had ranked last in the<a href="http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2014/rankings/"> Global Gender Gap Index</a> and the Gender Inequality Index before the escalation of the conflict, which has <a href="https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/yemen_humanitarian_needs_overview_hno_2018_20171204_0.pdf">exacerbated</a> structural inequalities. Rates of women suffering from malnutrition, as well as cases of violence against women, and child marriage, have increased.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2015/10/yemeni-women-call-for-their-inclusion-in-peace-efforts">Yemeni women made significant strides towards political inclusion in the 2013 National Dialogue Conference, but their participation has been subsequently sidelined</a> and only a handful of Yemeni women were engaged in the now stalled peace process.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/IMG-20180213-WA0041.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A soldier helps Reham Al-Bader and Naseem Al-Faqeeh to avoid snipers and landmines to distribute aid in Taiz."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/IMG-20180213-WA0041.jpg" alt="A soldier helps Reham Al-Bader and Naseem Al-Faqeeh to avoid snipers and landmines to distribute aid in Taiz." title="A soldier helps Reham Al-Bader and Naseem Al-Faqeeh to avoid snipers and landmines to distribute aid in Taiz." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A soldier helps Reham Al-Bader and Naseem Al-Faqeeh to avoid snipers and landmines to distribute water and food to trapped families in Taiz, May 2017. Photo: courtesy of Hobi Laha Humanitarian Organization. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>This is the extraordinarily challenging context in which Reham worked, among many other women who have <a href="https://www.saferworld.org.uk/resources/publications/1095-womenas-role-in-peace-and-security-in-yemen">stepped up</a> to deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance and to broker resolutions to various manifestations of the conflict.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"> <a href="https://www.saferworld.org.uk/resources/publications/1095-womenas-role-in-peace-and-security-in-yemen">Women are</a> coordinating relief services –&nbsp;opening schools and medical units; delivering food and medical assistance; documenting human rights abuses; leading protests for the release of ‘disappeared’ loved ones – surmounting physical and metaphorical mountains to assist those affected by the war.</p><p dir="ltr">Yemeni women are also leading and influencing efforts to support and reactivate local conflict resolution processes. In numerous governorates, women and women's initiatives have successfully resolved local disputes, contained violence, and steered communities away from armed conflict.</p><p dir="ltr">In the process, women are exercising at times conflicting roles in conflict resolution – both playing upon gender norms and subverting them to mobilise community support, engage leaders, negotiate ceasefires, and assertively demand peace.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“Women see their communities and country ravaged by war, and they understand that these challenges cannot be resolved without them.”</p><p dir="ltr">Women's leadership in shoring up the stability of Yemeni communities threatened by conflict is not rare, isolated, or ‘new.’ But their efforts are insufficiently acknowledged and harnessed amid restrictions placed upon women and what is ‘appropriate’ for them to do. </p><p dir="ltr">We must recognise the commitment and power of women to foster peace and stability in the face of the complex conflict and its humanitarian fallout, and bring about transformative change.</p><p dir="ltr">In an interview with UN Women late last year, Reham said: “Women see their communities and country ravaged by war, and they understand that these challenges cannot be resolved without them.”</p><p dir="ltr">Across Yemen women are challenging the death and destruction around them, often paying a heavy price for doing so. Yet, their voices and skills continue to be marginalised and their engagement sidelined.</p><p dir="ltr">The violence exacted on civilians and humanitarian partners in Yemen, which took the lives of Reham and her colleague, also plays a powerful role in silencing those who are actively striving to resolve the country’s multifaceted challenges.</p><p dir="ltr">We must not permit that debate and dialogue are replaced with silence and fear. We demand that civilian lives be respected. And to all of us seeking a lasting solution to the conflict in Yemen, we must recognise and harness the expertise of all of those in society, looking beyond gender norms and stereotypes, to make our efforts truly inclusive.</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Yemen </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 North-Africa West-Asia Yemen Conflict 50.50 Women, Peace & Security women's movements women's human rights gender 50.50 newsletter Hanan Tabbara Mohammad Naciri Mon, 19 Feb 2018 12:54:34 +0000 Mohammad Naciri and Hanan Tabbara 116197 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Prosecuting ISIS crimes against women and LGBTIQ people would set a crucial precedent https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lisa-davis/activists-seek-prosecution-isis-crimes-women-lgbtiq-persons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A potentially precedent-setting petition at the International Criminal Court could help human rights advocates and survivors of gender-based crimes in conflict.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563363/Majid Photo.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Credit: OWFI."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563363/Majid Photo.png" alt="Credit: OWFI." title="Credit: OWFI." width="460" height="347" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: OWFI.</span></span></span>In Iraq, including in areas controlled by ISIS, women, girls, LGBTIQ persons, and people perceived as stepping outside of traditional gender roles have been targeted for violence on a staggering scale.</p><p>ISIS fighters have <a href="http://www.niqash.org/en/articles/society/3521/">tortured women doctors and nurses who have not complied with rigid dress codes</a>, when doing so would interfere with the performance of medical duties. They have executed women who resisted forced marriages, or who <a href="https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2014/10/islamic-state-execution-women-iraq.html">served as politicians</a>. Men believed to be gay have been <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/13/the-islamic-states-shocking-war-on-homosexuals/?utm_term=.03780a5baf72">thrown off buildings</a>. Women believed to be lesbians have been <a href="https://www.madre.org/timeline-isis-killings-gender-expression">threatened with death</a>. ISIS has <a href="https://www.outrightinternational.org/dontturnaway/timeline">killed youth </a>because of alternative forms of personal expression, or refusals to join their militia, labeling them “faggots.”</p><p dir="ltr">War-time abuses against people who are marginalised within their societies are rarely documented. As a result, such violations are excluded from human rights discourse and from justice processes. In effect, they are left out of history.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">"War-time abuses against people who are marginalised within their societies are rarely documented."</p><p>For this reason, Iraqi activists, at great personal risk, have been <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/these-lawyers-have-a-case-for-charging-isis-with-killing?utm_term=.upM0zZPOb#.wuDoR81lG">documenting such crimes</a> committed by ISIS but also by Iraqi government forces, and other militias. They have preserved critical information about perpetrators and larger criminal networks. Many have also provided shelter and safe passage to those at imminent risk of sexual slavery or murder.</p><p dir="ltr">On 8 November, <a href="https://www.madre.org/sites/default/files/PDFs/CUNY%20MADRE%20OWFI%20Article%2015%20Communication%20Submission%20Gender%20Crimes%20in%20Iraq%20PDF.pdf">a historic petition</a> was also filed at the International Criminal Court (ICC), to advance protections of the rights of women and LGBTIQ people during conflict.</p><p>This petition was filed jointly by <a href="https://www.madre.org/">MADRE</a>, the <a href="http://www.law.cuny.edu/academics/clinics/hrgj.html">Human Rights and Gender Justice (HRGJ) Clinic</a> of the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, and the <a href="http://www.owfi.info/EN/">Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq</a> (OWFI), with assistance from the law firm Debevoise &amp; Plimpton. It argues that the international community should prosecute ISIS fighters for gender-based persecution and crimes including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.</p><p dir="ltr">Knowledge of egregious crimes committed against women and perceived or actual LGBTIQ persons, for transgressing gender norms during an armed conflict, is not new. But this is the first time the world has seen this kind of robust documentation of such crimes. The petition currently before the ICC therefore offers a new opportunity to challenge this type of violence.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">"The international community should prosecute ISIS fighters for gender-based persecution and crimes."</p><p dir="ltr">At the world’s first international criminal prosecutions in Nuremberg, Germany, rape and sexual slavery of women and torture of LGBTIQ persons were <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u5G2haD3vo&amp;t=3367s">acknowledged but never prosecuted.</a> It was only in the 1990s, with the ICC’s creation, that gender-based forms of violence were <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1184763.stm">first recognised as violations of international law</a>.<br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p dir="ltr">At the time, <a href="http://4genderjustice.org/about-us/history/">women’s rights advocates lobbied drafters</a> of the <a href="https://www.icc-cpi.int/nr/rdonlyres/ea9aeff7-5752-4f84-be94-0a655eb30e16/0/rome_statute_english.pdf">Rome Statute</a> that governs the ICC to abandon the “outrages to personal dignity” language to describe sexual violence. They <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/1998/12/01/summary-key-provisions-icc-statute">succeeded in broadening the category of sexual violence</a> to include not only rape, but also other forms including sexual slavery and forced prostitution, pregnancy, and sterilisation.</p><p dir="ltr">These advocates also succeeded in substituting the word “gender” for “sex” in the Rome Statute. This is one of the most important safeguards for gender justice under international criminal law, and a major achievement of global women’s movements in the 1990s. Yet, since then, the full understanding of “gender” under the statute has not been applied.<br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p dir="ltr">ISIS’s atrocities meanwhile come at a time when the rights of women and of LGBTIQ people are under threat globally.</p><p>Last year, right-wing conservatives <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/10/09/heres-how-attention-to-gender-affected-colombias-peace-process/?utm_term=.322d5dc1e242">curtailed women’s and LGBTIQ rights</a> in Colombia’s peace accords. In 2016, conservative states at the United Nations’ General Assembly <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/the-uns-new-lgbt-rights-watchdog-may-be-about-to-lose-his-jo?utm_term=.miqZ5WElo#.aq33eW5NA">sought to revoke the mandate</a> of the first independent UN expert on sexual orientation and gender identity. In countries around the world, <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/01/24/lgbt-rights-2018-will-be-year-courts">rights to gender expression are being rolled back</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">With the help of MADRE and UN Women, CUNY Law School convened an experts meeting in 2017 on LGBTIQ rights and international criminal law. Together these experts honed the strategy for the petition to the ICC and for ensuring the safety and security of those involved, including Iraqi groups named in the petition.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563363/Photo Yanar.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Credit: OWFI."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563363/Photo Yanar.jpg" alt="Credit: OWFI." title="Credit: OWFI." width="460" height="260" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: OWFI.</span></span></span>Activists also held a series of consultations with Iraqi women’s organisations. For safety reasons, the decision was taken not to translate the submission into Arabic and several supporting groups decided to leave their names off it.</p><p dir="ltr">OWFI, CUNY Law Scool’s HRGJ Clinic, and MADRE are seizing this moment in history to broaden the discourse on gender. The ICC petition could change the landscape of international criminal law, highlighting but also redressing the long-standing targeting of civilians based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity in war and conflict.</p><p>Appropriate action by the international court would set a new precedent for prosecuting gender-based crimes and create a new tool for human rights advocates worldwide. We continue to update the ICC on the situation in Iraq and are working with a team of international experts on the follow up to the petition. We are awaiting their response.<br class="kix-line-break" /></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Iraq Conflict International politics Tracking the backlash 50.50 Frontline voices against fundamentalism 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 newsletter fundamentalisms gender violence against women women's human rights Lisa Davis Thu, 01 Feb 2018 10:39:46 +0000 Lisa Davis 115838 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women as wartime rapists: a new book explores 'the impossible' https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lara-whyte/women-conflict-sexual-violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Academic Laura Sjoberg argues that our gendered assumptions about sexual violence in conflict limit our understanding of these crimes.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-31730648.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A Yazidi woman at a displaced persons camp in Iraq."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-31730648.jpg" alt="A Yazidi woman at a displaced persons camp in Iraq." title="A Yazidi woman at a displaced persons camp in Iraq." width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A Yazidi woman at a displaced persons camp in Iraq. Photo: Carol Guzy/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Sexual violence in conflict – and the attention it receives – is not new. Every generation grows up with its horror stories. For mine, it has been ISIS; for my mother's, the Bosnian war and the Rwandan genocide; for my grandmother's, World War Two. Wartime sexual violence is understood as a crime specifically against women, by men. Women are overwhelming named as the victims, and men, overwhelmingly, the perpetrators. This focus is also not unique to conflict zones, and it has rendered invisible male victims, female perpetrators, and violence that doesn’t fit within wider patriarchal, heterosexual narratives. </p><p dir="ltr">Into this complex area dives academic Laura Sjoberg, in a provocative book entitled <a href="https://nyupress.org/books/9780814771402/">Women as Wartime Rapists: Beyond Sensation and Stereotyping</a>, published late last year. While recognising that women who commit rape during war are a tiny minority of perpetrators, Sjoberg’s book puts these outliers under the microscope and makes a convincing case that our gendered assumptions about sexual violence in conflict limit our understanding of these crimes – and how to counter and prevent them. </p><p dir="ltr">Sjoberg’s book is theoretically dense and at times deeply distressing. It opens with the monstrous story of Nazi war criminal Ilse Koch – “the bitch of Buchenwald,” who became infamous globally for the sexual abuse, torture and murder of inmates in the concentration camp in Germany that her husband Karl commanded. Among Koch’s “most well-known” abuses, Sjoberg notes, were: “collecting the tattooed skin of women prisoners as home decorations, crafting lampshades and other household goods from the skin of Buchenwald victims”. </p><p dir="ltr">Koch was jailed for life, for the murder of prisoners, private enrichment and embezzlement – but not sexual violence. Though the Nuremberg trials heard evidence of mass rape, it did not prosecute these crimes. Ghoulish atrocities were perpetrated on an extraordinary scale in the Holocaust, and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/world/europe/18holocaust.html">up to 10% of SS guards were women.</a> But, as Sjoberg notes, Koch was one of only a handful of women remembered for her role – portrayed as a devil, a sensationalised abomination but also as an affront to womankind; her existence rendered “impossible” by the gendered prism through which we view sexual crime.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">...the gendered prism through which we view sexual crime.</p><p dir="ltr">Associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, Sjoberg has written several books about political violence and women. She told me that it was seeing pictures of Lynndie England – the young female US reservist who was photographed holding a leash attached to the body of a naked Iraqi prisoner in Abu Ghraib – that prompted her journey towards writing Women as Wartime Rapists. </p><p dir="ltr">England was court-martialled and jailed in 2005 for her role in sexually abusing the prisoners. Sjoberg said she “was on the front page of the Los Angeles Times in 2003 and I sat staring at the page for 20 minutes, because it didn’t make sense to me. And then I stared at it for another three hours because I couldn’t figure out why it didn’t made sense to me. And I think I have spent the last decade making sense of it”.</p><p dir="ltr">Her book presents evidence of women’s culpability in sexual violence from the Armenian genocide to the seemingly unending though consistently under-reported conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, <a href="http://world.time.com/2013/12/03/congos-forgotten-curse-epidemic-of-female-on-female-rape/">where one 2010 survey </a>of more than 1,000 households found that 40% of women — and 10% of men — who said they were subjected to sexual violence were assaulted by a woman. </p><p dir="ltr">Sjoberg also dissects the various roles women are ‘given’ in patriarchal narratives of war: as peaceful vessels and innocent civilians in need of protection; as the reason to go to war in the first place (to fight for their virtue or their innocence); or as “available to soldiers”. Sjoberg says the latter of these can consist of providing food, entertainment, shelter — or being sexually “available” as “prostitutes, bush wives or rape victims”.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">"if female perpetrators of sexual violence are invisible, then so are their victims"</p><p dir="ltr">Sjoberg takes as a case study the Armenian genocide which she says is often described as carried out by men, against men and women. She digs up studies that complicate this and reveal the role of “women perpetrators of genocide generally and of genocidal sexual violence”. She presents testimonies from living survivors who tell how women were involved in beating, killing, sexually violating and selling other women and girls into sexual slavery. When the genocide ended, a practice continued of selling girls who had been orphaned as 'brides'. Women tied up and tattooed other, enslaved, women and girls. </p><p dir="ltr">In Nazi Germany, Sjoberg also looks at the role of tens of thousands of nurses who participated in the forcible sterilisation of about half a million people. She acknowledges that this is “different from rape,” but includes it as a large-scale example to further emphasise her point: if female perpetrators of sexual violence are invisible, then so are their victims. “It’s a lot harder to identify women perpetrators”, Sjoberg tells me. “Even from feminist readings of sexual violence in conflict there is this feeling that wartime sexual violence, and sexual violence generally, is really the lynchpin of women’s oppression. It’s kind of one of the last stones unturned”. </p><p dir="ltr"> <span class="mag-quote-center">"It’s kind of one of the last stones unturned”</span></p><p dir="ltr">Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, former Rwandan minister of family and women’s affairs, was the first woman to be charged with genocidal rape at an international criminal court. In 2011 she was jailed for life for her role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that killed an estimated 800,000 people. Testimony against her described her openly ordering subordinates, including her son, to “get rid of all the Tutsis”, as well as directly commanding troops to commit rape and establish a system of sexual slavery. </p><p dir="ltr">“While most women perpetrators remain excluded from both official and unofficial narratives of the conflicts in which they commit sexual violence, Nyiramasuhuko received a disproportionate amount of attention,” Sjoberg writes in her book. “This attention has combined gendered and racialised exoticism and framed Nyiramasuhuko as “other” to femininity and civilisation”. This allows a double move of distancing her from the “ideal-typical” woman, incapable of the violence she committed, and (similar to how Koch was presented) inviting ugly discussions of supposed flaws in femininity that make the sort of atrocities she committed possible. </p><p dir="ltr">The media’s reporting of Nyiramasuhuko’s case was distinctly gendered — as were witnesses’ testimonies at her trial. Sjoberg notes that Nyiramasuhuko was alleged to have said, as a reason to kill Tutsi women, that they were “stealing our [Hutu] husbands”. Sjoberg insists we must see women who commit acts of sexual violence in conflict in a more nuanced and less sensationalised way — and that part of this is rejecting patriarchal views of women as vessels of peace and purity. </p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">“We can all be complicit actually. Sex oppression can be perpetrated by anyone, including women."</p><p dir="ltr">The media’s representations of female victims of ISIS sex crimes provide a contemporary example of what Sjoberg is concerned about. Press coverage "has been very narrowly focused on the victimisation, with gratuitous focus on details of the sexual violence they suffered," says Sherizaan Minwalla, a human rights lawyer at the American University’s Washington College of Law and an activist with the I<a href="https://www.facebook.com/iraqgenderjustice/">raq Gender Justice</a> group which has criticised how mainly Yazidi women survivors are routinely presented as ruined and devastated victims. </p><p dir="ltr">“This has been to the detriment of the survivors who also have stories to tell about how they showed courage and strength in the face of ISIS militants and when they escaped, and still in displacement", Minwalla told me. The courage of these women and girls has been publicly drowned out amid the cacophony of grisly descriptions of horrors endured — meanwhile the role that ISIS women played their trafficking, enforced captivity and torture has also been largely ignored. </p><p dir="ltr">Whilst recording the testimonies of more than a dozen Yazidi former ISIS captives, elements of my own reporting were complicit in this. I did not ask about the role of ISIS women in violence — though I did ask if any women of the families that held captives had helped them to escape. The answer was always the same; no, none of the women helped. Sometimes the women treated them worse than their male captors, they said, describing jealous rage or frightening outbursts if unending domestic chores were incomplete. </p><p dir="ltr">“Why do we believe that women will always been on the side of other women?”, Sjoberg asks. “Because this is hard stuff. Really hard”. She warns: “We can all be complicit actually. Sex oppression can be perpetrated by anyone, including women...Women are just people too, and people do bad things.”</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/inciting-soldiers-rape-philippines">Inciting soldiers to rape in the Philippines</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/claudia-torrisi/italian-media-violence-against-women">Monsters, jealousy and “sick love” — how the Italian media covers violence against women</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Germany </div> <div class="field-item even"> Armenia </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democratic Republic of the Congo </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Democratic Republic of the Congo Armenia Germany Conflict 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Sexual violence gender 50.50 newsletter Lara Whyte Mon, 19 Jun 2017 18:42:16 +0000 Lara Whyte 111764 at https://www.opendemocracy.net In pictures: female FARC fighters' daily lives in a demobilisation camp https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kiran-stallone-julia-zulver/in-pictures-daily-life-farc-demobilisation <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“Welcome to a territory of peace.” Earlier this year, thousands of FARC combatants moved to demobilisation camps as part of historic peace accords in Colombia.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/IMG_4540(1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A FARC demobilisation camp in Colombia. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/IMG_4540(1).jpg" alt="A FARC demobilisation camp in Colombia." title="A FARC demobilisation camp in Colombia. " width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A FARC demobilisation camp in Colombia. Photo: Kiran Stallone.</span></span></span>June 20 is the current deadline for FARC combatants in Colombia to finish <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/16/colombia-peace-process-farc-rebels-hand-in-weapons">handing over their weapons </a>to the United Nations in demobilisation camps across the country – a key component of the historic peace deal agreed with the government in December 2016. </p><p dir="ltr">The demobilisation process has moved swiftly – by mid-February, an estimated<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-39018686"> 6,900 members</a> – including many women – had arrived at these camps across the country. The peace deal brings to an end more than half a century of conflict and, among other things, it<a href="http://www.eltiempo.com/politica/proceso-de-paz/farc-tendran-curules-en-el-congreso-en-2018-47561"> grants the FARC ten seats in congress and the right to form a political party</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">There have been delays, and uncertainty, too. The deadline for decommissioning weapons was originally set for late May – and was then extended to 20 June. Last month,<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/kiran-stallone/yoga-bogota-prison-female-farc-future"> dozens of female FARC combatants remained behind bars in a Bogotá women's prison</a>, unsure of whether or when they might be released to join their counterparts in the camps.</p><p dir="ltr">We went inside one demobilisation camp in the mountains near the Venezuelan border to document daily life in late February, shortly after the arrival of FARC members from two <em>frentes</em> (army groups). When we arrived, combatants were busy building temporary houses, a community centre, and even a football field. </p><p dir="ltr">The immediate area surrounding the camp (the<em> zona veredal</em>) was guarded by FARC members. State military forces were stationed at the bottom of the highway, controlling access to the zone. Under the peace accords, the military is not permitted within three kilometres of the camp. </p><p>After passing the military checkpoint, we reached the inner camp area controlled by the FARC. There, we interviewed female combatants who comprise approximately <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/05/03/526690242/after-peace-agreement-a-baby-boom-among-colombias-farc-guerrillas">one third of the total</a>. These photos tell their stories and illustrate their daily lives in the camps.</p><hr /><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo1_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Territory of peace"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo1_0.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="Territory of peace" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Mid-rank FARC commander Adriana stands in front of a banner which reads: “Welcome to a territory of peace.” Born in central Tolima, Adriana took a bus to northern Colombia to join the FARC when she was 20 years old: “I came from a poor family with limited resources, and I was unable to finish my studies. I wanted to dedicate myself to a cause, and I was concerned about the social and economic problems in this country.” Now, nearly 20 years later, she tells us: “I am more convinced than ever that joining was a good decision. Here, we work collectively to achieve peace and social justice for the Colombian people. When there is no more misery and unemployment, then there will be peace.” (Photo: Julia Zulver.)</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo9.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Inside a demobilisation camp"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo9.jpg" alt="" title="Inside a demobilisation camp" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Camila, 26, was three months pregnant with her first child when we met. The father of the baby she is expecting is a fellow combatant. She said she joined the FARC at 17 years old, after paramilitaries killed her brother and her parents and she found herself displaced, alone, and “without any help from the government.” She told us she hopes that her child will have access to education and that he or she can grow up in a country without war. She said: “in the FARC, we want peace. We just hope the government follows through.” (Photo: Kiran Stallone.)</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo6.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Inside a demobilisation camp"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo6.jpg" alt="" title="Inside a demobilisation camp" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Gladys joined the FARC when she was only 16 years old. Now 42, she says it was the best decision she ever made. Sitting in the shade of a temporary structure used to house visiting family members, we talked about <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/08/11/colombia-sexual-violence-farc-guerrillas-exposed">documented cases of sexual abuse in the ranks</a>, and she seemed shocked. She said: "We bathe in our underwear – men and women together – and nothing happens. We are brothers and sisters here." (Photo: Julia Zulver.)</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Inside a demobilisation camp"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo3.jpg" alt="" title="Inside a demobilisation camp" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Under the 2016 peace accords, the United Nations is monitoring demobilisation camps and overseeing the process, including the handover of weapons by FARC combatants. They are also in charge of ensuring that no one unauthorised to do so passes beyond the reception zone and into the demobilisation camp. (Photo: Kiran Stallone.)</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/FARC women(1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Inside a demobilisation camp"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/FARC women(1).jpg" alt="" title="Inside a demobilisation camp" width="460" height="368" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Margot, recently reunited with her three-year-old son, sits next to her husband, another FARC combatant. Until the peace deal was signed, FARC fighters with children were forced to leave them with family members, as taking a child into combat would be dangerous for all involved. Margot’s son had lived with his grandparents. She tells us that she is concerned about her financial situation after leaving the camp: “Here in the FARC, we are a family of poor countrymen and women. We have everything we need and we support each other. I worry about my son and how to get the resources to care for him as he grows up.” (Photo: Julia Zulver.)</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo5.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Inside a demobilisation camp"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo5.jpg" alt="" title="Inside a demobilisation camp" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The demobilisation process has moved quickly, but imperfectly. Combatants in this camp were frustrated to find that, upon arrival, construction was still underway and incomplete. In late February, housing promised by the government remained unfinished and there was no access to water on the day we arrived. (Photo: Kiran Stallone.)</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Inside a demobilisation camp"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo2.jpg" alt="lead " title="Inside a demobilisation camp" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Solanyis is from an indigenous mining community in Cesar department. She joined the FARC at 15, and she learned to read and write in the armed group. She describes her time with the FARC as a wonderful experience, saying: “there would be no female fighters in the organisation if they were treated badly.” Here, Solanyis is on guard duty inside the <em>zona veredal</em>, and is thus wearing fatigues. (Photo: Julia Zulver.)</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo7.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Inside a demobilisation camp"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo7.jpg" alt="" title="Inside a demobilisation camp" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Sara was a psychology student in Medellin (Colombia’s second largest city) when a friend invited her to meet the FARC in 2000. She took a bus to the north of the country and, at 20 years old, joined the group. She lied to her family about her whereabouts for more than four years. “It is so beautiful to wake up every day and know that you are truly living and fighting for a good cause. I fell in love with the FARC’s revolutionary project,” she said. (Photo: Kiran Stallone.)</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo10.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Inside a demobilisation camp"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo10.jpg" alt="" title="Inside a demobilisation camp" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Kelly, now 42, joined the FARC when she was 17 because her family was affected by the conflict. She trained as a nurse within the ranks, and took care of those injured in combat. She also provided reproductive health services for female combatants, including administering birth control injections and performing abortions. When asked about <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35082412">reports on forced abortions</a> by the FARC, she said these are rumours invented to damage their reputation: “We aren’t bad people, and I have never heard of forced abortion within the ranks. If a woman decides to have an abortion, it is her choice.” (Photo: Kiran Stallone.)</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo11.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Inside a demobilisation camp"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/Photo11.jpg" alt="" title="Inside a demobilisation camp" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Combatants prepare lunch in the shade in the demobilisation camp. When we arrive, Leidys (left) offers us a cup of typical Colombian heavily-sugared coffee (tinto). (Photo: Kiran Stallone.)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Commander Solís Almedya (not pictured) tells us he's confident about the FARC's prospects as a political party, saying: “we have no history of corruption, and we will speak to the pueblo, so yes, people will vote for us!" The route ahead is not completely clear or easily-traveled, however. On Saturday, there was <a href="http://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/explosion-en-el-centro-comercial-andino/528962">a bombing at a mall in Bogota</a>, suspected to be the work of another, newer paramilitary group opposed to the peace process. If this proves correct, peace will remain a formidable challenge – for both the FARC and the government.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kiran-stallone/yoga-bogota-prison-female-farc-future">Yoga in Bogotá: imprisoned female FARC combatants look to the future</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/kiran-stallone/yoga-en-bogot-mujeres-combatientes-de-las-farc-miran-el-futuro-desd">Yoga en Bogotá: mujeres combatientes de las FARC miran el futuro desde la cárcel</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Colombia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Colombia Conflict 50.50 Women, Peace & Security women and power gender 50.50 newsletter Julia Zulver Kiran Stallone Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:06:35 +0000 Kiran Stallone and Julia Zulver 111729 at https://www.opendemocracy.net After 50 years of occupation in Palestine, friendship across a separation wall https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yifat-susskind-aisha-saifi/50-years-occupation-palestine-friendship <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Wars have been fought, walls built and separation policies enacted. But we share a common belief that peace is possible. We refuse to be enemies.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DSC_0079.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Yifat and members of Midwives for Peace."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/DSC_0079.JPG" alt="Yifat and members of Midwives for Peace." title="Yifat and members of Midwives for Peace." width="460" height="377" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Yifat and members of Midwives for Peace. Photo: Jessica Alderman.</span></span></span>After crossing multiple checkpoints and Israel’s more than 25-foot high separation wall, we gathered up on Aisha’s rooftop, where she’d planned a barbecue for our families to share. Our boys made fast friends, quickly overcoming the language barrier between them as they bonded over playing with Legos. We loaded up plates, enjoyed the open air, and talked about our lives and our work. All around us, we heard the noises of Palestinian families in the West Bank going about their days.</p><p>This is a scene that occupation tells us should be impossible: Yifat, an Israeli woman, and Aisha, a Palestinian woman, cooking and laughing together while we watch our children play. Through 50 years of occupation, wars have been fought, walls built and separation policies enacted that make our friendship an unlikely one.</p><p>Aisha was a toddler in 1967, just learning her first words when the Israeli military occupied Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. When war broke out, her family took shelter in a cave, huddling for some 10 days with little to eat or drink. Less than a hundred miles away, Yifat was only a few weeks old, her parents’ first baby, when her father left to join the war.</p><p>When the fighting subsided, and Aisha’s family emerged from their shelter, they found half their village empty, because so many families were forced to flee. In Yifat’s home, her parents imagined that by the time of her first smile, the land that Israel had conquered would be returned. In those early days, Israelis were told by their government that the occupation was temporary.&nbsp; </p><p>But 50 years on, the occupation continues, and it’s hard for most people to imagine how things could change. Gaza, once economically self-sufficient, is now an open-air prison, with 2 million people struggling to survive, denied their rights to water, medical care and other basics. In the West Bank, where Aisha lives, a network of Israeli settlements and checkpoints encircle people’s lives, separating communities. They block people from getting to work and school, and even keep women in labour from reaching clinics or hospitals.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">As the occupation has dragged on, our resistance to it has shaped the course of our lives.</p><p>Meanwhile, we’ve grown up from girls into women, defined ourselves, built friendships and raised families. As the occupation has dragged on, our resistance to it has shaped the course of our lives.</p><p>Aisha became a midwife to shepherd the next generation of babies into this world in health and safety. She helps pregnant women and new mothers trapped by roadblocks and “settler-only” roads to access healthcare for themselves and their babies. She coordinates the Midwives for Peace group that brings together Palestinian and Israeli midwives to exchange birthing skills, share resources and model what peaceful co-existence can look like. </p><p>Yifat devoted her life to human rights and, as a young woman, worked as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace and solidarity organisation in Jerusalem. She documented human rights violations in occupied Palestine and ran campaigns to demand an end to the occupation. As the director of MADRE, she’s spent years supporting women’s organising worldwide, including the vital work of Midwives for Peace.</p><p>Our work for peace defies the occupation, and our friendship prefigures another possibility. When politicians and media tell us that we can’t trust each other, that our friendship can’t scale the wall of separation that Israel built, we resist. We resist by refusing to be enemies.&nbsp;</p><p><span class="mag-quote-center">We resist by refusing to be enemies. </span></p><p>We know that our true enemy is the occupation that has shadowed our lives. We’ve seen too many Palestinian children return a blank stare when asked what they want to be when they grow up. They can’t fathom a self-determined future with the walls of occupation closing around them. We’ve heard too many Israeli children told that they are despised by their Arab neighbours, never being allowed to question that. This is how adults plant the seeds of fear and sadness and grow the next generation of occupiers.</p><p>What will it take to plant different seeds, to end the occupation and create another future for our children?</p><p>We begin by providing concrete aid to people who need it. That’s what MADRE and Midwives for Peace do when we support women who provide prenatal care and attend to the births of women otherwise denied basic health care.&nbsp;</p><p>Fundamentally, we build a different future by demanding an end to the occupation. We align ourselves with grassroots activists who are organising peacefully. When Israeli youth refuse military service, or when Palestinian families and neighbours set up peace encampments in the West Bank, welcoming Israelis to join them as activists, not occupiers, they bring to life today a vision of what peace could look like tomorrow.</p><p>We are Palestinian and Israeli, and we share a common belief that something better is waiting for us. We see the possibilities hovering beyond our realities. Sometimes, a glimpse of peace is two women chatting, cooking and watching their children play. </p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Conflict 50.50 Women, Peace & Security women and power women and militarism 50.50 newsletter Yifat Susskind Aisha Saifi Thu, 08 Jun 2017 09:03:10 +0000 Aisha Saifi and Yifat Susskind 111471 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The refugee crisis: demilitarising masculinities https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/refugee-crisis-demilitarising-masculinities <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Photos emerging from the borders of Europe weave a new narrative around what it means to be vulnerable, to be a man, to say no to war and to be a refugee.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Three photographs of the refugee crisis unfurling at Europe’s borders have resonated particularly strongly with us from behind our tablets and TV screens as consumers of news, drawing empathetic gasps and a profound disquiet. </p> <p>The first is a modern day rendering of the Madonna and child: Syrian <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-story-behind-the-heartbreaking-photo-of-refugee-family-shared-by-thousands-20150820-gj3yi0.html">Laith Majid</a> clasps tightly his two children as he is brought ashore to the island of Kos in Greece after their tiny boat capsized; his face distorts in a look of abject desperation, his lip heaves over gritted teeth and tears stream from his eyes. Photographer Daniel&nbsp;Etter&nbsp;who took the photo <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-story-behind-the-heartbreaking-photo-of-refugee-family-shared-by-thousands-20150820-gj3yi0.html">explained</a> on Facebook that while he may not be “the most emotional person…the father,&nbsp;Laith&nbsp;Majid, and his reaction when he and his family reached Greece still makes me cry."</p> <p>The second and third photos document the tragic death of a small Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi. Laying face down in the sand as the tide washes over his tiny frame, his image has been replicated around the world: in graffiti on the London underground and in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.inspirefusion.com/sand-sculpture-depicting-drowned-syrian-boy-aylan-kurdi/">sand sculptures</a> on the coast of India. </p> <p>The third related photo that has become iconic of the crisis is that of <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/father-dead-syrian-boy-returns-kobane-bury-family-075847227.html">Aylan’s father</a>, Abdullah. Standing in a freshly dug grave in his native town of Kobane he holds his son’s body in a white shroud. A man to his left offers his own arms to support the little body. Abdaullah’s pained expression suggests he could collapse with grief at any moment, leaving the small boy to fall through his arms a second time. </p> <p>These photos have mounted an attack on Europe’s political conscience and with effect. Some argue that it was these photos that finally prompted a response from British Prime Minister David Cameron who has in recent days visited refugee camps and committed more aid, further promising to welcome some <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/07/uk-will-accept-up-to-20000-syrian-refugees-david-cameron-confirms">20,000</a> Syrian refugees to Britain. </p> <p>Besides depicting Syrians forced to flee, the photos share another fundamental characteristic: they p<span>icture men. For it is men who are the protagonists of the current refugee crisis. Together these photos do not just document facts but they have begun to weave a new narrative around what it means to be vulnerable, to be a man and to be a refugee. They depict new masculinities of war that challenge the militarised assumptions that are now resurgent on the Hungarian border.</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8406512 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Men bury casualty of refugee crisis on Lesbos (Demotix/John Rudoff)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8406512 (1).jpg" alt="Men bury casualty of refugee crisis on Lesbos (Demotix/John Rudoff)" title="Men bury casualty of refugee crisis on Lesbos (Demotix/John Rudoff)" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Men bury casualty of refugee crisis on Lesbos (Demotix/John Rudoff)</span></span></span></span></p><p><strong>Militarised masculinities</strong></p> <p>In common narratives of war it is the women and children who are the victims. The history books tell us that while the men stay and fight heroically, the women and children flee. ‘Woman and children first!’ From the historic Titanic to the contemporary flotilla of migrant boats with distress flares aflame in the Mediterranean sea, it is a common refrain. Despite the popularity of the trope of ‘man at war’ and ‘woman refugee’, the UN Refugee Agency <a href="http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/briefingpapers/refugees/">reports</a> that children constitute about 41 percent of the world’s refugees, and about half of all refugees are women. That means, of course, that the other half are men like Laith and Abdaullah.</p> <p>Men’s experiences of war – and their ability to be victims of war&nbsp;<span>–</span><span>&nbsp;has long been neglected in the media and in research. It is only in recent years that the international community has begun to recognise the extent to which sexual violence is used as a weapon against </span><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/jul/17/the-rape-of-men">men</a><span> as well as women, for example. Meanwhile, the high levels of post-traumatic stress experienced by veterans returning to the US and the UK from Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade have been well documented but ill treated, despite the US government spending over</span><a href="http://time.com/2904783/ptsd-iraq-va/"> $3 billion</a><span> in 2012 alone on rehabilitation. For many men, whether civilians caught up in the fighting or soldiers on the frontline, suffering remains a taboo.</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/2967053_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ziad Muhammad, 33 from Deiv Azzour who was tortured by the Assad regime (Demotix/Matthew Aslett)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/2967053_0.jpg" alt="Ziad Muhammad, 33 from Deiv Azzour who was tortured by the Assad regime (Demotix/Matthew Aslett)" title="Ziad Muhammad, 33 from Deiv Azzour who was tortured by the Assad regime (Demotix/Matthew Aslett)" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ziad Muhammad, 33 from Deiv Azzour who was tortured by the Assad regime (Demotix/Matthew Aslett)</span></span></span></p><p>The images of the two fathers depict a vulnerability rarely associated with men in times of war. In fac<span>t the dominance of images of men suffering on our screens has marked something fundamentally new in the way in which war is reported. This is something that has the power to radically alter our ideas about masculinities in both war and peace time.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong>Fleeing war to meet war</strong></p> <p>A more traditional militarised vision of masculinity nevertheless appeared yesterday on our screens as fighting broke out between mostly male Hungarian border police and groups of mostly male refugees who have been barred from crossing the border from Serbia. The men once cast as vulnerable sea victims were swiftly and conveniently re-depicted as belligerent fighters who, by virtue of their sex alone, posed a security threat. Their protests to cross were met with tear gas and water canons. As one BBC reporter said, ‘it looks like a war zone on the edge of the European Union’. A Hungarian spokesman on the BBC spoke of ‘an armed mob of hundreds of thousands of people’, meanwhile Serbia strongly condemned the violent retaliation and <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/refugees-migrants-hungary-syria-croatia-1.3230033">"brutual treatment"</a> from the Hungarian authorities. </p> <p>The footage reminds me of the way in which protests and riots in immigration detention centres have long been portrayed in the UK media: desperate men, resorting to desperate measures are cast <a href="https://www.google.pt/search?q=opendemocracy.net+melanie+griffiths&amp;oq=opendemocracy.net+melanie+griffiths&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57.2874j0j4&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;es_sm=93&amp;ie=UTF-8">as anarchic</a> threats as they try to survive having been forced to flee, the force used against them disproportionate and inhumane. What fails to be shown in either case are the peaceful tactics being used: hunger strikes rarely make good TV. As Chloe Lewis has argued on 50.50, the refugee man is ‘<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/chlo%C3%A9-lewis/invisible-migrant-man-questioning-gender-privileges">invisible’</a> and as such, a vessel for convenient securitised state discourses. In the ‘mob’, the suffering individual disappears.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8555818 (2).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The Hungarian border (Demotix/Beata Zawrzel)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8555818 (2).jpg" alt="The Hungarian border (Demotix/Beata Zawrzel)" title="The Hungarian border (Demotix/Beata Zawrzel)" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Hungarian border (Demotix/Beata Zawrzel)</span></span></span></p><p>I glance up from writing now and in one screen shot a baby who has been caught in a cloud of tear gas is screaming, its eyes stream with tears. ‘Look at this!’ shouts the father to the news camera, a situation that leads a representative of the Hungarian government to accuse the refugees of using their children as human shields. In another clip a man who has tried to cross is forced into an ambulance as he chokes with respiratory problems; his hands are cable tied. The refugees are now cast as bandits, with scarves over their faces to protect them from the tear gas; using force to try and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/sep/16/first-refugees-head-for-croatia-after-hungarys-border-crackdown-live-updates">break down the fence</a> which was, until just recently, open. </p> <p>Faced with increasingly restrictive and securitized borders, the conflict they fled has chased them here. </p> <p>The human face of the refugees has dissipated; border crossing has become a combat sport, for ‘real men’ once more. While boat arrivals are met with a humanitarian response, the land border is governed by law and order. ‘The young men’, the BBC reports as I write, ‘decided to keep up their fight well into the night’.</p> <p><strong>‘Fighting like a real man’</strong></p> <p>The cynics who have already advanced the argument that the men fleeing are weak and should go back and fight for their countries find, in today’s footage, fuel for their fire. ‘If they came here to fight, why don’t they go home and fight the regime instead of running away!’ comments someone on Facebook. ‘It will now be <em>our </em>men who risk their lives trying to save <em>their</em> women and children’. </p> <p>But for many, saving <em>their</em> woman and children is the point of their migration. For many male migrants, whether from Syria or Afghanistan, fleeing is a response to an economic war ravaging their families. Many war victims die at the hands of related food shortages, not bullets. The act of migrating, they believe, is a more productive contribution to peace than to stay and fight and perpetuate the violence. Through fleeing they seek to contribute money back home and perhaps to bring their families to a position of safety from their exile. As BBC reporter Lyse Doucet has commented, in some of these cultures, it is traditional for the men to leave first and establish themselves, meanwhile sending money to enable the family to survive back home. Border crossing is a great risk and families seek to spread risks evenly. ‘What other option do I have?’ says one migrant.&nbsp; </p> <p>Some, having decided against militarism, will seek to continue their political struggle from exile. It is well documented that exiled communities can play a huge role in post-conflict reconstruction and in economic development. In exile refugees are able to stage opposition to the repressive factions and work towards peace from a position of safety. As a student I used to accompany hundreds of Zimbabweans to the embassy in London where week in, week out, they would petition for an end to human rights atrocities alongside allies from a position of strength and safety. Other more famous examples of the roles of refugees in bringing political change include the resistance fostered from exile against the oppressive Guatemalan regime. Led by Nobel Peace prize laureate, Rigoberta Menchu, refugees <a href="http://207.112.105.217/PEN/1993-03/donais3.html">mobilised</a> for a peaceful solution to the conflict and to secure the safe return of some 100,000 refugees. Many of the thousands of Eritrean refugees who make up the flows coming to Europe now will also remember the <a href="http://sirclund.se/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/conference-report-2006.pdf#page=97">crucial role</a> of Eritrean refugees in winning independence through referendum in 1993. They know that exile is a place of sanctuary but also a site for a new kind of fighting and politics; for peaceful mobilisation. For many refugees, the decision to flee is a decision to fight on without violence.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8520071.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Refugees stuck between Hungary and Serbia (Demotix/Geovien So)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/8520071.jpg" alt="Refugees stuck between Hungary and Serbia (Demotix/Geovien So)" title="Refugees stuck between Hungary and Serbia (Demotix/Geovien So)" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Refugees stuck between Hungary and Serbia (Demotix/Geovien So)</span></span></span></p> <p>How do you fight ISIS? The truth is I do not know, but I do know that Abdullah and Laith wanted the very best for their children and thought that the best way to achieve that was not to go to war. Meanwhile, as another day begins and there is little hope of a diplomatic solution at Hungary’s border, the men who rub their eyes with water and tend to their wounds are still trying to flee it.&nbsp; </p> <p>The explosion of violence on the border is a response to an increasingly desperate situation. But our news anchors, in their obsession with ‘these groups of men’ would do well to remember the famous portraits which elicited a very different reaction. Men cannot be cast as either victims or soldiers: they can be at once vulnerable and agentic too. </p><p><em><strong>Read more articles on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/people-on-move">People on&nbsp;</a><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/people-on-move">the Move</a>, 50.50's migration, gender and social justice dialogue. </strong><br /></em></p> <p>This article was first published in September 2015.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/chlo%C3%A9-lewis/invisible-migrant-man-questioning-gender-privileges">The invisible migrant man: questioning gender privileges </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/philosophies-of-migration">Philosophies of migration</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lea-sitkin/borders-of-punishments-criminology-and-migration-control">Borders of punishments: criminology and migration control</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/leanne-weber/death-at-global-frontier">Death at the global frontier </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/tribunal-12-migrants%E2%80%99-rights-abuses-in-europe">Tribunal 12: migrants’ rights abuses in Europe</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/saskia-sassen/immigration-control-vs-governance">Immigration: control vs governance</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/amina-mama/challenging-militarized-masculinities">Challenging militarized masculinities</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/500-eritreans">500 Eritreans</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/child-soldiers-child-wives-wounded-for-life">Child soldiers, child wives: wounded for life</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruben-andersson/mare-nostrum-and-migrant-deaths-humanitarian-paradox-at-europe%E2%80%99s-frontiers-0">Mare Nostrum and migrant deaths: the humanitarian paradox at Europe’s frontiers</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/gillian-brock/migration-and-global-justice-realistic-options-for-here-and-now">Migration and global justice: realistic options for here and now</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/whos-afraid-of-global-poor">Who&#039;s afraid of the &#039;global poor&#039;?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/bridget-anderson/migration-controlling-unsettled-poor">Migration: controlling the unsettled poor</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/foreigners-victims-or-villains-a-political-debate">Foreigners: victims or villains?- a political debate</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/lampedusa-never-again">Lampedusa: Never again</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Hungary </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Hungary Syria Conflict Borderland crisis 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy temp 50.50 Editor's Pick patriarchy gendered migration gender 50.50 newsletter Jennifer Allsopp Sat, 20 May 2017 08:24:33 +0000 Jennifer Allsopp 96060 at https://www.opendemocracy.net What would a world without barriers to feminist solidarity look like? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/what-would-world-without-barriers-to-feminist-solidarity-look-like <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Citizenship is a duty that transcends borders. Jennifer Allsopp reports for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nobel-womens-initiative/nobel-womens-initiative-2017">50.50</a> from the first day of the 2017&nbsp;<a href="https://nobelwomensinitiative.org/">Nobel Women's Initiative</a>&nbsp;conference.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/nobel-women-2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Six Nobel peace laureates meet in Belfast in 2013. Credit: John Murphy Aurora PA."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/nobel-women-2.jpg" alt="Six Nobel peace laureates meet in Belfast in 2013. Credit: John Murphy Aurora PA." title="Six Nobel peace laureates meet in Belfast in 2013. Credit: John Murphy Aurora PA." width="460" height="280" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Six Nobel peace laureates meet in Belfast in 2013. Credit: John Murphy Aurora PA.</span></span></span>“We want all the barriers down,” declared Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Maguire yesterday, opening the 10th anniversary of the Nobel Women’s Initiative gathering in Dusseldorf, Germany. She was, incidentally, joking, referring to the fact that – due to variations in height and levels of jet leg –&nbsp; some of the five Nobel peace prize winners at the summit would be<em> standing</em> to deliver their opening address, while others would be <em>sitting.</em> But as the laureates spoke, the room moved from laugher to respectful silence as each laid out her vision for what a world without barriers to feminist solidarity might look like. </p> <p>The laureates have gathered from across the globe – Guatemala, Ireland, USA, Iran and Yemen – and they have assembled an international team of activists here to plan the future of the global feminist resistance.</p> <p>Tawakkol Karman, who won the peace prize in 2011 for her work fighting for democracy in Yemen, explains why they have chosen Germany as the site for this year’s meeting: “Germany is ruled by a strong woman. She has a lot of commitment and promise for refugees. We wanted to go to Germany to give support for her policies on supporting and hosting refugees.” Yet disappointingly, as Tawakkol goes on to explain, in a Europe of closing borders, the culture of welcome the Nobel laureates sought to celebrate has not been extended to its own delegation.</p><p>All four other participants to the conference from Yemen have been denied visas, as were three other participants from Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. ”Why?” Tawakkol asked. “There is no good reason.”</p> <p>All of those denied visas are high profile human rights activists in their home countries. Among them are Aswan Mohammed from <a href="https://womenpress.org/en/">Women Journalists Without Chains</a> and Misk Al-Junai, a TV producer who works with Karman’s own <a href="http://www.tkif.org">foundation</a>. “Perhaps”, Karman opined, “Europe is imposing its own unwritten travel ban? Perhaps Trump just announced it, and other countries didn’t?”</p> <p>Iranian Nobel peace prize laureate and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi was similarly indignant: “there are countries that are in crisis and at war, and the people are suffering in these countries, their lives are at risk and they are hungry. Some Western countries, instead of helping these people are making limitations for them. It’s time for Europe, and for us who are gathered here, to help these people in war-torn areas; not to build walls and to not even permit them to participate in a simple peace seminar. This is not good behaviour with countries that are at war. And we protest this.”</p> <p>The true cost of erecting such barriers at borders – and the fundamental need to protest them – is also stressed by American Nobel peace prize laureate Jody Williams. She speaks of the work of Northern Americans assisting Muslim families to reunite following the fallout from Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ earlier this year. “In such resistance,” she stresses, “we’re rediscovering what citizenship is.” </p><p>For the fifty plus activist women in the room here in Germany, it’s clear that citizenship is a duty – and it’s one that transcends barriers and borders.</p> <h3>Citizenship without borders</h3> <p>It is her citizen duty, Shirin explains to me, that leads her to approach Majed Sharbajy, a Syrian activist in exile who is currently working in Lebanon near the Syrian border. Breaching the rules of the ‘ice breaker exercise’ carefully crafted by the conference organisers, Shirin makes Majed’s acquaintance by looking her directly in the eyes with a piercing sincerity, and saying the words “I’m sorry.”</p> <p>Majed has just recounted to a small group of us how she was detained by the Assad regime for seven months. Her husband was also detained, and murdered. She has been temporarily separated from her children – aged 4, 11 and 3 –&nbsp; who have sought sanctuary in Sweden with their grandmother. Her work is simply too dangerous and puts them at risk. But her work is also too important to leave.</p> <p>In prison, Majed educated other women detainees. Now in exile in Lebanon, the activists have four training centres for Syrian women to give them skills to enter the labour market and participate in society. In her experience, 60% of women Syrian refugees have lost their male partners and must support themselves.</p> <p>“The Syrian regime is the biggest dictatorship of all the regimes,” Majed explains to a small group of us who are leaning in intently, to listen. “They don’t just torture people, really, they take pleasure in it.”</p> <p>It’s at this point that Shirin apologises.</p> <p>“As an Iranian, I’m sorry,” she says. “My government has trained Syrians how to torture people.”</p> <p>A respectful silence momentarily reigns while each of us takes in these words and crafts our own apologies, weighing the responsibility. Letting it sink in. Then the discussion continues. Time is short and information must be gathered and shared.</p> <p>Syria is strategically important to Iran: “they need it to get arms to Hezbollah” explains Ebadi – arms, it has been pointed out several times already, that travel more easily across borders than people.</p> <p>Women from Guatemala, Germany, UK and Lebanon hastily scribble on notepads, desperate to listen, and to record every word so that they might take it back to their communities, like smuggled goods. Because the international community has been clear – we are not meant to be here, meeting like this.</p> <p>Majed has given us a huge duty, to ‘be our voice’. For, she explains, “the media is mediating everything. Everyone is focusing on ISIS, eyes are off the regime.” Children are drowning, they are choking to death on the fumes of illegal weapons. No one is stopping this. Treaties must be redrafted and implemented.</p><p> “We cannot fall into negative history where history repeats itself,” Tawakkol reminded us in her opening speech. “Behind every great revolution there are bold women, courageous women. We need to be leaders of change. We need development, rule of law, democracy. We need to fight extremism, corruption, hatred, racism and war."</p><p>Taking down barriers means taking back power from the states that claim to represent us. “Turkey, Iran and Russia are meeting for peace negotiations on Syria and there isn’t a single person from Syria,” Majed warns us, “the media keep saying that it’s a civil war, but it’s a war between other countries in Syria.” Shirin gives a knowing nod: “a proxy war.”</p> <h3>The beginning of justice?</h3> <p>The act of apologising in itself will not start a revolution but it is, to me, the core of the feminist resistance that this conference seeks to strengthen. It is the beginning of justice. It says: I am a human, and I see you as a human. I see your injustice and your pain and I accept responsibility as a global citizen and I will use my power to try and help you. It is the antithesis to impunity. It is opposite to the Guatemalan courts that, until women seized justice and won, as Nobel peace laureate Rigoberta Menchù Tum explained in her speech, “never gave victims the chance to tell the true story.”</p><p>It’s up to us to reclaim citizenship, with barriers down, Shirin reminds us. Because “governments don’t like peace. The arms manufacturers of the UK, Europe and the US have to sell their arms. It’s us, the people, who have to resist our governments. This is my duty as an Iranian, to tell the government of Iran not to help Bashir Al Assad and to stay away from Syria. It’s your duty as European citizens to tell the EU, to protest at the fact they refrain from issuing visas. It’s the duty of people of the UK to tell them to stop selling arms so that they can throw them on innocent people.”</p> <p>I look around at the women I am with. It’s the first night and the sixth edition of the Nobel Women’s Initiative biennial gatherings and 50.50 has been here from the start. Many of the women have become close friends, ‘sisters’ across borders. As they steal off to bed, tired from their travels (and for some, long interrogations at the border) I notice that some are wearing jewelry, brought in luggage across continents as gifts to one another. Like arms and capital, gifts and words fly across the same continents as the women meet, plot and share information in the global feminist resistance.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/bridget-burns/feminist-revolution-climate-justice">A feminist revolution demands climate justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jody-williams/nobel-women-survive-thrive">Women fight back: from survive to thrive</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/maria-al-abdeh/syria-instumentalising-women-s-rights">Conflict in Syria: stop instrumentalising women’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/iraqs-female-citizens-prisoners-of-war">Iraq&#039;s female citizens: prisoners of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/julienne-lusenge-jennifer-allsopp/we-want-peace-we%E2%80%99re-tired-of-war">&quot;We want peace. We’re tired of war&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ndana-bofutawamba/at-margins-of-visibility-recognising-women-human-rights-defenders">At the margins of visibility: recognising women human rights defenders </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sarah-clements/gun-violence-trump-america">How to fight gun violence in Trump’s America</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/time-for-fifth-world-conference-on-women">Time for a Fifth World Conference on Women?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp-jessica-nhkum/daring-to-speak-militarism-and-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-in-burma">Daring to speak: militarism and women’s human rights in Burma</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/from-war-on-terror-to-austerity-lost-decade-for-women-and-human-rights">From the war on terror to austerity: a lost decade for women and human rights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Equality International politics Nobel Women's Initiative 2017 50.50 Women, Peace & Security feminism fundamentalisms gender gender justice gendered migration women and militarism women and power women's human rights women's movements Jennifer Allsopp Sun, 14 May 2017 09:24:36 +0000 Jennifer Allsopp 110863 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How to fight gun violence in Trump’s America https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sarah-clements/gun-violence-trump-america <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>We must double down on grassroots, community activism. Even with Trump in office, women can and must organize to end gun violence. This article is part of <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nobel-womens-initiative/nobel-womens-initiative-2017">50.50's coverage</a> of the 2017 <a href="https://nobelwomensinitiative.org/">Nobel Women's Initiative</a> conference. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-28174626.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Mothers at a rally against gun violence, Philadelphia 2016."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-28174626.jpg" alt="Mothers at a rally against gun violence." title="Mothers at a rally against gun violence, Philadelphia 2016." width="460" height="342" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mothers at a rally against gun violence, Philadelphia 2016. PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Somewhere at the intersection of gender and violence in the United States falls gun violence. Five women are killed with guns every day in the US, according to a <a href="https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/GunsDomesticViolencereport.pdf">2014 Center for American Progress</a> report. Between 2001 and 2012 more than 6,400 women were killed by intimate partners using guns <span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">—</span> more than the total number of US troops killed during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. Furthermore, women in the US are 11 times more likely to die this way than women in other high-income countries.</p><p>These staggering statistics might take your breath away, but each has its own story <span class="gmail-st">—</span> of domestic violence, a mass shooting, homicide on the street corner, or suicide. The whole world hears about the biggest mass shootings <span class="gmail-st">—</span> Aurora, Charleston, Newtown, and Orlando. But the majority of gun violence happens on this daily basis, barely even making the local nightly news.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The 2017 Nobel Women’s Initiative conference is themed “<strong><em>The Global Feminist Resistance: Evolution and Revolution <span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: arial; color: #000000; background-color: transparent; font-weight: 400; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;">—</span> Adapting to Survive Thrive</em></strong>.” In the US, we are indeed seeing a growing feminist resistance, fueled in part by grief, confusion, and anger at the reign of Donald Trump. For those who work on gun violence prevention, reproductive justice, immigration, or climate change, there is a simultaneous feeling of urgency and fear. These issues are more pressing than ever. But we fear that Trump will not only undo what President Obama’s administration accomplished, but that he will move us even further backwards. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class="mag-quote-center">...there is a simultaneous feeling of urgency and fear.</span></p><p dir="ltr">What does this mean for gun violence prevention advocates? We must double down on community-based, grassroots solutions to keeping our communities safe. In Trump’s America, and with this Congress, there is likely no way we will get progressive gun reform legislation passed at the national level. We must put the energy, resources, and investment into activists working on the ground in communities most deeply-impacted by this violence. </p> <p dir="ltr">The feminist resistance in the US is bolstered by strong protest crowds, women running for office, and phenomenal groups working outside of established institutions to build grassroots power. Groups such as the Women’s March and Indivisible are changing the activism landscape, and their messages include the need to organize for gun reform and measures that will reduce violence in our communities. </p> <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F189856684379812%2Fvideos%2F1503833146315486%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="448" height="252" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe> <p dir="ltr">Activists who have been jolted to action by shooting after shooting are helping to mobilize people in all 50 states who attend town hall meetings, work on campaigns, and lobby for common sense gun legislation. In the years since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook, while Congress has mostly remained at a standstill on the issue, a number of states have passed comprehensive gun bills.</p><p dir="ltr">This trend of state-based successes -- often led by women advocates -- should give us hope and a blueprint for how we ought to act in the era of Trump.</p><p>Mothers and daughters who have lost loved ones to gun violence, or who survived such violence themselves, have been at the forefront of movements to end it. Groups like Moms Demand Action and Million Moms March, as well as local organizations like Boston’s LIPSTICK, are leading grassroots forces organising for change. On top of the uphill battle these women face as organizers, and on top of trauma from personal experiences with gun violence, they too often also face harassment and threats online, on Twitter, and even at public events. </p> <p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">Ending gun violence is a feminist issue and women can and must continue to lead this struggle.</p><p>In the worst cases, toxic masculinity, obsession with guns, and our culture of violence coalesce. Mass shootings sometimes have roots in domestic abuse. In my hometown of Newtown, Connecticut, the shooter who killed 20 first grade students and six women educators at my former elementary school, and my mother’s place of work, Sandy Hook School, began his unspeakable rampage at home, where he abused and killed his own mother. The shootings in Lafayette, Isla Vista, Houston, and more, were also preceded by domestic violence.</p><p>Ending gun violence is a feminist issue and women can and must continue to lead this struggle. By investing in women of color, women living in poverty and in communities most deeply impacted by gun violence, and by highlighting in our work the ways in which gun violence intersects with other “issues,” from domestic violence to poverty to immigration, we can lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive, sustainable, and effective fight against gun violence, even in Trump’s America.</p><p dir="ltr"><em><strong>The </strong></em><em><strong><a href="https://nobelwomensinitiative.org/">Nobel Women's Initiative</a> conference takes place in Germany 13-16 May. Follow </strong><strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nobel-womens-initiative/nobel-womens-initiative-2017">50.50's coverage</a> of the event.</strong></em></p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Conflict Nobel Women's Initiative 2017 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Nobel Women's Initiative women's movements violence against women gender 50.50 newsletter young feminists Sarah Clements Fri, 12 May 2017 13:53:28 +0000 Sarah Clements 110799 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why the UK was wrong to back Trump's envoy against UN nuclear disarmament talks https://www.opendemocracy.net/rebecca-johnson/uk-trump-un-nuclear-disarmament-talks <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ignoring protests from the US, UK and some NATO countries, two-thirds of UN member states appear determined to conclude a nuclear ban treaty this year.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/PA-30706703 for RJ.jpg" alt="UK and US ambassadors to the UN" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Trump's envoy Nikki Haley (right), and UK ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft. PA/Albin Lohr-Jones. All Rights Reserved.</span></span></span>Ground-breaking talks at the United Nations – negotiating a treaty to ban nuclear weapons – got off to a strong start on 27 March, chaired by <a href="http://webtv.un.org/media/watch/elayne-whyte-g%C3%B3mez-costa-rica-on-the-negotiation-of-a-legally-binding-instrument-to-prohibit-nuclear-weapons-press-conference-30-march-2017/5379264941001">Ambassador Elayne Whyte</a> of Costa Rica. </p><p>The opening session in the General Assembly included statements from <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/statements/27March_PopeFrancis.pdf">Pope Francis</a> and <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/statements/27March_ICRC.pdf">Peter Maurer</a>, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Emphasising the talks’ historic significance, Maurer appealed to delegates “in the name of humanity... to adopt a clear and unambiguous prohibition of nuclear weapons, grounded in international humanitarian law."&nbsp; </p><p>The first of several <em>hibakusha (the term coined in Japan for nuclear bomb victims) </em>to speak was <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/statements/27March_Fujimori.pdf">Toshiki Fujimori</a>, who had been a child in Hiroshima when the first atomic bomb was detonated on 6 August 1945. It flattened the city and killed 140,000 people instantly. By the end of that year, the death toll had reached 210,000, including members of his own family. </p> <p>Fujimori described feeling "heartbroken" when the Japanese government voted against last year's <a href="http://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com16/resolutions/L41.pdf">multilateral nuclear disarmament resolution.</a> He also shared news of the <em>hibakusha</em>-initiated campaign that has collected more than 1.7 million signatures urging governments to ban these inhumane weapons of mass destruction once and for all.</p><p>As delegates began debating what precisely the treaty should cover, some basic, shared aims came to the fore: to strengthen existing international law and achieve an unequivocal prohibition on the use, deployment, development and possession of nuclear weapons, with clear obligations to eliminate all nuclear arsenals. But some wanted to go further than others and there are some difficult devils in the detail that will need to be resolved. </p><p>The most challenging questions so far include: the relationship between the new treaty and earlier agreements such as the <a href="https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/nptfact">1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)</a> and <a href="https://www.ctbto.org/">1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)</a>; whether to be explicit about banning not just the use but also threats to use nuclear weapons, which are currently the basis for nuclear deterrence doctrines; and how to address actions that induce or assist states to violate the treaty, such as financing nuclear weapons production and facilitating their deployment.&nbsp; </p> <p>A majority of those involved see the nuclear ban treaty as the next viable step in a disarmament process that began 70 years ago, and which needs to enact clear and necessary prohibitions and obligations under international law. They want to avoid the fate of treaty efforts in recent decades that were blocked or lost in procedures and technicalities. So, they argue, tasks like verification or timetables to eliminate existing stockpiles will be more effectively addressed in subsequent talks.</p><p>Inevitably, there were a few who wanted a different kind of legal instrument – seeking either to accomplish everything in one long negotiating process or to provide loopholes to let certain nuclear-armed states or military alliances off the disarmament hook.</p><p>While delegates gathered at the United Nations on the first morning, Donald Trump’s UN ambassador <a href="http://webtv.un.org/watch/nikki-r.-haley-usa-media-stakeout-27-january-2017/5299995504001">Nikki Haley</a> led a small cluster of nuclear allies in a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/27/world/americas/un-nuclear-weapons-talks.html?_r=0">protest</a> against the negotiations. Describing herself as a "mom, wife and daughter", Haley stated "there is nothing I want more for my family than a world without nuclear weapons” – before arguing that the US must keep its nuclear arsenal. </p><p>Britain's ambassador Matthew Rycroft stood by her, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-nuclear-un-idUSKBN16Y1QI">explaining</a> that the UK government decided to join the boycott because "we do not believe that [the UN] negotiations will lead to effective progress on global nuclear disarmament."&nbsp; </p><p>As diplomats from over 130 states – two-thirds of the UN's membership –&nbsp; walked past her to participate in the negotiations, Haley dismissed them, saying: "When you see those walking into the General Assembly to create a nuclear weapons ban, you have to ask yourself, are they looking out for their people?&nbsp;Do they really understand the threats that we have?"&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/UNGA NBT opening Marschik 27.3.17.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Austrian Vice Minister Alexander Marschik speaks at the UN"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563303/UNGA NBT opening Marschik 27.3.17.jpeg" alt="Austrian Vice Minister Alexander Marschik speaks at the UN" title="Austrian Vice Minister Alexander Marschik speaks at the UN" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Austrian Vice Minister Alexander Marschik speaks at the UN. Credit: Rebecca Johnson</span></span></span></p> <p>Had the US not chosen to boycott the talks, Haley would have heard <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/statements/27March_Austria.pdf">Austria's Vice Minister Alexander Marschik</a>'s answers to her questions. He recalled that expert analyses and evidence considered by the <a href="https://www.bmeia.gv.at/en/european-foreign-policy/disarmament/weapons-of-mass-destruction/nuclear-weapons-and-nuclear-terrorism/vienna-conference-on-the-humanitarian-impact-of-nuclear-weapons/">December 2014 Vienna Conference</a> showed with "stunning clarity" that the risks, accidents, mistakes, radiation and climate impacts – and the local, regional and global humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons – have been hugely underestimated.</p><p>Concluding that the existential threats that nuclear weapons pose to humanity far outweigh any possible advantages, Marschik emphasised: "We came away [from the Vienna Conference] with the certainty that we must reduce that risk and that the only way... was the prohibition of such weapons through a legally binding instrument."</p><p>The Austrian diplomat acknowledged concerns raised by nuclear-armed states, explaining that no individual country would be asked to disarm by themselves: “What we seek is a general legal prohibition and once we have that, then will we establish... a system of eliminating [these weapons] together."</p><p>Marschik also questioned: "Is doing nothing a better strategy? …Waiting for disaster is no strategy." Appealing to negotiators not to overload the current process and “miss this opportunity,” he called for unity and focus behind “one, narrow, clear objective: a legal prohibition of nuclear weapons… we will only succeed if we are disciplined, if we put the common goal ahead of [any] national agenda."</p><p>Haley, Trump’s ambassador, didn't mention US nuclear accidents or miscalculations in her media interventions. Instead, she justified boycotting the UN negotiations because of "bad actors" – mentioning North Korea (which withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and is trying to develop nuclear weapons), and Iran (which is party to the NPT).</p><p>North Korea had voted in favour of the 2016 resolution initiating the nuclear treaty negotiations – perhaps in recognition that this might be better for its security than its provocative testing and parading of nuclear warheads and missiles. But wiser heads did not prevail, and Kim Jong-un joined Trump, Putin and much of NATO in boycotting the talks.</p><p>Undoubtedly, Iran has caused decades of international concern by pursuing an ambitious programme of "civilian" uranium enrichment under the NPT. In 2015, Iran accepted substantial additional inspections under a <a href="https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/iran/jcpoa/">Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)</a> brokered by the US, Russia, China, France, Germany and the UK. This landmark non-proliferation agreement – which currently underpins efforts to constrain Iran's development of sensitive nuclear technologies – has recently been threatened by Trump who has talked about ditching it.&nbsp; </p><p>Iran had followed the JCPOA agreement by voting in favour of the current treaty negotiations. While unsuccessful in its efforts to challenge the Chair's draft rules of procedure – apparently wishing to restrict civil society access and establish some form of consensus rule that would give participating states a veto – <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/statements/28March_Iran.pdf">Iran has participated fully in the talks</a>. It has made clear its desire for a comprehensive treaty that will "prohibit the possession, development, production, testing, transfer, deployment, modernization and use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, under any circumstances."</p><p>Haley's media stunt seemed to backfire, as it was headlined an attempt to <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-27/trump-s-un-envoy-haley-seeks-to-derail-nuclear-ban-conference">derail the talks</a>, and provided a useful hook for interested media to cover the humanitarian case for prohibiting nuclear weapons put forward by <a href="http://www.icanw.org/">International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)</a>, which coordinates over 400 pro-ban organisations in 100 countries.</p><p>Several NATO countries – such as Norway, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain – appeared to be absent from the general assembly, although they did not publicly stand with the US protest. <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/statements/28March_Netherlands.pdf">The Netherlands</a> was present and argued that the treaty ought to be compatible with its obligations to NATO, which will “remain a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons exist."&nbsp; The Dutch called for an explicit linkage with the NPT, which NATO states consider compatible with nuclear deterrence doctrines, the development and enhancement of nuclear arsenals, and the deployment of US nuclear bombs in European “non-nuclear weapon states,” including the Netherlands.&nbsp; </p><p>The Dutch intervention can be read as an attempt to square the nuclear disarmament circle – or to derail the talks – by advocating the contradictory target of harmonising a nuclear prohibition treaty with NATO's nuclear sharing and use doctrines. However, the fact that this NATO member did not bow to heavy US, French and British pressure for a boycott must be counted a victory for parliamentary democracy. In the Netherlands, <a href="https://nonukes.nl/dutch-parliament-government-vote-yes-start-negotiations-nuclear-ban-2/">civil society raised awareness</a> about humanitarian disarmament initiatives and worked closely with Dutch parliamentarians who voted to instruct their government to join the negotiations.</p><p>Meanwhile, delegates representing Green Parties and parliamentarians from all over world gathered for the 2017 <a href="https://www.globalgreens.org/our-mission">Global Greens Congress</a> (30 March-2 April) in the British city of Liverpool, where an <a href="https://www.globalgreens.org/sites/globalgreens.org/files/Emergency%20Resolution%20%201%20UN%20legally%20binding%20international%20nuclear%20weapons%20ban%20treaty.pdf">emergency resolution</a> was unanimously adopted calling on "all governments to participate constructively in the negotiations until a strong nuclear ban treaty is concluded under international humanitarian law, and to facilitate its adoption, signature, and entry into force." </p><p>Formally proposed by Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Austrian Vice President of the European Parliament, this resolution further urged that elected mayors and parliamentarians be included in “governmental delegations and represented when the UN negotiations resume... until they are effectively concluded."&nbsp; </p><p>When the first week of UN talks closed on 31 March, Ambassador Whyte promised that a draft treaty text would be issued well before the resumption of negotiations (15 June). She also underscored the importance of finalising a strong and effective treaty by the time the talks are scheduled to end (7 July).&nbsp; </p><p>For the next few weeks diplomatic attention will turn to the NPT, which will hold the <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/resources/calendar/event/5152-2017-npt-preparatory-committee">first meeting of the 2020 review cycle in early May</a> in Vienna.&nbsp; Five of the nuclear-armed states that boycotted the UN negotiations will attend, along with all NATO members, so it will be interesting to see if they are held to account over their failure to comply with the NPT's Article 6 obligation to pursue nuclear disarmament in good faith.</p><p>ICAN partners are working closely with parliamentarians, mayors and local councillors to involve them in both treaty processes, highlighting how prohibiting nuclear weapons and non-proliferation will play a mutually reinforcing role in stigmatising nuclear weapons development, reducing dangers, and preventing catastrophic detonations and radiation poisoning caused by intentional use or accidents.</p><p><em><strong>Read more articles on 50.50's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/towards-nuclear-nonproliferation">Towards nuclear non-proliferation</a> platform.</strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/negotiating-global-nuclear-ban-treaty-nuclear-armed-states-versus-un"> Negotiating a global nuclear ban treaty: nuclear-armed states vs the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/historic-un-vote-to-negotiate-nuclear-ban-treaty-in-2017">Historic UN vote to negotiate a Nuclear Ban Treaty in 2017</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/will-nagasaki-be-last-use-of-nuclear-weapons">Will Nagasaki be the last use of nuclear weapons?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation women and militarism 50.50 newsletter Rebecca Johnson Mon, 10 Apr 2017 07:00:00 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 109994 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Negotiating a global nuclear ban treaty: nuclear-armed states vs the UN https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/negotiating-global-nuclear-ban-treaty-nuclear-armed-states-versus-un <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>UN negotiations start today in New York on a global treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. Ignoring cross-party commitments to multilateral nuclear disarmament, the British government will be absent.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/UN NY PB demo pic1.20.10.16.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/UN NY PB demo pic1.20.10.16.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Japanese A-bomb survivors and ICAN demonstrate before the UN vote in October 2016. Photo: Peace Boat</span></span></span></p> <p>Five months ago, on 27 October, 2016 <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/historic-un-vote-to-negotiate-nuclear-ban-treaty-in-2017">123 UN Member States voted for a resolution on multilateral nuclear disarmament</a> that called for negotiations to commence on a <a href="http://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com16/resolutions/L41.pdf">"legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination"</a>. &nbsp;After the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed this resolution in December, the stage is set for nuclear ban treaty negotiations to commence on 27 March, with further sessions planned for June and July.&nbsp; </p> <p>The UK was one of only 35 states (mostly nuclear-armed and NATO allies) which voted against multilateral negotiations when the resolution was overwhelmingly adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2016. &nbsp;That negative vote does not mean these states can't participate in this year's negotiations.&nbsp; Britain was invited to participate in preparatory organisational meetings at the UN in February, but chose not to attend. &nbsp; </p> <p>In response to a recent <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/un-nuclear-disarmament-talks-uk-government-not-attend-caroline-lucas-mp-reckless-irresponsible-123-a7631546.html">parliamentary question from Green Party MP Caroline Lucas</a>,&nbsp; Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, announced its boycott, saying that “The UK did not participate in the organisational meeting on negotiating a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons on 16 February and will not attend the substantive negotiations starting on 27 March."&nbsp; </p> <p>Nikki Haley, the Trump administration's newly appointed ambassador to the United Nations, is planning to stand outside the UN General Assembly hall to deliver a statement and protest to the media about the nuclear ban negotiations. The US is pressuring other NATO states to stand at her side, and it remains to be seen whether Britain's ambassador Matthew Rycroft will be there.&nbsp; Maybe they will hold hands, together with other boycotting countries such as Russia and North Korea! </p> <p>With Donald Trump in the White House and Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, an international <a href="http://nuclearban.org/">alliance of countries and civil society</a> is seizing this year's unprecedented opportunity to ban all nuclear weapons and take them off hair trigger alert and out of circulation.&nbsp; The rise in nuclear sabre rattling from Trump, Putin and Kim Jong-un clearly underscores the need for a global nuclear ban treaty to provide stronger tools and taboos to prevent the use of these catastrophic weapons of mass destruction. </p> <p>Instead of joining Trump and Putin in their boycott, Prime Minister May ought to welcome the opportunity to participate in UN humanitarian disarmament negotiations.&nbsp; According to a <a href="https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/79969vxyty/Abolition_2000_UK_Results_Nuclear_170316_website.pdf">YouGov opinion poll</a> released last week, 79% of UK residents who said they'd voted Conservative in the 2015 General Election agreed that the government should participate in the UN multilateral negotiations – the same proportion as those who voted Labour.&nbsp; The younger age brackets had more ‘don’t knows’, but still registered over 70% in favour of negotiating to prohibit nuclear weapons.&nbsp;&nbsp; Overall,&nbsp; 75% of the cross section of British adults whom YouGov had polled thought Britain should participate in the UN's nuclear disarmament talks . Only 9% thought the government should not attend, while 16% said they didn't know or were undecided.&nbsp; </p> <p>A nuclear ban treaty would remove the necessity Theresa May felt last July to proclaim that having Trident meant being prepared to launch it in the knowledge that this "<a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-07-18?showNoDebateMessage=True">could kill 100,000 innocent men, women and children"</a>, contrary to her Christian upbringing and the <a href="http://rfp.org/who-we-are/world-council">teachings of all major faiths</a>. </p> <p>A nuclear abolition treaty under international humanitarian law would also help with several of May's other economic and political headaches. When broken down by geographical region, the highest support came from Scotland, where YouGov polling showed 82% in favour. This is unsurprising, as the UK's nuclear warheads are stockpiled at Coulport and deployed on submarines that are home-ported at Faslane, 35 miles from Glasgow.&nbsp; Opposition to nuclear weapons has long been a driving force in Scottish demands for independence. </p> <p>With Brexit to sort out and pay for, it would be good to claw back at least some if not all of the cost of Trident replacement, estimated between &nbsp;<a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-07-18/debates/16071818000001/UKSNuclearDeterrent">£179 billion</a> (by Conservative MP Crispin Blunt) and <a href="http://www.cnduk.org/cnd-media/item/2505-trident-will-cost-%C2%A3205-billion-not-%C2%A331-billion-heres-why">£205 billion</a> (by CND). &nbsp;We're going to need &nbsp;some of that taxpayers money for decommissioning and safely disposing of the existing nuclear submarines that carried Polaris and Trident missiles for the past fifty years.&nbsp; And if Brexit results in the UK's withdrawal from the <a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3Axy0024">Euratom Treaty</a>, as some Tory MPs are demanding, we'll also need to find another way to ensure effective nuclear safety regulations are implemented. </p> <p>For decades, all Westminster parties have pledged support for multilateral nuclear disarmament, even if some have wrangled over the false dichotomy of unilateral versus multilateral that has stymied intelligent debate in Britain since the 1980s. &nbsp;&nbsp;Now that multilateral negotiations are actually taking place, Theresa May should make good the Conservative Party's oft-repeated commitments to this.&nbsp; &nbsp; </p> <p>The standard Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) argument for the decision to boycott, which Sir Alan Duncan gave Caroline Lucas, was that the Conservative government "do not believe these negotiations will lead to effective progress on nuclear disarmament."&nbsp; This means the government has decided in advance that it isn't going to like the outcome.&nbsp; But the point about negotiations is to enter into a process to determine the best possible outcome.&nbsp; And you can't do that by refusing to participate. The FCO says that it prefers to continue pressing for a step-by-step process using "existing frameworks", citing the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD). &nbsp; </p> <p>A legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons has been overwhelmingly endorsed by the UN as the next step, and negotiations are being conducted in a similar framework to the one Britain advocated for the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/arms-trade-treaty-enters-into-force">2014 Arms Trade Treaty</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp; By contrast, efforts to negotiate a fissile material treaty in the CD have failed, with no prospect of progress. The Geneva-based CD, which has only 66 member states, just a third of the UN's membership, has been blocked for two decades because various nuclear-armed states have upheld a "consensus rule" that every single one of the 66 member states must have a veto. &nbsp;Over the years since the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was concluded in 1996, Pakistan and the United States have successfully used their vetoes to prevent any relevant disarmament steps from happening.&nbsp; </p> <p>The point of this nuclear ban process is to get multilateral negotiations off the ground. To move beyond decades long deadlock in the CD, the UN decided that negotiations on a nuclear ban treaty should be held under different multilateral principles, whereby they are open to all 193 member states and conducted in accordance with rules of procedure that allow negotiations to move forward to decision-making without being blocked by any individual state or unrepresentative minority group.&nbsp; Of course, each UN Member State will continue to have the right to decide whether to join any agreement that is negotiated.&nbsp; </p> <p>Once this treaty takes legal effect, it will reinforce existing norms and the non-proliferation regime, laying the foundation for further legal and verification steps to be negotiated. &nbsp;Britain could have a lot to offer.&nbsp; In all likelyhood there will be more jobs in disarmament and verification than in Trident replacement.&nbsp; As soon as the UK is ready to accede, we will be able to put all the skills bound up in the UK's Atomic Weapons Establishment into dismantlement, verification and strengthening international efforts for peace and security.&nbsp; </p> <p>Think about it. </p> <p>At the organisational meeting, which was attended by over 100 states, it was decided that Costa Rica's Ambassador Elayne Whyte would chair the negotiations. Delegates also agreed that the main issues to be covered in the first week, 27-31 March, would include the basic principles, objectives, preambular elements and core prohibitions and institutional arrangements for what most hope will be a universally applicable Nuclear Ban Treaty.&nbsp; Following this, Ambassador Whyte will no doubt produce a draft treaty text, which UN Members will negotiate in detail in June and July 2017 - with the hope of concluding this year. </p> <p>Though there will not be any formally instructed government diplomats to represent British interests, at least the Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament, Fabian Hamilton, will be present, along with parliamentarians and civil society from Scotland and around the world.&nbsp; Many of these are partners in &nbsp;the <a href="http://www.icanw.org/">International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)</a>, which comprises over 400 organisations in 100 countries, including nuclear-armed and NATO states as well as the non-nuclear countries that have taken the lead in the multilateral, humanitarian disarmament initiatives so far.&nbsp; I will be there with several hats, notably as ICAN's former co-chair and a current steering group member, and also as the Green Party's spokesperson for security, peace and defence. </p> <p>No-one is claiming that the nuclear ban treaty will achieve nuclear disarmament overnight.&nbsp; It is a vital step towards that goal, just as the CTBT was an important step in the 1990s.&nbsp; Other steps were stymied because everything could be vetoed by one or more of the nuclear armed states with a vested interest in nuclear business as usual.&nbsp; </p> <p>That is what is different now. &nbsp;We can't keep turning a blind eye to the costs and risks of nuclear weapons, and the persistent dangers of proliferation and modernisation.&nbsp; Nor should we let countries like the UK get away with hiding behind the deadlocked CD.&nbsp; &nbsp;Further disarmament steps, including on curbing the deadly fissile materials plutonium and uranium and on a WMD-free zone in the Middle East,&nbsp; are more likely to become possible once nuclear weapons are legally prohibited. </p> <p>Whether or not Britain joins, the nuclear ban treaty is likely to be concluded and to take effect in the next couple of years.&nbsp; Banned weapons become stigmatised, which greatly facilitates efforts to control and eliminate them.&nbsp; This treaty will have immediate impact on the high and counter-productive value and status currently attached to getting and having nuclear armaments. </p> <p>It's unacceptable and arrogant for some countries to refuse to participate unless everything is on their terms.&nbsp; The UN must negotiate to provide the best possible protections and security for everyone, not just for the most self-regarding or most heavily armed. While the UK undoubtedly has a right to be absent when others negotiate on issues of vital importance to British and international security, we must understand that those who wilfully remove themselves from the responsibilities of constructive multilateral decision-making can't complain about the outcomes.&nbsp; </p><p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy 50.50's platform</em>: <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/towards-nuclear-non-proliferation">Towards Nuclear Non-Proliferation </a></strong></p><p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/historic-un-vote-to-negotiate-nuclear-ban-treaty-in-2017">Historic UN vote to negotiate a Nuclear Ban Treaty in 2017</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/britain-boycotts-uns-multilateral-nuclear-disarmament-talks">Britain&#039;s boycott of the UN multilateral nuclear disarmament talks</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/do-british-member-of-parliament-remember-hiroshima">Hiroshima: do the British Members of Parliament remember ? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-time-warp-party-politics-defence-needs">Trident in a time warp: party politics vs defence needs</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/austrian-pledge-to-ban-nuclear-weapons">The Austrian pledge to ban nuclear weapons </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-hiroshima-to-trident-listening-to-hibakusha">From Hiroshima to Trident: listening to the Hibakusha </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/will-nagasaki-be-last-use-of-nuclear-weapons">Will Nagasaki be the last use of nuclear weapons?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/scilla-elworthy/is-it-time-for-worldwide-strategy-for-building-of-peace">Is it time for a worldwide strategy for the building of peace?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/common-vision-abolition-of-militarism">A common vision: The abolition of militarism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/no-more-little-boy-and-fat-man">No more &#039;Little Boy&#039; and &#039;Fat Man&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-survivors%27-testimony-from-hell-to-hope">Nuclear survivors&#039; testimony: from hell to hope </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Civil society 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Voices for Change 50.50 newsletter Rebecca Johnson Sun, 26 Mar 2017 23:03:27 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 109689 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Without global solidarity the women’s movement will collapse https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nazik-awad/without-global-solidarity-women-s-movement-will-collapse <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Borders are closing across the world, blocking women from the Global South both from seeking refuge, having a voice and working on global gender justice.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div style="color: #666;font-size:110%;;margin-bottom:30px"><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women"><img style="float:right;width:auto !important" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/5050-uncsw2017-d-140x80px_1.png" /></a><p style="background-color:#f7f7f7;padding:10px;margin:0">This article is part of our <a style="color:#333;text-decoration:underline" href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/un-commission-on-status-of-women">coverage</a> of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, New York, March 2017</p></div><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-30571275.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-30571275.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Halima Muzammil is one of many displaced women in Sudan, a country that the UN says is on the brink of genocide. Credit: PA Images/TNS.</span></span></span></p><p>In the wake of rising populism and authoritarianism in many countries where democracy and human rights used to prevail, women rights and gender justice are in danger of losing ground like never before. The xenophobic policies that aim to build walls and close borders are harmful to many, but for millions of women around the globe it could be no less than a death sentence. These policies are not closing the borders in the face of terrorists. They are killing the hopes of women who are fleeing wars, terrorism and other authoritarian regimes. Those women once dreamt of safety and security for themselves and their children. They will now be forced to endure more violence and terror.&nbsp; And while US President Donald Trump’s travel bans <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">stamp the seal</a> on what we can expect from his policies and views toward Muslims and migrants, they also have a dangerous effect on our ability to push for global gender justice.</p> <p>As women from the Global South, we were already facing major challenges to enter the United States in any capacity; especially those from the countries now banned by Trump's executive orders. For example, women refugees from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya already wait up to three years to be vetted by the American Migration authorities. We already face problems applying for visas to attend United Nations meetings or to engage with US-based women groups, deterring many from even attempting it. </p> <p>This year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women, coming after President Trump’s travel bans, only worsens an ongoing trend. Women from the Global South have been denied access to the UNCSW for the most racist and xenophobic reasons over the years. A group of women from Sudan, one of the countries now banned, was denied the visa in 2014. They reported that the main reason was that the migration officer didn't like their accent and broken English. He said to them, "If you can't speak English well, why are you going to the United States and what are you going to do in the United Nations?" A member of the group replied, "The United Nations is a global ground and we are allowed to speak any language we can."&nbsp; One of the women said that "he denied us the visa not knowing that some of those women are witnesses of war crimes and genocide. He did not know how hard they worked to arrange this opportunity. They were trying to make the voices of their sisters heard, those who are facing mass rapes every day. Their hope was to demand justice and protection for the victims at home, and ask for international solidarity and support."&nbsp; Another member said that "the migration officer only saw those colored women with broken English as not more than potential asylum seekers or illegal migrants. He did not just deny us the visa; he silenced the voices of those women victims of war we were representing."&nbsp; </p> <p>While the world is facing the worst refugee crisis in modern history, many countries are stepping back from their commitments to basic human rights under the pressures of right-wing populism. The international community is tragically failing to protect over 60 million displaced people, of whom 70 to 80 percent are women and children. Women’s rights to security and protection are being compromised, as more countries are adopting closed border policies. The situation of women refugees in camps or in urban settlements is an extension of the horrifying circumstances they left at home. Sexual harassment, rape, human trafficking and discriminating working conditions are all risks faced by women and girl refugees while waiting for resettlement in a second country.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/populations/adolescent-girls/research-and-resources/373-refugee-girls-the-invisible-faces-of-war">Young women</a> and girls waiting for resettlement are exposed to child marriage, early pregnancy and denial of basic education.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Afghan refugees.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Afghan refugees.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Afghan refugees rally against Trump, racism and their living conditions outside the US embassy in Athens on January 21, 2017. Credit: PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>According to the <a href="http://reporting.unhcr.org/population">United Nations High Commission of Refugees</a>&nbsp;only a hundred thousand out of 21 million refugees are being resettled every year; this is less than 0.5 percent of the numbers of refugees in the world. More than half of the refugees and displaced peoples in the world are women and girls, while the <a href="http://blogs.cfr.org/women-around-the-world/2017/02/03/how-trumps-executive-order-harms-women-refugees/">United States Homeland Security</a> admitted that 72 percent of the refugees entering the United States are actually women and children. Therefore, the question remains, what is the USA and Europe afraid of? Are they afraid of vulnerable women and sick malnourished children? </p> <p>One such woman, now affected by the <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/world/donald-trump-freezes-refugee-program-orders-new-vetting-for-entry-20170128-gu0id6.html">ongoing freeze</a> on the American refugee program, is that of Aziza * from my home country, Sudan. Aziza is an activist and victim of mass rape, twice. She survived mass rape by Islamic jihadists in her home country of Sudan back in the 1990s. When the fundamentalist Islamic regime in Sudan incited war again in her region in 2011, she decided to speak out and started an organization helping displaced women. That’s when she was arrested and gang raped again. She had to flee the country carrying her psychological and physical wounds, hoping to find refuge and support. After waiting for four years she was finally referred to be resettled in the United States by the UNHCR. But President Trump's executive order came to stop the whole process, which has forced her to continue to work as a maid to feed her five children in a very hostile environment in Egypt . Her only hope was to be able to regain her life, and to be in a position where she can continue to claim justice for herself and for her people.</p> <p>The accomplishments of the women’s rights movement over the last five decades are now in danger from closed borders and rising intolerance. Gender justice cannot be achieved without the strength of <a href="https://www.globalfundforwomen.org/travel-ban/#.WM5OHZ-xXqA">women’s solidarity</a> around the world. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58c03cabe4b0a797c1d397ca">Women’s rights</a> groups all over the globe are challenged to fight; not just for the causes they support, but for their mere existence. Authoritarianism, fundamentalism, populism, and terrorism are dominating more countries every day, while women’s rights groups find their workspace shrinking locally and globally. Grassroots women’s movements in conflict and unstable countries are being suffocated under hostile working conditions. Without the solidarity and support from more established women groups in the developed countries, the women’s movement will slowly vanish, and lose all ground gained over the last decade.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/without change.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/without change.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>International Women's Day, March 8, 2017, New York City. Credit: PA Images / Erik McGregor</span></span></span></p><p>Therefore, open borders for women’s movements does not just mean access to engage in international venues and learn from other women’s experiences. It also means hope, the right to be free as equal humans and to have a voice. Hope for change and hope for justice, which can only be claimed through women’s solidarity. </p> <p>Women in solidarity are undefiable. Consequently, women activists decided to do what they know best: to resist. Dozens of women groups recently <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/opendemocracy-5050/no-borders-on-gender-justice">organized campaigns</a>, signed petitions and rallied in the Global South to demand open borders for gender justice and women’s rights. Hopefully this new wave of the women’s movement will lead the world out of hatred and xenophobia into a better future for all.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>*Aziza is not her real name.</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">Trump&#039;s slap in the face of Lady Liberty</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/clare-church/indigenous-women-brave-storm-to-begin-talks-for-uncsw">Indigenous women brave the storm to begin talks at UN CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sophie-giscard-destaing/where-is-gender-sensitive-humanitarian-response-to-protecting-women-refugees"> UN CSW: ending impunity for gender-based crimes against women refugees </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/time-for-fifth-world-conference-on-women">Time for a Fifth World Conference on Women?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-reeve/pr-profit-and-empowering-women-in-garment-industry">PR, profit and ‘empowering women’ in the garment industry</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/stephanie-sugars/queer-and-trans-issues-are-sidelined-again-at-united-nations-csw">Queer and trans issues are sidelined again at the United Nations CSW</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karin-attia/who-run-world-girls-not-at-un-csw">Who runs the world? Girls! Not at the UN CSW</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> South Sudan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 South Sudan World Forum for Democracy 2017 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 Our Africa women and militarism gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter young feminists Nazik Awad Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:07:28 +0000 Nazik Awad 109636 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Time for a Fifth World Conference on Women? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/time-for-fifth-world-conference-on-women <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Not holding a fifth UN world conference in 2015 has left a vacuum, a dangerous thing when patriarchal ethno-nationalists are colonizing public space. It is time to insist that international human rights institutions deliver for women.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IWD march.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/IWD march.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Participants in the International Women's Day March in Los Angeles, California on March 5, 2017. Credit: Ronen Tivony/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>The call to topple patriarchy might once have been seen as a fringe feminist fantasy but it has increasingly gained mainstream cachet. &nbsp;At the UN, the <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2015/3/change-is-coming-change-has-to-come-executive-director">Executive Director of UN Women is calling for it</a>. Emmy-award winning producer of <em>Trans/Parent</em>, <a href="http://ew.com/article/2016/09/18/jill-soloway-topple-patriarchy-emmys/">Jill Soloway is calling for it</a>. Bollywood superstar <a href="http://www.india.com/showbiz/dangal-quick-movie-review-aamir-khan-delivers-a-knockout-punch-kicks-patriarchy-in-its-gut-1717671/">Aamir Khan has called out patriarchy</a> more than once and is credited with “kicking patriarchy in the gut” in his film Dangal. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUtRnkm1GlY">called for all men to be feminists</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>How do we square the amplification of these calls with the resurgence of strongmen (and a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/world/europe/political-strategy-for-europes-far-right-female-leaders-wooing-female-voters.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Fsomini-sengupta&amp;action=click&amp;contentCollection=undefined&amp;region=stream&amp;module=stream_unit&amp;">growing number of strongwomen</a>), with elections giving us ethnic nationalists and patriarchs like Trump, Erdogan, Duterte, and many others? &nbsp;Insecure, bullying autocrats are nothing new, but what is new is their growing appeal in democracies.&nbsp; Also new is their conversion of traditional social conservatism into a much coarser unfiltered misogyny. Is this patriarchy’s last gasp? Or is it now dealing out an increasingly vicious and vindictive comeuppance? </p> <p>It is stating the obvious, we know, to point out that feminist anti-patriarchal strategies need a massive global re-think. The strategies of the 70s, 80s and 90s have helped us make great strides, but the terrain has changed. Which is why we are re-visiting – and re-echoing – <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women&#039;s-rights-have-no-country">our call in January 2015</a> for a United Nations Fifth World Conference on Women. If women’s rights had no country – a dwindling number of champions and defenders in international negotiations – when we wrote two years ago, things have deteriorated with recent political developments, including the catastrophic outcome of the US presidential election. &nbsp;Stalwart national defenders of women’s rights are toppling, and conservative populist nationalists now unashamedly and explicitly make restrictions of women’s social, economic and sexual freedoms foundational to their political projects.&nbsp; Plans for a fifth world conference on women were shelved a few years ago for fear that these forces would unravel established women’s rights agreements.</p> <p>Retreat is not an option. Protections for human rights and human security are eroding fast. The institutions that are supposed to uphold them – the courts, the media, our political leaders and parties, trade unions, education, religious, and health care institutions, the United Nations itself – are being corporatized, de-funded, compromised and undermined. &nbsp;But if it seemed such a major risk to hold a fifth Women’s World Conference in 2015, surely even to bring up the topic now is nothing short of reckless. </p> <p>Or is it?&nbsp; Arguably it is much more dangerous not to.&nbsp; Not holding a global summit on accelerating the drive towards gender equality is a signal that we have lost faith that the institutions built to advance human rights will deliver for women</p> <h3><strong>Feminist retreats from institutions exacerbates default patriarchy</strong></h3> <p>The real victory of nakedly patriarchal, racist, authoritarian leaders is that they systematically undermine faith in the institutions that are supposed to advance and protect our interests, and in so doing, erode interest in participating in institutions that have the potential to check authoritarian power. </p> <p>As more and more opportunistic ethno-nationalists come to power – and as they usher in reforms that close political space for opposition and reasoned, well-informed public debate – the decisions we make about our interactions and negotiations with mainstream institutions become more and more fraught. &nbsp;For most of the world, public institutions and ideological frameworks have been oriented to debates on the proper roles of states versus markets.&nbsp; Choices about how to engage have often featured ‘right’ versus ‘left’ perspectives.&nbsp; These perspectives have been grounded in understandings of public life dating from the industrial revolution and are less and less meaningful in contemporary politics.&nbsp; Feminist economists like <a href="http://www.cepal.org/mujer/curso/elson3.pdf">Diane Elson</a>, <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/19452829.2014.884057">Gita Sen</a>, <a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo5969753.html">Lourdes Beneria</a>, <a href="https://oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/why-its-time-to-put-gender-into-the-inequality-discussion/">Naila Kabeer</a>, have long pointed out that these perspectives are ignorant of the deep – but invisible and disparaged – economy of care in which women are the unrewarded workhorses.&nbsp; Feminist environmentalists like <a href="http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/wangari-maathai">Wangari Maathai</a> and <a href="https://www.dukeupress.edu/staying-with-the-trouble">Donna Haraway</a> have shown how our economies are parasitical on the natural world – whose value is similarly unrecognized.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Erdogansmug.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Erdogansmug.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="421" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Supporters of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrates his victory in the presidential election vote, August 2014. Credit: Depo Photos / PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>The capacities of both the care and natural worlds endlessly to provide without compensation or renewal are finally snapping, and these convulsions have in part triggered the current neo-nationalist backlash.&nbsp; Women’s flight from marriage and motherhood in some contexts (like Japan, Italy) are rational responses to a labor market that does not reward care.&nbsp; Elsewhere the fact that women have been more willing than men to tolerate the degraded working conditions of globalized capital has altered power relations in families, triggering men’s deep insecurities, expressed in the form of elevated violence against women, or votes for despots who promise a return to male privilege. &nbsp;Old political distinctions between left and right have become almost meaningless.&nbsp; What matters now is <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/opinion/tony-blair-against-populism-the-center-must-hold.html?_r=0">open versus closed</a>, inclusive versus isolationist, and institutions for tolerant societies versus approaches to social organization that rely on atavistic appeals to ethnic and male supremacy.</p><p>As institutions have struggled to keep up with these changes, they have become less meaningful, and less attractive spaces for social change projects, triggering in some cases an exodus by liberals.&nbsp;&nbsp;As feminists who have been part of that exodus – and acknowledging the privileges that enabled us to enter and exit formal institutions, a privilege that many women and marginalized communities do not have – we must weigh our principles against the costs of losing power in institutions. It is not as if there is plenty of institutional space for feminists – far from it. Governments, political parties, international organizations, churches, corporate boards remain hostile to leadership by women and especially feminists. Many feminists find the default patriarchy of these institutions corrupting, which is why so many feminists seek alternative spaces.&nbsp; </p><p>We are not making a <a href="https://leanin.org/book/">‘lean in’</a> argument. But are we ceding political space when we disdain running for political office or refrain from supporting potential candidates because politics can corrupt and is increasingly dangerous? Are we enabling rapacious capitalism when we refuse to sit at tables with potential allies in the private sector or military because they are clubbed as irredeemable members of the military-industrial complex?&nbsp; Do we create self-inflicted crevasses in our movements when we condemn feminists who have chosen to work inside of institutions as sell-outs, contributing to their isolation?&nbsp; Some of us give up on joining trade unions to reform them from the inside, or turn off the mainstream media because it only represents corporate interests. But far from dying away because of our disengagement, these institutions revert to patriarchal management.&nbsp;&nbsp; We are doing exactly what toxic masculinity wants: handing over large swathes of public space to a resurgent, revived patriarchal command.</p> <p>And, so it goes with the United Nations. &nbsp;Not holding a fifth world conference has left a vacuum, a dangerous thing when empowered social conservatives are colonizing public space.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Flirting with a Counter-factual: &nbsp;What if…</h3> <p>We can read the decision not to hold a fifth Women’s World Conference in 2015 as an example of ceding institutional space, giving ground.&nbsp; It was a significant thing NOT to do.&nbsp; Other major global projects continue to hold massive summits – notably the meetings addressing <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/un-climate-change-conference">climate change</a>, <a href="http://www.un.org/en/ga/69/meetings/indigenous/#&amp;panel1-1">indigenous people’s rights</a>, <a href="http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/campaigns/AIDS2016">HIV/AIDs</a>, the <a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/summit">Sustainable Development Goals</a>, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/world/arms-trade-treaty-approved-at-un.html">Arms Trade Treaty</a>. Addressing global problems requires global negotiation and coordination. &nbsp;&nbsp;None of these agendas has retreated from global negotiation processes.&nbsp; Just the women’s rights agenda.</p> <p>The decision not to hold a fifth Women’s World Conference was actually taken several years before 2015 when there were worrying signs. &nbsp;Already the annual meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women registered increasing difficulty in reaching consensus because of conservative opposition.&nbsp; In 2012 a coalition of member states of the United Nations began to negotiate together to attack existing women’s rights agreements and prohibit any further advances – for instance on <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/how-the-religious-right-made-life-more-difficult-dangerous-for-worlds-lgbt-people-in-2016/">issues of sexual orientation, or adolescent sex education, or recognition of the wide variety of families</a> that do not conform to the heterosexual nuclear model. </p> <p>It is hard not to ask: what if.&nbsp; What if, in 2012, plans had been set for a Women’s World Conference?&nbsp; What if it had taken place in 2015, and what if it had been held in Turkey, one of the first countries to offer to host it?&nbsp; </p> <p>Counterfactuals are hollow, they are ‘I told you so’ taunts without the satisfaction of seeing events confirm warnings. &nbsp;But let’s indulge in this for just a moment, and ask how a conference in 2015 might have changed history.&nbsp; A women’s conference would certainly have mobilized global opposition to women’s rights – the people that feel that secularism has gone too far, that women’s rights are the markers of decadence, that ‘gender’ threatens the divinely-ordained binary of man/woman, that social disintegration is upon us.&nbsp; Conservative opposition has been present at all the four women’s conferences so far and would certainly have been stronger and better organized than ever before. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>But so too would the world’s feminist voices.&nbsp; Indeed, by 2015, feminist movements the world over were energized and emboldened by international successes, such as the recognition of <a href="http://www.stoprapenow.org/">rape as a punishable, systematic tactic of war</a> or sustained infusion of gender equality across the globally-approved&nbsp; 2015 <a href="http://www.bridge.ids.ac.uk/updates/bridge-gender-update-sustainable-development-goals-gender-and-indicators">Sustainable Development Goals framework</a>.&nbsp; On top of this, a women’s conference could have provided a feminist destination for a new generation of young people. Their voices could have risen to a global roar for intersectional equality and their activism – as part of a preparatory process of national, regional and global consultations – could have laid the ground for new solutions to global threats, and might have amplified their voices in their own countries, to diminish the appeal of national reactionary forces.</p> <p>Those who are most marginalized and threatened – refugees and minorities fleeing untenable conditions of war or ethnic/racial/religious persecution, civil society groups whose actions are increasingly under scrutiny, women’s human rights defenders who live under the constant threat of violence, girls vulnerable to harmful traditional practices or school-related gender-based violence – would have had a global platform to make their experiences heard by far larger numbers of people and power holders than in any past women’s conference. Alliances between women’s rights networks across countries in conflict and in disintegrating democracies would have been strengthened. &nbsp;Had the conference been held in Istanbul, it might have provided a platform for women of Arab and Muslim societies to offer counter-narratives to authoritarian governments, the political projects of religious extremists, and Islamophobes. The asymmetries and divisions between women – whether on the basis of race, class, sexual preference, geographic location and other unacknowledged privileges – could have received much greater scrutiny.&nbsp; We might have come up with new ways to address these, while recognizing that the political and environmental emergencies we face require united action. &nbsp;</p> <p>We cannot say that a Fifth World Conference on Women would have prevented the election of leaders like Trump or Duterte. &nbsp;We do, however, posit that the collective strength and engagement that is catalyzed by these global processes have many unexpected consequences. Mobilization and transformation are connected.</p> <h3>Don’t sit around waiting for the time and the politics to be just right</h3> <p>The tens of millions of people around the world, of all genders, ages and nationalities, <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/21/politics/trump-women-march-on-washington/">who marched on January 21</a>st, showed two things. &nbsp;First: ordinary people the world over are horrified about atavistic ethno-nationalists and their calls for a closing of minds and a destruction of the institutions that promote tolerance and justice.&nbsp; Second: feminist movements are at the forefront of this resistance, and gender equality is a foundational principle of building open societies. The women taxi cab drivers in India, the all-women peace negotiating team from Sweden, the <a href="http://www.glamour.com/story/women-of-the-year-black-lives-matter-founders">women at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter</a> movement, the men who stand up to end violence against women in more and more countries and the transwomen who speak about the toxicity of male privilege are proof that feminists have the numbers, the conviction, and are inflicting body blows to patriarchy. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/BLMIWD.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/BLMIWD.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Black Lives Matter protest on July 10, 2016 in New York. Credit: PA Images / Monica Jorge</span></span></span></p><p>It is not clear that another women’s world conference – for instance in 2020 – is necessarily the best way to channel this energy. But it is worth debating whether it would help to build intersectional feminist strategies to rebuild inclusive democracies.&nbsp; </p> <p>To be effective, another world conference cannot take the form of any of its predecessors.&nbsp; It cannot be about governments negotiating women’s rights, or using them as proxies and bargaining chips for other battles.&nbsp; We need a process unlike any other that the UN has hosted to date. We could build on the Paris/Accra ‘<a href="http://www.oecd.org/dac/effectiveness/parisdeclarationandaccraagendaforaction.htm">aid effectiveness</a>’ process whose purpose is to mobilize resources to deliver results. </p> <p>As the UN Commission on the Status of Women convenes from March 13 to 24 in New York – and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">thousands of women’s rights movements and organizations gather</a> – we propose that there be serious debate about the merits and possible approaches to holding a world conference in 2020. Maybe it is a process that does not result in a ‘global’ gathering, but rather has simultaneous regional and/or national gatherings. Maybe it is a process that does not have a final governmental declaration of future goals, but rather commits to institutional reforms and a new accountability agenda. It must be a process that includes leadership by people under 35 and avoids the endless negotiations and bartering that waters down other UN processes. </p> <p>We would hope for, at least, a commitment by the CSW, the UN Secretary-General, and UN Women to launch a consultative process and figure out what kind of world conference could make a significant difference.&nbsp; It should be a process that amplifies the voices and aspirations of young people all over the planet, that creates space and opportunities for the voices of those who are most marginalized to create new approaches to social and economic organization. &nbsp;It cannot be a process constrained by anxious readings of the tea leaves of political risk.&nbsp; Times are tough, they could get worse, and that is precisely why women’s rights can’t wait in the hope that the political environment will improve.&nbsp; From <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/seneca-falls-convention-begins">Seneca Falls</a> in 1848, to The <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/international-congress-of-women-opens-at-the-hague">Hague International Congress of Women in 1915</a>, to the <a href="https://tavaana.org/en/content/how-women-liberia-fought-peace-and-won">2003 Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace</a>, women don’t wait for the time to be right.&nbsp; We make it right.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women%27s-rights-have-no-country">Women&#039;s rights have no country</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/missing-link-in-women%27s-human-rights">The missing link in women&#039;s human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/best-time-to-be-born-female-worst-to-be-feminist-advocate">The &quot;best time to be born female&quot;: the worst to be a feminist advocate</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ruth-rosen/gender-wars-women-redefining-customs-as-crimes">Gender wars: women redefining customs as crimes </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ndana-bofu-tawamba/awake-to-challenge-african-women%27s-leadership-at-beijing20">Awake to the challenge: African women&#039;s leadership at Beijing+20</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/world%27s-girls-no-voice-no-rights">The world&#039;s girls: no voice, no rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/madam-secretary-general">Madam Secretary-General?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/soraya-chemaly/under-trump-we-are-all-women">Under Trump, we are all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/sound-trumpet">Sound the Trumpet </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-woman-at-helm-UN">Still no woman at the helm of the UN</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Equality World Forum for Democracy 2017 Nobel Women's Initiative 2017 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Structures of Sexism 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 newsletter feminism gender justice women and power women's human rights Joanne Sandler Anne Marie Goetz Wed, 08 Mar 2017 09:00:11 +0000 Anne Marie Goetz and Joanne Sandler 109310 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Stop Trump – definitely! But then what? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/celia-mckeon/stop-trump-definitely-but-then-what <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Resisting Trump should involve asking the UK government to reconsider its approach to global security alliances.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-29995299.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-29995299.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anti-Trump ‘Muslim Ban’ demonstration on Feb. 4, 2017 in Manchester, UK. Credit: NurPhoto SIPA USA/PA Images</span></span></span></p><p>Today, on Monday 20th February, thousands of people around the UK will <a href="https://www.stoptrump.org.uk/">take to the streets</a> to demonstrate our resistance to the new President of the United States of America. There will undoubtedly be some brilliant placards and, hopefully, a few witty chants. We will denounce Trump’s xenophobic, racist, misogynist rhetoric and condemn his efforts to enact policies that exemplify this, from the border wall to the “Muslim ban” to the Global Gag rule.</p> <p>We will also be marching to voice our opposition to the UK government’s decision to carry on with ‘business as usual’ with the government of the United States. We will condemn Theresa May’s <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38784199">failure</a> to stand up for basic human values in her response to the Muslim ban, and in particular, her decision to accord President Trump the honour of a <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/27/politics/theresa-may-donald-trump-state-visit-uk/">state visit</a> to the UK later this year. We will march to show our solidarity with those who are most directly affected by Trump’s policies and to <a href="http://www.1daywithoutus.org/">speak up for the rights of refugees and migrants</a> both in the UK and internationally. We will build momentum for a monumental show of opposition to Trump when he comes here, in what is being <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/donald-trump-state-visit-protest-stop-trump-uk-britain-protest-birmingham-owen-jones-a7576211.html">billed</a> as one of the biggest demonstrations the country will ever see. </p> <p>But we should also be taking this opportunity to do something more. As a fractured international system cracks still further under the strain of each new pronouncement from the Trump White House, we need to be asking the UK government to undertake an urgent evaluation of the way it positions itself on the global stage. And specifically, we need to be asking it to explain how this positioning will contribute to promoting, rather than undermining, the global security on which UK security depends.</p> <h3><strong>&nbsp;A Special Relationship, or an Especially Problematic Relationship?</strong></h3> <p>The so-called “special relationship” with the USA has been the bedrock of UK grand strategy for defence and security since the end of the Second World War. This has reflected the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/11343800/David-Cameron-endangering-special-relationship-with-America-by-not-protecting-defence-spending.html">establishment’s view</a> that US leadership through NATO remains the primary anchor of stability in the international order. The out-workings of this alliance are evident both in the design of UK military capabilities and in the uses to which they have been put. UK military hardware investments are selected on the basis of their operational complementarity to those of the US. The UK Armed Forces are designed to provide particular capabilities for wider military coalitions led by the US, with cooperation extending as far as controversial <a href="http://www.reprieve.org.uk/press/uk-plays-critical-role-in-yemen-drone-war-reports/">shared involvement</a> in US armed drone strikes. And inevitably, the UK has followed the US into a range of military interventions over the last fifteen years, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya and now Syria.</p> <p>Despite the devastating consequences of these interventions, the UK’s 2015 <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/478933/52309_Cm_9161_NSS_SD_Review_web_only.pdf">National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence Review</a> recommitted to the grand-strategic relationship with the US, describing it as “our pre-eminent partner for security, defence, foreign policy and prosperity”. Amongst <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yawning-chasm-in-uk-national-security-strategy-security-for-whom">other weaknesses</a>, the Strategy failed to acknowledge the increasingly accepted <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10859545/Wars-in-Iraq-and-Afghanistan-were-a-failure-costing-29bn.html">conclusion</a> that these military interventions – and the US and UK’s roles in them – have contributed to precisely the kinds of security risks that we were told they would alleviate.</p> <p>It might have been possible to gloss over some of the more disturbing out-workings of the “special relationship” while President Obama was in the White House, but the arrival of Donald Trump creates an entirely new reality. The evidence of his first month in office suggests that the new administration is bent on policies that are likely to dramatically escalate the drivers of global insecurity, whether on climate change, US-China relations or violence in the Middle East, as Oxford Research Group has <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefing_papers_and_reports/special_measures_donald_trump_and_trans_atlantic_relations">highlighted</a>. The EU’s President Donald Tusk went as far as to describe him as a “<a href="http://www.consilium.europa.eu/press-releases-pdf/2017/1/47244654122_en.pdf">threat</a>” to Europe.</p> <p>In these circumstances, an ostrich-like approach to “business as usual” seems an extraordinary risk to take, both for the UK and the wider world. &nbsp;Instead of rushing over to Washington to talk up the “special relationship” and <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/26/politics/theresa-may-us-speech-transcript/">promising</a> that the UK and the US will “join hands as we pick up that mantle of leadership once more”, Theresa May should be urgently re-considering the fundamentals of UK grand strategy. Otherwise, the UK’s approach to security risks continuing on a trajectory in which – at enormous human, ecological and financial cost – it exacerbates the very problems that we are told it is intending to address.</p> <h3><strong>Rethinking UK security policy</strong></h3> <p>Just a few months ago, questioning the UK’s grand-strategic alliance was almost unthinkable in mainstream foreign policy debates. But such is the level of consternation at developments in the US that it is being <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/b3fcd252-f1f0-11e6-95ee-f14e55513608">mooted</a> with increasing frequency, and not only in liberal circles.</p> <p>In many ways, an in-depth review of the UK security alliances is long overdue. Global insecurity is growing. Violent conflicts are <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/20/armed-conflict-deaths-increase-syria-iraq-afghanistan-yemen">spreading and intensifying</a> and refugee flows are at their <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-36573082">highest ever levels</a>. Economic inequalities are <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/19/global-wealth-oxfam-inequality-davos-economic-summit-switzerland">deepening</a> and planetary boundaries are being <a href="http://breakingenergy.com/2015/01/22/new-study-breaches-of-planetary-boundaries-jeopardize-environmental-sustainability/">breached</a>. The preferred responses of Western governments – particularly the US and the UK – are manifestly failing to reverse these trends and have often <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10859545/Wars-in-Iraq-and-Afghanistan-were-a-failure-costing-29bn.html">made matters worse</a>.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-30115886.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-30115886.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="332" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UK PM Theresa May and POTUS Donald Trump at the White House, 27 January, 2017. Credit: Stefan Rousseau PA Wire/PA Images </span></span></span></p><p>The UK and its NATO allies account for half the world’s military spending, so the deficiency in Western responses is not a lack of military capability. Instead, as the Ammerdown Group’s <a href="http://www.rethinkingsecurity.org.uk/portfolio/policy-resources">Rethinking Security</a> publication has argued, the problems lie in the dominant narrative about what security means, who it is for, and how it should be achieved. </p> <p>This narrative, which has its roots in the UK’s colonial past, privileges UK security over the security of people in other parts of the world. It emphasises short-term threats, rather than addressing the long-term, systemic drivers of insecurity. And it assumes that threats can be contained and controlled primarily by the projection of military force, exercised principally in alliance with the United States. </p> <p>But the problems arising from this posture are coming home to roost, and the Trump Presidency simply forces us to look a bit harder in the mirror. How long can the UK continue to brand itself as a “<a href="http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2016/10/theresa-may-government-can-and-should-be-force-good">Force for Good</a>” in a world in which its principal ally is enacting openly racist and Islamophobic policies? Or when the government <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/05/mps-to-urge-ban-on-uk-arms-sales-to-saudi-arabia">justifies</a>, on national security grounds, the decision to sell arms to a Saudi Arabian regime that is accused of war crimes in Yemen? Who is paying the price for the UK’s security alliances and what are the long-term consequences of this?</p> <p>If the UK government is committed to contributing to global security, now is the time to revisit some first principles and ask some hard questions. What does security mean? Who are the intended beneficiaries of UK security policy? How can we start to build the conditions of sustainable security and address the drivers of insecurity? Who do we need to work with in this endeavour and on what basis? The UK’s strategic decisions about its security alliances should flow from an urgent re-consideration of these questions. </p> <h3><strong>Can the juggernaut change course?</strong></h3> <p>It is, of course, far easier to ask the questions than to discern and implement a practicable change of course, not least because of the situation the UK now finds itself in. There is colossal <a href="https://www.caat.org.uk/issues/influence">military-industrial momentum</a> behind current UK security policy, which is highly effective at locking the government into a series of arms treaties and investment programmes. And Brexit creates an additional layer of complexity, placing the UK in an awkward position as far as international relations are concerned. The most obvious alternative to the US-UK axis is closer cooperation with our European neighbours; this is a tricky card to play at a time when the UK is embarking on a difficult and potentially acrimonious exit from the European Union. </p> <p>These factors go some way to explaining Theresa May’s willingness to offer apparently unqualified support to the Trump administration. But they are not an acceptable justification. Plenty of other countries have demonstrated that it is entirely possible to take a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/angela-merkel-donald-trump-muslim-ban_uk_588f8483e4b0ce6c8c2cc69b">different approach</a> to the new US government, and to <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/07/29/how-sweden-is-pursuing-its-feminist-foreign-policy-in-the-age-of-erdogan-putin-and-trump-wallstrom-hultqvist/">foreign and security policy</a> more generally. Those of us who believe that our global security alliances should be based on shared values such as humanitarianism, justice, democratic accountability and principled multilateralism need to be pushing for proper debate about the options available. Without a far-ranging public conversation, drawing on the widest range of expertise and perspectives, there is a high risk of business as usual, with global security continuing to deteriorate and the most vulnerable people paying the price.</p> <p>So yes, our banners today should definitely be opposing the racism and xenophobia that have characterised the early days of the Trump administration. They should be challenging the normalisation of his agenda, and calling out our government for its own <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38912428">inhumane response</a> to the refugee crisis. And they should also be asking for an urgent rethink of the UK’s approach to international relations, and particularly for a commitment to security alliances that work for the common good of all the world’s people.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/celia-mckeon/reimagining-security">Reimagining security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yawning-chasm-in-uk-national-security-strategy-security-for-whom">UK National Security Strategy: security for whom? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/after-london-womens-march-what-now">After the Women&#039;s March on London: what now? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/sound-trumpet">Sound the Trumpet </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty">Trump&#039;s slap in the face of Lady Liberty</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/soraya-chemaly/under-trump-we-are-all-women">Under Trump, we are all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/theresa-may-and-love-police">Theresa May and the love police </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 uk United States UK Civil society 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Voices for Change 50.50 newsletter Celia Mckeon Mon, 20 Feb 2017 09:23:31 +0000 Celia Mckeon 108911 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women on the front at Raqqa: an interview with Kimmie Taylor https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/women-on-front-at-raqqa <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What is the reality of war like for the women of Rojava as they advance on Raqqa? Kimmie Taylor from Britain is on the frontline and puts us in the picture.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Kimmie_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Kimmie_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="299" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kimmie Taylor on a tea break with YPJ Credit: Kimmie Taylor </span></span></span></p><p>It is 4am, just before dawn, in a god-forsaken spot ten kilometres away from Raqqa, when a band of Daesh fighters start shooting from a small building outside the Kurdish defence base at the building where the YPJ, the Women’s Defence Force, are based. Kimmie Taylor, a 27-year-old woman from Blackburn, who I met in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/revolution-in-rojava">Rojava</a>, now known as the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, in March 2016 is attached to this unit as their ‘media officer’. She is sleeping in this building full of women soldiers when the attack takes place. Although she received military training (for a mere 10 days), her job is to shoot a camera, not a gun. She is not sent to where the fighting is fiercest, much to her chagrin. But this morning before she can reach for her camera, Kimmie reaches for her gun.</p> <p>After an hour and a half of exchanging fire, one Daesh creeps out, manages to break across the 3mx3m deep trench surrounding the base and blow himself up metres away from Kimmie, his blood and guts splattering her and leaving her feeling sick for days and unable to eat. Another Daesh emerges and is shot before he can blow himself up. The coalition planes arrive and bomb the building. But the fighting continues until one lone sniper who was not in the building at the time is shot. Kimmie says, "We put up an incredible fight for three hours. Just two friends slightly injured. One woman was shot in the right arm at first but continued fighting with the same arm. Only when the Daesh blew himself up and a piece of shrapnel lodged in her head did she stop fighting. I'm so proud to call these people my comrades. We fight with unconditional resistance."</p> <p>Kimmie’s day usually begins at 5 or 6 am with breakfast of a tin of spam, naan and tea. As this is a temporary base, the food is brought to them. On the days when the food truck is late or doesn’t come, they may well go hungry. "There's enough cigarettes though. The food on this front is horrible … the other front I was on was okay because it had been established for a year." Then she goes out to the front to find a group that will move that day to take a new village.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/YPJ1_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/YPJ1_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: YPJ Media Team</span></span></span></p><p>The YPG (People’s Defence Units) and the YPJ (Women’s Defence Units), are advancing on Raqqa, the last remaining ISIS stronghold in Syria, as I write this. A Western coalition, including the Americans and the British, provide air cover to the rapidly advancing forces collectively known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, (SDF) which include Arabs and other ethnic groups from newly liberated areas as well as the secular, progressive factions of the Free Syrian Army who have crossed over to join the Kurds. It is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/12/arms-trade-thrives-war-revolving-door">reported</a> that Trump is considering sending 5000 ground troops to support SDF in their fight against ISIS. While this would certainly shorten the battle against Daesh, it is likely to cause tensions between the Americans and the Kurds, given the hugely different set of values that inform the two societies. </p> <p>For the Kurds, the battle against Daesh is one of sheer survival. This survival is not just of the people, but of the&nbsp;participatory&nbsp;democracy they have established since 2012, which seeks to be secular, ethnically inclusive and environment-friendly, with class and gender equality enshrined in its every fibre.&nbsp;In the drive to be inclusive, the name Rojava has been dropped in favour of the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria because Rojava is the Kurdish word for Western Kurdistan. For the women, this war is part of a continuum of self-defence which includes standing up to violence against the men in their communities. For <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/rojava-revolution-it-s-raining-women">Kongreya Star</a>, the women’s umbrella organisation, 'self-defence is a broad concept, it includes the preservation of culture against an aggressive politics of assimilation, the organising of the economy out of a women's perspective, education, politics and social affairs.’&nbsp;</p> <p>To those feminists who see war and militarisation as masculine and patriarchal, Kimmie would say that we "are fighting for our beliefs. Women need to know that men can't protect us. If the women of Sinjar had established their own forces, ISIS wouldn't have taken them as sex slaves." As for the Americans, Kimmie worries "that they don’t fight carefully like we do and may cause unnecessary civilian deaths." Even with air cover, Kimmie reports that there is a kind of psychological warfare being played by the Coalition "to show who’s boss". The standard procedure at the front is that a camera drone is sent ahead to get information and the co-ordinates are sent to the Coalition. Sometimes they fail to act on the information; Kimmie feels it is deliberate although on the day of the Daesh suicide attack, they respond promptly.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Kimmiesofa_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Kimmiesofa_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kimmie Taylor interviewing women from the YPJ. Credit: Kimmie Taylor</span></span></span></p><p>As a result of this unexpected attack on their base, the YPJ are on lockdown i.e. they are not allowed to go anywhere. This gives Kimmie time to have an unhurried online conversation with me. I ask whose job it is to clear up the bodies. People volunteer – in this case, it was some YPG men based in a building nearby who had come to the assistance of the women when the fighting started.&nbsp; But she assures me that there are no gendered divisions of work. The women had been at the forefront of the fighting that day. How do they all cope with death in their midst, especially when they have forged close bonds? "Many of them I don’t know very well," she replies. "I’m new here and we’ve been dispersed around the front to mix in with all the forces. But my bond is more like awe. I know them on a shallow level, like how they laugh and smile and talk to me and then I see them run fast towards the fight. There's no second thought. They run forward. They aren't afraid at all."</p> <p>Kimmie herself feels safe even though she knows that "that doesn’t make sense". Although most of the women are in their 20s, the age range being 18-30s, they have lost enough of their friends to have become "used to death… It doesn’t mean they aren't sad about it. They cry sometimes. When it's just us women together. And a song comes on or we talk about a friend who died. But they aren't torn apart by it. Like we would be in the West." The sense of relief and joy the women feel on joining the YPJ is indescribable, says Kimmie.&nbsp; At home, they would be expected to get married and faced such restrictions on their freedoms before the revolution that they were not even allowed to greet a male neighbour. It is their newfound freedom that motivates them "and they want to give that to other women".</p> <p>The women at the front are single; those who are married and have children work in ‘diplomacy’ i.e. public relations, administration and recruitment. It is a volunteer army; there is no compulsory recruitment in YPJ. However, some families who are so poor that they cannot afford to lose a family member are financially compensated. Women who want to visit their families are allowed five days off a month. Not everyone wants to go home, especially those women whose families are likely to stop them returning to the front. When I ask if the same rules apply to men, Kimmie says, "No, married men can go to the front but they go home every ten days for a few days. It's a difficult question to answer because you have to remember that we are autonomous. YPJ make their own decision on how to deal with married women and mothers, based on their own ideas not just comparing to what men have. That's the difference between here and western feminism. Feminists are always comparing themselves with men instead of just thinking about what they want and what's best. Here the women know what oppression is. For the average white Westerner it's mostly more subtle. That's why so many women in the West say we aren't oppressed and patriarchy doesn't exist."</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/YPJ2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/YPJ2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: YPJ Media Team</span></span></span></p><p>Sexual relations are proscribed in the YPG/YPJ for the very good reason that there can be no grey area in which sexual violence can hide.&nbsp; Kimmie is still struggling with that concept but she feels that they have really implemented it, "I'm understanding it more as time goes on". She has not noticed relationships either between the men and the women or between the women. She feels that would be, "like falling in love with your sister. They have a deeper connection than sexual attraction allows".</p> <p>I ask Kimmie about the allegations that have been doing the rounds in the West about the YPG burning down Arab villages and brutalising the Arabs they have liberated from Daesh, in particular, an article in <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/have-the-syrian-kurds-committed-war-crimes/">The Nation</a>. She is categorical that this is anti-Rojava propaganda, "I can say that a million percent. Do you know the SDF is 70% Arab now?" </p><p>Since Kimmie’s profile appeared in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/09/blackburn-activist-kimberly-taylor-becomes-first-british-woman-join-fight-isis-syria">The Guardian</a>, there has been a feeding frenzy in the media desperate to get their hands on the sensational story of a young Englishwoman fighting ISIS. Yet her decision cannot be understood without its context. The ideals, history and politics of the people behind the war have been covered extensively on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/revolution-in-rojava" target="_blank">5050</a>. To read more, see our series<span>&nbsp;</span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/revolution-in-rojava">Rojava: Witnessing the Revolution</a>.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/revolution-for-our-times-rojava-northern-syria">A revolution for our times: Rojava, Northern Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/beatrix-campbell/who-are-they-these-revolutionary-Rojava-women">Who are they, these revolutionary Rojava women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/rojava-revolution-how-deep-is-change">Rojava revolution: how deep is the change?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/revolution-is-not-dinner-party">A revolution is not a dinner party</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/rojava-revolution-reshaping-masculinity">Rojava revolution: reshaping masculinity </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 North-Africa West-Asia uk Syria Revolution in Rojava 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy women and power gender justice feminism Kimmie Taylor Rahila Gupta Tue, 14 Feb 2017 10:10:37 +0000 Rahila Gupta and Kimmie Taylor 108787 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trump's slap in the face of Lady Liberty https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/trump-s-slap-in-face-of-lady-liberty <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Will women be turned away from the UN Commission on the Status of Women, to be held in March, in New York? The world's global institutions must fight the 'Muslim Ban', starting with the United Nations.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>&nbsp;<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-29917706(1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-29917706(1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Crowds protest Trump's Muslim travel ban across US airports. Image: Miami Herald/TNS/ABACA ABACA/PA Images</span></span></span></strong></p> <p>On November 9th&nbsp;as the dust settled and we took in the Republican victory in the US elections, I hugged my daughter and told her, “WE will be ok. WE will be safe.” I reminded her that as a child I had lived through the Iranian revolution, where we had seen our lives upended.&nbsp; I insisted that those events – travel bans, arrests, families separated, assets frozen - would not take place in America, regardless of the rhetoric against Muslims or citizens of Muslim majority countries. &nbsp;In conversations with friends and family, who were anxious, we deployed dark humor but we did not overdo it.&nbsp; Rightly so, our sympathy lay with the undocumented women, men and children, who’d be at the mercy of the new sheriff in town.&nbsp; Compared to them, we were and are the lucky ones.&nbsp; Or so I thought. </p> <p>At 4.30 pm on January 26, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order that effectively bans the citizens of seven countries from visiting the United States.&nbsp; Iranians, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis, Somalis and Sudanese who wish to travel to the US, regardless of whether they are refugees fleeing war and terror, students bringing their brilliance and talent to US universities, tourists wishing to spend their hard earned cash in the US, or parents, lovers, siblings and children hoping to visit their US based relatives, are barred.&nbsp; As they arrived at airports in the US, chaos ensued. People were arrested, interrogated, had their social media sites checked and some were deported. &nbsp;An Iraqi interpreter for the US army was cuffed for 17 hours.&nbsp; Elderly women in wheelchairs and young children were in the mix along with doctors and scientists. The US officials and Trump supporters claimed this is done for national security, but politics of the extreme right is driving this agenda. </p> <p>The initial statement was broad enough that it also dragged Green Card holders, i.e. legal permanent residents of the US into its draconian net. Even nationals of those seven countries, with other citizenship could be barred. &nbsp;For a while the silence of the UK government and others was simply deafening. Then Prime Minister Trudeau – Captain Canada – came out strongly supporting his dual citizens. Angela Merkel followed and Boris Johnson finally stated that the vast majority of UK citizens who were nationals of these seven countries were also exempt. But as of Sunday night, the US Department of Homeland Security has stated, while Green card holders would have right of entry they could be subject to ‘case-by-case’ determination.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>The outcry against this EO has been loud, proud, spontaneous and so very humane spilling out in airports across the country. The weekend’s heroes were the lawyers and judges who came out in droves and fought heroically for seemingly small but life-changing victories. They proved that the separation of powers and rule of law that are the foundations of democracy, do work.&nbsp; Judges across the country chastised the government for lacking legal grounds for barring entry to visa holders and legal residents.&nbsp; But they are small victories, as hundreds of people remain in detention. </p> <p>These events touch many of us directly as we have childhood memories of flight from revolution, war or dictatorship to new lives in the United States and Europe.&nbsp; The memory of upheaval and the fear of uncertainty may be burrowed deep in our psyches but it is never erased. Yet on election night when the Republican victory was announced, none of us imagined that those fears could be inflamed again here in the United States, where we live as legal residents or citizens.&nbsp; I did not imagine the possibility of ever again leaving my home for a 10-day trip and not being able to return for seven years, as happened when I was an 11 year old in Tehran.&nbsp; Yet these past few days that thought has crossed my mind.&nbsp; It is so unimaginable to consider packing up my home, that I dose it with humor, wondering who would water my plants and whether my children – who luckily are US citizens – would remember to take Myrtle our turtle back to their father’s home. &nbsp;</p> <p>The very thought of banning people from the United States is an anathema to the very essence and identity of this country.&nbsp; The beauty, exceptionalism and greatness of America compared to other countries, has always been its willingness to embrace and celebrate diversity and pluralism. European countries have democracy and liberty. They also have better education, infrastructure and health care.&nbsp; But they falter in their ability to fully embrace the multiculturalism that is the new norm of our world.&nbsp; America was formed and thrived on that very idea.&nbsp; If this is destroyed, than what is great about America?</p><p>Coming from a president with a history of abuse against women, it is difficult not to see it as a punch in the face for Lady Liberty. </p> <p>When America catches the flu, the world catches pneumonia – as many of my colleagues say. So it was no surprise that this EO implicates so many others – not least the beleaguered but still relevant United Nations.&nbsp; If the visa ban is issued, than the state officials and citizens of these seven countries cannot attend UN meetings in New York.&nbsp; </p> <p>Given that the first to protest profoundly against the age of Trump were America’s women, and that the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is coming up in March, it is perhaps apt, that the first to also test and taste the ban will be women.&nbsp; That Yemenis, Iraqis and Syrians will be among the absentees is even more poignant. They are the invisible and unsung heroes of their countries. Through the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) which I spearhead, we know that these women are the few who dare to work for peace and equality, to provide relief and aid in the midst of war, to envision and work for the betterment of their societies in every way they can.&nbsp; They are perpetually at risk from violent armed movements and predatory governments. </p> <p>From Syria and Yemen to Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Sudan, women are at the literal frontlines of the struggle against Daesh and other extremist groups. They aren’t full of hot air and rabid rhetoric. They’re putting their own lives on the line to pull young men out of the clutches of these groups. Coming to the UN is their opportunity to inspire and show solidarity with each other, and share their expertise with the powerful states of the world.&nbsp; But herein lies the irony: &nbsp;in attempting to come to the UN – home of universal human rights &nbsp;–&nbsp;they will be barred by the extreme radicalism of one member state, that claims their exclusion is a means of preventing violent extremism.&nbsp; If Lewis Caroll were alive, he’d say the bananas are running the republic. &nbsp;</p> <p>We may be cynical about the UN, but now when so much that was built so carefully over years, is being destroyed so quickly, taking the UN for granted is a bad idea. Despite the shenanigans of many governments, the UN, in its very spirit and since its inception, has been about ‘we the people’, and rooted in the principles of the universality of human rights. &nbsp;The conferences where citizens get to meet, overcome prejudices, and convey their thoughts and solutions, are more necessary than ever in our collective history.&nbsp; The participation of women in matters of world peace and security – especially from countries affected by war and violence – is of particular and urgent importance.&nbsp; Even the crusty UN Security Council has acknowledged this, with not only the US, but also Russia and Theresa May’s UK issuing no less than eight resolutions calling for women’s full participation and representation in decision-making pertaining to war and peace.&nbsp; </p> <p>Yet the Trump administration’s EO will mean a unilateral and clearly arbitrary ban against women coming to the UN. It will be flouting the Security Council’s resolutions and thus against international law. &nbsp;Of course Mr. Trump’s coterie are also sharpening their knives against the entire United Nations infrastructure. And those who know the new President say his style of leadership is to create conflict among those around him. When he was a CEO it was among his own staff. Now he is president, it will be to pit one country against the other. </p> <p>António Guterres, the new UN Secretary-General – already much respected and with tremendous responsibility and expectation on his shoulders – has enough on his plate. But neither Guterres nor the UN General Assembly can stand in silence now that the EO is passed.&nbsp; It is an early warning sign of worse things to come, for the US and the world. </p> <p>Here in the US, individually and through our civic organizations, we continue to fight back. We understand that living in America – even as non-citizens –&nbsp;&nbsp;is about standing up for our own rights, while respecting those of others. It is advanced citizenship, like none other, with deep roots in the rule of law.&nbsp; But since January 20th, the rule of bad law is being seeded. We cannot let it take root and become normalized. &nbsp;And when the impact goes beyond the borders of the US, the world’s global institutions need to take a stand.&nbsp;</p><p>So, on behalf of ‘we the peoples’, it is time for the United Nations to also stand against the so-called Muslim Ban, and to do so, before it is too late.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/soraya-chemaly/under-trump-we-are-all-women">Under Trump, we are all women </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/meredith-tax/sound-trumpet">Sound the Trumpet </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/after-london-womens-march-what-now">After the Women&#039;s March on London: what now? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-davis-yifat-susskind/standing-our-ground-at-un-commission-on-status-of-women-csw">Standing our ground at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 United States Civil society Democracy and government Understanding the rise of Trump 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Gender and the UN UN Commission on the Status of Women 50.50 People on the Move patriarchy feminism 50.50 newsletter Sanam Naraghi Anderlini Mon, 30 Jan 2017 09:43:21 +0000 Sanam Naraghi Anderlini 108438 at https://www.opendemocracy.net António Guterres: The Ninth Man https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-marie-goetz/ninth-man <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How will UN Secretary-General António Guterres demonstrate the UN's intention to resist the rising tide of misogyny in the US and the global wave of misogynistic nationalism?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-28906122(1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-28906122(1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="279" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UN Secretary-General António Guterres speaking at a press conference in New York. Photo/UN Women</span></span></span></p> <p>António Guterres takes office on 1 January as the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations; the ninth man to take this role.&nbsp; He faces a greater concentration of crises than anyone can remember, at a time of growing skepticism about multilateral solutions, while the UN’s credibility as a trustworthy humanitarian actor has been crushed by sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers.&nbsp; As the world’s&nbsp; <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/06/new-un-secretary-general-antonio-guterres">'secular pope’</a> &nbsp;he will have to deal with inflated expectations about his capacity to resolve these crises and repair the UN in the process. Trump’s win in the November US presidential elections makes it urgent that the new SG fronts a powerful feminist agenda to hold firm against a rising tide of misogyny in the US and elsewhere. For Guterres to do this effectively, he must distinguish clearly between an internal UN project of achieving gender parity, and a wider project of democratising gender relations and enabling women’s leadership in national and global problem-solving.</p> <p><strong>Implications of the Trump win for multilateral work on gender equality</strong></p> <p>Feminist multilateralists <a href="http://www.womansg.org/">campaigned in 2016</a> for the appointment of a woman as SG.&nbsp; One of the factors mitigating their disappointment was a widely-shared hope, rising dangerously to the status of an expectation, that the next US president would be Hillary Clinton.&nbsp; The possibility of a feminist US president who had, as Secretary of State, framed increases in the US’s spending on women’s rights, autonomy and wellbeing as investments in national and international security, was expected to usher in a new era of funding and inclusion for the UN’s marginalised work on engaging women in peace processes and peacebuilding, and for its beleaguered ‘women peace and security’ (WPS) specialists. </p> <p>A feminist US president might also have spurred the UN to become a much more convincing leader on women’s sexual and reproductive rights, rights to property, decent employment and fair pay, freedom from gender-based violence and access to opportunities to compete for public office.</p> <p>Trump’s win threatens the precise opposite. It makes feminist achievements seem much less secure than we had thought. Trump’s win, coasting on global trends favoring pugilistic leadership styles, xenophobic and racist nationalism, has massively increased the burden of expectations on the new SG.&nbsp; Trump’s win has brought with it a range of threats to multilateralism in general, and specifically to efforts to slow climate change, promote human rights, cooperate on resettling refugees, and even, astonishingly, to freedom of expression. Trump’s win has also featured a threat to women’s rights. Trump’s own history of sexual harassment, his threat to de-fund Planned Parenthood, his dismissal of efforts to fight gender or sexuality-based discrimination as ‘political correctness’, his predilection for older white men - &nbsp;some with domestic violence charges - in government leadership roles, are expressions of an unapologetically Hefneresque reduction of women to sex objects. His vague proposals on paid maternity leave reflect not a feminist policy platform, but the hard ‘<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/15/ivanka-trump-feminism-us-election">peak marketplace feminis</a>m’ of his daughter Ivanka; less about justice than about grooming women to consume. </p> <p>Ominously, Trump’s transition team has made gender the focus one of its astonishingly few requests for information about how the government works.&nbsp; Just before Christmas it asked the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/22/us/politics/state-department-gender-equality-trump-transition.html">State Department and USAID employees to outline</a> “existing programs and activities to promote gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence, promoting women’s participation in economic and political spheres, entrepreneurship, etc.” The Trump transition team also requested a list of positions “whose primary functions are to promote such issues”, as well as how much funding was directed to gender-related programmes in 2016. &nbsp;Considering how relatively isolated this request is in the context of his inexperienced transition team, that it was made at all suggests it is an area of significant interest.</p> <p>If the intention of the probe into the US’s gender equality work is to trim fat, Trump will be disappointed.&nbsp; Gender equality work in fragile and developing countries is not exactly a major money drain for the US. But if the intention is to contort or cut the US’s women’s rights work internationally, this is a much more serious concern.&nbsp; While perhaps the best known US policy on gender and foreign aid is the regularly renewed Helms Amendment barring federal funding for abortion services, the US otherwise plays an unsung but crucial leadership role in multilateral policy-making on women’s rights.&nbsp; An attack on the US’s role in this area could have repercussions around the world. </p> <p>The US has been at the head of efforts to push the UN to promote women’s rights since Virginia Gildersleeve was the sole woman on the US delegation to the 1945 San Francisco United Nations Conference, where she helped draft the UN Charter. In the annual Commission on the Status of Women the US has played a vital role in facilitating normative advances, but it often negotiates from behind partner countries from the South, building global coalitions on women’s rights to show that women’s rights are not just an advanced industrial nations preoccupation.&nbsp; In the Security Council, the US has been a consistent supporter of the ‘Women Peace and Security’ resolutions, in particular those aiming to prevent the use of sexual violence as a tactic of warfare. The US provides core financial support to the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.&nbsp; And though the US is hardly the biggest donor to UN Women, it was one of the prime drivers of the 2010 resolution creating it. Hillary Clinton personally interceded on its behalf to persuade Michele Bachelet, currently the president of Chile, to become its first Executive Director, a move that significantly elevated its profile.</p> <p><strong>Time for a feminist surge at the UN</strong></p> <p>In light of the seeming inevitability of a dilution of the US’s support for gender equality and LGBTI rights, and in the context of reversals of women’s rights achievements by regimes that may be nationalist, populist, authoritarian, post-Soviet kleptocratic, or influenced by fundamentalist religious ideologies, the UN must step up as the standard-bearer for women’s rights.&nbsp; This will be tough.&nbsp; As noted by a <a href="https://www.icrw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ICRW_FemUNRecommendations_WebReady_v4.pdf">group of feminists</a> convened in the autumn by the International Center for Research on Women in Washington DC: ‘the institution that has catalyzed […] breakthrough processes to secure visionary commitments to gender equality has consistently failed to implement these commitments in its internal policies and practices, as well as in the programs that it advocates for and supports.” Bringing attention to gender issues into top decision-making at the UN will require internal reforms to address the way this is constantly marginalized and sidelined, to significantly increase funding for women’s empowerment programming, to sharpen the influence of UN Women, and to address one of the UN’s most egregious failings: the impunity with which both uniformed and civilian peacekeepers as well as UN humanitarian staff sexually abuse host populations. </p> <p>Long before Guterres was selected, a range of UN observers and international civil society organisations began to generate priority agendas for the new SG’s consideration.&nbsp; Arguably these started with former Assistant Secretary-General Anthony Banbury’s blistering March 2016 Op Ed in the New York Times, blaming the UN’s ‘colossal mismanagement’ on a sclerotic personnel system and spineless caving-in to political pressure in senior appointments.&nbsp; Disappointingly, Banbury called for an outside panel to review the situation – a classic UN method of doing nothing. Later, the <a href="http://cic.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/publication_sec_general_vexed_thant_min_u_apr11.pdf">Center on International Cooperation produced a paper</a> on methods of overhauling the personnel system and bringing real talent, not individuals owed a favour by their governments, into senior management.&nbsp; A priority list from the UK Overseas Development Institute <a href="https://www.odi.org/comment/10448-four-priorities-new-un-secretary-general">addresses migration and the SDGs</a> (<a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/">Sustainable Development Goals</a>).&nbsp; The <a href="https://www.crisisgroup.org/global/fifteen-points-new-secretary-general">International Crisis Group prioritizes</a> reviving multilateralism, mediation in the Middle East, making the African Union more effective, building conflict prevention systems, and reviewing the UN’s counter-terrorism work. &nbsp;The <a href="http://www.cirsd.org/en/horizons/horizons-spring-2016--issue-no-7/the-next-un-secretary-generals-security-agenda-">Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development</a> calls for revising peacekeeping towards light-weight information-driven missions to make the UN more responsive to rapidly-evolving crises. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/06/new-un-secretary-general-antonio-guterres">Mark Seddon of the Guardian</a> boils it all down to fixing Syria, ASAP.&nbsp; </p> <p>Not one of these many sets of suggestions mention gender issues, save sometimes to note the extent to which the <a href="http://www.cirsd.org/en/horizons/horizons-spring-2016--issue-no-7/the-next-un-secretary-generals-security-agenda-">UN’s credibility is sullied</a> by impunity for sexual exploitation by peacekeepers. Failure to mention gender equality by observers deeply steeped in the UN’s work shows that they consider it irrelevant to the desperate crises of the moment, as something to be dealt with later. </p> <p>This should make gender equality advocates worry.&nbsp; A great deal of research and advocacy has shown that gender equality is not a matter to be addressed at some point down the line, but an <a href="http://www.womenmajorgroup.org/high-level-political-forum-wmgs-brief-on-systemic-barriers-to-achieving-sustainable-development/">urgent immediate priority for poverty reduction and achieving the SDGs</a>, <a href="https://www.demworks.org/gender-women-and-democracy">for democracy-building</a>, and for <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/26/opinion/womens-rights-are-a-national-security-issue.html">conflict prevention and building peace</a>.&nbsp; But clearly the data have failed to convince the many smart people puzzling out solutions to crises of our time.&nbsp; </p> <p><strong>Guterres’s immediate actions on women in leadership</strong></p> <p>If Guterres is <a href="https://www.ethicsandinternationalaffairs.org/2016/united-nations-real-feminist-next-secretary-general-antonio-guterres/">the feminist he says he is</a>, then he has to bring gender equality more centrally into the priorities for his tenure. In doing this, he also has to make a distinction between gender parity in staffing, and substantive efforts to advance women’s leadership, wellbeing and rights. </p> <p>Guterres has been careful to mention gender issues in his speeches since his appointment, most recently when he was sworn in as SG on December 13th. &nbsp;He has commited to gender parity in staffing, and makes a priority of the issue of women’s protection in the context of crisis and social upheaval. He made an immediate symbolic gesture cementing his commitment to women in leadership by <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55810#.WGezK7YrKb8">appointing</a>, right after being sworn in, Amina Mohammed (formerly Minister for the Environment in Nigeria) as his Deputy Secretary General; Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti as his Chef de Cabinet; and Kyung-wha Kang as special advisor. In a move never taken by any other incoming SG, he has appointed a gender adviser to his transition team, someone widely respected among gender specialists, the manager of the 2015 Global Study on Women Peace and Security. He has put the sexual exploitation and abuse problem centre-stage, appointing a senior adviser in this area. He has also asked the UN's human resources teams, particularly within the stubbornly male-dominated Secretariat, for proposals to bring forward the current gender parity deadline of 2030 to something closer to 2020.&nbsp; </p> <p>He is right to push: in 1993 the UN set itself a goal of gender parity across all staffing categories by 2000.&nbsp; Almost a quarter of a century later the UN has less than 22% women in senior management of the Secretariat.&nbsp; The percentages of women in some areas, such as UN peacekeeping and political mission management, has actually flatlined at under 25% level for years.&nbsp; </p> <p>This faltering progress means that Guterres is going to need to spend some political capital on moving beyond ‘best intentions’ efforts. That means rejecting candidate lists proposed by Member States for senior positions until there are more women on them. That means recruitment panels cannot get away with saying that not enough qualified women applied. They will have to go out and look for them. Recruitment panels will also need training in how to combat reflexive sexist discounting of women’s achievements. Even stronger measures such as insisting on all female shortlists for some stubbornly male-dominated positions will be needed. This will trigger howls of outrage from staff unions and Member States. </p> <p>The gender imbalance is even more extreme among the UN’s uniformed peacekeepers.&nbsp; Suggestions made in the UN’s <a href="http://www2.unwomen.org/-/media/files/un%20women/wps/highlights/unw-global-study-1325-2015.pdf?v=1&amp;d=20160323T192435">2015 Global Study on Women Peace and Security</a> on creating financial incentives for Troop Contributing Countries to send more women soldiers and police have not been taken seriously because of a longstanding aversion to privileges for specific categories of personnel (and also because of fear of male backlash).&nbsp; It is time to get over that. </p> <p><strong>It’s going to take a lot more than gender parity</strong></p> <p>But gender parity in staffing cannot be a main pillar of Guterres’s feminist project, and he seems to know that this is a long route to empowerment. While more women at all levels of the UN’s bureaucracy is desirable for the sake of diversity, it will not necessarily generate feminist policy actions. Also, a focus on gender parity in staffing risks being perceived as an elitist project; ‘jobs for the girls’ but not necessarily justice and opportunities for women around the world under harsh patriarchal regimes. </p> <p>So another priority for Guterres will be to bring gender priorities to his reiterated commitments to <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55285#.WGenQrYrJPM">peace, sustainable development, and management reform</a>.&nbsp; During his campaign, Guterres promised a ‘<a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55343#.WGSPyrYrKb9">surge in diplomacy for peace’</a>.&nbsp; He meant not just that he would be getting on a plane to Damascus, but that he would mobilize the finest diplomatic talents the world over to build bridges in seemingly intractable conflicts.&nbsp; He should engage women peace-makers in this effort too. From the community to national level, women mediators are left out of conflict resolution efforts, even though there is evidence that <a href="https://theglobalobservatory.org/2016/11/peace-development-women-undp-africa/">peace deals last longer when they are involved</a>.&nbsp; Sustainable development will have to address the world’s greatest source of inequality and exploitation which is women’s unpaid labour and the impunity men enjoy for violence against women.&nbsp; Management reform efforts cannot leave out an urgent push to bring justice to victims of sexual abuse by UN personnel. While there are massive challenges in holding uniformed perpetrators to account, the UN can at least ensure that its own civilian staff answer for these crimes.&nbsp; </p> <p>Proposals to action these measures are found in the ‘to do’ lists offered to the new SG by feminist groups, such as the <a href="https://www.icrw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/ICRW_FemUNRecommendations_WebReady_v4.pdf">ICRW one</a>, <a href="http://action.equalitynow.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=23658&amp;utm_source=email&amp;utm_medium=takeAction_btn&amp;utm_campaign=UNSG_FeministAgenda">one by Equality Now</a>, and, unusually, <a href="https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/a-feminist-agenda-for-the-new-un-secretary-general.html">one from a feminist network of UN staff</a>. &nbsp;But these are all missing something. For the new SG to bring gender equality concerns to the front of the UN’s top decision-makers’ agendas, he needs a stronger internal gender equality advocate.&nbsp; UN decision-making needs a powerful feminist brain behind it, and only UN Women is mandated to provide it. UN Women itself needs to be much better positioned to influence all aspects of the UN’s work.&nbsp; Rivalries between gender units in different parts of the UN continue to lock UN Women’s efforts into ineffective cajoling, while stranding gender equality work at lower staff grade levels, away from strategic decision-making.&nbsp; Strengthening UN Women does not have to mean weakening all of these gender units, but it does mean that they have to accept monitoring by UN Women – something that they all resist.&nbsp; Strengthening UN Women also means opening the possibility for it to receive a portion of assessed funds (the required, rather than voluntary contributions that Member States make to the UN).&nbsp; Above all, it means building UN Women’s strategic analysis and planning capability so that it can engage effectively in the off-screen crisis response processes in top decision-making.</p> <p><strong>Guterres needs an early high visibility gender equality ‘win’ </strong></p> <p>At a mid-December informal meeting convened by the <a href="https://www.ipinst.org/2016/12/guterres-meets-civil-society-members-at-ipi">International Peace Institute</a>, about thirty five civil society organisations, had the opportunity to pitch their concerns to the new SG and his team for an hour and a half.&nbsp; A surprising majority of the statements insisted on the importance of sustaining the UN’s gender equality work.&nbsp; One of the first points raised was about the need to defend women’s reproductive rights and not lose ground on abortion rights.&nbsp; Others raised alarms about the growing threats to women human rights defenders, the need to salvage the UN’s reputation in fragile state contexts, and the need to pair the gender parity drive with a demand that senior leaders at the UN are accountable for promoting women’s rights.&nbsp; He listened intently, and while the reproductive rights issue was not addressed, there was little doubt that his new team is eager to identify an early high visibility ‘win’ on gender to demonstrate the UN’s intention to resist the global wave of misogynistic nationalism.&nbsp; Guterres’s first appointments are reassuring, but do not speak to the need for a specifically feminist achievement.&nbsp; Gender parity in staffing will not be reached for a long time.&nbsp; More visible, and more immediately reassuring to women around the world, would be a strong gender equality component in his ‘surge of diplomacy’- for instance through supporting women’s peace movements to engage in mediation efforts.&nbsp; Another high visibility action would be decisive steps against UN staff involved in sexual exploitation and abuse.&nbsp; It could make the UN a more credible defender of women’s rights. </p><p><em>Read more critical perspectives on openDemocracy 50.50's platform:</em> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gender-and-un"><strong>Gender and the UN</strong> </a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/un-s-gender-problem">How will António Guterres tackle the UN’s gender problem ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/is-feminist-united-nations-possible-in-our-lifetime">Is a feminist United Nations possible in our lifetime?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/melanie-cura-deball/un-peacekeeping-blue-banner-for-hope-or-red-flag-for-abuse">UN peacekeeping: blue banner for hope, or red flag for abuse?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kavita-n-ramdas/building-bridge-to-future-towards-feminist-un">Building a bridge to the future: towards a feminist UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-country-for-women-double-standards-choosing-next-UN-Secretary-General">Still no country for women? Double standards in choosing the next UN Secretary-General </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jessica-dawn-wilson/is-there-real-commitment-to-women-peace-and-security">Women, peace and security: the UN&#039;s rhetoric-reality gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/redressing-uns-gender-gap-how-do-sg-contenders-compare">Redressing the UN&#039;s gender gap: how do the SG contenders compare? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/missing-link-in-women%27s-human-rights">The missing link in women&#039;s human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/culture-versus-rights-dualism-myth-or-reality">Culture versus rights dualism: a myth or a reality?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/un-gender-generation-and-counter-terrorism-in-women-peace-and-security-debate">UN resolution 2242: gender, generation, and counter terrorism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sophie-giscard-destaing/gender-and-terrorism-un-calls-for-women-s-engagement-in-countering-viol">UN calls for women’s engagement in countering violent extremism: but at what cost? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourania-s-yancopoulos/is-un-really-moving-toward-gender-equality-or-is-it-trying-to-cover-up-lack-of">Is the UN really moving toward gender equality? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter feminism gender justice women and power women's human rights Anne Marie Goetz Sat, 31 Dec 2016 18:33:27 +0000 Anne Marie Goetz 107910 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UK National Security Strategy: security for whom? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/yawning-chasm-in-uk-national-security-strategy-security-for-whom <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>To make real progress on tackling insecurity, there needs to be far greater commitment by the British government to addressing its causes, and not just its symptoms.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Nat Sec report image 1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Nat Sec report image 1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="296" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Mushroom cloud from UK Air Support Bombing, Afghanistan. Photo: POA/Sean Clee.</span></span></span></p><p>Last week, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the publication of the government’s first <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-security-strategy-and-strategic-defence-and-security-review-2015-annual-report-2016">Annual Report</a> on its National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review (<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-security-strategy-and-strategic-defence-and-security-review-2015">SDSR 2015</a>). Given the current international climate, this is an important exercise. The report is potentially a significant opportunity for the government to update parliament on the strengths and weaknesses of the UK’s responses to the major security challenges of the day, to justify its expenditure and to indicate what adjustments it is making to improve effectiveness.</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, for a government exercise in marking its own homework, the assessment is overwhelmingly positive. Theresa May’s foreword describes “good progress in each area” and asserts that “time and again, it is British leadership – British hard and soft power – that is at the forefront of the world’s response to the greatest challenges of our time.” The report then lists actions taken in respect of each of three overarching objectives; it details all 89 of the principal commitments outlined in SDSR 2015, of which 12 have been completed and 38 “set in train”.</p> <p>This all sounds quite encouraging, until you look more closely at what is missing. First, the report operates in a strategic grey zone. The SDSR 2015 gave no definition of the “security” it is setting out to achieve. It failed to identify the principles by which this security would be built and sustained, and provided no indicators or benchmarks against which progress would be measured. Yes, it listed a set of objectives and actions, but there was no explanation of the intended cumulative outcome of all this activity and expenditure. This weakness has been picked up by the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (JCNSS), the main parliamentary body scrutinising the implementation of the strategy. In its first <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201617/jtselect/jtnatsec/153/15302.htm">report</a> earlier this year, the JCNSS commented that “the primary goal of the NSS and SDSR process is to set out (a) what the UK wants to achieve; (b) how it intends to achieve it; and (c) what capabilities are required. The NSS and SDSR 2015 does not achieve that presentational goal”.</p> <p>This is more than just a small PR problem. It is a serious obstacle to assessing the effectiveness of a major part of public expenditure on an issue of critical national importance. And it matters all the more because the government’s record in this area is decidedly mixed; many actions undertaken in the name of ‘national security’ have indeed been quite disastrous. The <a href="https://rusi.org/">Royal United Services Institute</a> has <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/23/uk-military-operations-costs">judged</a> the UK’s recent military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya as “strategic failures” – all of which continue to generate huge insecurity both for people in those countries and, to a far lesser extent, for people living in the UK. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Nat Sec Report rpt image 2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Nat Sec Report rpt image 2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="317" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>What did you learn from Iraq? Photo: Flickr/Alisdair Hickson </span></span></span></p><p>The <a href="http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/the-report/">Chilcot Report</a>, published in July this year, described the UK’s actions in Iraq as “an intervention which went badly wrong, and which has consequences to this day”. Last week's annual report on SDSR 2015 acknowledges Chilcot’s findings almost as an aside, saying only that the lessons had mostly already been anticipated and incorporated. This assertion is in marked contrast to other assessments of the government’s ability to learn lessons from past foreign policy failures. As recently as last month, the Foreign Affairs Committee <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/foreign-affairs-committee/news-parliament-2015/libya-gov-response-16-17/">chastised</a> the government for, in its view, unwillingness to learn the lessons of the 2011 intervention in Libya, which it described as contributing to “the collapse of the state, failure of stabilisation and the facilitation of Islamist extremism”. Questions about the outcomes of the UK’s national security interventions both here and elsewhere in the world need to keep being asked.</p> <p>The second big omission in both the SDSR 2015 and the annual report is any serious effort to address the long-term drivers of insecurity. UK policy quite reasonably seeks to respond to what it perceives to be some of the immediate security challenges facing the country – a resurgent Russia, the threat of terrorism, and global instability. While these risks are real, they cannot be meaningfully addressed in isolation from the profound security challenges arising from how we organise our societies. Despite growing global awareness of the urgent risks posed by climate change, the issue is marginalised in the original government strategy and receives only two fleeting mentions in the annual report. The same is also true of economic inequalities stemming from the neoliberal model, the polarising effects of which Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/05/mark-carney-isolation-globalisation-bank-of-england">warned about</a> just this week. To make real progress on tackling insecurity, there needs to be far greater commitment to addressing its causes, and not just its symptoms. </p> <p>The third major gap in the report is the yawning chasm that sometimes appears between the UK’s rhetorical commitment to international norms and its actual practice. The report describes the UK as a “leading supporter of the international rules-based system”, and specifically notes that the government continues to lobby for and encourage ratification of the international Arms Trade Treaty. And while accusing other powerful states and non-state actors of “ignoring international norms that they believe run contrary to their interests”, the report fails to acknowledge concerns over the UK’s continued arms exports to Saudi Arabia, despite <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-led-coalition-could-be-committing-international-crimes-bombing-civilians-in-yemen-un-a6940701.html">warnings</a> from the UN that the Gulf Kingdom could be committing international crimes in the course of its bombing campaign in Yemen.</p> <p>But there are also omissions in relation to security issues that are far closer to home. Despite its 38 pages, and its repeated references to the threats posed by terrorism, the annual report makes not a single mention of the security situation in Northern Ireland. It makes no reference to the statistics quoted in the recent <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-terrorism-acts-in-2015">publication</a> by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, which describes three “security-related deaths” in the year to March 2016, as well as 36 shooting incidents and 52 bombing incidents. Paramilitaries are also <a href="http://www.thedetail.tv/articles/paramilitaries-in-northern-ireland-forcing-hundreds-from-their-homes-each-year">reported</a> to be responsible for more than 400 incidents per year of people being forced out of their homes. While these figures are of a significantly lesser order of magnitude than during the Troubles, they are statistics that simply would not be tolerated in Great Britain. </p> <p>With the UK spending more than <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/defence-budget-increases-for-the-first-time-in-six-years">£35 billion</a> per year on defence, and with a <a href="http://www.cityam.com/229260/autumn-statement-and-comprehensive-spending-review-2015-george-osborne-promises-30pc-increase-in-counter-terrorism-spending-in-wake-of-paris-attacks">commitment</a> to increase counter-terrorism expenditure from £11.7 billion over five years to £15.1 billion over the same period, it seems reasonable to expect a proper reckoning of the impacts of that expenditure for the common security of people throughout the UK and beyond. But the annual report on UK national security policy is beset by the flaws of the strategy published last year. The government needs to be willing to define security and articulate the intended outcomes of its interventions. It should consider a much greater emphasis on addressing the long-term drivers of insecurity, rather than focusing only on short-term symptoms. It needs to live up to its rhetoric, consistently upholding international standards and recognising that it cannot build security for people in the UK at the expense of the security of people in other parts of the world. Only then are we likely to be able to see, and measure, meaningful progress. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/celia-mckeon/uncomfortable-assumptions-about-security-uk-vote-on-support-for-saudi-arabia">Uncomfortable assumptions about security: the UK vote on support for Saudi Arabia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/celia-mckeon-diana-francis/story-of-moral-abandon">A story of moral abandon</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/opensecurity/celia-mckeon/reimagining-security">Reimagining security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/new-narrative-on-human-rights-security-and-prosperity">A new narrative on human rights, security and prosperity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/military-intervention-in-yemen-international-system-in-crisis">Military intervention in Yemen: the international system in crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/common-vision-abolition-of-militarism">A common vision: The abolition of militarism </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/content/meaning-of-peace-in-21st-century">The meaning of peace in the 21st century</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valerie-hudson/foundation-of-human-security-in-every-society">The foundation of human security in every society</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Conflict Democracy and government 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women and militarism 50.50 newsletter Celia Mckeon Thu, 15 Dec 2016 09:03:27 +0000 Celia Mckeon 107695 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Are we all beheaded Copts? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mariz-tadros/are-we-all-beheaded-copts-outrage-in-libya-0 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Is the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians by ISIS in Libya associated with a broader political project of cleansing the region of religious minorities? Would this not deserve demonstrations of solidarity?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The beheading of 21 Coptic Christian Egyptians by ISIS on February 15 has triggered widespread international official condemnation. Human Rights Watch has <a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/02/16/libyaegypt-murder-egyptians-war-crime">condemned</a> this atrocity as a war crime. However, the language is sufficiently opaque&nbsp; as to leave room for missing the point of who these civilians were and why they were targeted: “Egyptians – particularly those of Coptic faith and truck drivers carrying goods back and forth from Egypt – have been targeted for abduction or killing in Libya around a dozen times since late 2013”. Invoking Copts and truck drivers (even if non-Copt) implicitly suggests that they are both vulnerable to abduction and killing. Is this framing informed by an absence of knowledge of what is happening in Libya, or strategic - intended to underplay the explicit targeting of civilians on religious grounds?&nbsp; </p><p>An audit of the incidents of kidnappings that were announced in the Egyptian press since 2013, most of which were confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gives an unambiguous picture of what is going on. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/INfoTAble.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/521587/INfoTAble.png" alt="Table of data" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Compiled by Akram Habib</span></span></span>Libya has for many decades been a country which has received hundreds of thousands of Egyptian migrants in search of livelihoods. While not all Egyptian residents in Libya are low income earners, it is likely that the majority are. Certainly, the twenty one beheaded Egyptian Christians fit that category. They came from a remote village in Minya, one of the Upper Egyptian Governorates with a low human development profile and high levels of poverty. Many Egyptians, Copts included, have often held low paid menial jobs in Libya, whether as day labourers or street vendors, with their poverty increasing their vulnerability. However, even when they are not in economically vulnerable situations (such as the doctor and his family who were murdered, see table above), they have still been targeted. </p><p>From the table above it is clear that of the 1,125 cases of kidnapping, only the Christian have been killed (though there may be more who were taken hostages, the whereabouts of which are unknown, undocumented in the media). This comparison of the predicament of captured Egyptians suggests that there is a pre-meditated plan of eliminating those who happen to be Copts on the basis&nbsp; of religion. The selective killing of the Copts, and the release of the others can&nbsp; only be explained by the will of the assailants. The BBC for example, reports that <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/middleeast/2015/01/150104_egypt_warning_travelling_libya">eyewitness accounts</a> in one incident of kidnapping involved the armed group which dashed into a house full of Egyptian workers and asked whether there were any Christians among them, seized them, and left the rest. </p> <p>In view of the long history of Egyptian Christian migrant labour to Libya, why are they being targeted now? Writer Salwa El Zoghby provides an <a href="http://www.elwatannews.com/news/details/665044">astute analysis</a> of the main drivers of the religiously-mediated targeting.&nbsp; She suggests that these attacks have taken place predominantly in the centre and east of Libya which are areas characterized by the near absence of state authorities,&nbsp; prevailing chaos, absence of rule of law and widespread circulation of weapons. It is in these areas that Islamist militias have established strongholds, and found the conditions that have empowered them to target Christians on ideological grounds. She also points that these Islamist jihadi groups have been responsive to the announcement by <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansar_al-Sharia_%28Libya%29">Ansar Al Sharia</a> ( Libya) in February 2014 of an economic reward for anyone who clears Benghazi of any Christian presence. There is also a performative dimension to how ISIS has captured the beheading of the Copts on video, in line with its other videoed assassinations in Iraq and Syria. By beheading Egyptian Christians, as opposed to their Muslim counterparts, ISIS assumes (wrongly) that it is not alienating Muslims and is only enforcing their message of zero-tolerance policy towards those whom it believes to be infidels. </p> <p>Certainly all of Libya has suffered as a consequence of the disintegration of any functional state, the country now being the centre of geopolitical power struggles between different contenders: the US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Italy - and the list goes on. </p> <p>There is also a vendetta between the Egyptian leadership and the Islamist movements which has its roots in the overthrow of President Morsi through a popular uprising that was followed by military intervention. There are a number of concentric circles which are underpinned by complex <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/alison-pargeter/libya%E2%80%99s-downward-spiral">historical and contextual power dynamics</a> that have spill over effects on socio-political relations on the ground. </p> <p>However, to reduce the transparent targeting of Copts on religious grounds to an unfortunate fallout of a messy and chaotic situation is to deny the diffusion of an ideologically driven political project which is intended to clear the middle east of its religious minorities, and liquidate religious pluralism. Christians, being the largest religious minority in the middle east, become an obvious target, though not the only ones. There are strong resonances in the modalities of religious cleansing deployed by varied Islamist militant groups and ISIS in Iraq, Libya and Syria. The kidnappings, imposition of ransoms, the ultimatums of conversion to Islam or death in Syria and Iraq, have amounted to religious and ethnic cleansing according to the UN. A recently released <a href="http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/02/04/mideast-crisis-children-idINKBN0L828E20150204">UN report</a> produced by the UN body responsible for reviewing Iraq's record for the first time since 1998, denounced "the systematic killing of children belonging to religious and ethnic minorities by the so-called ISIL, including several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive". </p> <p>So where does this leave us? In speaking with some progressive academics, social justice advocates, human rights activists, I have sometimes noted a certain reluctance to recognize this phenomenon as ideologically driven, or to analyse the particular modalities of violence identified above as associated with religious targeting of non-Muslim groups in the Arab world. This is not due to lack of evidence (UN, Amnesty International and others have released reports, UN officials have already spoken of a genocide in Iraq), but to the invisibility of the nature of these outrages in our debates. I do not claim to understand why, but here are some propositions. </p> <p>First, many proponents of post-colonialism have repeatedly reminded us that colonial powers have used the “religious minority card” in order to divide and rule. Moreover, in some instances the entanglement of missionary movements with the imperial powers’ political agendas, and their privileged position in society, has left a rather infamous legacy of Muslim-non-Muslim relations. However, this history has left a number of unfortunate imprints on contemporary discourses around religious minority matters in Muslim majority contexts in the middle east. The first is that it generates the false assumption that the middle eastern Christians are all remnants of the missionary movement, rather than ancient denominations founded in the first four centuries AD. like the Copts, predating missionaries by millennia. Second, it <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/mariz-tadros/religious-minority-women-of-iraq-time-to-speak-up">ignores</a> the very ancient non-Abrahamic religions whose ancestry goes back thousands of years and who are also at risk of extinction (the Zorastrians and Yazidis being cases in point). Could this past generate a reluctance to raise issues of religious diversity in case they smack of support of neo-colonialism?&nbsp; </p> <p>Second, many progressive western activists and thinkers are rightly conscious of their positionality - namely how they are perceived in the Arab world. There is a fear among some that appearing to be defending religious pluralism in the middle east would be equated with the American hegemonic project, often perceived to be strongly aligned with right wing Christian lobby groups. However, it is precisely the role of the US in aligning, supporting and nurturing militant groups in Libya, Iraq and Syria as a catalyst for the current existential threat to religious diversity in the region that we need to bring to the forefront. There is no longer a “western us” versus the “Muslim rest” – the entanglements of the US in deals and manoeuvrings with Islamist militants, not least in Libya, Syria and Iraq cannot be overlooked. </p> <p>Finally, our dread of&nbsp; Islamophobia at a time when right-wing political parties with racist overtones are on the rise in Europe, should not allow us to be cowed into the avoidance of anything to do with the&nbsp; “Islamic zone” in the name of political correctness. This reluctance to differentiate between the followers of the faith, and those who mobilize violently in the name of religion, may be a basis for exercising self censorship. It is what Bassam Tibi has termed Islamophilia: refraining from criticizing political Islamist groups so as not to offend. One classic example of this is raised by Professor Elizabeth Prodromou, who argues that there is a reluctance to talk about the contemporary political project of the instatement of an Islamic Caliphate. She <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-elizabeth-h-prodromou/a-basketball-guide-to-mid_b_5507894.html">argues</a> that skeptics from the middle east have been concerned understandably that the subject of ISIS formation of a new Islamic Caliphate “is freighted with neo-Orientalist attitudes and neo-imperialist designs, and critics in the US scholar-practitioner community have worried justifiably about the neo-conservative and neo-liberal ideological posturing and policy blowback embedded in the topic. However, considered skepticism and principled criticism need not foreclose historically-informed analysis and prudent policy planning”. </p> <p>We need the courage to reflect, discuss and debate how we can carve a space that would allow us to engage with religious pluralism issues in the middle east head on, without equivocation, and without falling into the traps of easy stereotypes and reductionistic explanations. </p> <p><strong><em>This article was first published in February 2015 with the title: Are we all beheaded copts?: Outrage in Libya</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mariz-tadros/religious-minority-women-of-iraq-time-to-speak-up">Religious minority women of Iraq: time to speak up </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lindsey-hilsum/desolation-and-despair-in-libya-murder-of-salwa-bugaighis">Desolation and despair in Libya: the murder of Salwa Bugaighis </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/alison-pargeter/libya-hard-road-ahead">Libya: a hard road ahead </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/alison-pargeter/libya-tests-of-renewal">Libya: tests of renewal </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lindsey-hilsum/is-that-what-we-fought-for-gaddafis-legacy-for-libyan-women">Is that what we fought for? Gaddafi&#039;s legacy for Libyan women</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Libya </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 North-Africa West-Asia Libya Civil society Conflict 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Editor's Pick patriarchy fundamentalisms 50.50 newsletter Mariz Tadros Mon, 12 Dec 2016 08:27:33 +0000 Mariz Tadros 90646 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Since I gave you a phone it’s not rape https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/guilaine/since-i-gave-you-phone-it-s-not-rape <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As evidence of UN peacekeepers’ sexual violence against Black African women and girls grows, media reporting and research reinterprets this as ‘transactional sex’, through the logic of colonialism.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Predatory Peacekeepers2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Predatory Peacekeepers2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: Predatory Peacekeepers</span></span></span></p><p>A few months ago, the campaign&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23predatorypeacekeepers">#predatorypeacekeepers</a> started on social media. It followed a report from a Canadian AIDS charity accusing <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/politics/the-vile-sex-abuse-by-un-peacekeepers-is-leaving-the-united-nati/">UN and French troops in the Central African Republic (CAR) of sexually abusing at least 98 girls</a>.&nbsp;The damning report alleged that three girls had been tied up and forced to have sex with a dog, that one of the victims subsequently died and that many of the abuses were orchestrated by a French General. Since publication, more victims have come forward. Many spoke of degrading sexual acts including soldiers urinating on the victim’s body or in her mouth.</p> <p>Allegations of <a href="https://mediadiversified.org/2016/04/12/the-uns-good-vs-bad-narrative-clears-the-way-for-sexual-violence-and-impunity/" target="_blank">sexual misconduct by UN soldiers have been </a>documented in most of the countries where UN peacekeeping troops serve. However, what seems striking in CAR is the alleged involvement of senior officers and the age of the victims.&nbsp; In December 2015, an <a href="http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/centafricrepub/Independent-Review-Report.pdf" target="_blank">Independent Panel</a> produced scathing findings on the way the UN had responded to the allegations in CAR. It identified systematic failures and highlighted a culture of impunity, inadequate investigatory mechanisms and unsatisfactory structures to support victims. &nbsp;There has been no public update by the UN on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the Panel.&nbsp; The few prosecutions have exclusively been of (Black) <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/04/peacekeepers-trial-sex-abuse-car-160405040318812.html" target="_blank">African Peacekeepers</a>. &nbsp;White predatory peacekeepers, it appears avoid accountability.</p> <p><strong>‘Transactional sex’ and fallacy of consent</strong></p> <p>Both social and legal definitions of rape are centred, if only partly, on the notion of consent. One way to nullify rape is to establish consent or to effectively blur its boundaries. This is achieved in relation to the victims of predatory peacekeepers when sexual relations between Black/African women and UN soldiers are described as transactional. In ‘transactional sex’, one party gets sexual access to another person’s body in exchange for gifts and/or other goods. &nbsp;As there is a material gain (usually for the women) consent is thus deemed to be present.&nbsp; Any quick internet search reveals that the media has been awash with headlines of transactional sex.</p> <p><a href="http://jezebel.com/un-peacekeepers-having-transactional-sex-with-locals-is-1710590278">Women in Haiti and Liberia are selling sex to United Nations peacekeepers in exchange for aid and lifestyle improvements like cell phones and church shoes.</a></p> <p>‘<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-33089662">UN peacekeepers 'barter goods for sex'</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/06/un-peacekeeping-transactional-sex-haiti/395654/">A Humanitarian Mission Becomes a Disaster: A forthcoming report documents United Nations workers exchanging relief goods for sex.</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2015/06/16/u-n-peacekeeping-and-transactional-sex/?tid=article_nextstory">U.N. peacekeeping and transactional sex</a></p> <p>Reporting sex in exchange of goods, and luxury goods and/or mobile phones, in particular does more than imply consent. It invites public judgements around the morality of the victims and, reproduces ‘misogynoirist’ associations between black womanhood and materialism. This taps into implicit prejudices and bias and reduces cognitive dissonance. The last link above, by Cage, refers to a <a href="http://www.nyu.edu/projects/beber/files/Beber_Gilligan_Guardado_Karim_TS.pdf">research project</a> conducted in 2012 on the prevalence of this so called ‘transactional sex’ in Monrovia (Liberia) during the civil war. The study estimates that 58 000 women aged between 18 and 30 had engaged in ‘transactional sex’ with UN&nbsp;personnel at some point and that over half were below 18 on the first occasion. &nbsp;Despite this, the words rape or consent are notably absent in this piece. &nbsp;Similarly, allegations in Haiti involved children but again media reports of ‘transactional sex’ were written with no reflection on the presumption of consent.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Predatory Peacekeepers.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Predatory Peacekeepers.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="646" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: Predatory Peacekeepers</span></span></span></p><p>Age differences are a major source power differential, which is just one of the reasons why sexual offences against minors are specified in most penal codes.&nbsp; Given that such offences exist in most nations it is extraordinary that the potential that such acts might be sexual abuse of children is rarely broached. &nbsp;In addition to age, a number of contextual constraints should lead to questions about the validity of consent. &nbsp;</p> <p>The power differentials - social, legal, institutional and even symbolic - between the Black/ African women and UN soldiers create a number of barriers to their capacity to give meaningful consent.&nbsp; Differences in ‘social class’ and geo-political positioning, in race, in emotional vulnerability – let’s not forget we are talking about women in war or otherwise environmentally precarious zones – soldiers’ holding and/or having access to heavy artillery and guns, each and cumulatively make consent impossible to give freely. Presumably, it is for these reasons that the UN <a href="https://cdu.unlb.org/Portals/0/PdfFiles/PolicyDocC.pdf">banned its peacekeepers from engaging in ‘transactional sex’</a>. </p> <p><strong>Whiteness and the rape-ability of Black/African girls and women</strong></p> <p>An intersectional approach is needed to grasp the particular sexual subjugation of Black/African women by western or western commissioned men, and the media’s apparent determination to impute consent onto them. It also avoids a decontextualized account which unwittingly reproduces violence in ways central to the white patriarchal colonial order: here African and Black woman appear as inferior and subordinated, yet that very subordination is rendered invisible. This process normalises gendered and racialised violence whilst making it impossible to name whiteness as the key underlying structure. </p> <p>But, whiteness is engaged here. It is engaged in the structural invisibilisation of the Black/African victims and in the failure to hold white perpetrators to account. It is engaged in the presentation of Black bodies as sites for white expressions of sadism and sexual perversion, and in the reproduction of gendered racialised hierarchies.&nbsp; The social construction of Black women’s sexuality as ‘promiscuous’ and depraved has a long colonial history which continues to lead to an unwillingness, conscious or otherwise, to protect black girls/women’s bodies from sexual assault and rape.</p> <p>At the core of our presumed suitability for violent sexual consumption or rape-ability, is not only our constructed hyper-sexuality but also ideas of dirt and impurity – markers of course of our inhumanity – victims of predatory peacekeepers could be perversely sexually violated and soiled (with urine) because their bodies were deemed impure. &nbsp;This implicit responsibility is both the cause and effect of their worthlessness.&nbsp; And so, sexual contact with men constructed as superior, as noble saviours willing to touch the Black body, cannot possibly be violent. &nbsp;Rape almost becomes envisaged as a gift, which should be gratefully received.&nbsp; Indeed this dynamic is symbolised and materialised by each so called ‘transaction’. One may even wonder, had there been no crude act of violence or no report of women and girls being tied-up, whether the term rape might even have been used at all in CAR.</p> <p>Under colonialism African childhood and womanhood were aggressively denied as part of a conscious effort to dehumanise. Remnants of this system of oppression continue to shape the treatment of black people today, with those at the bottom of the hierarchy of blackness, being the most disposable. &nbsp;Indeed, the impunity which surrounds the abuse by western men of third world black bodies exemplifies this. Speaking of ‘transactional sex’ is, therefore, both a vehicle for old colonial notions and a way for predatory peacekeepers to resist accountability for their rape and sexual exploitation of children and of vulnerable women. However, given that <a href="https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/95euxfgway/InternalResults_160118_BritishEmpire_Website.pdf">recent evidence</a> suggests almost half of the British public sees colonialism as something to be proud of and, that about a third consider that ‘we talk too much about the cruelty and racism of Empire, and ignore the good that it did’, then no doubt mass murder/mutilation can be offset against any purported ‘<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/shortcuts/2016/jan/20/empire-state-of-mind-why-do-so-many-people-think-colonialism-was-a-good-thing">economic development’</a>. Under this logic, perhaps being given a mobile phone can be seen to constitute consent and even rape can be offset against ‘<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-peacekeepers-abuse-idUSKBN0OQ2CP20150610">lifestyle improvements’</a>.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p><em>Read more articles on openDemocracy in this year's</em><strong> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/16-days-activism-against-gender-based-violence">16 Days: Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. </a></strong><em>Commissioning Editor: Liz Kelly<br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/melanie-cura-deball/un-peacekeeping-blue-banner-for-hope-or-red-flag-for-abuse">UN peacekeeping: blue banner for hope, or red flag for abuse?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lauren-wolfe/when-does-violation-of-womens-bodies-become-red-line"> When does the violation of women&#039;s bodies become a &quot;red line&quot;?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/preventing-violence-against-women-sluggish-cascade">Preventing violence against women: a sluggish cascade?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/stopping-sexual-violence-in-conflict-gender-politics-in-foreign-policy">Stopping sexual violence in conflict: gender politics in foreign policy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/politics-of-human-rights-and-united-nations">The politics of human rights and the United Nations</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/yakin-erturk/quest-for-gender-just-peace-from-impunity-to-accountability">The quest for gender-just peace: from impunity to accountability </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/jessica-dawn-wilson/is-there-real-commitment-to-women-peace-and-security">Women, peace and security: the UN&#039;s rhetoric-reality gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie-slavenka-drakulic/slavenka-drakuli%C4%87-violence-memory-and-nation">Slavenka Drakulić: violence, memory, and the nation</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Central African Republic </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Central African Republic 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 16 Days: activism against gender based violence 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women and militarism violence against women Sexual violence feminism bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter Guilaine Kinouani Fri, 25 Nov 2016 09:03:33 +0000 Guilaine Kinouani 107048 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How will António Guterres tackle the UN’s gender problem ? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/un-s-gender-problem <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Can António Guterres make good on his promises to advance gender equality as UN Secretary-General, or will “politics trump gender” once again in an organization that stands for us all? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Guterres(1).JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Guterres(1).JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Secretary-General designate António Guterres addresses the UN General Assembly on the occasion of his appointment, 13 October 2016.</span></span></span></p><p>Throughout the Secretary-General selection process, <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37565570">António Guterres</a> publically committed to achieving a gender-balanced United Nations. “The UN must be at the forefront of the global movement towards gender equality,” he wrote in his <a href="http://www.antonioguterres.gov.pt/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/antonio-guterres-vision-statement.pdf">vision statement</a> dated February 2016, “Given that previous commitments to gender parity were not fulfilled, the SG should present and implement a road map for gender parity.” </p> <p>The occasion of Guterres’s appointment on 13 October 2016, served as yet another visible reminder of just how far the United Nations needs to come. Despite remarks by both the General Assembly President, <a href="http://www.un.org/pga/71/2016/10/13/appointment-of-the-secretary-general-of-the-united-nations/">Peter Thomson</a>, and current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on women’s empowerment and their historic role in this year’s selection process, only one woman crossed the stage to welcome Guterres to his new position. </p> <p>However, the UN’s only woman Permanent Representative serving on the current Security Council – US Ambassador, Samantha Power – took the opportunity to deliver a hopeful <a href="https://usun.state.gov/remarks/7484">message</a>, “[W]hile being a woman is not among Mr. Guterres’s many qualifications, he has pledged gender parity at all levels of the United Nations, with clear benchmarks and timeframes.” </p> <p>As the work of his transition team gets <a href="http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/20320/now-that-he-s-won-the-race-for-secretary-general-how-will-guterres-run-the-u-n">well under way</a> expectations are high for Guterres to make good on his pledges. UN Women’s former Chief Advisor on Peace and Security, Anne-Marie Goetz told openDemocracy, “Mr. Guterres has been careful to mention gender issues in recent public statements. But now is the time to send a convincing message about his intentions, a confidence-building indication of the steps he will take to strengthen the UN's flagging work on gender equality and to build women's leadership.” </p> <p>The UN has an obvious and complex gender problem – and it’s up to Guterres to provide clear indication that he will move the United Nations in the right direction. And quickly.<em> <br /></em></p> <p>The United Nations was founded seventy-one years ago. Since then, 28 women have chaired one of the UN’s <a href="http://www.un.org/en/ga/maincommittees/">six main committees</a> (compared to 424 men); 3 women have served as <a href="http://www.un.org/pga/71/president/presidents-of-the-general-assembly/">General-Assembly President</a> (compared to 68 men); and zero have ever held the position of <a href="https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/former-secretaries-general">Secretary-General</a>. </p> <p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/15/world/europe/united-nations-secretary-general-women.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Fsomini-sengupta&amp;action=click&amp;contentCollection=undefined&amp;region=stream&amp;module=stream_unit&amp;version=latest&amp;contentPlacement=8&amp;pgtype=collection&amp;_r=0">Recent revelations</a> about the organization’s failures to empower women within its senior staff show that the roots of gender bias run deep. Moreover, the UN’s selection last month of comic-book character <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/wonder-woman-role-un-campaign-sparks-outcry/">Wonder Woman</a> as its first <a href="http://www.dccomics.com/blog/2016/10/20/wonder-woman-designation-as-honorary-ambassador-for-the-empowerment-of-women-and">honorary ambassador</a> for women and girls’ empowerment is a graphic reminder of the UN’s failure to take gender issues seriously. Protests by UN staff erupted immediately. One of the protest organizers who spoke to openDemocracy on the basis of anonymity explained,“[F]or something that is this important, you need a woman or a man who can speak, who can travel, who can champion these rights.” “If you’re looking for a woman with long black hair, toned arms, […] great legs- pick Michelle Obama,” she exclaimed. “She’s out of a job on the first of January – and she kicks ass!” </p> <p>For another protestor, Cass DuRant, what Wonder Woman stands for goes completely against the core values of the UN, “She is a warrior and those are male values. The UN is not about going in and fighting to resolve issues, it is about talking and compromising and agreeing, so on every imaginable level we think she is a poor choice.” </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/wonderwoman-protest.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/wonderwoman-protest.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UN staff protest the designation of Wonder Woman to honorary ambassador for women and girl’s empowerment. Bebeto Matthews / AP/ Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>The nearly 30,000 people who have signed the online <a href="http://www.thepetitionsite.com/741/288/432/reconsider-the-choice-of-honorary-ambassador-for-the-empowerment-of-women-and-girls/">petition</a>, started by U.N. staffers, agree. The petition reads, "The message the United Nations is sending to the world with this appointment is extremely disappointing." </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/700143.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/700143.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="314" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter. Photo: Kim Haughton/UN</span></span></span></p> <p>Wonder Woman’s appointment is a reminder that in an organization that has made gender equality a stated “<a href="http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/">top priority</a>,” today, women make up just twenty percent of <a href="https://www.un.int/protocol/sites/www.un.int/files/Protocol%20and%20Liaison%20Service/headsofmissions.pdf">Permanent Representatives</a>, twenty-one percent of <a href="http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=a/71/360">Senior Managers</a><strong>,</strong> six percent of military experts, and three percent of <a href="http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/contributors/gender/2016gender/aug16.pdf">military troops</a>. </p> <p>It could not be more obvious—from <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/world/2016/02/27/peacekeepers/">reports</a> of sexual violence by UN Peacekeepers, to the persistent gender imbalance in the UN’s <a href="https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/studio/multimedia/20160504/index.html">senior management</a>, and now the seemingly tone-deaf appointment of Wonder Woman—that the United Nations desperately needs an overhaul in its attitudes about women. </p> <p>That task will fall to António Guterres. </p> <p>The work Guterres has performed in the areas of gender parity and women’s empowerment both as a politician in Portugal and as an official in the UN is well <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/redressing-uns-gender-gap-how-do-sg-contenders-compare">recognized</a>. But while he has a laudable feminist record<strong>, </strong>there are aspects to his career that give gender equality advocates pause.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p>Even before becoming Portugal’s Prime Minister in 1995, Guterres was committed to gender equality. In an email to openDemocracy earlier this fall, Guterres reflected on his early exposure to gender issues, “I became aware of these issues as a teenager doing volunteer work in poor neighborhoods of Lisbon. I witnessed the extra burden that weighed upon women living under precarious conditions, doing menial jobs and still carrying the responsibility for keeping extended families, often on their own. I wanted to help change this and other harsh realities in my country. That is why I went into politics—to effect change.” </p> <p>As leader of Portugal’s Socialist Party he enacted a quota system to impose a minimum threshold of representation of women in party offices. The thirty percent quota was far from parity but still quite impressive almost two decades ago in a country that had only recently transitioned to democracy. </p> <p>Such change did not come easily. In the email exchange, Guterres noted, “Reactions … ranged from harshly opposed to mildly indifferent. We had to go the extra mile to convince people that this was important and this was the right way to go.” </p> <p>At the same time, however, Guterres publicly opposed a referendum on Portugal’s strict law against <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/121970.stm">abortion</a><strong>, </strong>instead favoring a law that mandated jail time for Portuguese women who performed the procedure. According to the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/14/world/americas/united-nations-un-antonio-guterres.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Fsomini-sengupta&amp;action=click&amp;contentCollection=undefined&amp;region=stream&amp;module=stream_unit&amp;version=latest&amp;contentPlacement=9&amp;pgtype=collection"><em>New York Times</em></a>, while a majority of the Socialist Party favored the move to reform abortion laws, Guterres opposed it based on his Catholic faith. </p> <p>While his stance on abortion may call into question his stance on gender equality, Guterres’s commitment to women’s empowerment did not waiver when he became the UN’s tenth High Commissioner for Refugees in 2005. During his tenure, he worked to shift UNHCR’s focus from perceiving refugee women and girls as vulnerable victims, to promoting their empowerment. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/05-14-2015Dadaab_Somali.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/05-14-2015Dadaab_Somali.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>António Guterres meets Somali refugees at Dadaab camp in Kenya (May 2015). B.Loyseau/UNHCR</span></span></span></p> <p><a href="http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/protection/women/5769092c7/unhcr-age-gender-diversity-accountability-report-2015.html">The successes</a> of Guterres’s programs during this time abound. In Pakistan, UNHCR arranged for mass information campaigns to ensure women are aware of individual registration to guarantee their security, access to essential services, and political rights. In Liberia, guidelines on refugee election procedures now ensure that fifty percent of the camp leadership is women. To advance gender equality in food security in Afghanistan, women are now prioritized for food distribution. And in Jordan, separate pick-up areas and times for food distribution are designated for women. </p> <p>Not only did Guterres work to advance a different narrative about women and girls on the ground, but he also worked to achieve gender parity at all levels of institutional leadership. When Guterres came into office in 2005, women made up not even thirty percent of the UNHCR’s senior positions. According to UNHCR <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/redressing-uns-gender-gap-how-do-sg-contenders-compare">records</a>, gender parity was fully met within his Senior Management Committee by the end of his tenure—with ten women and ten men—and rose to forty-two percent among all senior leadership positions. “If I had to choose just one measure during my years at UNHCR that really had an impact and triggered substantive change I would say parity at the Senior Management Committee,” said Guterres in an email to openDemocracy. He does regret however, that during his tenure the proportion of women among junior levels staff appeared <a href="http://www2.unwomen.org/~/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/how%20we%20work/unsystemcoordination/data/un/projections/unhcr.pdf?v=1&amp;d=20160817T205813">to drop</a>. </p> <p>Now, Guterres has <a href="http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/watch/ant%C3%B3nio-guterres-portugal-informal-dialogue-for-the-position-of-the-next-un-secretary-general/4843896055001">committed</a> to achieving full gender parity in the United Nations. In an interview with <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/redressing-uns-gender-gap-how-do-sg-contenders-compare">openDemocracy</a> in early September, he provided more detail, saying he would start with the UN’s most senior levels—a tactic he believes will have the greatest and swiftest impact. </p> <p>But some gender-parity advocates worry that these rhetorical commitments are empty, and that promises of a feminist agenda from a male Secretary-General may not amount to much. In a recent <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/redressing-uns-gender-gap-how-do-sg-contenders-compare">interview</a> with openDemocracy, Shazia Rafi, UN Expert and former Secretary-General of Parliamentarians for Global Action, said, “[Men] have had their chance for seventy years, they have not created a more equal or peaceful world, they have not kept their commitments on gender equality made over twenty years ago at the Beijing Conference 1995; I was there, I helped write the words.&nbsp;There is no reason to believe the men will do so now.” After the appointment of Mr. Guterres, Rafi says her views have not changed per se. “But, I am open to them doing something completely different from the pattern of the last 70 years,” she&nbsp;wrote in an email on 3 November. </p> <p>The UN has committed itself to fifty-fifty gender parity in top senior managerial posts since <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/fplegbasis.htm">February 1996.</a> The closest it ever got in those twenty years was twenty-four percent in <a href="http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=a/71/360">2012</a>. In fact, if the current trend continues, the UN will favor men in its senior positions for <a href="http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/studio/multimedia/20160504/index.html"><em>the next 110 years</em></a><em>.</em> </p> <p>The UN’s gender problem is much more than just staffing issues. </p> <p>Gender equality activist groups such as the <a href="https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/a-feminist-agenda-for-the-new-un-secretary-general.html">United Nations Feminist Network</a>, and the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lyric-thompson/is-feminist-united-nations-possible-in-our-lifetime">International Center for Research on Women</a>, have outlined clear, concrete proposals for the next SG. These feminist agendas include targets from achieving gender parity to preventing and addressing sexual harassment, and even repurposing the UN’s <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015">Commission on the Status of Women</a>. </p> <p>Changes in staffing, however, can be delivered almost immediately. </p> <p>On the occasion of the appointment of a new Secretary-General, all high-level employees submit letters of resignation. This gives Guterres the chance to take bold action toward parity. If Guterres appoints a gender-equal <a href="https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/senior-management-group">Senior Management Group</a>—just as Canada’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/04/canada-cabinet-gender-diversity-justin-trudeau">Justin Trudeau</a> appointed a gender-equal Cabinet upon taking office in 2015—the move would be a brave step forward toward a gender-equal UN. He might next consider sending seventy-five-year-old Wonder Woman back into retirement.</p><p><em>This article is an expanded version of an <a href="https://www.ethicsandinternationalaffairs.org/2016/united-nations-real-feminist-next-secretary-general-antonio-guterres/#.WBALHw3OC2k.twitter">op-ed</a> published in the Carnegie Council Journal, Ethics and International Affairs, 25 October.</em></p><p><strong>Read more articles in openDemocracy’s series on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gender-and-un">Gender and UN</a></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-woman-at-helm-UN">Still no woman at the helm of the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/redressing-uns-gender-gap-how-do-sg-contenders-compare">Redressing the UN&#039;s gender gap: how do the SG contenders compare? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/time-to-vote-pick-feminist-woman-to-lead-un">Choose a woman to lead the UN!</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/lone-raised-hand-who-will-become-next-un-secretary-general">A lone raised hand: who will become the next UN Secretary-General ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/madam-secretary-general">Madam Secretary-General?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/kavita-n-ramdas/building-bridge-to-future-towards-feminist-un">Building a bridge to the future: towards a feminist UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-country-for-women-double-standards-choosing-next-UN-Secretary-General">Still no country for women? Double standards in choosing the next UN Secretary-General </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourania-s-yancopoulos/is-un-really-moving-toward-gender-equality-or-is-it-trying-to-cover-up-lack-of">Is the UN really moving toward gender equality? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/un-gender-generation-and-counter-terrorism-in-women-peace-and-security-debate">UN resolution 2242: gender, generation, and counter terrorism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sophie-giscard-destaing/gender-and-terrorism-un-calls-for-women-s-engagement-in-countering-viol">UN calls for women’s engagement in countering violent extremism: but at what cost? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jessica-dawn-wilson/is-there-real-commitment-to-women-peace-and-security">Women, peace and security: the UN&#039;s rhetoric-reality gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/girls-speaking-truth-to-power-at-un-global-2030-agenda">Girls speaking truth to power at the UN: the global 2030 Agenda </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women%27s-rights-have-no-country">Women&#039;s rights have no country</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/maggie-murphy/traditional-values-vs-human-rights-at-un">&#039;Traditional values&#039; vs human rights at the UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/gita-sahgal/who-wrote-universal-declaration-of-human-rights">Who wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's human rights women and power gender feminism 50.50 newsletter Ourania S. Yancopoulos Fri, 04 Nov 2016 09:33:27 +0000 Ourania S. Yancopoulos 106457 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The fraught road to justice: Sri Lankan victims of sexual violence https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/fraught-road-to-justice-sri-lankan-victims-of-sexual-violence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As more women testify about their experience of sexual violence in Sri Lanka the path to redress does not become smoother. What stands in the way of a just response to these wrongs?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/women across fence.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/women across fence.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="298" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tamil women stand across a barbed wire fence from Sri Lankan soldiers at the Manik Farm's IDP camp in Vavuniya, January 2010. Photo: Chamila Karunarathne / Press Association </span></span></span></p> <p>International and domestic studies, articles and reports in Sri Lanka are steadily illuminating the extent of sexual violence committed against women (and men) in the context of the war and times of ‘peace’. Justice and accountability for these harms, however, remain noticeably absent. Apart from a handful of cases, impunity forms the dominant landscape of Sri Lankan women’s experience with seeking redress for sexual violence.&nbsp;Hope for any relief from this current state of injustice and inaction will depend on the re-establishment of the Rule of Law; yet the numerous <em>loci</em> of impunity within the justice system makes this a particularly challenging task.</p><p><strong>Institutional cultures of custodial rape and torture</strong></p> <p>In 2001, Sivamany Sinnathamby and Wijikala Nanthakumar, were arrested in their Mannar homes by navy officials and members of the Police Special Investigation Unit. They were arrested under the <a href="http://www.sangam.org/FACTBOOK/PTA1979.htm">Prevention of Terrorism Act</a> (PTA) and the Emergency Regulations, and were taken to the office of the Counter-Subversive Unit. The&nbsp;two women were brutally raped and tortured in custody: The torture continued until the women signed confessions in Sinhalese, (falsely) affirming that they were members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who had carried bombs to Mannar. When Sivamany and Wijikala were initially examined by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) in Mannar, no evidence of rape was reported. This outcome led to a significant community outcry and the women were re-examined by the Colombo JMO; the results of this examination showed strong signs of rape. <a href="http://www.awf.or.jp/pdf/h0019.pdf">One rationale</a> for the initial finding at the office of the Mannar JMO, is that the women, following intimidation, did not actually allow any medical examination to occur. If community pressure did not result in a second examination, the women’s case would lack the essential medical evidence upon which successful prosecution rests. Three police officers and nine navy personnel were later identified as perpetrators.</p> <p>Following the police complaint made by Sivamany and Wijikala, a campaign of intimidation by the perpetrators and their associates spread beyond the victim-witnesses to the women’s community. <a href="http://tamilguardian.com/content/fear-dogs-mannar-rape-trial">The Tamil Guardian notes</a> that the Mannar Citizens’ Committee, vocal supporters of the women’s search for accountability, began receiving daily calls threatening to murder all the members of the committee at the conclusion of the trial. The journalist who first reported the detention and rape of the Mannar women, was detained, interrogated and harassed by army personnel. Members of the armed forces also threatened Wijikala’s mother. </p> <p>Their case finally came to trial after five years; this is not an uncommon delay. Initially heard in the Mannar High Court, the case was later transferred to Sinhala-majority Anuradhapura district in an obvious prioritisation of the accused. During proceedings, the Tamil victim-witnesses experienced further intimidation and humiliation. <a href="https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/military-rape-cases-no-judgement-on-2001-mannar-gang-rape-wan/">In 2008, the hearing was stopped</a> on a stay order of the court, one victim-witness having fled the country, and the other refusing to give evidence.</p> <p>This case in many respects exemplifies women’s lived experience of Sri Lanka’s Rule of Law crisis. This 15 year old case paints an alarming yet accurate picture the search for justice for sexual violence in Sri Lanka: the women who lived through this brutal attack in their early 20s are now approaching 40; their case still has not been met with proper process or a just outcome; and the structural problems that plagued their path to justice remain largely unchanged in today’s Sri Lanka.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/school girls.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/school girls.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Outrage in Sri Lanka over the rape and murder of 18 year old Vidya Sivayoganathan. Photo: Ponniah Manikavasagam / BBC. </span></span></span></p><p><strong>Arrests under the PTA and confessions in custody</strong></p> <p>This practice of using rape and torture to coerce false confessions and admissions was commonplace during the war and endures in this post-war period. This institutional practice is strongly linked to the legislative framework under whose auspices these arrests generally occur – The PTA.</p> <p>The<em> Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Act No. 10 of 1982</em> (PTA) despite bearing the words ‘temporary’ within the title itself was made permanent in 1982, and still constitutes a significant part of Sri Lanka’s security and legislative framework.&nbsp; As put by <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2013/05/there-are-no-human-rights-sri-lanka/">Amnesty International</a>, the PTA&nbsp;is ‘one of the main legal tools deployed by the government to silence its critics’ and places persons detained under its provisions in a type of ‘sinister limbo’. </p> <p>The PTA continues to be the antithesis of progress towards greater civil rights in Sri Lanka; and its permissive provisions create legal spaces for arbitrary arrests to thrive. One example is that generally, confessions made under ‘inducement, threat or promise’ are inadmissible, however, the PTA reverses the burden of proof:&nbsp; confessions made while in custody are <em>prima facie</em> admissible unless the victim can show that they were made under duress. Furthermore, the PTA confers a broad immunity on officers for actions done in ‘good faith.’&nbsp; While it is hard to understand how rape or torture could ever be considered an act done in ‘good faith,’ this section adds to the largely uncontroverted expectation held by some members of security forces that rape in custody will not be met with legal consequences. This expectation is bolstered by the fact that the PTA, with its historic context of operating amidst secrecy, does not provide for access to lawyers nor does it facilitate access to independent medical assessment upon arrest.&nbsp; These are a just some of the legislative hooks upon which rape and sexual violence in custody are hung. The PTA must be repealed. &nbsp;</p> <p>Once a complaint is made prosecution of these cases require overcoming further obstacles. It is important to note that prosecution of rape cases rests with the Attorney General, whose office is vested with broad powers to withdraw indictments and terminate High Court proceedings. Where state actors are involved, prosecution has been conspicuously reticent. </p> <p>The transfer of criminal proceedings between courts is one reflection of an overwhelmingly politicised Attorney General’s office. This practice exacerbates enduring ethnic barriers to justice: Tamil women whose cases are transferred to Anuradhapura find the travel challenging, they may not understand the language used in court, and often feel like they are in an antagonistic space. </p> <p>There is also no redress if victims and witnesses are intimidated in the way that Sivamany and Wijikala were intimidated. Even though Sri Lanka’s Parliament passed the Witness Protection Bill in February last year, this does not signify a different civil context than that survived by Wijikala, Sivamany and their community.&nbsp; The <a href="https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/100355/120360/F-1337181541/LKA100355%20Eng.pdf">Witness Protection Act</a> is deeply flawed; the fundamental issue is that there is no independent division outside the Police Department responsible for protection of victims and witnesses. Where a victim seeks protection following violence by a state actor, their protection is entrusted to the same department to which their abusers belong. </p> <p>The delays in the judicial system further compound this lack of security, discouraging complainants to pursue justice. Partly due to Sri Lanka’s two-tier system involving protracted non-summary inquires, many cases take between 9 and 12 years to reach a conclusion. Thus although Wijikala and Sivamany survived the initial attack, and years of relentless intimidation, they eventually gave up on the pursuit of justice. </p> <p>Hope for any relief from this current state of injustice and inaction will depend on the re-establishment of the Rule of Law in Sri Lanka; yet the numerous <em>loci</em> of impunity make reform a particularly challenging task. The Sri Lankan state must begin to engage with the voices of Sri Lanka’s women who have been brutalised and left to navigate a fraught system.&nbsp; Remedying these domestic systemic ills is a crucial step to the state repairing its relationship with its women. </p> <p><em>This article stems from Chapter 2 ‘ Crisis of Legal indeterminacy’ that the author co-wrote with Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena in </em><em><a href="http://zubaanbooks.com/shop/the-search-for-justice/">The Search for Justice: The Sri Lanka Papers </a></em><em>&nbsp;(Zubaan: 2016).</em><em> <br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/chulani-kodikara/justice-and-accountability-for-war-related-sexual-violence-in-sri-lanka">Justice and accountability for war related sexual violence in Sri Lanka</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/sri-lanka-women-in-conflict">Sri Lanka: women in conflict </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/sexual-violence-access-to-justice-and-human-rights">Sexual violence, access to justice, and human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/charlotte-bunch/remembering-sunila-honouring-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-defenders">Remembering Sunila, honouring women’s human rights defenders</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/chulani-kodikara/sri-lanka-where-are-women-in-local-government">Sri Lanka: where are the women in local government?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/chulani-kodikara/state-racism-and-sexism-in-postwar-sri-lanka">State racism and sexism in post-war Sri Lanka </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/stopping-sexual-violence-in-conflict-gender-politics-in-foreign-policy">Stopping sexual violence in conflict: gender politics in foreign policy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/hopes-and-expectations-ending-sexual-violence-in-conflict">Hopes and expectations: ending sexual violence in conflict</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/hopes-and-fears-summit-to-end-sexual-violence-in-conflict">Hopes and fears: Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/content/war-and-sexual-violence-issue-of-security">War and sexual violence: an issue of security</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sri Lanka </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 openIndia Sri Lanka 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick women and militarism violence against women Sexual violence patriarchy gender justice bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter Kirsty Anantharajah Tue, 11 Oct 2016 08:03:27 +0000 Kirsty Anantharajah 105841 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Still no woman at the helm of the UN https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-woman-at-helm-UN <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>António Guterres's election as the new UN Secretary-General is a stark illustration of how male-dominated decision-making means that female leadership is not just rare, but virtually inconceivable. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562240/PA-17424968.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562240/PA-17424968.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>António Guterres, the new Secretary General. Khalid Mohammed AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, former High Commissioner of the UN’s agency for supporting refugees, will be the next UN Secretary-General.&nbsp; The decision was, in an unusual show of unity, <a href="http://webtv.un.org/media/watch/sc-president-vitaly-churkin-russian-federation-on-the-selection-process-for-the-position-of-the-next-un-secretary-general-security-council-media-stakeout-5-october-2016/5157255993001">announced</a> at a press stakeout by the Security Council’s 14 male ambassadors and one woman ambassador on October 5th immediately after the sixth round of voting.&nbsp; These polls have been informal, but October 5th was the first occasion on which vetoes were revealed (without indicating their source) through the use of red ballots by the Permanent 5 members.&nbsp; Guterres was the only candidate on the list of 10 to exceed the 9 positive votes required, and the only one to receive no vetoes (though there was one abstention). </p> <p>Guterres’s success should come as no surprise – he has topped all six of these internal polls, held since July this year.&nbsp; But logical procedure is far from the norm in this secretive process, and he had not until a few days ago been expected to avoid a Russian veto.&nbsp; Russia, in its current Cold War throw-back belligerence in international affairs, had been insisting that the winner should for once and for the first time be an Eastern European.&nbsp; The eleventh hour entry (five days before the vote) of Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva to the race was thought significantly to challenge Guterres, because she fit the bill as an Eastern European and had an impressive record of managerial efficiency as the European Union’s budget chief and prior to that, as European Commissioner on humanitarian issues. &nbsp;She is also a woman. </p> <p>The demand that this Secretary-General be a woman and a feminist has been expressed with growing insistence by <a href="http://wilpf.org/wilpf_statements/wilpf-position-on-the-election-of-the-next-united-nations-secretary-general-4feministunsg/">women’s rights groups</a> around the world and by <a href="http://www.equalitynow.org/campaigns/time-woman">dedicated</a> <a href="http://www.womansg.org/">campaigns</a> and <a href="https://www.change.org/p/member-states-call-for-a-feminist-un-secretary-general">petitions</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>Two central arguments drive this demand. The first is substantive: the UN has failed to use its resources and power to promote gender equality effectively. Women’s rights have been a latecomer and continue to be an afterthought in the UN’s development, peace, and human rights work.&nbsp; In development, growth and poverty reduction strategies fail to address the foundational role women’s unpaid work plays in economies, and fail to finance women’s well-being and livelihoods.&nbsp; In peace, women are still mostly excluded from peace talks and are marginal to post-conflict political settlements; they are noticed mainly when they are victims of violence. In human rights, while normative frameworks establish women’s equal humanity with men, many perpetrators of crimes against women enjoy impunity the world over.&nbsp; And across all of these areas, it has been difficult to establish just how marginal gender equality work is, since the UN’s own systems for tracking its spending on women’s rights and gender equality are not comparable across different agencies. Where we <em>can</em> track spending, results are unimpressive. The UN’s peacebuilding work, for instance, has fallen far short of the <a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/peace-and-security/recovery-and-peacebuilding">modest target of 15% spending on gender equality</a> that it set itself 6 years ago (and yet this sector does better than others). </p> <p>The second argument for a woman SG is about the symbolic impact of the role. The fact that there has never been a woman at the helm of the UN – and indeed that until this year’s selection process there have been less than a handful of women even running as candidates – is a stark illustration of how male-dominated decision-making makes female leadership not just rare, but virtually inconceivable. To have a woman as the world’s top diplomat would have sent a dramatic signal of progress and change.&nbsp; And not just any accomplished and talented woman, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-country-for-women-double-standards-choosing-next-UN-Secretary-General">but a feminist woman</a>, unafraid to champion gender equality as a core and crucial value and project in international relations.&nbsp; At a time when the UN must urgently rise to the unprecedented political and environmental challenges of the 21st century, it seems antique to be relying on the familiar old (and Western European) cast of characters. While no-one in the campaigns for a woman SG ever pretended that a single woman would have solutions to these problems, a fresh start would have been signaled by selecting a feminist woman to trigger reform. </p> <p>Linked to the symbolic argument were recent revelations about the dramatic deficit in female leadership across the UN.&nbsp; Ban Ki-moon’s frequent assertions of progress in appointing women to high office were refuted by data that showed <a href="http://peaceoperationsreview.org/commentary/the-lost-agenda-gender-parity-in-senior-un-appointments/">84% of his appointments to top posts in 2015 were male</a>. This also revealed that the region often seen as pressing hardest for women’s rights – Western Europe and Anglophone countries – contributed just one women in the 23 top appointments it scored last year.&nbsp; Other research <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourania-s-yancopoulos/is-un-really-moving-toward-gender-equality-or-is-it-trying-to-cover-up-lack-of">published on openDemocracy</a> revealed that the rate of increase of top appointments of women has stalled over Ban Ki-moon’s tenure, and this parallels a pattern found at the middle management level where the pipeline of women to senior positions has narrowed to a trickle. It is naïve to think that greater numbers of women staff – even gender parity – would <em>necessarily</em> produce feminist outcomes or working methods in historically gender-biased institutions.&nbsp; But it is next to impossible for feminist processes and actions to emerge from historically patriarchal and unrepentantly male-dominated institutions. </p> <p>Fully aware of the ‘She4SG’ campaigns, the male candidates this year proclaimed their feminist credentials, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/redressing-uns-gender-gap-how-do-sg-contenders-compare">often very convincingly</a>.&nbsp; For the <a href="http://www.womansg.org/">Campaign to Elect a Women SG</a> this was not enough, and on October 5th it issued a terse statement describing the selection, once again, of a man, as ‘a disaster for equal rights and gender equality’.&nbsp; It went on to say that the decision ‘represents the usual backroom deals that still prevail&nbsp;at the UN. There were seven outstanding female candidates and in the end it appears they were never seriously considered’.&nbsp; </p> <p>Indeed, failure by the Security Council to demonstrate serious consideration of the women candidates can be seen in the fact that they were routinely relegated to the bottom of the list in the straw polls.&nbsp; This cannot be said to reflect geographic origin.&nbsp; Helen Clark, with equivalent credentials to Guterres and, like him, not an Eastern European, was consistently pushed below 5th place.&nbsp; Eastern European women candidates from countries close to Russia, like Natalia Gherman from Moldova, were never seriously considered, whereas some male candidates with, arguably, as faint a trace in terms of global public recognition, such as Miroslav Lajcak (Slovakia) and Vuk Jeremic (Serbia), came second and third in the final tally. </p> <p>When the Security Council faced the press late in the morning of October 5th the decision was presented as based on merit.&nbsp; US ambassador Samantha Power <a href="http://usun.state.gov/remarks/7464">said</a>:&nbsp; So in the end, there was just a candidate whose experience, vision, and versatility across a range of areas proved compelling.’ Disappointingly, neither she, nor Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin, mentioned the global pressure to select a woman for the job.&nbsp; Power went on to reference current serious security challenges and to say: ‘If we have these transnational threats and we don’t have somebody at the helm of the United Nations that can mobilize coalitions, that can make the tools of this institution – creaky though they are, flawed though they are – work better for people, that’s going to be more pain and more suffering and more dysfunction than we can afford.’&nbsp; Guterres, by implication, is <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/international/21708215-former-prime-minister-portugal-preferred-any-eastern-european-woman">‘a safe pair of hands’</a> at the helm of the UN. </p> <p>It is not news that gender bias interferes with how ‘experience, vision and versatility’ is assessed, but gender bias may have had less to do with the Security Council’s decision than the nature of the agreements reached with the P5 on the distribution of major roles in the UN.&nbsp; Unsurprisingly, speculation is flaring regarding the deals that must have been struck to generate Russian support for Guterres and US acquiescence to that arrangement.&nbsp; It is said that Russia hopes to gain leadership of the Department of Political Affairs, the UN’s core source of political analysis, home of the UN’s envoys and mediators, the leader on post conflict elections and peace talks.&nbsp; In short, it is the political engine of the UN.&nbsp; The US has held its top position for some time, but Jeffrey Feltman, a career US diplomat, is scheduled to step down in March next year. <a href="https://ideas.repec.org/a/taf/femeco/v22y2016i1p211-236.html">Feminist UN observers</a> have not been fans of DPA because of its failure to exploit its role in shaping the ‘good offices’ work of the UN to seriously promote women’s role in conflict resolution or to promote gender quotas in post conflict elections.&nbsp; But under leadership that could share Russia’s lack of enthusiasm for human rights and gender equality, DPA might surrender the slow progress it has made in these areas.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <p>The outcome of the negotiations will emerge over the initial few months of 2017.&nbsp; They, as much as the choice of leader, will determine whether the UN can ‘work better for people’, to repeat what Power said.&nbsp; We know little about these decisions, but one thing is pretty certain: bringing the UN up to speed on gender equality was not a priority. </p> <p>Unless the General Assembly moves to adopt the popular request to limit the SG’s term to 7 years, it might take until 2026 before another opportunity arises to appoint a woman SG.&nbsp; As UN reporter <a href="http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/author/Peter%20Nadin.aspx">Peter Nadin</a> notes: “next time around the call for a female secretary-general will be deafening.”&nbsp; Feminist activists are bitterly disappointed about the lack of serious discussion given to the issue of gender bias at the UN during this process.&nbsp; A number of organizations have developed a feminist agenda for the new SG’s first 100 days in office, <a href="http://action.equalitynow.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=23658&amp;utm_source=email&amp;utm_medium=takeAction_btn&amp;utm_campaign=UNSG_FeministAgenda">posted</a> on Equality Now’s website.&nbsp; Organizations can sign on via this <a href="http://action.equalitynow.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=23658&amp;utm_source=email&amp;utm_medium=takeAction_btn&amp;utm_campaign=UNSG_FeministAgenda">link</a>. </p> <p>Guterres faces a vast number of challenges – most urgent of which is resolving the Syrian crisis.&nbsp; His selection, given his background as head of UNHCR, includes acknowledgement of the extent to which today’s refugee crisis portends future upheavals that can be expected to flow from conflicts and environmental crises.&nbsp; These upheavals will require dramatic re-thinking of the very basis for multilateralism and the role of national sovereignty in the context of shared crises and massive human rights abuses.&nbsp; Women’s transnational movements have always stressed the need for global, not just national, solutions to such crises – indeed, the 1915 Hague International Congress of Women issued one of the first calls for institutionalized global governance.&nbsp; The world is currently re-nationalizing, as shown by Brexit and the closing of borders to refugees and immigrants.&nbsp; It is shifting towards right wing and personalized ‘strong-man’ decision-making, as indicated by the rejection of the Colombian peace deal and the demagoguery illustrated by Trump’s campaign in the US.&nbsp; These processes are sharply gendered, encouraging belligerent and even violent expressions of masculinity and invoking idealized visions of nation and family based on restrictions on women’s rights.&nbsp; Falling back on familiar old boys’ networks seems desperately inadequate to address this problem.&nbsp; </p> <p>The campaigns to elect a feminist woman SG have at the very least succeeded in making feminist reform at the UN an urgent matter. An early confidence-building measure by Guterres that would signal a fresh step forward would be to adopt the feminist agenda for the first 100 days.&nbsp; The agenda combines desperately needed internal reforms to address profound sexism within the UN, with actions to unblock the UN’s political and operational work on women’s rights. It also requires early and sustained collaboration between the new SG and women’s organizations around the world to set priorities and develop a timeline for the fifth World Conference on Women. It is a massive and a tough job and it is his now.</p> <p><em>Read more articles addressing the selection of the new UN Secretary-General on openDemocracy's platform <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/gender-and-un">Gender and the UN</a></strong></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/redressing-uns-gender-gap-how-do-sg-contenders-compare">Redressing the UN&#039;s gender gap: how do the SG contenders compare? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/time-to-vote-pick-feminist-woman-to-lead-un">Choose a woman to lead the UN!</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-country-for-women-double-standards-choosing-next-UN-Secretary-General">Still no country for women? Double standards in choosing the next UN Secretary-General </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/is-feminist-united-nations-possible-in-our-lifetime">Is a feminist United Nations possible in our lifetime?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kavita-n-ramdas/building-bridge-to-future-towards-feminist-un">Building a bridge to the future: towards a feminist UN</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/madam-secretary-general">Madam Secretary-General?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/lone-raised-hand-who-will-become-next-un-secretary-general">A lone raised hand: who will become the next UN Secretary-General ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/world-s-top-diplomat-administrator-figurehead-or-leader">The next UN Secretary-General: administrator, figurehead, or leader?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourania-s-yancopoulos/is-un-really-moving-toward-gender-equality-or-is-it-trying-to-cover-up-lack-of">Is the UN really moving toward gender equality? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/un-gender-generation-and-counter-terrorism-in-women-peace-and-security-debate">UN resolution 2242: gender, generation, and counter terrorism </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sophie-giscard-destaing/gender-and-terrorism-un-calls-for-women-s-engagement-in-countering-viol">UN calls for women’s engagement in countering violent extremism: but at what cost? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/girls-speaking-truth-to-power-at-un-global-2030-agenda">Girls speaking truth to power at the UN: the global 2030 Agenda </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy women's human rights women and power gender justice gender feminism 50.50 newsletter Anne Marie Goetz Thu, 06 Oct 2016 18:45:33 +0000 Anne Marie Goetz 105814 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Redressing the UN's gender gap: how do the SG contenders compare? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/redressing-uns-gender-gap-how-do-sg-contenders-compare <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Following an informal vote held at the UN in New York today, the UN Security Council will vote by acclamation tomorrow to choose Portugal’s António Guterres as the next UN Secretary-General.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><i>This article was first published 12 September.</i></p><p>As the race for UN Secretary-General nears its next stage, it is looking less likely that the UN will elect its first female head. These developments are shedding new light on the most recent list of male-dominated, top contenders and calling into question what they have done to promote gender parity.</p><p>Calls for a woman to lead the organization have been widely spurred on by the UN’s inability to make good on its own commitments. Despite <a href="http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/fplegbasis.htm">over 20 years</a> of commitments to gender parity, inside the UN, women represent just 15% of country Ambassadors and only 22% of senior positions. In the UN’s most senior positions (called Assistant-Secretaries-General and Under-Secretaries-General) women were outnumbered <i>37 to 129</i> <a href="https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N15/420/84/pdf/N1542084.pdf?OpenElement">in 2015</a>.</p> <p>“We want a woman Secretary-General,” Jean Krasno, Chairwoman of the <a href="http://www.womansg.org">Campaign to Elect a Woman UN Secretary-General</a>, told openDemocracy, “not someone who promises to do better, when none of the male SGs have ever achieved gender parity in the UN system.” In fact, if the current trend continues, the UN will favor men for <a href="http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/studio/multimedia/20160504/index.html"><i>the next 112 years</i></a>-- unless something significant is done about it. </p> <p>But men continue to dominate in the informal polls, and following the results of the fourth round of straw polls held at the UN’s headquarters in New York September 9, it appears more and more unlikely that a woman will be elected. “It’s a slap in the face to women,” UN Expert and Former Chief Advisor on Peace and Security at UN Women, Dr. Anne-Marie Goetz, said. “Almost all the women are at the bottom of the pack – a graphic illustration of gender bias.” </p> <p>Despite “<a href="http://www.sabc.co.za/news/a/9c5359004e0ec93eaa04bf49e1a112b8/UN-continues-to-apply-pressure-for-a-female-Secretary-General-20163008">five superbly qualified women</a>” among the candidates, of the poll’s top five contenders, only one was a woman. “It surprised me,” Colombian Ambassador to the UN María Emma Mejía Vélez <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/10/world/americas/united-nations-gender-equality.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Fsomini-sengupta&amp;action=click&amp;contentCollection=undefined&amp;region=stream&amp;module=stream_unit&amp;version=latest&amp;contentPlacement=1&amp;pgtype=collection&amp;_r=0">told the NYT</a> after the third poll in late August. “That the members of the Security Council didn’t find any of the six worthy of being first or second.” </p> <p>As hopes for the UN’s first female leader become more unlikely, skepticism grows over whether another male Secretary-General can and will live up to commitments for gender parity if selected. “I don't buy the feminist man argument,” Shazia Rafi, UN Expert and former Secretary-General, Parliamentarians for Global Action 1996-2013, wrote in an email, “They have had their chance for 70 years, they have not created a more equal or peaceful world, they have not kept their commitments on gender equality made over twenty years ago at the Beijing Conference 1995; I was there, I helped write the words.&nbsp;There is no reason to believe the men will do so now.”</p> <p>Regardless of who this next SG will be, it is evident that in an election where gender parity has been <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-country-for-women-double-standards-choosing-next-UN-Secretary-General">paramount</a>, what the next SG has achieved in regards to women’s rights and empowerment matters. And while all candidates have publically committed to achieve gender parity if selected, no comprehensive analysis has been done of what these candidates have accomplished towards the advancement of women in past leadership positions.</p> <p>For this piece openDemocracy talked exclusively with the top five candidates (<b>See Footnote</b>), asking them to describe in their own words their biggest achievements in gender mainstreaming to date.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>We received overwhelming and lengthy responses that cover not just what candidates did to promote women, but also the types of gender policies they promoted, as well as the initiatives’ impacts and results. There is no space to provide the full treatment that would give justice to the level of detail with which we were provided. Therefore, we focus only on the staffing achievements of the candidates.&nbsp; However as many of the candidates pointed out in our discussions- increasing numbers of women across staff – while important – is not the only – or even the best measure of feminist commitment. It is perhaps however the most immediately visible.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p><h3><b>António Guterres: Former Head of the UN’s Refugee Agency and Former Prime Minister of Portugal</b></h3> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Guterres.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Guterres.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Former Prime Minister António Guterres is “the man to beat” in the current race for Next SG. Credit: Kena Betancur / AFP Photo</span></span></span></p><p><i>I am totally committed to parity. If elected I will present a road map for gender parity at all levels with benchmarks and time frames.</i></p> <p>~ Guterres to UN Member States, June 7, New York</p> <p>Portugal’s António Guterres holds a <a href="http://www.politico.eu/article/portuguese-antonio-guterres-continues-to-lead-vote-for-un-chief/">striking<b> </b>lead</a>, winning all four straw poll votes. Barring some completely unforeseen development – and a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/evelyn-leopold/will-portugals-guterres-b_b_11768604.html">Russian veto</a> – Guterres could be the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Guterres has taken measureable actions to address gender imbalances in staffing - specifically, as the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. “What I have tried to do while at UNHCR was to have the organization move from a male-dominated culture to a truly gender motivated staff,” he wrote in an email.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Setting gender parity as a <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/4abb8cde9.pdf">key objective</a> of his staff management policies<b> </b>in 2007, the UN’s Refugee Agency has since become a gender-equitable organization. According to Guterres, parity has been achieved in all areas dependent on direct decision of the High Commissioner, including within its Senior Management Committee - the high management body of the UNHCR, composed of 20 staff.&nbsp; According to UNHCR resources, progress has been made at all levels:</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/TABLE1_UNHCR_ STAFFPROGRESS.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/TABLE1_UNHCR_ STAFFPROGRESS.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="180" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Source: UNHCR</span></span></span></p><p>Under Guterres’s leadership, the UNHCR became <a href="https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N14/515/99/pdf/N1451599.pdf?OpenElement">one of only seven</a> UN entities that reached parity in promotions to senior staff, ranking fourth among 32 UN entities in the number of women appointed to senior level positions. Guterres said, “I believe these excellent results in the most senior levels show that my decision to have parity as the guiding management principle paid off.”</p> <p>When it comes to staffing, Guterres’s only regret is that there appeared to be a reversal in the rate of women’s representation at the lower levels, “As I was strongly focused on improving women’s representation at senior levels, I did not become fully aware of this negative trend initially.” Upon realizing the trend, Guterres quickly worked to change the recruitment policy.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>“It was a difficult task that caused quite a bit of internal resistance,” he said, “but finally we approved a new mechanism.” Now, having stepped down as High Commissioner, he hopes the organization sees through the new policy and ensures the reversal of the negative trend.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>When it comes to the broader UN system, Guterres is not afraid to call out the current gender imbalance of the UN’s most senior staff. In his <a href="http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/watch/ant%C3%B3nio-guterres-portugal-informal-dialogue-for-the-position-of-the-next-un-secretary-general/4843896055001">interview</a> with Member States on April 12, he said, gender balance was a “necessary shift” in the UN’s working style, “despite moving backwards in recent times.” “I am totally committed to parity,” Guterres assured repeatedly. From his time as UNHCR it seems he has the tools and experience to make good on this commitment.</p><h3><b>Miroslav Lajčák: current Foreign Minister of Slovakia</b></h3><p><b><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Lajcak.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Lajcak.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="361" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Slovakia’s Foreign Minister, Miroslav Lajćäk says, “If we want to promote more women, we need to promote them…particularly in areas where women can do better jobs than men.” Credit: Permanent Mission of Slovakia to the United Nations</span></span></span></b></p><p><i>Men</i><i> are better at fighting wars, and women are better at achieving peace…Women simply have stronger empathy and know the special needs of vulnerable communities… We need to use the special capacities and qualities of women… We must stand and fight for equality now. We must fight against all discrimination especially based on gender.</i></p> <p>~ Lajčák to UN Member States, June 7, New York<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Despite poor performances in the first and second straw polls, Miroslav Lajčák has bounced up from the bottom of the pack in the third poll, to hold his second place finish in the fourth.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Lajčák, when he became Slovakia’s Foreign Minister in 2009, women made up zero percent of the ministry’s most senior positions (Directors-General). “Today,” he says, “women represent 44 percent.”</p> <p>To help bring about this change, Lajčák implemented gender as a “priority criterion” when considering new applicants for Foreign Service. “Within my competencies I have focused on eliminating discrepancies and inequalities at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he wrote in an email. “We are taking efforts to set up standards of gender equality at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the representation of women at various levels and positions is constantly increasing.”</p> <p>According to Lajčák, 55 percent&nbsp;of the Foreign Ministry’s staff at headquarters, and 47 percent of the ministry’s workers abroad, are women. “In fact,” Lajčák remarked, “there are several women in top-diplomatic positions abroad, promoting Slovakia’s multilateral or bilateral priorities… – be it in Vienna, Ankara, or Cyprus.”</p> <p>While Lajčák has appeared to prioritize hiring and appointing women during his time as Foreign Minister, people may doubt his ability to effectively implement a feminist agenda at the helm of an organization as big and as complicated as the UN Secretariat. In his speeches, Lajčák has again and again <a href="http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-07-20/how-the-european-union-and-the-united-nations-should-lead-after-brexit">expressed disgust</a> at the UN’s sexual exploitation and abuse scandals and has vowed to stop it. However, when asked if he considers himself a feminist, Lajčák wrote in an email, “I am not a big fan of labels, but I have noticed the remarks of President Obama in this regard last August and I have a strong sympathy for what he outlined in his <a href="http://www.glamour.com/story/glamour-exclusive-president-barack-obama-says-this-is-what-a-feminist-looks-like">essay for Glamour</a>. Let me add that I also have two daughters.”<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p><h3><b>Vuk Jeremić: 67th&nbsp;President of the UN General Assembly and Foreign Minister of Serbia</b></h3> <p><i><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Jeremic.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Jeremic.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="690" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Serbian candidate, Vuk Jeremic, doesn’t understand the UN’s failure to reach 50/50 gender parity. Credit: Permanent Mission of Serbia to the United Nations</span></span></span></i></p><p><i>In my platform, I underscore that 50/50 gender parity in senior positions at the UN is not only necessary, but eminently achievable. Frankly, it’s pretty hard to explain adequately the failure of past efforts: it quite simply reflects a failure to prioritize the equal representation of women – and that’s unacceptable. I will make this reform a priority, leading by example in my own appointment[s].</i></p> <p>~ Jeremić to Ourania Yancopoulos via email, September 5<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In front of the UN General Assembly on April 14, Jeremić delivered a bold, public pledge to achieve gender parity in senior UN appointments <a href="http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/watch/vuk-jeremi%C4%87-serbia-informal-dialogue-for-the-position-of-the-next-un-secretary-general/4845971329001">from day one</a>. “From day one,” he writes in his <a href="https://www.vuk4sg.com/files/platform-vuk-jeremic-en.pdf">vision statement</a><b> </b>for next SG dated April 12, “the Secretary-General will appoint qualified women to 50 percent of UN Under-Secretary-General or equivalent positions.”</p> <p>To critical observers of the UN this appears to be an <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourania-s-yancopoulos/is-un-really-moving-toward-gender-equality-or-is-it-trying-to-cover-up-lack-of">impossible commitment</a> – over the UN’s 71 years, eight different Secretary-Generals have been unable to deliver even <i>half </i>of Jeremić’s promise. Jeremić, however, is confident in his ability to deliver and his apparent successes in Serbia’s Foreign Ministry perhaps indicate why.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Before elected 67<span style="font-size: 10.8333px; line-height: 16.25px;">th</span>&nbsp;President of the UN General Assembly, where he contributed to essential “first steps” in negotiating the terms of the <a href="https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5">2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development</a> related to women’s rights and women’s empowerment, Jeremić served as Serbia’s Foreign Minister.</p> <p>Jeremić explained his government’s attitudes about women at that time. “I don’t think any of my predecessors as Foreign Minister undertook internal policy measures advancing women’s rights and women’s empowerment,” Jeremić said via email, “and I’m certain none embraced feminist values.”<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>When Jeremić became Foreign Minister in May 2007 he was intent on implementing a different approach. “I inherited a hiring and promotion system that was silent on the question of gender parity,” He said, “There just wasn’t any awareness about it.”</p> <p>This was reflected in the results of the first call for applications from Serbian university graduates to enter the diplomatic service: only 30% of hires were women. “That may have been a good result for some, but I was deeply unsatisfied,” Jeremić said, “The people in charge of the process were using outdated methods—and it showed.”</p> <p>Jeremić set about designing a new process. According to Jeremić, by the end of his term as Foreign Minister 47% of all young diplomats and 49% of all mid-career diplomats hired were women.</p> <p>Jeremić also worked to promote gender parity in ambassadorial postings. According to Jeremić, just 10% of the ambassadors he inherited were women. By his last day in office, in July 2012, Serbia’s foreign ministry had <i>tripled</i> the number of female ambassadors. “In just 5 years, women were three times more likely to be appointed to represent their country abroad at the highest level than before I joined the Serbian Government,” Jeremić told openDemocracy.</p> <p>Jeremić said that rather than simply <i>being</i> a woman, the next Secretary-General must have feminist values in order to challenge the organization’s pervasive gender bias. “These are values that I share,” He said. “Who advanced women’s issues more: Kim Campbell, the first woman Prime Minister in Canadian history, or Justin Trudeau, who has taken historic strides to advance women’s rights and achieve gender parity in Canada?”</p> <h3><b>Irina Bokova, Current Director-General of UNESCO</b></h3><p><b><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Bokova.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Bokova.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova from Bulgaria, is the only woman to make the list of top five contenders for Next UN SG. Credit: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images</span></span></span></b></p><p><i>As a candidate for the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations, I hope to send a powerful message to all girls and women that it is possible to pursue the highest position in international civil service whether one is a woman or a man…As a woman candidate, though, I feel greater responsibility and honor as a dedicated defender of women's rights…</i></p> <p>~ Bokova to Ourania Yancopoulos via email, September 5</p> <p>Of the five women still in the race for next SG, Irina Bokova is the only woman to appear among the top five contenders in every straw poll vote.</p> <p>On <a href="http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/watch/irina-bokova-bulgaria-informal-dialogue-for-the-position-of-the-next-un-secretary-general/4842691541001">April 12</a>, Bokova told UN Member States that “for a long time” she thought having quotas or encouraging women to be engaged in important public positions was unnecessary. “I thought it would come up naturally; that we would achieve gender parity,” she said. “Now I see it doesn’t happen. We need to go about it in a focused manner.”</p> <p>On November 15, 2009 - following a thirty-year career in Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry fighting for gender equity and representing her country in three of the world’s four international conferences on women - Bokova became the first female <a href="http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/about-us/who-we-are/director-general/my-priorities/leading-the-change/">Director-General</a> of UNESCO. There, Bokova claims she has been able to demonstrate her personal commitment to gender equality.</p> <p>When Bokova took office in November 2009, UNESCO had already designated gender equality as one of its two global priorities for 2008-2013 and developed its first Gender Equality Action Plan. But Bokova wasn’t satisfied. “From the beginning, I was intent on pushing this priority further,” she said.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Under Bokova’s leadership UNESCO<b><i> </i></b>developed a <a href="http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002272/227222e.pdf">Gender Balance Action Plan</a>, which identified targets to be achieved and mechanisms to implement for gender equitable recruitment, retention, and promotion of its personnel.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Since January 2010, <a href="add the link to the gender breakdown of higher levels of staff under the UNESCO table">significant progress</a> has been made in the representation of women:</p> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/genderbalance.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/genderbalance.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="279" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Source: Key data on UNESCO staff and posts June 2016, Bureau of Human Resources management.</span></span></span></span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Overall the proportion of women staff in UNESCO is among the highest in the UN system. According to Bokova, at the end of August 2016, UNESCO achieved 46 percent representation of women at all managerial levels, compared to 13 percent in January 2012.</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>When it comes to the appointment of the next SG, Bokova believes that calls for the first woman go beyond symbolism and political correctness. For Bokova, only a feminist woman SG can ensure that the UN delivers on its core values including human rights, development and peace. “We need a Secretary-General who fully understands women's rights as human rights,” she said.</p><h3>Danilo Türk: Former President of Slovenia and Assistant-Secretary-General of the UN’s Department of Political Affairs</h3><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Turk_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Turk_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="244" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>“My belief is that ideal teams are close to 50/50 [gender parity],” said Slovenia’s third President, Danilo Turk to UN Member States on April 13. Credit: UN Dispatch</span></span></span></p><p><i>Women can and will play a strongly positive role in all fields…The UN staff serves all the people of the world. The composition of the UN Secretariat must therefore reflect the world. Importantly, steadily greater gender balance must be a leading and sustained priority.</i></p> <p>~ Türk, Vision Statement, February 9</p> <p>Despite strong performances in the first two straw polls, Danilo Türk dropped to seventh place in the third round of straw polls August 21. He moved back up to fifth place after the fourth round, September 9.<b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Türk served in the UN for over a decade – as Slovenia’s first ambassador from 1992 to 2000, then as Kofi Annan’s Assistant-Secretary-General for the Department of Political Affairs from 2000 to 2005.</p> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">After securing Slovenia the Presidency of the Security Council in October 1997, Türk helped prepare his team with the Foreign Ministry. In those preparations he demanded that there be equal numbers of men and women. “I thought it was important in the Security Council in particular to have two perspectives both the male and female perspective,” he said over the phone.</span></p> <p>At a time when only <a href="http://www.womeninglobalgovernance.net/un-permanent-representative.html">eleven female</a> ambassadors existed in the entire UN system - out of a total of 188 - Türk secured gender balance within his team. “Right from the start we had a group of talented female and male diplomats. The team was small, eight people, including me - four men and four women.” Türk said, “The women were critical in defining our positions on certain issues and in certain undertakings. And all of them made great careers.”</p> <p>From that team, Slovenia got its first female ambassador<i> </i>to the UN and its current State Secretary<i>, </i><a href="http://www.mzz.gov.si/en/about_the_ministry/leadership/state_secretaries/sanja_stiglic/">Sanja Štiglic</a>; as well as its current Ambassadors to Greece, the Council of Europe, and Deputy Chief to its <a href="http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/175976">OSCE Special Monitoring Mission</a> in Ukraine.</p> <p>In the current race for Secretary-General Türk says feminist values are “essential,” “Empowerment of women means also empowerment of the UN.”<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span></p><h3><b>Women in leadership – still hope for first woman SG?</b></h3> <p>Whether the UN will see its first female, feminist leader is yet to be seen. With only one woman in the poll’s most recent top five contenders, it seems unlikely. However, despite Guterres’s strong lead, the other contenders continue to shift in the standings below him and rumors circulate around a possible new late-entry candidate. <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/melikkaylan/2016/09/11/struggle-for-the-next-un-general-secretary-gets-feverish/#7f4914035c20">The candidacy</a> of current European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, the Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva,<b> </b><a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-un-election-georgieva-idUKKCN11H0FE">is rumored</a> to have been discussed on the sidelines of the G20 summit early September.</p> <p>For some, the gender records of the top male candidates may be consolation. Former UN diplomat <a href="http://peaceoperationsreview.org/commentary/the-lost-agenda-gender-parity-in-senior-un-appointments/">Karin Landgren</a> wrote in an email, “The deep commitment needed to reach gender parity at the highest levels of the UN can only come from a feminist SG, - male or female.” For others, it will not be enough. “I think that for the men to claim they are feminists just to gain the position of SG is such hypocrisy,” Jean Krasno said, “And takes everyone's eye off the ball.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The current women candidates have already been at the head of major UN agencies and served as Foreign Ministers; one has even been the head of her government. “Their mettle has already been tested,” said Shazia.</p> <p>Upon being appointed Foreign Relations Minister of Argentina, Susana Malcorra was described by the current Secretary-General as “<a href="http://www.un.org/press/en/2015/sgsm17355.doc.htm">a strong voice for gender equality</a>.” She is a veteran of the UN system, serving as the current Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet and member of the UN’s Senior Management Group. Prior to this role she served as Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, and before that, as Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme.</p> <p><a href="http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/operations/leadership/administrator/biography/">Helen Clark</a> was the first woman in New Zealand to serve as Deputy Prime Minister; first woman appointed to the Privy Council; first woman to be elected as head of a major party; and the first woman elected Prime Minister. As Prime Minister she led a government dedicated to advancing gender equality. At the time, New&nbsp;Zealand’s Governor General, Cabinet Secretary, Attorney General, and Speaker were all also women. Now, she serves as the UN Development Program’s first female Administrator and has appointed more women to senior positions than any of her predecessors.</p> <p>Additionally, Costa Rica’s <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/lone-raised-hand-who-will-become-next-un-secretary-general">Christiana Figueres</a> served as the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and directed the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement - dubbed by <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/13/paris-climate-deal-cop-diplomacy-developing-united-nations"><i>The</i> <i>Guardian</i></a>, “the world’s greatest diplomatic success.” And Moldova’s Natalia Gherman, serving as both Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the <a href="http://www.womansg.org/blog">WomanSG campaign</a> in April that it was because of her new recruitment initiatives that the last incoming class of young, Foreign Ministry professionals was 60% female. &nbsp;</p> <p>Despite their qualifications, these four <a href="http://www.womansg.org/official-candidates">outstanding women</a> have been shut out of the race’s top contenders. UN Expert Richard Gowan said via email, “The activists who have campaigned for a woman to lead the UN will need to keep up a broader campaign for gender equality in the organization, whoever ultimately gets the top job.&nbsp;Otherwise we'll be back to diplomacy as normal, with a distinctly male tinge, before you know it.”</p> <p>Representativeness is the foundation on which the advancement of women’s empowerment and women’s rights is built. In an email, current UNSG frontrunner Guterres wrote, “[T]he most effective way to begin to change perceptions about women is to have them in positions where they are normally not seen, playing all sort of roles that they don’t play often enough, in spite of their qualifications and valuable contributions.”</p> <p>Never in the 70-plus year history of the UN has a woman been SG. And at the moment, it looks like that is not going to change.</p><p><b><i>Follow the conversation on Twitter via</i>: #UNSGCandidates #NextSG&nbsp;#She4SG.</b></p> <p><i><b>FOOTNOTE:</b>&nbsp;There has been considerable movement in the list of candidates and there’s still no telling who will make the final cut. The lack of clear rules about the SG selection process adds to the incredible difficulty of clearly predicting what will come next, and who exactly the “top five contenders” are. However, according to UN insiders – and barring any late entries or sudden surprises – the next SG is “most likely” to come from the top five contenders as defined in the following way:</i></p> <p><i>In this round of non-binding preferential votes, candidates have more “discourage” votes than in previous selection cycles. And these are the votes that matter most. Even if just one of Guterres’s two “discourage” votes comes from a P5 member, his Secretary-Generalship could be blocked, and Russia has not been quiet about their desire to see an Eastern European at the UN’s helm. We choose to rank the top five candidates by a combination of the number of “encourage” and “discourage” votes they received in the following way:</i></p> <ol><li><i>António Guterres, Portugal: Encourage (12) – Discourage (2) – No Opinion (1)</i></li><li><i>Miroslav Lajčák, Slovakia: Encourage (10) – Discourage (4) – No Opinion (1)</i></li><li><i>Vuk Jeremić, Serbia: Encourage (9) – Discourage (4) – No Opinion (2)</i></li><li><i>Irina Bokova, Bulgaria: Encourage (7) – Discourage (5) – No Opinion (3)</i></li><li><i>Danilo Türk, Slovenia: Encourage (7) – Discourage (6) – No Opinion (2)</i></li></ol><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/is-feminist-united-nations-possible-in-our-lifetime">Is a feminist United Nations possible in our lifetime?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/madam-secretary-general">Madam Secretary-General?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/lone-raised-hand-who-will-become-next-un-secretary-general">A lone raised hand: who will become the next UN Secretary-General ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-country-for-women-double-standards-choosing-next-UN-Secretary-General">Still no country for women? Double standards in choosing the next UN Secretary-General </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/time-to-vote-pick-feminist-woman-to-lead-un">Choose a woman to lead the UN!</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/choosing-next-secretary-general-real-change-ahead">Choosing the next UN Secretary-General: real change ahead? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/world-s-top-diplomat-administrator-figurehead-or-leader">The next UN Secretary-General: administrator, figurehead, or leader?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourania-s-yancopoulos/is-un-really-moving-toward-gender-equality-or-is-it-trying-to-cover-up-lack-of">Is the UN really moving toward gender equality? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women%27s-rights-have-no-country">Women&#039;s rights have no country</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/kavita-n-ramdas/building-bridge-to-future-towards-feminist-un">Building a bridge to the future: towards a feminist UN</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 westminster 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Gender and the UN 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 newsletter feminism gender gender justice women and power Ourania S. Yancopoulos Wed, 05 Oct 2016 19:45:33 +0000 Ourania S. Yancopoulos 105292 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Nobel Women’s Initiative at 10: When We Are Bold https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rachel-m-vincent/nobel-women-s-initiative-at-10-when-we-are-bold <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“It is time to stand up, sisters, and do some of the most unthinkable things. We have the power to turn our upsidedown world right.” – Leymah Gbowee</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Liz-Rachel-Julienne-Leymah DRC 2014.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Liz-Rachel-Julienne-Leymah DRC 2014.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="288" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rachel Vincent, Liz Bernstein, Leymah Gbowee and Julienne Lusenge meet with sexual violence survivors in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 2014. Photo: Peter Müller </span></span></span>When I was 10, I was an avid reader and particularly loved reading biographies. I vividly recall reading short, child-versions of biographies about Florence Nightingale — the nurse who pioneered the use of hygiene in field care and saved countless lives on the front lines during the Crimean War — and biographies of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, two African Americans who had bravely made their way from the South to the North to escape slavery. Harriet Tubman traveled mostly at night, and used moss — which grows on the side of the tree that gets the least amount of light, the north side — to guide her to freedom. To this day, while walking in the woods, I find myself checking on which side of the tree the moss is growing. </p> <p>It is perhaps not surprising then that as I grew older, I sought out books written by and about women. In my turbulent teens and 20s, it was the lives and experiences of women I had never met — writers like Harper Lee, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, Nawal El-Saadawi, Gloria Naylor, Julia Alvarez and Arundhati Roy — who helped me to feel less alone in this world. Their collective wisdom pointed me towards a new kind of North, an interior freedom; they showed me that there are many ways in this world to be a woman, and that fear was normal, but so was boldly refusing to accept things as they are.&nbsp; </p> <p>In 1983, when I was 18, my mother gave me a copy of Carol Gilligan’s book, <em>In A Different Voice</em>. This book posited the theory, ground breaking at the time, that women and men have different approaches to morality. Gilligan’s work has since been knocked off its pedestal, but the core idea that women and men have different “voices” and ways of being in this world has always stuck with me, and in ways big and small, has shaped my life. </p> <p>Fast-forward more than 30 years. I now find myself working with six extraordinary women Nobel Peace laureates at the <a href="http://nobelwomensinitiative.org/">Nobel Women’s Initiative</a>. The initiative’s leader, Liz Bernstein, shares not only a passion for feminism and peace work with me, but also a deep love for the writing of women and women’s stories. During human rights delegations to countries like South Sudan, Honduras, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liz and I fill time on planes or buses discussing books we love, especially ones that celebrate the stories of women who have rejected militarism, violence and hatred (in its many forms) and have bravely forged ahead unapologetically as peacemakers. </p> <p>After many years of amplifying the voices of women’s rights activists around the globe for the Nobel Women’s Initiative, I decided to curate a book celebrating 100 years of remarkable peacemakers.&nbsp; The book is called &nbsp;<a href="http://whenwearebold.com/">When We Are Bold: Women Who Turn Our Upsidedown World Right !</a> Published by Mapalé,<strong> </strong>27 September 2016.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/When We Are Bold.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/When We Are Bold.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="457" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>When We Are Bold: Women Who Turn Our Upsidedown World Right ! Editor, Rachel Vincent. Published by Mapalé. </span></span></span></p> <p>We all stand on some pretty broad shoulders in the peace movement, and I wanted to honour those who led the way—and who have influenced and shaped other women. The result is a unique collection of 28 short profiles of women who work boldly for change, by the women writers, thinkers and doers they inspire.&nbsp; Some of the women in the book you may recognize, including seven women Nobel peace laureates.&nbsp; Other women in the book are not famous, but should be.&nbsp; The women come from all over the globe, including France, Liberia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Israel, Jordan, Russia, Mexico, Honduras, Canada and the United States. </p> <p>We are reprinting three essays from the book here on <em>openDemocracy 50.50</em>.&nbsp; In her <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/valerie-m-hudson/toward-feminist-foreign-policy">essay</a>, scholar and writer Valerie M. Hudson explores how feminist icon Gloria Steinem, now in her 80’s, is still working for a shift in foreign policy based on the feminist goal of peace. In her <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/marilyn-waring/helen-caldicott-and-first-nuke-free-country">essay</a>, feminist economist and former New Zealand politician Marilyn Waring takes us back to the early 1980s, when Dr. Helen Caldicott paid a well-timed visit to New Zealand and helped move public opinion closer to the decision to make New Zealand the first nuke-free country.&nbsp; In her <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/fiona-lloyd-davies/rebecca-masika-katsuva-life-of-hope-lived-in-defiance-of-violence">essay</a>, filmmaker Fiona Lloyd-Davies honours Congolese activist Rebecca Masika Katsuva.&nbsp; Masika, herself a survivor of sexual violence, helped dozens of other survivors in her short life, and also become “Mama Masika” to so many of their children.&nbsp; </p> <p>The women profiled in these essays, are “extraordinary”. &nbsp;But at the root of that word is “ordinary”. Both the women writing and the women who inspire them are just like women you know. They are your mother, your sisters, your aunts; women in every community across this planet doing the hard, sometimes dangerous, and often lonely, work of challenging the status quo and responding to violence and injustice in its many forms. </p> <p>I hope you see glimpses of yourself in some of the women you read about in these essays. Perhaps some of them will even inspire you to follow the metaphoric moss on the north side of the trees towards boldness.&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="http://whenwearebold.com/">When We Are Bold: Women Who Turn Our Upsidedown World Right !</a> Published by Mapalé,<strong> </strong>27 September 2016</p><p><strong><em>Read more articles in the 50.50 <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nobel-womens-initiative-10th-anniversary">series </a>celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Nobel Women's Initiative</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marilyn-waring/helen-caldicott-and-first-nuke-free-country">Whose work was the inspiration for the first nuke-free country?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valerie-m-hudson/toward-feminist-foreign-policy">Gloria Steinem: toward a feminist foreign policy </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/fiona-lloyd-davies/rebecca-masika-katsuva-life-of-hope-lived-in-defiance-of-violence"> A life of hope lived in defiance of violence: Rebecca Masika Katsuva</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/peacework-lessons-we-have-failed-to-learn">Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/liz-khan-sue-finch/peacework-women-in-action-across-europe">Peacework: women in action across Europe </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/content/meaning-of-peace-in-21st-century">The meaning of peace in the 21st century</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/there-are-more-of-us-who-want-peace-than-want-killing-to-continue">There are more of us who want peace than want the killing to continue</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/common-vision-abolition-of-militarism">A common vision: The abolition of militarism </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/leymah-gbowee-five-words-for-men-of-libya">Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jody-williams/jody-williams-true-path-to-nuclear-non-proliferation">Jody Williams: The true path to nuclear non-proliferation </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Nobel Women's Initiative 10th anniversary Women's Power to Stop War 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Nobel Women's Initiative 50.50 Women's Movement Building women's movements women and power women and militarism 50.50 newsletter Rachel Vincent Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:27:34 +0000 Rachel Vincent 105602 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Gloria Steinem: toward a feminist foreign policy https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/valerie-m-hudson/toward-feminist-foreign-policy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Feminism, when you look at it as Gloria Steinem does, as the recognition of the full humanity and full equality of both men and women, <em>is </em>peace work</p> </div> </div> </div> <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" align="left"> <tr> <td valign="top" align="left"> </td> </tr> </table> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Gloria Steinem.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Gloria Steinem.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="288" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gloria Steinem leads Women Cross DMZ, an international group of women peace activists crossing the border between North and South Korea in 2015. Photo: Niana Liu</span></span></span></p><p>Gloria Steinem’s name has become synonymous with feminism, but it’s also true to say her life has been devoted to the cause of peace. In her 81st year, Steinem joined a group of 30 women peacemakers who marched (or attempted to march) across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, to highlight the political-military stalemate there. Two Nobel laureates, Mairead Maguire and Leymah Gbowee, also marched. This was no orchestrated photo op. Steinem explained that they’d arrived not knowing if they’d actually be allowed to cross or not, and that it was “remarkable” that they were given permission to do so by the two opposed governments. “North and South Korean women can’t walk across the DMZ legally,” she said. “We from other countries can. So I feel we are walking on their behalf.”</p> <p>To dare to envision peace is a profoundly subversive act, and always has been. While Steinem has contributed toward the building of a more peaceful world in many ways, such as the DMZ walk, one of her foremost contributions has been to envision, articulate, and help realize a world where the global war against women has an end.</p> <p>Ending the war against women is not some add-on or tangent to the cause of peace between races, peoples, and nations—it is the precondition for such peace. There cannot be peace between nations until there is peace between the two halves of humanity, the mothers and fathers of all living and all yet to live. This understanding is the great gift Steinem has given to three generations of humankind now—a gift we will pass on to our own daughters and sons.</p> <p>Steinem sees a connection between what we have chosen to normalize in male-female relations, and what we see at the level of state and society. “The family is the basic cell of the government,” she explains, “it is where we are trained to believe that we are human beings or that we are chattel, it is where we are trained to see the sex and race divisions and become callous to injustice even if it is done to ourselves, to accept as biological a full system of authoritarian government.”</p> <p>Truly, then, we should not be surprised that societies rooted in male dominance over females are not peaceful or democratic; as Steinem notes, “We’re never going to have democratic countries or peaceful countries until we have democratic or peaceful families.” Why? Because you must teach men to dominate in order to maintain a male-dominated system. And that is a very ugly education, indeed, where the first to be dominated are those within men’s own families who are different from them: women. Domestic violence is the seedbed of all other violence based on difference. “This is the first form of violence, domination, power we see as children,” explains Steinem. “It normalizes every other form.”</p> <p>This education in domination not only harms women—it harms men as well. Steinem says that when she talks to groups of men they often bring up how masculine roles have limited them, and how they missed having real, present loving fathers, as their dads were always trying to fit an ideal of masculinity, which did not include that. Because men have been taught that they have to “prove” their masculinity in a way women do not, and because masculinity has been constructed upon notions of domination and control, men’s lives can easily become inhumane. It’s a life that brings no lasting happiness. In a way, then, feminism is humanism, for it seeks to liberate both men and women from destructively contorted sex roles.</p> <p>Steinem maintains that women will tend to be much better peacemakers until the masculine role is humanized. Women are integral to peacebuilding, for they have not been sidelined by the need to prove their sex role through conflict and aggression. Steinem points out that people thought achieving peace in Ireland and in Liberia would be impossible, but in both countries women from both sides started working together and did the impossible—achieved peace. </p> <p>If peace cannot be built without women then one of the most important steps that could be taken to ensure a more peaceful world would be empowering women globally:</p> <p><em>The worldwide reduction of violence against females should be a core goal of our foreign policy. It should be, given its outcome, its demonstrable outcome in every major country in the world ... Instead, what happens is the “it would be nice” principle—“It would be nice if women were more equal in Afghanistan, but it’s not important.” And many of our officials have said specifically that women’s rights have nothing to do with nationalism, peace conferences, peace processes, all kinds of things. We could, for instance, actually put some teeth into UNSCR 1325 ... We have the principle, but it is on paper only, it is not enacted. </em></p> <p>In an interview I did with Steinem in 2013, she opened my eyes to just how vastly different our foreign policy would be if we took the cause of women seriously. She recounted an incident that happened just after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. She attended a briefing of women’s organizations in a State Department auditorium toward the end of President Jimmy Carter’s tenure. Although the subject was an upcoming&nbsp; U.N. women’s conference and Afghanistan wasn’t mentioned, the Soviets had rolled into Kabul that very day. Newspapers were full of articles about the mujahideen—the Islamist guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan—and their declaration of war against their own Soviet-supported government. Their leaders gave three reasons for why they wanted to drive the Soviets out: girls were permitted to go to school; girls and women could no longer be married off without their consent; and women were being invited to political meetings.</p> <p>During the discussion that followed the meeting, Steinem stood up and posed an obvious question to her State Department hosts: Given what the mujahideen themselves had said that day, wasn’t the United States supporting the wrong side? Steinem remembers the question falling into that particular hush reserved for the ridiculous. She doesn’t remember the exact answer, but the State Department made it clear the United States opposed anything the Soviets supported—the government spokesman made no mention that the United States was arming violent, antidemocratic, misogynist religious extremists.</p> <p>It was clear that matters of war and peace were about realpolitik and oil pipelines—and not about honoring the human rights of the more peaceful female half of the human race. And so it happened that the mujahideen waged their brutal war with weapons supplied by the United States and, of course, Saudi Arabia—the birthplace of the doctrinaire interpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism. Together, they gave birth to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other affiliated terror networks that now reach far beyond the borders of Afghanistan. Steinem says she has never stopped regretting that she didn’t chain herself to the seats of that State Department auditorium in public protest.</p> <p>Feminism, then, when you look at it as Steinem does, as the recognition of the full humanity and full equality of both men and women, <em>is </em>peace work. When U.S. President Barack Obama presented Steinem with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 for her work advancing women’s rights and civil rights, she made the connection between the two explicit by saying the medal meant so much because it was, in a way, for waging peace. She explained that the gender division, in which there is a subject and an object, a masculine and feminine, a dominant and passive, is what normalizes other violence that has to do with race and class and ethnicity and sexuality. Men’s idea that they must defeat each other in order to be masculine, she explained, “is the root of the false idea that we are ranked as human beings rather than linked.” </p> <p>Steinem argues there is a better vision—an embrace of difference without hierarchy. When we encounter that first difference between male and female, a profound choice is placed before us: we can rank those who are different, or we can link them. Steinem urges us to choose the latter: “Difference is the source of learning ... Difference is a gift, so that we understand and don’t fear ... We live in a world of ‘either/or.’ We’re trying to make a world of ‘and.’ So it is about shared humanity in perfect balance with difference.”</p> <p>Steinem once described herself as a “hope-aholic,” which seems like a very good way to describe peacemakers. It is a life filled with incorrigible aspiration for a better world, and the tenacity to work for its realization. Part of this hope is that one day the vision you see will seem obvious to everyone: “I think that being a feminist means that you see the world whole instead of half. It shouldn’t need a name, and one day it won’t.” </p> <p>And as for Steinem herself? “I hope to live to 100. There is so much to do.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/When We Are Bold (1).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/When We Are Bold (1).png" alt="" title="" width="240" height="239" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><em><span>This essay is one of 28 stories by notable women about remarkable women peacemakers brought together in a collection to celebrate the 10th&nbsp;anniversary of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. </span><a href="http://whenwearebold.com/">When We Are Bold: Women Who Turn Our Upsidedown World Right!</a><a href="http://whenwearebold.com/"> </a><span>Editor, Rachel Vincent, September 27, Mapalé.</span></em></p><p><span><em><a href="http://www.editorialmapale.com/" target="_blank">http://www.editorialmapale.com/</a>&nbsp;</em></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><em>Read more articles in the 50.50 <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nobel-womens-initiative-10th-anniversary">series </a>celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Nobel Women's Initiative</em><br /></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/this-is-what-feminist-foreign-policy-looks-like">This is what a feminist foreign policy looks like</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jacqui-true/why-we-need-feminist-foreign-policy-to-stop-war">Why we need a feminist foreign policy to stop war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/christina-asquith/hillary-doctrine-untangling-sex-and-american-foreign-policy">The Hillary Doctrine: untangling sex and American foreign policy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/valerie-hudson/foundation-of-human-security-in-every-society">The foundation of human security in every society</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/distance-travelled-beijing-hillary-and-women%27s-rights">The distance travelled: Beijing, Hillary, and women&#039;s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/child-soldiers-child-wives-wounded-for-life">Child soldiers, child wives: wounded for life</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/still-our-man-in-havana-foreign-policy-reportings-elitism-problem">Still &#039;Our Man in Havana&#039;: foreign policy reporting&#039;s elitism problem</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/building-culture-of-love-replacing-culture-of-violence-and-death">Building a culture of love: replacing a culture of violence and death</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/leymah-gbowee/leymah-gbowee-five-words-for-men-of-libya">Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/military-intervention-in-yemen-international-system-in-crisis">Military intervention in Yemen: the international system in crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ray-acheson-rebecca-johnson/un-are-development-and-peace-empty-words">The UN: are development and peace empty words? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ray-acheson-rebecca-johnson/un-are-development-and-peace-empty-words">The UN: are development and peace empty words? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/heather-mcrobie/what-sex-means-for-world-peace">What sex means for world peace</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Conflict Nobel Women's Initiative 10th anniversary 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women and power women and militarism feminism 50.50 newsletter Valerie Hudson Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:27:33 +0000 Valerie Hudson 105597 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Whose work was the inspiration for the first nuke-free country? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/marilyn-waring/helen-caldicott-and-first-nuke-free-country <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>New Zealand was the first country in the world to pass national nuclear-free legislation. Marilyn Waring reflects on how Dr. Helen Caldicott’s influence culminated in the passage of the cornerstone of New Zealand’s foreign policy.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Helen Caldicott.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Helen Caldicott.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="359" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Helen Caldicott. Credit: Helen Caldicott</span></span></span></p><p>If you were growing up in New Zealand and Australia post World War II, there’s a chance you knew about the United States using the Marshall Islands as a nuclear testing site from 1947 until 1962. In an agreement signed with the United Nations, the U.S. government held the Marshall Islands as a “trust territory” and detonated nuclear devices in this pristine area of the Pacific Ocean—leading, in some instances, to huge levels of radiation fall-out, health effects, and the permanent displacement of many island people. In all, the U.S. government conducted 105 underwater and atmospheric tests. You would have also known that the British conducted seven atmospheric tests between 1956 and 1963 on traditional Aboriginal land, in Maralinga, Australia. </p> <p>It may be that you read Neville Shute’s 1957 novel <em>On the Beach, </em>in which people in Melbourne, Australia wait for deadly radiation to spread from a Northern Hemisphere nuclear war. This book made a memorable impact on Helen when she read it as a teenager. When I was a teenager, some years later, I read Bertrand Russell’s 1959 classic, <em>Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare. </em></p> <p>Both Helen and I saw Peter Watkin’s <em>The War Game</em>, a BBC documentary drama about nuclear war and the consequences in an English city. In New Zealand the film was restricted for children unless accompanied by an adult, so I had to get my father to take me. <em>The War Game</em> won the Oscar for the best documentary in 1965.</p> <p>France began its series of over 175 nuclear tests at Mururoa, in the South Pacific, in 1966. At least 140 of these tests were above ground. In 1973, the New Zealand and Australian governments took France to the World Court for continued atmospheric testing, and forced the last tests underground. The testing finally came to an end in 1976.</p> <p>In New Zealand the U.S. Navy made regular visits between 1976 and 1983 with nuclear-powered and, most likely, nuclear-armed, ships. These visits produced spectacular protest fleets in the Auckland and Wellington harbours, when hundreds of New Zealanders—in yachts of all sizes, in motor boats and canoes, even on surf boards—surrounded the vessels and tried to bring them to a complete stop. By 1978, a campaign began in New Zealand to declare borough and city council areas nuclear-free and, by the early 1980s, this symbolic movement had quickly gained momentum, covering more than two-thirds of the New Zealand population.</p> <p>Helen Caldicott and I had not met up to this point, but these were shared parts of our history and consciousness when Helen visited New Zealand in 1983.</p><p>Helen Caldicott graduated with a medical degree from University of Adelaide Medical School in 1961. She moved to the United States, becoming an Instructor in paediatrics at Harvard Medical School and was on the staff of the Children’s Hospital Medical Centre in Boston, Massachusetts. In the late 1970s, Helen became the President of Physicians for Social Responsibility. This group was founded when Helen was finishing medical school, quickly making its mark by documenting the presence of Strontium-90, a highly radioactive waste product of atmospheric nuclear testing, in children’s teeth. The landmark finding eventually led to the Limited Nuclear Test Ban treaty, which ended atmospheric nuclear testing. </p> <p>But it was the Three Mile Island accident that changed Helen’s life. An equipment failure resulted in a loss of cooling water to the core of a reactor at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania, causing a partial meltdown. Operator failure meant that 700,000 gallons of radioactive cooling water ended up in the basement of the reactor building. It was the most serious nuclear accident to that date in the U.S. Helen published <em>Nuclear Madness</em> the same year. In it she wrote: “As a physician, I contend that nuclear technology threatens life on our planet with extinction. If present trends continue, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink will soon be contaminated with enough radioactive pollutants to pose a potential health hazard far greater than any plague humanity has ever experienced.” In 1980, Helen resigned from her paid work positions to work full time on the prevention of nuclear war. </p> <p>In 1982, Canadian director Terre Nash filmed a lecture given by Helen Caldicott to a New York state student audience. Nash’s consequent National Film Board of Canada documentary<em> If You Love this Planet </em>was released during the term of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, at the height of Cold War nuclear tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. The U.S. Department of Justice moved quickly to designate the film “foreign propaganda,” bringing a great deal of attention to the film. It went on to win the 1982 Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject. That same year, Helen addressed about 750,000 people in Central Park, New York in the biggest anti-nuke rally in the United States to that date.</p> <p>In 1983, I was serving as a member of the New Zealand parliament, having been elected eight years earlier at the age of 23. Our parliament established a Disarmament and Arms Control Select Committee to conduct hearings on the possibility of making New Zealand a nuclear-free zone. During this critically important time, Helen was invited to New Zealand on a lecture tour. The documentary <em>If You Love This Planet </em>was shown at her speaking engagements.</p> <p>I did not get to meet her, nor hear any of her lectures in person, as I was working in parliament every night. But I did follow the media coverage. </p> <p>Helen told the magazine the<em> Listener</em> about having observed five-star generals in U.S. congressional and senate committees complaining that the Russian missiles were bigger than the American ones. “The Russian missiles are very big (and) inaccurate and clumsy. America has very small, very accurate missiles, which are better at killing people and destroying targets,” she explained. A frequent message in her talks to New Zealand audiences was the redundant overkill capacity of both superpowers. Caldicott noted to her audiences that “[T]he U.S. has 30,000 bombs and Russia 20,000.” </p> <p>I had sat in a New Zealand parliamentary committee hearing some months earlier, when a government colleague, brandishing a centrefold of a Russian submarine, excitedly called for us to “Look at how big it is.” I had thought that no one would believe me if I had repeated such an inane banality—when an adult male was more impressed by the size of the submarine than its capacity to destroy life on this planet. </p> <p>Helen’s public addresses were grounded in the potential impact of nuclear weapons. “Imagine a 20-megaton bomb targeted on Auckland,” she told audiences in New Zealand. “The explosion, five times the collective energy of all the bombs dropped in the Second World War, digs a hole three-quarters of a mile wide by 800 feet deep and turns people, buildings and dirt into radioactive dust. Everyone up to six miles will be vaporised, and up to 20 miles they will be dead or lethally injured. People will be instantly blinded looking at the blast within 40 miles. Many will be asphyxiated in the fire storm.” </p> <p>Helen did not hold back, explaining that nuclear war means “blindness, burning, starvation, disease, lacerations, haemorrhaging, millions of corpses and an epidemic of disease.” Helen’s dramatic and blunt style reduced many in her audiences to tears. She always ended her talks with a call to action—especially to parents—as she strongly believes that nuclear disarmament is “the ultimate medical and parenting issue of our time.”</p> <p>To those who would claim New Zealand was not a target she had a short reply: “Trident submarines in ports are targeted. They are a first strike target. It is much easier to destroy subs when they are in dock than it is when they are submerged in the ocean.” </p> <p>In 2015, I asked Helen how she managed to deliver such bad news and yet keep her audiences with her. “Being a doctor helps because you have to learn to negotiate with a patient and with language they can understand,” she explained. “You have to convert the medical diagnosis and treatment to lay language. I also have to keep them awake sometimes by letting them laugh because it relieves their tension and because the stuff I say is pretty awful.” Helen told me that she practices “global preventative medicine.” </p> <p>Helen’s tour through New Zealand in 1983 had a huge, and lasting, impact. At one stop, Helen addressed over 2,000 people at a public event in Auckland. The librarian with whom I corresponded looking for old newspaper reports of Helen’s visit, wrote to me: “Her chillingly detailed description of the effects of a nuclear device detonated over the hall in which we were sitting remains rooted in my psyche to this day! …The other message I most recall is the dichotomy she evoked between the destructive drive of ‘old men’ rulers, the instigators of war, versus the procreative energy of mothers most impelled to oppose them—which, however reductive, retains the compelling logic of a truism!” </p> <p>Helen’s approach was transformative in New Zealand. Helen’s speaking events packed auditoriums, and overflows of audiences had to be accommodated using loud speaker systems. People responded strongly to this woman, whose life work involved caring for children, speaking about medical effects of fallout, and speaking without the use of the clichéd military and defence ideological rhetoric that treated people as if they were simpletons who couldn’t understand. Her speeches inspired people to act. After Helen spoke, the volume of mail delivered to my parliamentary office increased—particularly from women. </p> <p>On May 24, 1983, 20,000 women wearing white flowers and armbands and holding banners with peace signs marched quietly up a main street in Auckland to hold a huge rally and call for New Zealand to be nuke-free. It was one of the largest women’s demonstrations in New Zealand’s history. In her book, <em>Peace, Power and Politics – How New Zealand Became Nuclear Free</em>, Maire Leadbetter writes: “I am one of many activists who think of Helen Caldicott’s visit as the point when the peace movement began to grow exponentially… Helen had a magical ability to motivate previously passive citizens to become activists.” </p> <p>Shortly after Helen’s visit to New Zealand, in 1984, I advised that I intended to vote for the opposition-sponsored nuclear-free New Zealand legislation. This prompted conservative Prime Minister Rob Muldoon to call a snap election. Muldoon told media that my “feminist anti-nuclear stance” threatened his ability to govern. </p> <p>The new Labour Government of 1984 passed the <a href="New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act ">New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act</a> in 1987, the world’s first national nuclear-free legislation. Dr. Helen Caldicott’s influence had culminated in the passage of the cornerstone of New Zealand’s foreign policy.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/When We Are Bold (1).png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/When We Are Bold (1).png" alt="" title="" width="240" height="239" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><em><span>This essay is one of 28 stories by notable women about remarkable women peacemakers brought together in a collection to celebrate the 10th&nbsp;anniversary of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. </span><a href="http://whenwearebold.com/">When We Are Bold: Women Who Turn Our Upsidedown World Right!</a><a href="http://whenwearebold.com/"> </a><span>Editor, Rachel Vincent, September 27, Mapalé.</span></em></p><p><span><em><a href="http://www.editorialmapale.com/" target="_blank">http://www.editorialmapale.com/</a>&nbsp;</em></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><em>Read more articles in the 50.50 <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nobel-womens-initiative-10th-anniversary">series </a>celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Nobel Women's Initiative</em><br /></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/alternative-history-of-peacemaking-century-of-disarmament-efforts">An alternative history of peacemaking: a century of disarmament efforts </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/common-vision-abolition-of-militarism">A common vision: The abolition of militarism </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/violence-is-not-inevitable-it-is-choice">Violence is not inevitable: It is a choice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-survivors%27-testimony-from-hell-to-hope">Nuclear survivors&#039; testimony: from hell to hope </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/will-nagasaki-be-last-use-of-nuclear-weapons">Will Nagasaki be the last use of nuclear weapons?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/new-generation-taking-over-reins-of-nuclear-abolition">A new generation: taking over the reins of nuclear abolition</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson-jaine-rose/guerilla-woolfare-against-madness-of-mutually-assured-destruction">Guerilla woolfare: against the madness of mutually assured destruction</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-hiroshima-to-trident-listening-to-hibakusha">From Hiroshima to Trident: listening to the Hibakusha </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/no-more-little-boy-and-fat-man">No more &#039;Little Boy&#039; and &#039;Fat Man&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/isabel-hilton/peacework-lessons-we-have-failed-to-learn">Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> New Zealand </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 New Zealand Civil society Conflict Nobel Women's Initiative 10th anniversary 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's movements women and power women and militarism 50.50 newsletter women's work Marilyn Waring Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:27:30 +0000 Marilyn Waring 105595 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The dishonourable killing of a Pakistani social media celebrity https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/nighat-dad/dishonourable-killing-of-pakistani-social-media-celebrity <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Qandeel Baloch’s murder fuelled the debate over women’s sexuality, their lives, and their deaths. Her ‘honour’ killing could bring about changes in Pakistan’s legal structure.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><br /><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/image(9)_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/image(9)_0.png" alt="" title="" width="400" height="400" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Qandeel Baloch. Credit: Qandeel Baloch, promotional image. </span></span></span></p><p><span>Fauzia Azeem, who was better known as Qandeel Baloch, was killed on July 15, 2016. This was the first time that a social media celebrity - or celebrity of any kind - became the victim of an ‘honour’ killing in Pakistan.</span></p> <p>Barely two months have passed since her brother <a href="http://tribune.com.pk/story/1142996/qandeel-baloch-shot-dead-multan/">drugged and then strangled</a> her as she slept. Why he did this has a sinister answer: her brother could no longer handle criticism from people around him. His sister was popular for her sexually charged videos and pictures. She was owning her sexuality and using it to her advantage. Pakistan cannot handle strong-headed women, and here was one who went a step further and took her body back too.&nbsp; </p> <p>&nbsp;Qandeel Baloch is Pakistan’s first iconic social media celebrity - I say ‘is’ because her death has done little to dampen her fire. It is a fire that may engulf the tradition of honour killing itself. After her death, we discovered the level of threat she had faced: her Facebook page showed the barrage of insults and abuse that were hurled at her. In response to a <a href="https://twitter.com/QandeelQuebee/status/752854913663791104">tweet in which she celebrates Malala</a>&nbsp; just days before her death, she is told. “If you get shot on head and die, we will celebrate #QandeelDay too. I promise!” <a href="https://twitter.com/UmerSheikh01/status/752884524040716293">writes one twitter user</a>. </p> <p>“Don’t compare yourself with normal or intellectual women...” <a href="https://twitter.com/AkhtarSb92/status/752861212317216768">writes another</a>. </p> <p>&nbsp;“I’m your biggest fan do you like me I’m a good guy and I like bad bitches” <a href="https://twitter.com/shamiii7/status/752856491326074880">writes one more</a>. </p> <p>From sexual solicitation to outright threats and abuses. Every single thing she’s posted on social media is full of this, some of it in Urdu. We received the same treatment after we began tweeting about the hurt and the heartbreak caused by the senseless violence that had resulted in her death. Here are a couple of examples of the abuse I received on social media:</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/tweetNighat.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/tweetNighat.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="817" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The barrage of abuse I got, and continue to get, from digital quarters left me rattled and worried. I felt like shutting myself out from social media. How Qandeel managed to wade through all the hate is beyond the people who are now rallying to her cause. She came from humble beginnings. While she may have begun by posting videos and selfies just to get attention, of late her words were finding their story. She was a feminist and proud. She was all about women taking control. And Pakistani feminists like myself couldn’t get enough of her. However, the general public couldn’t understand <a href="http://www.dawn.com/news/1271460">why she couldn’t just shut up and be content</a> to be a sex object? Qandeel had gone from someone who was posting saucy selfies seemingly just for entertainment to someone who said “this is me, I’m taking control of my sexuality. I have a life, I have dreams and I’ll do what I want.” When she began talking about her rights as a woman, <a href="http://images.dawn.com/news/1175827">she was deemed to have gone too far</a>. &nbsp;Her murder shook the country, but many simply shrugged and said she had it coming. Others who condemned the death were quick to point out that they weren’t defending her actions, just her death.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-28269753.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-28269753.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Waseem Azeem, brother of Qandeel Baloch, July 17 2016. Credit: PA Images / Asim Tanveer</span></span></span></p><p>However, to say that Pakistan has a unique problem with honour killing would be inaccurate. Women are being killed &nbsp;<a href="http://time.com/4415554/honor-killing-qandeel-baloch/">all over the world</a> because of patriarchy. The labelling is different but <a href="http://dailytimes.com.pk/blog/31-Jul-16/qandeel-balochs-honour-killing-its-about-control-not-islam">Qandeel was not killed for Islam</a>, or property, or any reason apart from the ego of her brother. The same ego was not hurt when she was providing for the family - just when the clerics got involved. That seemed to be the turning point. A month or so before her death, Qandeel <a href="http://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/lifestyle/real-story-of-mufti-qavis-breaks-fast-with-qandeel-balcoh/">posted selfies and a video with a well known cleric Mufti Qavi</a>. Pictures of Qandeel wearing his religious cap went viral instantly. When the mufti insisted he had only met Qandeel at her insistence she hit back by saying he was in love with her. The cleric was ridiculed on a national level subsequent to the controversy. The events led to his suspension from the Ruet-e-Hilal committee and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. &nbsp;It was only after this controversy that Qandeel began to fear for her life. It is not yet known whether he did play a role in her death, but <a href="http://tribune.com.pk/story/1144272/mufti-abdul-qavi-investigated-qandeel-balochs-murder/">he is being investigated in her murder inquiry.</a> </p> <p><strong>The question is: what is Pakistan going to do about this? </strong>Qandeel’s death has triggered a debate over further provisions against honour killings in the country.<strong></strong></p> <p>The Criminal Law Amendment Act 2005 tried to address honour crimes in Pakistan. It introduced a clause that addressed “offences in the name or on the pretext of honour”. <a href="http://nation.com.pk/national/02-Aug-2016/right-minds-for-changing-mindset-about-honour">While the move was lauded, the issue of honour killings did not die down because of it</a>. The amendment has been criticised for being too vague, and has been easily manipulated in favour of the murderers and not the victims. The law holds that someone who murders in the name of honour will be sentenced to a term not less than ten years or life imprisonment or death. However, a loophole within the law allows heirs of a victim to forgive murderers sometimes in exchange for blood money and other times because they will not punish the son for the daughters, sisters and mothers lost.&nbsp; In Qandeel’s case, the state made itself party to the case so that her family would not be able to forgive the son for the murder although her father did accuse his son of murder in the First Information Report (FIR) that was submitted to the police. A popular argument for forgiving such killers is that a person has already lost one daughter, why should they lose another by condemning their son.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-28092899.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/PA-28092899.jpg" alt="" title="" width="410" height="512" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'> Qandeel Baloch at a press conference in Lahore, Pakistan, June 28, 2016. Credit: PA Images / M Jameel </span></span></span></p><p>In Pakistan, men acting out against women get sympathy when they argue that they were protecting their honour. Their friends and families do not abandon them, and in some cases they are revered as heroes of their own stories.&nbsp; Honour killings continue to be seen as normal practice in Pakistan. So much so that in many cases when a woman is murdered the motives aren’t even questioned before the label is added. Upon further inquiry we find that the dispute may have been related to a number of different things from property to a second marriage, but we are quick to say that the women were killed for honour instead. A kind of absurd legitimacy is associated with honour crimes. People in such instances may say that women did not deserve to die, but there’s also an underlying tone that they may have deserved to.&nbsp; What makes matters worse is that it’s easier to get out of a murder charge with honour killings because of the current flawed legal system. You can make laws, but you cannot force policemen to intervene and implement them and you cannot force people to use them. </p> <p>The culture of attacking women must change, the culture of storing a man’s ego and honour within a woman’s body must change, and we must stop expecting women to transform or live their lives according to the fragile male egos that surround them. Interestingly, the Council of Islamic Ideology (which has previously decreed child marriages to be within the ambit of Islam) has declared that <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-pakistan-gruesome-honor-killings-bring-a-new-backlash/2016/07/04/0cfa3e24-41ae-11e6-a76d-3550dba926ac_story.html">honour killings are un-Islamic</a>. Perhaps change is finally coming. Now, a new Anti-Honour Killings Bill is sitting in the Pakistani Senate looking to improve on the 2005 amendment by revoking the right of the victims’ family to forgive the murderer. </p> <p>Pakistan continues to be poorly served by laws that exist, and implementation that doesn’t. So while we are all hopeful for a law that addresses honour killings, and wish with all our hearts that it will provoke change - unless the mindset surrounding honour killings is changed, nothing will.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/pragna-patel/use-and-abuse-of-honour-based-violence-in-uk">The use and abuse of honour based violence in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/karima-bennoune/in-memory-of-sabeen-mahmud-%E2%80%9Ci-stand-up-for-what-i-believe-in-but-i-can%E2%80%99t-fight-">Sabeen Mahmud: “I stand up for what I believe in, but I can’t fight guns”</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/naila-kabeer/grief-and-rage-in-india-making-violence-against-women-history">Grief and rage in India: making violence against women history? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence feminism bodily autonomy 50.50 newsletter fundamentalisms patriarchy violence against women young feminists Nighat Dad Thu, 15 Sep 2016 08:44:01 +0000 Nighat Dad 105363 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Self-care in a digital space https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ch-ramsden/self-care-in-digital-space <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For feminist activists, burnout is the norm. How can we best preserve collective wellbeing while practicing security in the digital world?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="p1"><strong>This article is part of 50.50's</strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/awid-forum-2016"><strong> in-depth coverage</strong></a><strong> of&nbsp;the&nbsp;2016 AWID Forum&nbsp;being held on&nbsp;8th -11th September in Bahia, Brazil.</strong></p><p><span>“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives!” AWID’s 13</span><span>th</span><span>&nbsp;International Forum began with Audre Lorde’s call to an intersectional movement. The euphoric atmosphere, not encouraged so much as reflected by an hour’s worth of live music so early in the morning, was balanced by a panel discussion of the realities faced by today’s feminist movement. From climate change to violence against women’s and trans people’s bodies, to religious extremism and conservative attacks on democracy: women’s spaces are shrinking and under threat.</span></p> <p><span>In a difficult global context with specific and urgent local challenges, it is unsurprising that feminist activists are ‘burning out’. Sonia Correa, Co-Chair of Sexuality Policy Watch and Research Associate at ABIA, concluded the opening plenary of by asking the panellists how they “go beyond burnout,” and I was particularly struck by the responses which referenced friendship and collective support.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/imagine.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/imagine.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="247" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Feminist Internet eXchange Hub, 13th AWID International Forum.</span></span></span></p><p>Yara Sallam from the <a href="http://eipr.org/en">Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights</a> reminded us that “self-care is not an individual act, it is a collective act” and said that, for her, “supportive family and friends” have been hugely important in retaining her strength. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/awino-okech">Awino Okech</a> agreed, pointing to her friendships (“I cannot overemphasise [their] importance”) and the fun and relaxation they bring as being “the spaces I go to to recharge.”<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>This sentiment – which Correa invited us to ponder as “the politics of friendship” – stuck with me as I spent the day discussing and workshopping digital security for women human rights defenders. The digital sphere is one which enables and supports friendships, but it is also used by governments, corporations and bullies to watch, intimidate and abuse human rights defenders.</p> <h3><strong>Digital security</strong></h3> <p>The session ‘Digital Security as feminist practice’ explored tools and strategies for protecting women human rights defenders from digital threats. Maryam Al-Khawaja (<a href="http://www.gc4hr.org/">Gulf Centre for Human Rights</a>) described some of these threats: online harassment, defamation campaigns, spyware attacks, surveillance, destruction of your data, disruption of your work. It is intimate and nasty, “paying a personal price for work you do as an activist.”<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>“A lot of times, we don’t care about our own security,” explained Maryam, before reminding us that when we compromise our digital security, we are putting all of our contacts at risk, too. This also applies to international NGOs and funders who are not familiar with the tools and strategies employed at a local level – all of which will vary by country – and do not think to ask questions and make appropriate choices around encryption; data storage and backup; and which software, platforms, and anti-spyware to use.</p> <p>In terms of dealing with harassment and defamation, Maryam described how, to begin with, she made a decision to ignore online abuse. However, she now documents it so that she can build trends and report it. I asked how this affected her wellbeing, to read and be exposed to personal attacks. “I’m really bad at that,” she said, describing how she can brush off threats to herself, before admitting that it does affect her emotionally when she receives abuse directed at her family.</p> <p>Daysi Flores Hernandez (<a href="http://www.justassociates.org/en/">JASS</a>) described a similar position: while “you are not supposed to get used to threats, you do have a tolerance for them;” however, “human rights defenders become alarmed when attacks are framed for their families.” This resonated with her own personal experience; “the first time they said they knew I had a partner and where she worked, it scared the hell out of me” – she and her partner left Honduras for two months.</p> <p>The final session I attended was an impromptu workshop titled ‘Holistic Security’ where those who were interested, after the Digital Security session, could explore some of the ideas and issues in the round. Fifteen of us joined. Facilitator Ali Ravi&nbsp;immediately got us in touch with our emotions by asking us, quite simply, how we were feeling in that moment. He then asked us how we felt in response to the discussion we had just had around digital security.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/holistic.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/holistic.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tactical Technology Collective (2016), Holistic Security: A Strategy Manual for Human Rights Defenders.</span></span></span></p><p>Because we were talking about feelings and not ideas, the emotions evoked by the session extended beyond it, and were strongly linked to past experiences. The first person to speak up explained a feeling of helplessness when she had been unable to protect colleagues whose devices had been seized and whose work was unencrypted. Others also spoke about colleagues, friends and their organisations. The feelings we expressed ranged from worry, panic, fear, anger and vulnerability, to a single positive expression which was described as empowerment through knowledge (“the more I know, the less paranoid I am”).<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Ali explained that our overall response was fairly typical, and people often feel overwhelmed or paranoid when they are in digital security training. Our associations with ‘security’ are mainly negative (our group associated it with words like ‘locks’, ‘guards’, ‘alarms’ and ‘trauma’ – as well as a single positive, ‘safe space’) and while Ali insisted that there is nothing <em>wrong</em> with any of our emotions, he pointed out that anxiety and irrationality could be paralysing and therefore made us less effective activists, at least for the time we are experiencing anxiety or recovering from it. He suggested that it was necessary to “reframe ‘security’ so that our behavioural response is different.” When we start framing security as an opportunity rather than a liability – “something I can build on, not have to worry about” – we can start dealing with it constructively, and expand our ability to stay secure.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <h3><strong>Holistic wellbeing</strong><span>&nbsp;</span></h3> <p>Previously, when they trained people on digital security, Ali and his colleagues tried to ‘surprise’ them into behaviour change by illustrating how insecure their commonly-used applications, like Facebook or e-mail, are. They were frustrated that people were not taking digital security seriously. As Peter Steudtner&nbsp;explained, “the sound of a lion’s roar evokes fear, yet not Facebook” – even when you know that the lion is mostly imaginary and, in any case, far removed from your context and location (unlike Facebook!). But what the facilitators discovered was not necessarily that people were not taking their digital security seriously, but that they had other security needs which outweighed concerns about online privacy and potential threats.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>If you are a gay person living in Uganda, for example, isolation and fear may be combatted through the creation of a caring, nurturing online social network. It may be your lifeline; to be told that this online group is compromising your digital security in turn negatively impacts your emotional security. For many activists who are forced to live or work away from their family and friends, social media provides contact with their loved ones. Remembering Yara Sallam’s and Awino Okech’s assertions in the morning plenary about the friendships which sustain and ‘recharge’ them, this could reinforce the tension between digital and emotional securities.</p> <p>Ali, Peter and their colleague Dan Ó Cluanaigh drew a Venn diagram with three overlapping circles: digital security, physical security and emotional security. Others could be added, for example legal security, which would map the protection of the individual and/or organisation by legislation. It is in the small area where the three or more circles intersect that a ‘safer’, more secure place exists, where our needs for digital, physical and emotional security are all met as far as possible.</p> <p>We were asked to raise our hand if we had been trained on digital security (the majority had), followed by physical security (again the majority) and finally emotional security (only 3 of 15 of us raised our hands). To illustrate how nonsensical this was, Ali relayed a cake-baking analogy inherited from his grandmother: ‘we do not bake our separate ingredients next to each other in different ovens.’</p> <p>It evokes Audre Lorde’s intersectional struggle: when it comes to the digital, physical and emotional securities, single-issue security is ineffective, because we engage across all three spheres at once. To extend Ali’s metaphor, security planning which does not encompass all spheres is half-baked.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The session was led by men with a background in digital security – unsurprisingly, given the male-dominated tech industry and the overlapping ‘security' emphasis which also carries patriarchal connotations. Yet it is particularly women who need a holistic approach in order to sustain our activism. Women so frequently undertake emotional labour, providing care, scaffolding and security for others, yet no one returns the favour for us.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Holistic security seems an important step in many respects. Firstly, it acknowledges different aspects of our humanity at once. Second, it recognises that there will be tensions between these different parts of our lives and that our priorities might shift, particularly if our family, friends and colleagues are involved. Finally, it allows for more effective planning, which takes time but will ensure greater protection for women activists overall, not least because self-care and wellbeing are integrated into the approach.</p><p><span>All images by&nbsp;</span><em>Ché Ramsden</em></p><p class="p1"><em>Ché Ramsden will be reporting daily for 50.50 from the AWID Forum.&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/chloe-safier/young-feminist-movements-power-of-technology">Young feminist movements: the power of technology</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/security-is-not-just-cctv-valuing-ourselves-is-security">Security is not just CCTV: valuing ourselves is security</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/srilatha-batliwala-geetanjali-misra-nafisa-ferdous/to-build-feminist-futures-suspend-judgment">To build feminist futures, suspend judgment! </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women Human Rights Defenders 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 Women's Movement Building AWID Forum 2016 women's movements women's health violence against women everyday feminism 50.50 newsletter young feminists Ché Ramsden Fri, 09 Sep 2016 11:34:44 +0000 Ché Ramsden 105229 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A revolution is not a dinner party https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/meredith-tax/revolution-is-not-dinner-party <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Does the word “revolution” mean the same thing to the Kurdish liberation movement and to American leftists who supported Bernie Sanders? A little history...</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;In the 20th century, it was clear what people meant when they used the word “revolution”. <a href="https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-1/mswv1_2.htm">Mao Zedong</a> said it as well as anyone: “A revolution is not a dinner party...it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another”.</p> <p>The founders of Turkey’s <a href="http://www.pkkonline.com/en/%20PKK">PKK</a> (Kurdish Workers Party) had this definition in mind in 1978 when they laid out a strategy of people’s war leading to an independent Kurdish state. They initially focused on “propaganda of the deed” and military training, building what eventually became an extremely capable force, as ISIS discovered in Syria. But their vision of revolution expanded enormously during the nineties, when a civil resistance movement called the<em> <a href="https://mei.nus.edu.sg/index.php/web/publications_TMPL/volume-8-2-kurdish-political-activism-in-turkey-an-overview">Serhildan</a></em> &nbsp;took off in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, along with efforts to build a parliamentary party that could combine electoral and advocacy work. </p> <p>This wasn’t easy since every time the Kurds founded a parliamentary party and ran people for office, the Turkish state made their party illegal—this happened in 1993, 1994, 2003, and 2009 and is <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/turkey-indicts-kurdish-political-leaders/a-19470240">now happening</a> to the <a href="https://hdpenglish.wordpress.com/">HDP</a> (Peoples Democratic Party), despite (or because of) the fact that it won 13.1% of the national vote in the parliamentary election of May 2015. Erdogan’s response to this election was to call another election, and at the same time begin an all out military assault on Kurdish cities in southeastern Turkey, where civilians were subjected to bombardment, depopulation, and massive <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/german-lawsuit-accuses-turkey-of-war-crimes-in-military-operations-against-kurds/a-19361089">war crimes, </a>their homes and neighborhoods destroyed. This was in the name of fighting PKK terrorism.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/1 Kurdish PKK guerillas.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/1 Kurdish PKK guerillas.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="283" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kurdish PKK guerillas. Flickr/David Holt. Some rights reserved</span></span></span></p> <p>In fact, the PKK rejected terrorism over twenty years ago, at their Fifth Congress in 1995, when they <a href="http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/51/009.html">publicly swore</a> to abide by the Geneva Convention and laws of war, disallowing crimes against civilians while maintaining the right of armed self-defense against the Turkish government. At the same Congress, they founded a separate women’s army to build women’s capacity for leadership in the struggle. Co-mayor of Diyarbakir &nbsp;Gültan Kişanak talked about the way the PKK transformed itself in a <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/nadje-al-ali-latif-tas-g-ltan-ki-anak/kurdish-women-s-battle-continues-against-state-and-patriarchy-">recent interview</a>, saying that in the early days the perspective was to make a revolution first and then do something about women, but that changed in the nineties because of the influence of the international movement for women’s rights:</p> <p>&nbsp;“Within this new environment, women began to assume important roles and created their own separate branches, not just following what the general political movement says, but also creating alternative policies, which the party must follow.... These changes were not easy and the rights were not just given by men: Kurdish women have fought at all levels and achieved these changes despite barriers within patriarchal society and despite the resistance of some of our male comrades.”</p> <p>The Rojava Kurds follow the same political philosophy as those in the Turkish movement. Thus, despite the newness of Rojava, which became autonomous in 2012, the movement there draws on forty years of accumulated political experience, the last twenty of which have emphasized the development of local democracy, community organizing, and women’s leadership. &nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Kongra Star_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Kongra Star_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kongra Star meeting in Rojava. Photo: JINHA Agency</span></span></span></p> <p>I began studying the Kurdish women’s movement during the siege of Kobane and soon became convinced that their story is so important that I had an obligation to get it out in English as fast as I could, even though I couldn’t go there and was limited by my lack of language skills. As I worked on <a href="http://www.aroadunforeseen.com/"><em>A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State</em></a><em>,</em> I was constantly pulled up short by the radical nature of this revolution and the way it questions the most basic leftwing assumptions, not only about women, or about the relationship between armed struggle, mass movement, and parliamentary party, but about the state itself. </p> <p>Marxist-Leninist revolutions of the 20th century were based on the premise that the state was an instrument of bourgeois class domination that could be captured and turned to the interests of the working class under the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. &nbsp;At its <a href="http://apa.online.free.fr/imprimersans.php3?id_article=746&amp;nom_site=Agence%20Presse%20Associative%20%28APA%29&amp;url_site=http://apa.online.free.fr">Fifth Congress</a> in 1995, the PKK described how that had worked out in the USSR: </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; “Ideologically, there was a decline to dogmatism, vulgar materialism, and pan-Russian chauvinism; politically, there was the creation of extreme centralism, a suspension of democratic class struggle, and the raising of the State’s interests to the level of the determining factor; socially, there was a reduction in the free and democratic life of the society and its individuals; economically, the state sector was dominant and there was a failure to overcome a consumer society which emulated what was abroad; militarily, the raising of the army and acquiring weapons took precedence over other sectors. This deviation, which became increasingly clear to see during the 1960s, brought the Soviet system to a condition of absolute stagnation”. </p> <p>In 1989, Abdullah Öcalan&nbsp; was captured and charged with <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/330868.stm">murder, extortion, separatism and treason</a>; his death sentence was commuted to life in prison because of EU regulations. He started to study and write in prison, and began to seriously rethink the role of the state. In his 2005 <a href="http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Ocalan-Democratic-Confederalism.pdf">Declaration of Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan</a>, as well as his writings on women, he laid out a theory that is a complete break with the Leninist playbook. Today the Kurdish liberation movement <a href="http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/51/009.html">argues</a> that nation-states are intrinsically hierarchical, ethnically based, and sexist; and that rather than seizing the state apparatus, a liberation movement should be involved with the state only to the point of insisting that it be democratic and permit autonomy; beyond that, the movement should focus its energy on developing democratic economies and local self-governance based on anti-capitalist, feminist, and ecologically sound principles. &nbsp;</p> <p>This strategy, as put into practice in Rojava, has not yet been able to reach fulfillment because of<a href="http://www.kurdishquestion.com/oldsite/index.php/insight-research/turkey-s-embargo-on-kobane-continues-to-produce-syrian-refugees/1186-turkey-s-embargo-on-kobane-continues-to-produce-syrian-refugees.html"> war and the embargo</a>. Rojava is surrounded by hostile forces on all sides: battling ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra (now with a <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/08/jabhat-al-nusra-sever-al-qaeda-focus-local-syria.html">new sanitized name</a>) and other Islamists in Turkey; <a href="http://kurdishdailynews.org/2016/07/03/ypg-turkish-army-attacked-rojava-17-times-in-june/">fired on</a> by the Turkish army and <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-hasaka-idUSKCN10U0YX">recently bombed by Assad</a>; and <a href="http://kurdishquestion.com/article/3224-the-embargo-on-rojava-must-end-permanently">blockaded by Turkey's KDP allies</a> in the Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region that borders Syria. Together Turkey and the KDP have imposed a brutal economic siege upon Rojava, refusing to let in food, building supplies, drugs and medical equipment, and making it very hard for people to get in or out. As UN aid shipments pile up at the border, Rojava <a href="https://325.nostate.net/tag/the-peoples-council-of-minbic/">can't even feed</a> the hundreds of thousands of refugees that have sought refuge there, the latest wave coming from Manbij and Aleppo. NATO has not put sufficient pressure on Turkey to insist that it lift the siege, nor has the US used its considerable influence with the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) </p> <p>July’s attempted military coup in Turkey - which was immediately <a href="http://en.hdpeurope.com/?p=2911">denounced</a> by the HDP - does not seem to have changed anything for the better as far as the Kurds are concerned.</p> <p>Though the coup was led by the same officers who had been bombing Kurdish cities, Kurdish spokespeople see what has happened since as a counter-coup, with Erdogan intent on imposing an Islamist dictatorship rather than a military one. It is surely significant that the only party Erdogan has <a href="http://www.dw.com/en/the-exclusion-of-the-pro-kurd-hdp-in-post-coup-turkey/a-19472650">excluded</a> from his post-coup grand democratic coalition is the HDP, party of Kurds, hipsters, intellectuals, feminists, minorities, and gays.</p> <p>It was a strange experience to be writing <em>A Road Unforeseen</em> just as <a href="https://berniesanders.com/political-revolution-continues/">Bernie Sanders' </a>“political revolution” was taking off in the US. I supported Sanders; it felt great to hear a politician of national stature use the language of the left which became virtually taboo in mainstream US after the fall of the Berlin Wall. &nbsp;And it was extremely moving to watch a new generation respond to radical ideas. But Bernie never really explained what he meant by a “political revolution” and many of his supporters were young, had not studied much history, and seemed to think it was possible to make a revolution in one electoral campaign. Their pain when Bernie endorsed Hillary Clinton - as he had always said he would if she got the nomination - was understandable, as was their outrage that the party system turned out to be partisan, ruled by considerations of long-term career affiliation, and unfriendly to sudden democratic eruptions from outside.</p><p>The history of the Kurdish movement could teach them how hard it is to make a revolution, how long it takes, and why women are key to the process. As <a href="http://www.blackpast.org/1857-frederick-douglass-if-there-no-struggle-there-no-progress">Frederick Douglass</a> said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.” The history of US labour shows that when substantial economic interests are at stake, the powers-that-be fight to hold every inch. The kind of change we need in the US will not happen in one electoral cycle. It will not happen through electoral politics alone, or protests alone either. It will only happen through the kind of dedicated long term organizing the Kurds have done. &nbsp;</p> <p>The Kurdish liberation movement developed the strength we see today through many years of public education, building its own institutions, combining electoral and parliamentary work with nonviolent resistance and armed self-defense when necessary, striving to “serve the people,” as the Black Panthers used to say, and build democratically-run organizations that can be held accountable. This is why it is so important to support them as well as learn from their example. &nbsp;</p><p><strong><a href="http://blpress.org/books/a-road-unforeseen/">A Road Unforeseen: Women fight the Islamic State</a></strong> <em>is published by Bellevue Literary Press in August 2016</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nadje-al-ali-latif-tas-g-ltan-ki-anak/kurdish-women-s-battle-continues-against-state-and-patriarchy-"> Kurdish women’s battle continues against state and patriarchy, says first female co-mayor of Diyarbakir. Interview </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/revolution-for-our-times-rojava-northern-syria">A revolution for our times: Rojava, Northern Syria</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/rojava-revolution-it-s-raining-women">Rojava revolution: It’s raining women </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/rojava-revolution-on-hoof">Rojava revolution: on the hoof </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rahila-gupta/rojava-s-commitment-to-jineoloj-science-of-women">Rojava’s commitment to Jineolojî: the science of women</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/rojava-revolution-reshaping-masculinity">Rojava revolution: reshaping masculinity </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/beatrix-campbell/who-are-they-these-revolutionary-Rojava-women">Who are they, these revolutionary Rojava women? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/writing-new-feminist-text-for-our-times">Writing a new feminist text for our times </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Revolution in Rojava 50.50 Women, Peace & Security 50.50 Gender Politics Religion 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women and militarism gender 50.50 newsletter women and power Meredith Tax Tue, 23 Aug 2016 13:27:33 +0000 Meredith Tax 104893 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Building a bridge to the future: towards a feminist UN https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/kavita-n-ramdas/building-bridge-to-future-towards-feminist-un <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What will it take for the world’s women to shift the UN away from its paradigm of patriarchy and gender inequality and implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/646040_0_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/646040_0_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UN officials at a General Assembly Debate, UN New York. Photo: UN</span></span></span>It is August and&nbsp;it is hot everywhere, but it may be particularly sticky and uncomfortable in the halls of the United Nations as the institution faces its next general assembly meeting in September. That is because the UN is being grilled, and not for the first time in its history, by the women of the world, who want to know why the organization charged with implementing the <a href="http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/">Universal Declaration of Human Rights</a>&nbsp; (UDHR), seems to be so woefully stuck in its current paradigm of patriarchy and gender inequality. &nbsp;The most visible manifestation of this discomfort has taken place in the discussion about the choice of the next&nbsp;<a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54522">UN Secretary General</a>&nbsp;and the loud calls for this next leader to be a woman. Ironically, the entire process of governance and decision making at the United Nations, which is supposed to uphold and work by the principles of the UDHR, is profoundly undemocratic and secretive,&nbsp;and remains frozen in its post World War II division between dominant powers and lesser nation states. Thus, while the UN Secretary General may not be from any one of the 5 nations representing the permanent members of the Security Council, their power and influence is barely veiled in the selection process and has already led to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-country-for-women-double-standards-choosing-next-UN-Secretary-General">elimination of all but the most non-controversial candidates.&nbsp;</a> </p> <p>This is not where we thought we would be in 2016. &nbsp;Over&nbsp;a decade&nbsp;ago when I was still leading the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.globalfundforwomen.org/">Global Fund for Women</a>&nbsp;feminists around the globe were pushing for something that is now called&nbsp;<a href="http://www.unwomen.org/en">UN Women</a>&nbsp;- a UN entity that would have the clout and influence to move a holistic and intersectional gender analysis through every single one of the UN's multi-faceted programs and agencies. &nbsp;An entity that would seen as central to the advancement of the UN mission and goals, be generously endowed with the means to make a difference, and be led by a feminist of power and influence whose mandate was to advance a women's rights agenda both within the UN and across the globe among all its member states. &nbsp;The Global Fund and other like minded foundations, invested in the process led by pioneers like&nbsp;<a href="http://womens-studies.rutgers.edu/faculty/core-faculty/66-the-faculty/core-faculty/117-charlotte-bunch">Charlotte Bunch</a>&nbsp;and were delighted when we found ourselves celebrating its launch in 2010 and welcoming its inaugural director - the remarkable&nbsp;<a href="http://www2.unwomen.org/~/media/commoncontent/unwomen-michellebachelet-formered-en%20pdf.pdf?v=1&amp;d=20141119T123931">Michele Bachelet, the former President of Chile.</a></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 15.18.54.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 15.18.54.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The "Step It Up" campaign for gender equality. Photo:UNWomen/Ryan Brown</span></span></span></p> <p>Yet, today, UN Women remains unable to fulfill its potential within the United Nations, severely constrained by funding limitations and a fiercely competitive, sometimes hostile and resolutely patriarchal environment where fiefdoms are carved out on the basis of funding or political power and where nations openly claim their stake on particular agencies of the UN. &nbsp;So, it is common knowledge that the United States exercises control over UNICEF as it is clear that France refuses to relinquish control over the arena of UN Peacekeeping Forces. &nbsp;Even the liberal Nordic governments whose values we feminists appreciate, cavalierly use their funding in support of women's rights or empowerment to exercise control and wrest critical positions of influence within entities like UN Women and UNFPA. The UN and its staff is notoriously protected from any regulations that could ensure even a modicum of public accountability with full diplomatic immunity, no ability to sue, and very little transparency in its internal matters. &nbsp;As one colleague mentioned recently: "there are three locked doors that you have to pass through before you can enter a meeting of the Fifth Committee - the Budget/Finance committee of the UN".&nbsp; </p><p>What could change this reality? What opportunities do feminist activists, scholars, economists, funders see to put some serious cracks in a structure that is outdated, inadequate for today's complex challenges, and fails to represent both the voices of the non-western, so-called developing world as well as 50% of its population - girls and women. These were the questions that a small yet determinedly diverse and passionate group began to tackle this past week. &nbsp;Thanks to the convening efforts of the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.icrw.org/">International Center for Research on Women</a>&nbsp;(ICRW)&nbsp;we began to drill down on a series of specific challenges, but also acknowledge the spaces where change has been made, barriers have been removed, and the status quo has been challenged. Voices from groups like&nbsp;<a href="https://www.justassociates.org/">JASS</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://wedo.org/">WEDO</a>, and the&nbsp;<a href="https://awdf.org/">African Women's Development Fund&nbsp;</a>(ADWF) urged us to think about an approach that put women's movements and women's rights defenders front and center and to strategize about how to leverage the growing impatience and anti-colonial sentiments from many nations in the developing world with a more feminist agenda for the United Nations. We reiterated the power of working class women with organizations like&nbsp;<a href="https://www.solidaritycenter.org/">Solidarity Center</a>&nbsp;reminding us that alternative governance structures were possible such as within the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/lang--en/">International Labor Organization</a>&nbsp;(ILO) where tripartite agreements ensured space for workers voices as distinct from nation states. We challenged ourselves to find allies in this cause within the UN system itself and among&nbsp;<a href="https://www.fordfoundation.org/">leaders in philanthropy</a>&nbsp;who have called for dismantling the structures that perpetuate inequality globally. We explored the opportunities to create safe spaces for whistleblowers, to ensure more transparent processes, and to expand the space for civil society within the UN, which still primarily serves the interests of governments and not peoples. </p> <p>Many of us come from the world of activism and know something about turning up the heat when it is needed. &nbsp;But we hope first to lean a little harder on the well- intentioned and caring people within the institution that needs to be remade for the 21st century. &nbsp;We decided that we are going to focus our energies on building&nbsp;a bridge to a shared future - a feminist future. &nbsp;We will be reaching out to many of our networks and potential allies both within and outside the United Nations - we have only one&nbsp;planet&nbsp;and only one transnational governance structure - it needs to be the very best it can be. </p><p>Getting there may feel almost as hard as crossing the bridge in Selma, Alabama, but just like those champions of equality, "we are on our way to justice and we shall not be moved." </p><p><strong><em>Kavita Ramdas will be speaking at the forthcoming AWID Forum</em></strong> <strong><a href="http://www.forum.awid.org/forum16/">Feminist Futures: Building Collective Power for Rights and Justice</a></strong>, <strong><em>8-11 September, Bahia&nbsp; Brazil</em>.</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/still-no-country-for-women-double-standards-choosing-next-UN-Secretary-General">Still no country for women? Double standards in choosing the next UN Secretary-General </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lyric-thompson/is-feminist-united-nations-possible-in-our-lifetime">Is a feminist United Nations possible in our lifetime?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/time-to-vote-pick-feminist-woman-to-lead-un">Choose a woman to lead the UN!</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/lone-raised-hand-who-will-become-next-un-secretary-general">A lone raised hand: who will become the next UN Secretary-General ?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/madam-secretary-general">Madam Secretary-General?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/world-s-top-diplomat-administrator-figurehead-or-leader">The next UN Secretary-General: administrator, figurehead, or leader?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/csw-2009/womens-rights-in-economic-crisis">Women&#039;s rights in an economic crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz-joanne-sandler/women%27s-rights-have-no-country">Women&#039;s rights have no country</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/ourania-s-yancopoulos/choosing-next-secretary-general-real-change-ahead">Choosing the next UN Secretary-General: real change ahead? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/sophie-giscard-destaing/gender-and-terrorism-un-calls-for-women-s-engagement-in-countering-viol">UN calls for women’s engagement in countering violent extremism: but at what cost? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/gita-sahgal/who-wrote-universal-declaration-of-human-rights">Who wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourania-s-yancopoulos/is-un-really-moving-toward-gender-equality-or-is-it-trying-to-cover-up-lack-of">Is the UN really moving toward gender equality? </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Civil society Democracy and government Equality 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Gender and the UN AWID Forum 2016 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy 50.50 Editor's Pick women's human rights women and power women and militarism gender justice feminism 50.50 newsletter women's work Kavita N Ramdas Tue, 23 Aug 2016 07:27:33 +0000 Kavita N Ramdas 104877 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Justice and accountability for war related sexual violence in Sri Lanka https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/chulani-kodikara/justice-and-accountability-for-war-related-sexual-violence-in-sri-lanka <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As the testimonies of survivors of sexual violence in Sri Lanka’s long war enter the public domain and the government designs transitional justice mechanisms, is an end to impunity in sight? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-17422829.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-17422829.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil war survivors listen to the UN, 2013. Photo: Eranga Jayawardena/ Press Association. All rights reserved</span></span></span></p> <p>The Sri Lankan government is currently designing transitional justice mechanisms to address human rights abuses connected to the three decade long war which ended in May 2009. But a key question is whether victims of sexual violence and rape committed in the context of the war will come forward and use these mechanisms? &nbsp; </p> <p>The silence around sexual violence has long posed a challenge to determining its nature, scale and magnitude in the context of Sri Lanka’s long war. On the one hand, this is due to the pervasive culture of shame, which deters women from speaking out. Twenty-five years ago, in <a href="http://www.uthr.org/BP/Content.htm">Broken Palmyrah Rajini Thiranagama</a> noted that the “loss of virginity in a young girl, even if against her will, meant that she could not aspire to marriage in our society and, if already married, there is a good chance that she will be abandoned”. </p> <p>The view of rape victims as “spoilt goods” has always been one of the most significant causes of under-reporting. Survivors and their families are however silenced not only by the shame of rape, but also by fear. Fear of reprisal by perpetrators or of further violence from the very institutions meant to protect them. That too remains unchanged. </p> <p>Writing of the post-war context, <a href="http://groundviews.org/2015/06/03/what-is-represented-and-what-is-made-invisible-women-and-transitional-justice-processes-in-sri-lanka/">Satkunanthan</a> notes that women’s silence on sexual violence “was possibly their way of normalizing life and switching to survival mode in the militarized and repressive post-war phase. They may also maintain silence due to fear of losing control of their stories once they are in the open”. </p> <p>Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, a handful of rape complaints were made against the security forces from women who appear to have defied shame and fear in order to do so. There are also a number of other women and girls found murdered and raped, with strong circumstantial evidence implicating members of security forces or para military groups. With the exception of two (see below), none of these cases were properly investigated or perpetrators were indicted or prosecuted. </p> <p>In the few cases where there was an indictment the case was never concluded. In many of these cases medical evidence was not collected in time; witnesses were harassed and intimidated, and cases were transferred from courts in the North to the South where they simply died. The case of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishanti_Kumaraswamy">Krishanthy Kumaraswamy</a> (1996) and the more recent case from <a href="http://www.sundaytimes.lk/85613/four-soldiers-sentenced-25-years-ri-jaffna">Visvamadu</a> (2010) remain the only two where members of Sri Lankan security forces personnel have been prosecuted to the end and found guilty of sexual violence and murder. Impunity and lack of accountability for sexual violence has been an entrenched feature of the 30 years of war in Sri Lanka. </p> <p>However, following the end of the war a <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/OISL.aspx">UN investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka (OISL)</a> as well as a number of international organisations such as the <a href="http://www.itjpsl.com">International Truth and Justice Project, Sri Lanka</a>, <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/02/26/sri-lanka-rape-tamil-detainees">Human Rights Watch</a> and <a href="https://www.freedomfromtorture.org/sites/default/files/documents/sl_report_a4_-_final-f-b-web.pdf">Freedom from Torture</a>, have together placed hundreds of survivor testimonies about sexual violence and rape, especially in detention in the public domain. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-17422845.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/PA-17422845.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="694" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay listens to war survivors in Northern Sri Lanka, 2013. Photo: Eranga Jayawardena/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p> <p>The significance of these reports in making sexual violence visible in the context of the war cannot be overstated. Incidents of sexual violence and rape are documented in graphic and horrific detail in the voices of survivors themselves. Perpetrators are identified as security forces and police personnel ranging from low-level guards to senior officers who are said to have made little or no effort to hide their identity. The places where these incidents took place include secret and known detention centres across the country. Most survivors say that they escaped after their families paid a bribe for their release from custody and all of them are now living outside of Sri Lanka. </p> <p>The OISL investigators were not allowed into the country and had to rely on testimony collected from a distance or from victim survivors living outside of Sri Lanka. <a href="http://www.stop-torture.com">International organizations</a> have explicitly acknowledged that it would not have been possible to conduct research of this nature within Sri Lanka given the shame and stigma attached to being raped, the fear of reprisals from perpetrators and lack of witness protection measures. </p> <p>These reports are also a call for justice and accountability. They construct sexual violence as crimes under international law. They seek to establish the widespread and systematic nature of these crimes and argue that they are not isolated incidents committed by a few errant soldiers. Rather it is argued that these crimes are organized acts that by their frequency, location and nature, imply some degree of planning and centralized control going beyond specific individual perpetrators. In fact, they assert that sexual violence and rape in torture has been part of a deliberate government policy to obtain information, intimidate, humiliate, and inflict fear on persons who were with or seen as supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). </p> <p>Having framed sexual violence as an international crime, all of these reports call for the full array of transitional justice mechanisms including prosecutions. In calling for criminal investigations and prosecutions the reports however insist that it cannot be a purely domestic process. The <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/OISL.aspx">OISL report</a> for instance, calls for the establishment of a hybrid special court, which includes both international and domestic judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators. The case for such a mechanism is made on the grounds of deeply embedded or entrenched impunity and the absence of a credible and competent domestic mechanism to deal with such crimes. </p> <p>International organisations are also now calling for Sri Lankan exiles living abroad and particularly those who have suffered sexual violence to be allowed to participate in transitional justice processes within Sri Lanka, including by giving evidence. <a href="http://www.itjpsl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Forgotten-digital.pdf">The International Truth and Justice Project</a> for Sri Lanka quotes an interviewee to the effect that “they would be willing to participate from abroad provided that their testimony takes place in a confidential environment in which their identities are protected”. </p> <p>They are requesting the Government of Sri Lanka to explore how such a process could be put in place. They cite as best practices the <a href="http://ijtj.oxfordjournals.org/content/3/3/341.abstract">Liberian example</a> of diaspora testifying from abroad through video or audio technology, as well as the use of Rogatory Letters, which can secure such testimony. i.e., formal written requests made by one judicial body to another in a different, independent jurisdiction that a witness who resides in that jurisdiction be examined through the use of interrogatories accompanying the request. </p> <p>At present, the <a href="https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/100355/120360/F-1337181541/LKA100355%20Eng.pdf">Victim and Witness Protection Act</a> that was passed by parliament in February 2015 makes provision for witnesses living in remote locations within Sri Lanka to provide evidence through audio-video linkages, in the presence of a public officer. Responding to criticisms that this is inadequate, cabinet has approved an amendment to the Act, to allow Sri Lankan’s living abroad to testify provided it is given at a Sri Lanka diplomatic mission. </p> <p>The IJTP report however states that victims of human rights violations living abroad would not agree to having a Sri Lankan government official sitting in the room with them. Furthermore, even if testimony from abroad, gathered in accordance with international standards is made admissible, international involvement in prosecutions is a highly contested and controversial issue within Sri Lanka. The President has stated that no foreign judges will be allowed to be part of Sri Lanka’s transitional justice process. If that is the case, even if victim survivors living outside Sri Lanka are given legal standing, they may not be willing to appear before a purely domestic mechanism. </p> <p>The attention to and systematic collection of evidence of war-related sexual violence in Sri Lanka and the invocation of international criminal law to address such violence has to be recognised as products of our times. These reports affirm the ascendency and hyper-visibility of rape discourses in international law, the focus of an increasing of body of critical feminist scholarship. As <a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2451064">Fionnuala ni Aolain</a> points out fact-finding and documentation are part of this international discourse of naming, shaming and advocacy. Yet pursuing justice for sexual violence in local contexts such as Sri Lanka is still fraught with challenges. International normative frameworks and discourses do not automatically transform or challenge local cultures of shame and fear, nor inspire victim survivors to bear witness to crimes of sexual violence committed against them. But can they contribute to transforming Sri Lanka’s legal culture to allow victim survivors living outside the country to become witnesses to crimes committed against them?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/sri-lanka-women-in-conflict">Sri Lanka: women in conflict </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/charlotte-bunch/remembering-sunila-honouring-women%E2%80%99s-human-rights-defenders">Remembering Sunila, honouring women’s human rights defenders</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/chulani-kodikara/state-racism-and-sexism-in-postwar-sri-lanka">State racism and sexism in post-war Sri Lanka </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/sexual-violence-access-to-justice-and-human-rights">Sexual violence, access to justice, and human rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/content/war-and-sexual-violence-issue-of-security">War and sexual violence: an issue of security</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/madeleine-rees/immunity-and-impunity-in-peace-keeping-protection-gap">Immunity and impunity in peace keeping: the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sanam-naraghi-anderlini/hopes-and-fears-summit-to-end-sexual-violence-in-conflict">Hopes and fears: Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/preventing-violence-against-women-sluggish-cascade">Preventing violence against women: a sluggish cascade?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anne-marie-goetz/stopping-sexual-violence-in-conflict-gender-politics-in-foreign-policy">Stopping sexual violence in conflict: gender politics in foreign policy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/blog/csw-2009/2009/03/08/sexual-violence-the-un-gets-serious-about-data-collection">Sexual Violence: the UN gets serious about data collection </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sri Lanka </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 openIndia Sri Lanka Civil society Conflict Democracy and government 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Continuum of Violence 50.50 Women's Movement Building 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 newsletter feminism gender gender justice Sexual violence violence against women women and militarism women's human rights Chulani Kodikara Mon, 15 Aug 2016 10:33:27 +0000 Chulani Kodikara 104755 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Will Nagasaki be the last use of nuclear weapons? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/will-nagasaki-be-last-use-of-nuclear-weapons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Will the pincer movement of international humanitarian initiatives to bring into force a universally applicable Nuclear Ban Treaty, and Scotland's desire to become nuclear free, render Trident’s successor impossible? Part 3. Part <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-time-warp-party-politics-defence-needs">1</a>, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/do-british-member-of-parliament-remember-hiroshima">2</a>. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Nagasaki August 1945_0.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Nagasaki August 1945_0.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nagasaki August 1945. Photo: library footage</span></span></span></p> <p>Today is the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki on 9 August 1945.&nbsp; Last week I was in Nagasaki, participating in a symposium on nuclear issues organised by Asahi Shinbun, Japan's second largest national newspaper.&nbsp; I met several survivors of the Nagasaki bombing (known as Hibakusha), including Michiko Kano, whose son has just published a book about her experiences "15 year old Hibakusha: So as not to erase history". </p> <p>The death toll of 74,000 only counts those killed in the initial blast and first few days after the plutonium bomb "Fat Man" exploded at 11.02 that hot summer morning in 1945. &nbsp;But in the next five years Nagasaki lost a further 75,000 people due to bomb-related injuries, radiation sickness and various forms of cancer, with the youngest hit hardest.&nbsp; That one atomic bomb – less than one fifth of the explosive power of an average warhead for Trident – killed more than half of Nagasaki's population of 240,000 at the time. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Moriguchi hand cufffed.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Moriguchi hand cufffed.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Masahiko Moriguchi, Nagasaki survivor/Hibakusha, arrested at Faslane 2007. Photo: Faslane365</span></span></span></p> <p>Another survivor, Masahiko Moriguchi, who was only seven when the plutonium bomb destroyed his home, gave me a warm hug and some leaflets calling on the US and Japanese governments to make a commitment to "no first use" of nuclear weapons. &nbsp;Both his sisters as well as almost all his classmates were killed. One sister died from acute radiation sickness and the other from radiation-induced cancer a few years later, a tragic reminder that nuclear weapons carry on killing long after the explosion has faded. </p> <p>I first met Moriguchi in 2007 at Faslane nuclear base. &nbsp;He had felt so strongly that Britain should not replace Trident that he travelled to Scotland to take part in the year-long "Faslane 365" protests. Together with others from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including his elder brother and son, he linked arms and sat down in front of the Faslane gates, gently singing.&nbsp; He and his brother were arrested and briefly imprisoned in Clydebank cells after Strathclyde police dragged them away to let the military transporters through.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Now Moriguchi wanted to know what was happening about Trident replacement. &nbsp;I explained that the new Prime Minister Theresa May had received a majority for a government decision in a partisan vote in July.&nbsp; "Does this mean we failed to stop Trident?" he asked anxiously.&nbsp; I told him that I hoped not, that the rational and security arguments against nuclear weapons made by the Scottish MPs, Greens and some Labour MPs, including the Labour Party leader would be proved right, but unfortunately not before the UK government wasted billions of our hard-earned money on replacing Trident.&nbsp; I urged him to keep campaigning for nuclear weapons to be prohibited and abolished, as this is the most likely route to success now. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Hibakusha join Faslane 365 protest 2007.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/Hibakusha join Faslane 365 protest 2007.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nagasaki and Hiroshima Hibakusha, A bomb survivors, join Faslane 365 protests against Trident, 2007. Photo: Rebecca Johnson</span></span></span></p> <p>Though the weight of the Westminster Parliament's votes gave Trident the go ahead, Britain is likely to give up nuclear weapons long before the first Successor submarine is actually built.&nbsp;&nbsp; There are two major reasons for this assessment, both of which were raised by opponents of the government decision. These are: international humanitarian initiatives to negotiate and bring into force a universally applicable Nuclear Ban Treaty; and Scotland's desire to become nuclear free and independent.&nbsp; These salient trends are already coming together in a pincer movement likely to render Trident's successor not just pointless but impossible. </p> <p>Scottish and humanitarian opposition to Trident were amply demonstrated in the Trident debate and vote.&nbsp; Ending Scotland's role in Trident deployment may be the starting point for MPs representing the Scottish National Party (SNP), but together with the Greens and Labour leadership and handful of Liberal Democrats and others, they clearly want to prohibit and eliminate all such weapons.&nbsp; Moreover, these MPs were more aware and knowledgable than the majority of Trident advocates about multilateral and humanitarian initiatives to ban nuclear weapons, including the UN Open-Ended Working Group on multilateral&nbsp; disarmament that has been holding talks in Geneva this year. </p> <p>Last week Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi, Chair of the UN Working Group, issued his <a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/OEWG/2016/Documents/A_AC.286_L.1.pdf">initial draft report text</a> for feedback and discussion before it is finalised by 19 August.&nbsp; The working group was established to address "concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms that will need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons" as contained in the mandate contained in UN General Assembly resolution70/33, entitled "Taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations", adopted in December 2015.&nbsp; </p> <p>Britain was one of only 12 UN member states to oppose this resolution, while 138 voted in favour, with 34 abstaining. &nbsp;Convened in February, May and with one session to go in August, the Working Group deliberations were the centrepiece of multilateral disarmament talks in 2016.&nbsp; They proved to be thoughtful, substantive and significant, despite a handful of boycotts from States that had been out-voted, including the UK.&nbsp;&nbsp; Yet, judging from Westminster's Trident debate, the Prime Minister and most government spokespeople and elected members of parliament are either woefully &nbsp;ignorant or in ostrich-like denial of the existence of these multilateral disarmament talks, let alone their content.&nbsp; </p> <p>In accordance with the Working Group's mandate, the Chair's draft report summarised various kinds of legal measures and provisions that were put forward.&nbsp; Recommending that "additional efforts can and should be pursued to elaborate concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms that will need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons," the draft report concluded that "a majority of States supported the convening by the General Assembly of a conference in 2017, open to all States, international organizations and civil society, to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination."&nbsp; &nbsp;The report acknowledged that a group of States considered that such negotiations would be "premature", and "supported the pursuit of practical building blocks consisting of parallel and simultaneous effective legal and non-legal measures".&nbsp; But they were a relatively small minority. </p> <p>When Ambassador Thani convened a meeting on 5 August to start debating the draft, delegations from Austria and Ireland joined members of the Non-Aligned Movement and Nuclear Weapon Free Zone treaties in insisting that the will of the majority should be strongly and accurately reflected in the Working Group's report, especially the support for negotiations on a new legal instrument or treaty to commence in 2017.&nbsp; &nbsp;The majority has rejected arguments from some NATO states that prohibiting nuclear weapons would not be consistent with existing agreements like the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).&nbsp; </p> <p>On the contrary, the majority argued that a nuclear prohibition treaty would reinforce the non-proliferation regime and could be negotiated in parallel with efforts to universalise and fully implement the NPT, as well as other kinds of steps, such as further bilateral and unilateral reductions to existing arsenals, and ongoing efforts aimed at entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which still requires certain states such as the United States, China and India to ratify. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/6 Trident_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/6 Trident_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Trident. PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images. All rights reserved</span></span></span></p> <p>As senior Japanese ministers and government officials joined in commemoration ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has been trying to be all things to all people – an advocate of nuclear disarmament when facing public opinion in Japan, while backing American deployments of nuclear weapons and doctrines that include a long-standing US threat to use nuclear weapons first in conflict situations.&nbsp; The Hibakusha and much of Japan's civil society strongly support a nuclear ban treaty, as proposed by the <a href="http://www.icanw.org/">International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)</a>, and would like to see Japan and the United States adopt a "no first use" position. Yet in the UN Working Group in Geneva, Japan has joined with South Korea, Australia and most if not all NATO members to try to prevent negotiations on a new legal instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, as a viable next step in multilateral disarmament. </p> <p>Three recent developments show the position of these "nuclear umbrella allies" to be increasingly untenable.&nbsp; First came speculation from Washington that President Obama was considering making changes to US nuclear doctrine and policy by executive order, before he leaves office in January 2017.&nbsp; The most prominent shift being was reportedly a declaration of no first use, which caused great excitement in Japan.&nbsp; News reports that Prime Minister Abe had expressed opposition to any US shift towards a 'no first use' doctrine sparked media and political criticism, with petitions calling for the Japanese government to represent the will of the people by giving whole-hearted support to any US initiatives to give a no first use undertaking. </p> <p>Second, the recent coup in Turkey demonstrated the validity of concerns about nuclear weapons safety and security that were raised by speakers at the international conferences on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons held in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna in 2013-14.&nbsp; Though the 50 US nuclear weapons stored by NATO at Turkey's Incirlik nuclear base were not directly involved in the recent coup, those events – and growing terrorist attacks in Belgium and Germany – have led to the <a href="http://aviationweek.com/defense/turkey-coup-raises-questions-about-nato-s-b61-nuke-posture">US government facing renewed calls</a> to withdraw its remaining nuclear weapons from European bases due to their vulnerability. &nbsp;In one example, the prestigious <a href="http://www.nti.org/analysis/articles/warning-bells-around-tactical-nuclear-weapons-europe/">Nuclear Threat Initiative</a> &nbsp;noted that "the 'expert' assumptions about the safety and security of U.S. nuclear weapons stored abroad can change literally within minutes, adding another layer of security concern," and asked: "Can Washington take steps to reduce these threats by removing tactical nuclear weapons from Europe before an incident occurs and leaders are asked why they didn’t do more sooner?"&nbsp; </p> <p>Third, while nuclear-armed States like Britain, the United States and France have so far refused to participate in the UN talks on multilateral nuclear disarmament, senior officials in these three capitals have privately told academics that they now regard a nuclear ban treaty as "inevitable".&nbsp; Notwithstanding their opposition to the idea, some if not all the nuclear armed states appear now to be coming to terms with the assessment that they cannot prevent such a treaty being negotiated by a majority of States under International Humanitarian Law. Some have spoken of looking at contingency plans if such a treaty undermines their ability to keep deploying nuclear weapons. </p> <p>Such contingency planning was practically absent from the Trident debate, but should still be undertaken by the government before signing the multi-billion pound contracts to "cut steel" for the submarines. At the very least, fiscal and defence prudence should dictate a delay in any irreversible financial commitments in order to evaluate the impacts of multilateral negotiations on a nuclear prohibition treaty, as well as the perceived "democratic deficit" in Scotland, where Trident as well as Brexit are major factors.&nbsp; </p> <p>In this time of post Brexit uncertainty and continuing austerity measures, with hundreds of thousands of jobs in all sectors put at risk, the issue of Trident jobs was hotly contested. With an estimated <a href="http://www.cnduk.org/cnd-media/item/2477-new-report-sets-out-plan-for-hi-tech-jobs-after-trident">11,500 jobs</a> associated with Trident, the £31 billion price tag for four nuclear submarines (not even counting the extra £10 billion contingency fund earmarked by the Chancellor and MoD last year) will eat up more than £2.5 million of public money per worker employed. This is what 472 MPs voted for, defying any kind of economic or security sense.&nbsp; Invested in other manufacturing sectors, health, education or sustainable energy production, that level of public funding would save or create far more jobs, skilled and unskilled. &nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/4 Trident demo.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/4 Trident demo.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Stop Trident National Demonstration. RonF/Flickr. Some rights reserved</span></span></span></p> <p>The writing is on the wall. Carol Monaghan, an SNP MP whose husband is a former submariner who test fired Trident missiles (and now opposes Trident replacement), underscored: "We support the personnel working on these submarines absolutely 100%, but not all of those personnel support the weapon they have been asked to deliver."&nbsp;&nbsp; Yet despite Trident replacement becoming less and less viable due to the foreseeable international and Scottish developments as well as economic challenges, remarkably few MPs were prepared to argue for the government to develop contingency plans, including diversification and reskilling for workers who could be affected if Britain does not continue to make and deploy further nuclear weapons. &nbsp; </p> <p>Though the escalating costs of Trident, democracy and jobs were important in Scotland, the principal argument against Trident was, in the words of Angus Robertson, the Westminster Parliament's SNP Leader, that it is an "immoral, obscene and redundant weapons system". </p> <p>This, together with the apparent inability of nuclear-armed states to reduce their nuclear dependency of their own volition, is why the majority of UN Member states are now backing multilateral negotiations to commence in 2017 on a globally applicable Nuclear Ban Treaty. This is why survivors of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings, including Masahiko Moriguchi, have joined <a href="https://www.facebook.com/trident.ploughshares">Trident Ploughshares</a> protests at Faslane and Burghfield. &nbsp;And this is why I reassured this courageous Hibakusha in Nagasaki that we have not failed to stop Trident, though the Westminster vote was a setback. </p><p><em><strong>Read more articles on 50.50's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/towards-nuclear-nonproliferation">Towards nuclear non-proliferation</a> platform</strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-time-warp-party-politics-defence-needs">Trident in a time warp: party politics vs defence needs</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/scrapping-trident-holistic-approach">Scrapping Trident: the holistic approach</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/do-british-member-of-parliament-remember-hiroshima">Hiroshima: do the British Members of Parliament remember ? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/no-more-little-boy-and-fat-man">No more &#039;Little Boy&#039; and &#039;Fat Man&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/to-eliminate-wmd-we-need-to-disarm-patriarchy">To eliminate WMD we need to disarm patriarchy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-hiroshima-to-trident-listening-to-hibakusha">From Hiroshima to Trident: listening to the Hibakusha </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-survivors%27-testimony-from-hell-to-hope">Nuclear survivors&#039; testimony: from hell to hope </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/alternative-history-of-peacemaking-century-of-disarmament-efforts">An alternative history of peacemaking: a century of disarmament efforts </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-and-risks-to-human-survival-inside-story">NPT and risks to human survival: the inside story </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/facing-up-to-humanitarian-consequences-of-nuclear-policies-and-mistakes">Facing up to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear policies and mistakes</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-alternatives-review-elephant-in-room">Trident Alternatives Review: the elephant in the room </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/north-korea-and-trident-challenging-nuclear-non-proliferation-regime">North Korea and Trident: challenging the nuclear non-proliferation regime </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/which-is-better-for-peace-and-security-trident-or-eu">Trident or the EU: which is better for peace and security?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/pro-nuclear-propaganda-in-1983-lessons-for-2013">Pro-nuclear propaganda in 1983: lessons for 2013</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change 50.50 newsletter Rebecca Johnson Tue, 09 Aug 2016 07:27:33 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 104649 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Hiroshima: do the British Members of Parliament remember ? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/do-british-member-of-parliament-remember-hiroshima <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>When Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May said she'd press the nuclear button during the July 18 vote on Trident, what does that mean on the 71st anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing? Trident Part 2. Trident <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-time-warp-party-politics-defence-needs">Part 1</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/2 Unarmed Trident.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/2 Unarmed Trident.jpg" alt="" title="" width="425" height="640" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An unarmed Trident II D5 missile test launch. US Pacific Fleet/Flickr. Some rights reserved</span></span></span></p><p>During the Trident debate on 18 July, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May emphatically declared "Yes" to the question of whether "she personally [is] prepared <a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-07-18/debates/16071818000001/UKSNuclearDeterrent">to authorise a nuclear strike that could kill 100,000 innocent men, women and children</a>".</p><p>Today, 6 August, is the 71st anniversary of the first use of a nuclear weapon. Over 140,000 people died when the code-named "Little Boy" uranium bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima in 1945. </p> <p>In the House of Commons debate, <a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/search/MemberContributions?house=Commons&amp;memberId=4403">Chris Law</a>, one of the 56 Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs who voted against the government motion to replace Trident, noted that "no one in this House truly knows what it is like to experience the horror, shock, pain and loss, and the complete devastation, of a nuclear strike".&nbsp; </p> <p>He recalled a survivor from the Hiroshima bombing, Setsuko Thurlow, who visited Scotland in May, after speaking at the United Nations Working Group on multilateral disarmament in Geneva. "She could be our mother, our grandmother, our aunt or our sister. She told us that in the final year of war in Japan, when she was 13 years old, the first thing she remembers of the bomb hitting was a blue-white light and her body being thrown up into the air. She was in a classroom of 14-year-olds, every one of whom died; she was the only survivor. As the dust settled and she crawled out of that building, she made out some figures walking towards her. She described them as walking ghosts, and when some of them fell to the ground, their stomachs, which were already expanded and full, fell out. Others had skin falling off them, and others still were carrying limbs. One was carrying their eyeballs in their hands. So when I hear the Prime Minister today say that she was would be satisfied to press the button on hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children, I ask her to go and see Setsuko Thurlow—I am sure she would be delighted to have a discussion about what it is really like to experience a nuclear bomb. That in itself should be the complete reason why we do not replace Trident." </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/6 Trident.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/6 Trident.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Trident. PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>The bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was <em>8 times smaller</em> than the 100 kiloton nuclear warheads deployed on Trident. &nbsp;And even after the "reductions" that Theresa May spoke about the UK taking, each of the new submarines is intended to carry 40 warheads. So, to get this into perspective, if the Prime Minister authorised one UK submarine to fire all its nuclear weapons, it would be 320 Hiroshimas.&nbsp; Since most of the chosen targets are in or near cities, the order to fire could cause an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe to 320 cities, most of them bigger than Hiroshima.&nbsp; Her order would be to kill millions, not just 100,000.&nbsp; And potentially unleash years of "<a href="http://www.sgr.org.uk/resources/uk-nuclear-weapons-catastrophe-making">nuclear winter</a>" and <a href="http://www.ippnw.org/nuclear-famine.html">global famine</a>. </p> <p>The impacts on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, together with updated studies on the humanitarian risks and consequences of nuclear detonations in today's world have come to dominate recent <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/britain-boycotts-uns-multilateral-nuclear-disarmament-talks">UN talks</a>, with the majority of governments now arguing the need for negotiations to prohibit nuclear weapons.&nbsp; These UN-based multilateral efforts were raised during the Trident debate by the Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, along with SNP and Green MPs.&nbsp; But their interventions were mocked or drowned out by the majority who seemed stuck in a Cold War time warp. </p> <p>The new Prime Minister appeared at first to want to engage with the arguments, posing several questions on need, costs, alternatives and disarmament, including "in the light of the evolving nature of the threats that we face, is a nuclear deterrent really still necessary and essential?"&nbsp; She delivered her prepared speech with confidence, but this could not hide the fact that her sturdy defence of current UK nuclear positioning illustrated the out-dated defence and foreign policy model on which the decision to renew Trident relies. &nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>What was needed was a critical appraisal of the evidence and implications relevant to her own questions.&nbsp; Instead, the Prime Minister resorted to attacking the patriotism of those who raised alternative perspectives, as when Green MP Caroline Lucas invited her to consider that if "keeping and renewing nuclear weapons" were vital to Britain's national security then it would be logical for all other states to get them.&nbsp; </p> <p>The logic that Lucas pointed to has been raised time and again in UN meetings, where concerns have intensified in recent years about the UK's proliferation-driving rationale for Trident replacement. &nbsp;May did not even attempt to refute this, but launched an extraordinary attack familiar from the 1980s, accusing Lucas that “she and some Labour Members seem to be the first to defend the country’s enemies and the last to accept these capabilities when we need them".&nbsp; Even proponents of Trident replacement were jarred by this smear tactic, especially since Lucas is widely considered to be one of the most rational and able MPs in parliament, and had opened with a gracious congratulation to the Prime Minister on assuming her new role. </p> <p>Throughout the debate Labour and Conservative MPs preferred to relive the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/pro-nuclear-propaganda-in-1983-lessons-for-2013">political traumas and myths of the 1980s</a> rather than engage with the security challenges of the 21st century. They used the term "unilateral disarmament" as an insult.&nbsp; In fact, apart from the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the only nuclear disarmament that Britain has engaged in since the 1970s has been unilateral. Unilateral steps have also played a major role in reducing the US, Russian and French arsenals when the Cold War ended. </p> <p>When Vernon Coaker, Labour's Shadow Defence Spokesperson before the 2015 election, said “We can make a choice to disarm unilaterally or multilaterally, but we live in a more uncertain world", he showed that he was still trapped in how PM Margaret Thatcher and then Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine framed their advocacy of more nuclear weapons in the early 1980s. &nbsp;Recently released <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b037jfmn">Cabinet Papers</a> from that time show how this was a deliberate PR policy to undermine the growing popularity of peace movement arguments for nuclear disarmament. In today's reality, unilateral and multilateral disarmament steps – as well as bilateral (US-Russian) and plurilateral measures (involving some or all of the nuclear-armed states) – are enshrined in UN and Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) agreements as parallel and complementary approaches – all valid and necessary to comply with the treaty's disarmament as well as non-proliferation obligations.&nbsp; </p> <p>In the six-hour parliamentary debate, most MPs ignored the UN developments, and behaved as if the NPT permitted or even authorised Britain to keep and renew nuclear weapons in perpetuity, as Tony Blair had claimed when arguing for Trident renewal in 2007. He was wrong, as pointed out by two directors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr Mohamed ElBaradei and Dr Hans Blix.&nbsp; In fact, the NPT carries a legally binding nuclear disarmament obligation, which has been strengthened with consensus agreements in 1995 (when it was extended), 2000 and 2010, to pursue unilateral as well as multilateral, bilateral and plurilateral nuclear disarmament steps. &nbsp; </p> <p>Another throwback to the 1980s was the repetition of the phrase "independent nuclear deterrent" in the motion and dozens of speeches by its supporters. The Trident nuclear weapons system is anything but independent, taking even its name from the US-built and owned Trident D5 missiles that the UK pays to lease from a pool kept at <a href="http://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrse/installations/navsubbase_kings_bay.html">King's Bay naval base</a> in Georgia. The 'independent deterrent' mantra doesn't change the facts, but these phrases successfully enable MPs to avoid inconvenient truths and questions. It was a sobering exercise, as well as quite funny, to count the continuous in-House deterrent deployments. Sir Edward Leigh (Conservative) crammed eight repetitions of "independent nuclear deterrent" into one of the shortest interventions in the debate. Theresa May referred to Trident as our "deterrent" 33 times in her speech. Which leaves her and the rest of us more vulnerable and unprepared for when this deterrent fails to deter. </p> <p>The danger in this PR jargon is that it gets believed, leading to complacency and bad decision-making. When the Prime Minister dramatically answered "yes" to the question about firing Trident at cities full of people, posed by George Kerevan (SNP), she added: "The whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies need to know that we would be prepared to use it."&nbsp; </p> <p>That was one of the Cold War versions of deterrence theory, but it's fallen out of favour as it depends on having accurate information and analysis, unambiguous communications and correct psychology.&nbsp; As these tend to be in short supply at times of crisis and conflict, Henry Kissinger and others now describe the role of nuclear weapons in deterrence as "<a href="http://www.nuclearsecurityproject.org/publications/deterrence-in-the-age-of-nuclear-proliferation">precarious</a>". </p> <p>In reality, the point about nuclear deterrence is that if a leader is put in the position of deciding whether to fire these weapons of mass destruction, deterrence has already failed.&nbsp; Or else the computers are giving out false information.&nbsp; </p> <p>The Prime Minister was cheered and congratulated by her backbenchers. Commending her for her "strength and clarity", Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat spoke for many when he said, "Our place is at the top table, guaranteeing the international order and the freedoms and liberties of our friends. When I hear talk of unilateral disarmament and appeasement, I hear talk not of honour and morality but of dishonour and immorality."&nbsp; In his view, "the capability and purpose of the nuclear deterrent lies in its not being so measurable or controllable… It works not because of its first-strike capability—any fool can have a first-strike capability—but in the second strike. It works not as a weapon of aggression but only as a post mortem weapon." </p> <p>Owen Thompson (SNP) highlighted that if the Prime Minister orders Trident to be fired it would be in retaliation or revenge, and spoke of the "worldwide famine" that could cause. Thompson was also aware of the dangers of mistakes and accidents.&nbsp; Referring to his parliamentary efforts to end the <a href="http://nukesofhazard.co.uk/">transporting of nuclear warheads</a> between nuclear bases in England and Scotland, he noted that these <a href="http://www.nukewatch.org.uk/">unmarked truck convoys</a> drive through his Midlothian constituency near Edinburgh: "If we do not have the nuclear weapons, we do not need the nuclear convoys, and we can reduce the risk to those in our communities." </p> <p>Risks as well as costs were raised by Crispin Blunt, the Conservative Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. Blunt made <a href="https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-07-18b.558.5#g584.5">three essential arguments</a> for why he would defy the Conservative whip and vote against his own government: costs of Trident replacement; opportunity costs - the need to prioritise funding for Britain's real defence requirements; and technical risks likely to make the submarines obsolete and unfit for the purpose of deterrence operations. Blunt, a former army officer and adviser to former Defence Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, had crunched the government's own numbers, so his calculation that replacing Trident would cost at least <a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-07-18/debates/16071818000001/UKSNuclearDeterrent">£179 billion</a> was widely quoted. This is not much below the <a href="http://www.cnduk.org/index.php?option=com_k2&amp;view=item&amp;id=2447&amp;Itemid=26">£205 billion</a> estimate from CND, which had added in the cost of decommissioning. </p> <p>In response to the Prime Ministers who had said "we do not believe that submarines will be rendered obsolete by unmanned underwater vehicles or cyber-techniques," Blunt described the development of a host of technologies that will breach the trumpeted invisibility and invulnerability of the submarine-based version of "the deterrent" by making the oceans "transparent", including "distributed censors detecting acoustic, magnetic, neutrino and electromagnetic signatures, on board unmanned vehicles in communication with each other, using swarming algorithms and autonomous operations associated with artificial intelligence, able to patrol indefinitely and using the extraordinary processing capabilities now available and improving by the month..."&nbsp; Referring to history's "dreadnought blind alley", Blunt concluded that replacing Trident "does not pass any rational cost-effectiveness test". </p> <p>Regardless of that, for Labour MPs especially, the main justification for renewing Trident was jobs, with John Woodcock leading the way.&nbsp; He intervened as often as he could, mainly to attack his own party's front bench and the SNP.&nbsp; Most MPs gave him kind leeway, recognising his desperation as the MP for Barrow, where the submarine contracts would provide jobs in a run-down port that had once had a thriving and diverse ship-building industry.&nbsp; But over the years BAE Systems and others had narrowed the options, making Barrow utterly dependent on BAE defence contracts.&nbsp; Barrow's vulnerability, however, needs to be viewed in the broader context of declining defence jobs, as well as the hundreds of thousands of jobs across all areas of British life that the government put at risk in the Brexit referendum. </p> <p>Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, underlined the need for a defence diversification agency to work with the unions and "support industries that have become over-reliant on defence contracts and wish to move into other contracts and other work". &nbsp;Ian Blackford (SNP) also put the jobs issue in context: "investing in conventional defence and taking care of our responsibilities in respect of terrorism, not investing in rusting hulks that will do nothing for humanity and nothing for our defence." &nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>He, too, questioned the Prime Minister's determination to press the nuclear button, asking, "Have we forgotten the lessons of Hiroshima?"</p> <p><em>Part 3 of this series will be published on the 9th August, Nagasaki Day.</em></p><p><em><em><strong>Read more articles on oD 50.50's platform <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/towards-nuclear-nonproliferation">Towards nuclear non-proliferation</a> <br /></strong></em></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-hiroshima-to-trident-listening-to-hibakusha">From Hiroshima to Trident: listening to the Hibakusha </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-survivors%27-testimony-from-hell-to-hope">Nuclear survivors&#039; testimony: from hell to hope </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-time-warp-party-politics-defence-needs">Trident in a time warp: party politics vs defence needs</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/which-is-better-for-peace-and-security-trident-or-eu">Trident or the EU: which is better for peace and security?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-alternatives-review-elephant-in-room">Trident Alternatives Review: the elephant in the room </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/paul-ingram/trident-liability-uk-can-ill-afford-to-keep">Trident: a liability the UK can ill afford to keep</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-fukushima-to-hinkley-point">From Fukushima to Hinkley Point</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/austrian-pledge-to-ban-nuclear-weapons">The Austrian pledge to ban nuclear weapons </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/no-more-little-boy-and-fat-man">No more &#039;Little Boy&#039; and &#039;Fat Man&#039;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Editor's Pick women and militarism Rebecca Johnson Sat, 06 Aug 2016 07:27:33 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 104578 at https://www.opendemocracy.net From Hiroshima to Trident: listening to the Hibakusha https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-hiroshima-to-trident-listening-to-hibakusha <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“Humanity and nuclear weapons cannot coexist indefinitely. How much longer can we allow the Nuclear Weapon States to continue threatening all life on earth?”&nbsp; - <em>Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of Hiroshima</em>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/candles dome 17.10.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/candles dome 17.10.jpeg" alt="Hibakusha in front of the Hiroshima A bomb dome." title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hibakusha in front of the Hiroshima A bomb dome.</span></span></span></p><p><em>This article was first published on openDemocracy 50.50 on 6 August 2015. It is republished here on the 71st anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing in which more than 140,000 people died.</em></p><p>After two prototype atomic bombs incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the “Hibakusha” who survived launched an emotional appeal – “Never Again”. Having warned for years about the “hell on earth” they suffered, only to see nuclear armed states continue to develop and deploy further weapons, these Hibakusha are joining with humanitarian campaigners to demand that governments now negotiate a legally binding international treaty to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons. </p> <p>Setsuko was a 13-year old schoolgirl in Hiroshima when a huge fireball incinerated most of her friends and family on 6th August 1945. Nicknamed “Little Boy” by its makers, the uranium bomb that engulfed her city 70 years ago changed the world for all of us. Three days later, on 9th August , the Americans used a different design – a plutonium bomb they called “Fat Man” – to destroy the beautiful city of Nagasaki, renowned for Madam Butterfly and Japan’s oldest Cathedral, with many historic international connections.&nbsp; </p> <p>War is always bloody and cruel. What really shocked people was the massive power of the destruction that just two bombs wreaked. The huge blast, intense flash and heat that killed over 100,000 people instantly, flattening buildings, setting off uncontrollable fires, and leaving many more with terrible injuries and burns. Then news began to leak out about the silent killer – radiation from these new bombs that caused sickness, tumours and cancer, killing tens of thousands more over the next months and years. Unlike previous weapons, the atom bombs produced radioactivity that maimed unborn babies and also seeped into the eggs and sperm of people who were exposed, changing genes and harming the health of future generations. The nuclear age had begun. </p> <p>It was this awe-inducing power that excited some leaders, while making others fearful for the future. The UN General Assembly’s first ever resolution tried to address <a href="http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/1(I)">“the problems raised by the discovery of atomic energy”</a>.&nbsp; Some of the <a href="https://100objectsbradford.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/86-scientists-in-the-quest-for-peace-joseph-rotblat-the-manhattan-project-and-the-pugwash-conferences/">scientists</a> who had contributed to designing and making the first bombs had begged President Harry Truman to demonstrate their power but not use them on people. After seeing the carnage wrought in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many more scientists joined doctors and women’s organisations to argue for all nuclear weapons to be banned. They wanted to prevent more being built, and called for stringent controls on nuclear technologies to ensure that no-one would ever use them for weapons again.&nbsp; </p> <p>American leaders ignored these security appeals, choosing instead to conduct a programme of nuclear test explosions in the Pacific. The foreseeable, inevitable consequence was that the Soviet Union ploughed resources it couldn’t afford into building its own nuclear arsenal, followed in a few years by Britain, France and China, while the United States led its allies in NATO and the Pacific (including Japan) to participate in nuclear deployments under “first-use” doctrines of “extended nuclear deterrence”.&nbsp; As the Cold War ended, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea gate-crashed the nuclear ‘club’, ostensibly to gain the same “deterrence” protections as claimed by the others.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/time-to-ban-nuclear-weapons-by-hans-blix-2015-07">Hans Blix</a>, who headed the International Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission from 2004, commented recently, “Rather than nuclear disarmament, the world is witnessing an upgrading – and, in some cases, expansion – of nuclear arsenals.” </p> <p>This fact has caused great pain and disappointment to Hibakusha like Setsuko, “baring our souls with painful memories… to warn people about the hell on earth we experienced in Hiroshima and Nagasaki”.&nbsp; Speaking at the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-survivors&#039;-testimony-from-hell-to-hope">third international conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons last December</a>, Setsuko explained that “Through months and years of struggle for survival, rebuilding lives out of the ashes, we Hibakusha… survivors, became convinced that no human being should ever have to repeat our experience of the inhumane, immoral, and cruel atomic bombing, and that our mission is to warn the world about the reality of the nuclear threat and to help people understand”. </p> <p>Her warnings were underscored by information on the many nuclear accidents, miscalculations and near-misses there have been since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, caused by human or technological errors. While we’re encouraged to worry about other nations’ nuclear programmes and support military action to force them to give up, “our” nuclear bombs are called “deterrents”. They are meant to keep us safe. The stock justification is that they have kept “the peace” for 70 years. That’s not a convincing argument or timescale. Our history is littered with disasters that ensued because leaders chose to put their faith in certain weapons or rituals that were meant to deter enemies or ward off evil, rather than taking sensible preventive measures. Calling a nuclear weapon “our deterrent” does not make it so. The weight of evidence and experience point to the opposite. They are not imbued with magical properties. From George W. Bush and Tony Blair to Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un, nuclear-armed delusions of power and deterrence have led to reckless military actions, dangerous political posturing and nuclear sabre-rattling, with unintended consequences. At some point our luck will run out. </p> <p>For many, the humanitarian costs of the nuclear age have already been unacceptably high. Several generations have grown up in the shadow of nuclear nightmares, while our governments poured money into modernising weapons rather than pursuing disarmament. Children cowered under desks in ridiculously misleading nuclear drills at school, while nuclear weapons have continued to be driven along our roads and flown above our heads. People in countries without nuclear possession have borne the toxic brunt and long term harm to their health and home environments of the wider nuclear chain, from uranium mining to nuclear testing. </p> <p>Nuclear weapons production requires large militarised infrastructures, investment and secrecy. Human rights have been violated to protect nuclear secrets and hide mistakes and accidents. Their own citizens suffered as nuclear dependant states have disproportionately militarised their economies, putting them at the forefront of arms production and sales around the world.&nbsp; Separately or together, the nine nuclear-armed countries have driven, fuelled and contributed to most of the wars, invasions, ‘proxy wars’ and instability that have afflicted the world since 1945.&nbsp; </p> <p>Noting that “humanity and nuclear weapons cannot coexist indefinitely,” Setsuko asked in Vienna “How much longer can we allow the Nuclear Weapon States to continue threatening all life on earth?”&nbsp; Supported by the Hibakusha, the <a href="http://www.icanw.org/">International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)</a> the Red Cross and many others are now taking forward strategies that highlight the rights and responsibilities of nuclear free nations to take the lead on negotiating a nuclear ban treaty to add to international humanitarian law. </p> <p>In May 2015, as 159 states signed a statement underlining serious concerns about the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) became predictably deadlocked over nuclear rivalries in the Middle East. By the time the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-107-nations-pledge-to-negotiate-on-nuclear-disarmament">NPT Conference was pronounced a failure</a>, as the United States, Britain and Canada vetoed the draft text tabled by the conference president, 107 governments joined Austria and Mexico in endorsing a ground-breaking humanitarian pledge to fill the legal gap (and negotiate) as the next step. As of today, 113 are now on board. </p> <p><a href="http://www.city.hiroshima.lg.jp/www/contents/1317948556078/index.html">Hiroshima’s Mayor, Kazumi Matsui</a>, this year appealed to President Obama and other policymakers to visit “the A-bombed cities, hear the Hibakusha with your own ears, and encounter the reality of the atomic bombings. Surely, you will be impelled to start discussing a legal framework, including a nuclear weapons convention.”&nbsp; Setsuko and many others are calling for leadership from the majority of non-nuclear countries to start “<a href="http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/vienna-2014/8Dec_Thurlow.pdf">negotiations on a ban treaty… to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons</a>”.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Recognising that Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have created a taboo against nuclear use, Hand Blix demanded “that the taboo be made legally binding”, and “<a href="http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/time-to-ban-nuclear-weapons-by-hans-blix-2015-07">become an international priority</a>”. Drawing from recent experience with other treaties where weapons possessors have resisted legal constraints, Dr Blix understood the importance of pursuing such treaties, which change states’ behaviour because they “serve as a constant reminder of what is expected of them”. </p> <p>For these few days in August, even mainstream media talk about nuclear weapons. But sentimental expressions of sympathy are not enough.&nbsp; As Setsuko told me when we met in Dublin and Vienna, Hibakusha want us to learn from their suffering and take action to make it impossible for anyone else to suffer from nuclear weapons. That means pursuing a genuine process to achieve a treaty that will prohibit the use, deployment, manufacture, acquisition, stockpiling, proliferation and transfers of nuclear weapons and require their complete elimination.&nbsp; </p> <p>Setsuko said she couldn’t understand why British people were allowing our government to spend £100 billion to replace Trident.&nbsp; What is it for? This 70th anniversary is surely time to move on from Trident - time to stop proliferating and start banning all nuclear weapons. </p> <p><em><strong>Read more articles on 50.50's <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/towards-nuclear-nonproliferation">Towards nuclear non-proliferation</a> platform</strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/alternative-history-of-peacemaking-century-of-disarmament-efforts">An alternative history of peacemaking: a century of disarmament efforts </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/scrapping-trident-holistic-approach">Scrapping Trident: the holistic approach</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/to-eliminate-wmd-we-need-to-disarm-patriarchy">To eliminate WMD we need to disarm patriarchy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/marion-bowman/violence-is-not-inevitable-it-is-choice">Violence is not inevitable: It is a choice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/pro-nuclear-propaganda-in-1983-lessons-for-2013">Pro-nuclear propaganda in 1983: lessons for 2013</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ann-wright/i-protest-challenging-war-policies-of-united-states">&quot;I protest&quot;: challenging the war policies of the United States</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-and-risks-to-human-survival-inside-story">NPT and risks to human survival: the inside story </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-survivors%27-testimony-from-hell-to-hope">Nuclear survivors&#039; testimony: from hell to hope </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/no-more-little-boy-and-fat-man">No more &#039;Little Boy&#039; and &#039;Fat Man&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-107-nations-pledge-to-negotiate-on-nuclear-disarmament">NPT: cornerstone of nuclear non-proliferation or stumbling block? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/common-vision-abolition-of-militarism">A common vision: The abolition of militarism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/austrian-pledge-to-ban-nuclear-weapons">The Austrian pledge to ban nuclear weapons </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-nonproliferation-in-time-warp">Nuclear non-proliferation in a time warp</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-alternatives-review-elephant-in-room">Trident Alternatives Review: the elephant in the room </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/banning-nuclear-weapons-point-of-no-return">Banning nuclear weapons: point of no return</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/uk-governments-stand-against-humanitarian-disarmament">The UK government&#039;s stand against humanitarian disarmament </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Editor's Pick Rebecca Johnson Sat, 06 Aug 2016 07:00:33 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 95061 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Trident in a time warp: party politics vs defence needs https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-time-warp-party-politics-defence-needs <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As Britain and Europe reeled from Brexit Theresa May rushed through the vote on Trident replacement. Was this strong leadership or our human security being sacrificed to expediency? Part 1.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/3 Trident submarine.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/3 Trident submarine.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Trident Nuclear Submarine HMS Victorious. Defence Images/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In her first parliamentary debate as Conservative leader, the new British Prime Minister, Theresa May, decided to go ahead with a <a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-07-18/debates/16071818000001/UKSNuclearDeterrent">debate and decision on Trident</a> on18 July.&nbsp; With Conservative MPs under a "three line whip" to vote in favour, and the Labour Party bitterly divided by a leadership struggle, the numerical outcome of the 18 July vote Twas no surprise. The motion was passed 472 to 117. All but one of the Conservative MPs filed into the 'yes' lobby.&nbsp; They were joined by 140 Labour MPs, freed up because the rush to vote just before parliament's summer recess pre-empted the Labour Party's review of nuclear policy, security and defence, which had been due in September. Lacking an agreed, up to date policy on nuclear weapons, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, a long time advocate of nuclear disarmament, agreed for his MPs to vote "according to conscience". </p> <p>The Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales) MPs joined 47 Labour MPs, most of the Liberal Democrats, the sole Green MP and a handful of others in voting against.&nbsp; Because voting in Parliament is an arcane ritual requiring the MPs to physically transport their bodies into either the 'yes' room or the 'no' room, options are constructed in binary terms.&nbsp; Labour's Shadow Defence and Foreign Affairs spokespeople, Clive Lewis and Emily Thornberry, called on colleagues to abstain in protest against the vote being taken before Labour's review was completed.&nbsp; The numbers don't show how many joined them, as abstainers are traditionally lumped in with absentees.&nbsp; Only one – who reportedly managed to get counted in both rooms – was recorded as an abstention.&nbsp; Prime Minister May was therefore given a majority of 355.&nbsp; </p> <p>The decision paves the way for contracts to be signed with BAE Systems to build four new nuclear submarines to deploy US ballistic missiles until the 2060s.&nbsp; While MPs disagreed on the size of the overall price tag, the government has set aside £41 billion just for the submarines. Though not mentioned in the government's motion, the vote is also likely to accelerate expenditure on redesigning and enhancing nuclear warheads, putting more taxpayers money into US arms manufacturers Lockheed Martin, which makes the Trident missiles, and Jacob's Engineering, who together with Serco run Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) as a profit-making enterprise. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/8 Theresa May.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/501857/8 Theresa May.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="327" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Theresa May. Liam McBurney/PA Wire/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p> <p>The motion that May introduced (though it had been filed by the outgoing PM, David Cameron), wrapped the multi-billion pound nuclear spending decision in layers of unsubstantiated assertions about past and future deterrence with references to continuously armed submarine patrols and Britain's defence jobs and skills.&nbsp; It ended with a passing nod to "key steps towards multilateral disarmament". </p> <p>Ringing particular warning bells in the United Nations, where the UK has this year been boycotting multilateral disarmament talks, the motion rather significantly departed from long-standing language in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), derived from years of important consensus agreements in the review conferences of 1995, 2000 and 2010. &nbsp;Instead, the motion echoed Russian preoccupations with stability instead of the broader international commitments that the UK had previously endorsed. These included President Obama's call to work for the "peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons", which was adopted as an NPT-related commitment in 2010, to "achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons", together with a disarmament action plan comprising a spectrum of approaches spanning unilateral as well as multilateral steps. &nbsp;These changes in commitments and tone were unmistakeable, but were they deliberate and intentional, or for some other reason? </p> <p>It is important to read the government motion in full: "that the UK’s independent minimum credible nuclear deterrent, based on a Continuous at Sea Deterrence posture, will remain essential to our security today as it has for over 60 years, and for as long as the global security situation demands, to deter the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life and that of our allies; supports the decision to take the necessary steps required to maintain the current posture by replacing the current Vanguard Class submarines with four Successor submarines; recognises the importance of this programme to the UK’s defence industrial base and in supporting thousands of highly skilled engineering jobs; notes that the Government will continue to provide annual reports to Parliament on the programme; recognises that the UK remains committed to reduce our overall nuclear weapon stockpile by the mid-2020s; and supports the Government’s commitment to continue work towards a safer and more stable world, pressing for key steps towards multilateral disarmament." </p> <p>Though some MPs tried in the ensuing debate to raise salient questions about the role and consequences of nuclear deterrence and weapons, and the proliferation and security impacts as well as financial costs of Trident replacement, they received short shrift. This exercise was not for parliament to scrutinise and evaluate Britain's security needs in the 21st century. &nbsp;The purpose and timing were determined by party political tactics and expediency, and it showed. </p> <p>David Cameron's motivation for rushing the Trident debate before the summer recess was seen by many as a ploy to distract from his own culpability over the Brexit referendum and sharpen the divisions in the Parliamentary Labour Party, which include but are not confined to disagreements about renewing Trident. &nbsp; </p> <p>Theresa May had kept a low profile during the Brexit referendum, and after becoming Prime Minister on 13 July had many more pressing issues she might have been expected to prioritise.&nbsp; Particularly in view of her background as Home Secretary and relative lack of experience on defence issues other than terrorism, she could have postponed. Why, then, did May go ahead and make the four-submarine decision the first major policy vote of her leadership?&nbsp; </p> <p>It appears that one motivation was to demonstrate that she was "strong" on defence, especially as she published an article in the <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/theresa-demands-vote-renewing-trident-8350422">Daily Mail on 4 July</a>, when she was still a candidate facing a potentially difficult leadership campaign, before the rest of the field got stabbed in the back or fell on their swords. In this she appeared impatient with even having the debate, declaring:&nbsp; "There is no room for compromise, and no room for cheese paring…&nbsp; It would be sheer madness to contemplate even for a moment giving up Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent." </p> <p>Appearing shortly before NATO leaders met in Warsaw on 8-9 July, the article was probably coordinated with Downing Street and the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, one of the few from Cameron's Cabinet that she retained. May argued that making a clear decision on Trident now would send "an important message that, as Britain leaves the European Union, we remain committed to working alongside our Nato allies and playing our full role in the world." Did she really imagine that NATO's serious concerns about the UK's role and economic stability in the wake of the Brexit vote would be allayed by a rushed-through commitment to spend billions of pounds on a new fleet of vanity-project nuclear submarines? </p> <p>This flies in the face of evidence.&nbsp; While carefully taking a neutral stance in public, significant members of NATO have been less than enthusiastic about efforts by the UK (and also France) to keep building and deploying nuclear weapons.&nbsp; Steven Erlanger's report in the <em>International Herald Tribune</em> on 12 April 2013 reported on efforts to encourage the British government not to go ahead with Trident replacement, also quoting a senior US official as saying, "They can't afford Trident, and they need to confront the choice: either they can be a nuclear power&nbsp;and nothing else or a real military partner”. &nbsp;This revelation did not surprise experienced NATO watchers and other defence analysts, including <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hugh-beach/case-for-one-sided-nuclear-disarmament">retired British General Sir Hugh Beach</a>, who had long argued that NATO would be a more effective security alliance and provide more credible deterrence if it eliminated the nuclear component of its forces and doctrines. &nbsp; </p> <p>There is undoubtedly heightened concern about the deterioration in US-Russian relations, including arms control, and President Putin's role in the Ukraine conflict and increasingly bellicose behaviour, which includes nuclear posturing and sabre rattling, as well as cyber attacks that have been tracked back to Russian intelligence.&nbsp; Concerns about Russia were understandably raised during the Trident debate.&nbsp; But as far as NATO and most of the world are concerned, nuclear weapons are part of the problem, not the solution. &nbsp; </p> <p>In private if not in public, the Warsaw Summit left David Cameron in no doubt about NATO leaders' deep concerns that the UK's decision to leave the European Union will have negative consequences for European and American security and economic interests.&nbsp; Just before the Brexit referendum, <a href="https://www.euractiv.com/section/europe-s-east/news/nato-chief-warns-of-brexit-instability/">NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg</a> had underscored that “What really matters for NATO is… a strong UK in a strong EU. It is good for both the UK and the EU but also for NATO.”&nbsp; </p> <p>Though Theresa May did not specifically quote the version of deterrence theory that requires that an adversary must be kept uncertain about whether or not their aggressive behaviour would result in a nuclear attack, it underpinned the arguments she used in introducing the Trident debate. But uncertainty can cut several ways, and nuclear weapons are viewed by many these days as "<a href="http://www.nti.org/analysis/articles/warning-bells-around-tactical-nuclear-weapons-europe/">more of a security risk than asset to NATO</a>". &nbsp;Cameron's miscalculation over Brexit was bad enough, but miscalculations involving nuclear deterrence communications and weapons would be even more disastrous.&nbsp; </p> <p>The recent coup in Turkey provides us with a chilling example.&nbsp; In less than a fortnight after the Warsaw Summit, an attempted coup in Turkey caused <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/turkey-detains-about-6000-linked-to-failed-coup/2016/07/17/e77e0bb0-4baf-11e6-8dac-0c6e4accc5b1_story.html">military chaos at NATO's nuclear base at Incirlik</a>, which houses around 50 US B61 nuclear bombs. Some officers reportedly "<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/07/20/should-the-us-pull-its-nuclear-weapons-from-turkey?comments#permid=19209032">used the assets</a> under [their] command to help the coup plotters mount an F-16 strike on the parliament".&nbsp; &nbsp;The American F16s were not on that occasion armed with any of the nuclear bombs, but the lesson delivered a sharp shock to NATO, which had only just adopted its <a href="http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_133169.htm">Warsaw Summit Communique</a>, promising that the Allies responsible for forward-deployed nuclear weapons "will ensure that all components of NATO's nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure, and effective." </p> <p>The context for rushing the Trident vote through in July was party political tactics.&nbsp; For different reasons, the same short term thinking led David Cameron to take such a huge gamble on voters being deterred from voting to leave the European Union. In classical deterrence terms he warned voters that they wouldn't like the consequences if they went ahead. But for various reasons a majority didn't believe him or dismissed his arguments as "Project Fear" – empty threats.&nbsp; And he bet high – using the security we derive from participating in all aspects of the EU's institutions as collateral.&nbsp; </p> <p>Cameron miscalculated and lost, so we all now have to deal with the consequences, however painful.&nbsp; With the country still reeling, it would have been prudent for the replacement Prime Minister to prioritise taking stock of Britain's needs and options in this fundamentally altered economic and security environment we face. She may find the unintended consequences of this Trident debate haunt her long after the context is forgotten.&nbsp; Not only her declared willingness to "<a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-07-18/debates/16071818000001/UKSNuclearDeterrent">to authorise a nuclear strike that could kill 100,000 innocent men, women and children</a>" but in other ways that history could judge prophetic. &nbsp; </p> <p>The Trident vote has shown the UK to be unwilling to pursue the NPT's nuclear disarmament obligation and agreements in good faith. The motion only advocated "pressing for key steps".&nbsp; Compared with successive government statements since 1995, this could be read as merely encouraging others to take steps rather than continuing to implement the disarmament measures that the UK has already committed to. &nbsp;In that case, the Westminster parliament should not be surprised if others get on with the job of creating the conditions for greater safety and security in a world without nuclear weapons, with or without British participation. </p> <p>&nbsp;<em><strong>Part 2</strong> <strong>of this series will be published on 6 August, Hiroshima Day. Part 3 will be published on 9 August, Nagasaki Day.</strong></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/trident-alternatives-review-elephant-in-room">Trident Alternatives Review: the elephant in the room </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/north-korea-and-trident-challenging-nuclear-non-proliferation-regime">North Korea and Trident: challenging the nuclear non-proliferation regime </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/which-is-better-for-peace-and-security-trident-or-eu">Trident or the EU: which is better for peace and security?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/pro-nuclear-propaganda-in-1983-lessons-for-2013">Pro-nuclear propaganda in 1983: lessons for 2013</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/facing-up-to-humanitarian-consequences-of-nuclear-policies-and-mistakes">Facing up to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear policies and mistakes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-survivors%27-testimony-from-hell-to-hope">Nuclear survivors&#039; testimony: from hell to hope </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/from-hiroshima-to-trident-listening-to-hibakusha">From Hiroshima to Trident: listening to the Hibakusha </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/austrian-pledge-to-ban-nuclear-weapons">The Austrian pledge to ban nuclear weapons </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/new-generation-taking-over-reins-of-nuclear-abolition">A new generation: taking over the reins of nuclear abolition</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/alternative-history-of-peacemaking-century-of-disarmament-efforts">An alternative history of peacemaking: a century of disarmament efforts </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/feminist-peacebuilding-courageous-intelligence">Feminist peacebuilding - a courageous intelligence </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/nuclear-nonproliferation-in-time-warp">Nuclear non-proliferation in a time warp</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/mairead-maguire/common-vision-abolition-of-militarism">A common vision: The abolition of militarism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-toothless-in-face-of-real-world-dangers">NPT: toothless in the face of real world dangers </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-challenging-nuclear-powers-fiefdom">NPT: challenging the nuclear powers&#039; fiefdom</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson-daniela-varano/npt-nuclear-colonialism-versus-democratic-disarmament">NPT: nuclear colonialism versus democratic disarmament </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/npt-107-nations-pledge-to-negotiate-on-nuclear-disarmament">NPT: cornerstone of nuclear non-proliferation or stumbling block? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson-jaine-rose/guerilla-woolfare-against-madness-of-mutually-assured-destruction">Guerilla woolfare: against the madness of mutually assured destruction</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/britain-boycotts-uns-multilateral-nuclear-disarmament-talks">Britain&#039;s boycott of the UN multilateral nuclear disarmament talks</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rebecca-johnson/no-more-little-boy-and-fat-man">No more &#039;Little Boy&#039; and &#039;Fat Man&#039;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 50.50 Women, Peace & Security Towards Nuclear Non-proliferation 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change Rebecca Johnson Fri, 05 Aug 2016 08:27:33 +0000 Rebecca Johnson 104519 at https://www.opendemocracy.net