Picture of Madeleine Rees in front of a case of books

Madeleine Rees, the Secretary General of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, writes in support of the second announcement by William Hague that Syrian women should assume a vital role at the Geneva II peace talks. Credts: Rowan Farrell

The United Kingdom government, specifically the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is officially communicating that Syrian women should, and must, assume a crucial role in the Geneva II peace talks.

Their message, soon to be publicly released, demands:

  • A direct role for Syrian women
  • Women members in both delegations
  • The appointment of an empowered gender adviser plus gender support throughout the peace talks
  • The presence of a consultative body as a mechanism to enable this direct participation – made up of women and civil society, based in Geneva, with access to the UN mediation team and the delegations, which is able to brief the parties, contribute papers and make recommendations and take part in specific parts of the negotiations, supported by appropriate funding and with a role for UN Women.

This vocal call for the inclusion of women in the peace negotiations is yet another instance in the steadfast support the United Kingdom and the Foreign Secretary William Hague have provided to both WILPF and other women organisations in our mission to include women in the talks. WILPF congratulates them for it!

It behoves other States to agree and support the United Kingdom’s demands. Under Security Council resolutions 1325 and 2122, which WILPF took the lead in pushing and getting successfully passed, Member States have a legal obligation to adopt William Hague’s position. Moreover, it is the moral and right position to adopt.

WILPF and our members and partners must back it!

Call to Action

If you have not already done so, please lobby your government to publically support this position, especially if you are in the United States. While the United Kingdom is vocal in their support that peace must include women, other Member States have been reticent in publicly adopting this position. Lakhdar Brahimi for the United Nations, resists changing his tactic of brokering negotiations only between the warring parties. WILPF holds this to be untenable. It has produced no results over the 2 years it has been tried, it focuses on the minority not the majority, and repeats a narrative which has historically been shown to fail bring peace in the long term.

As one of our Syrian partners so poignantly said, “Why is it that the US, Russia and the warring parties get to decide the future of my country? It is the country of the Syrian people, and it will be us who have to live there after they have destroyed it between them!”

Women Lead to Peace

Get active. Help WILPF make a difference! WILPF is now partner of a movement and campaign called, “Women Lead to Peace”, which strives to pressure Member States into adopting Hague’s stance and galvanizes local support for our work.

Sign our petition: We Need Syrian Women at the Negotiation Table

Together we can ensure that peace always and without question or reservation, includes women.

If you want to share ideas on bringing  Syrian women to the negotiation table, then please send them to us. Feel free to use the comment field below – we would love to hear your ideas!

In peace,

Madeleine Rees
Secretary General of Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

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