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June 2, 2012

Introducing WILPF to LA on Nuclear Abolition Day

The Greater LA Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women hosted a Women's Peace Walk today. They were inspired by Julia Ward Howe's call for women to gather on June 2 as a Mother's Peace Day. I was honored to help the chapter organize the event and was further honored when I was asked to moderate the speakers. Thankfully, I was also able to step out of that role to introduce people to WILPF. Below is the text of my speech.

Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, WILPF, is probably the most influential peace organization you have never hard of. For almost a century, WILPF has articulated the need to address the root causes of war. We insist on ending armed conflict as a means of dispute resolution. And since World War I, we have been challenging governments to recognize the necessity of women's participation in these conversations.

In 2000, we pushed the UN Security Council to pass Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace & Security. Then, we created our Peace Women Project to monitor its implementation. Through Peace Women, we've led a translation project, ensuring 1325 is available in over 100 languages. This allows women peacemakers around the world to use it as a blueprint for creating real space for women's participation in politics in their own countries. We could use help translating it into more languages, so check out peacewomen.org for more info.

Implementing the women, peace and security agenda is the responsibility of national governments. Civil Society (that's you and me working together through nonprofit organizations) holds government accountable by monitoring this implementation. Together we can develop National Action Plans, one tool for realizing women's participation in conflict prevention and peace-building.

Last fall, the U.S. Section of WILPF hosted consultations with the State Department in five cities across the country, to facilitate citizen input into the first ever U.S. National Action Plan. We issued a report with 64 concrete recommendations on Human Rights Day, December 10, 2011. Later that month, the State Department released the National Action Plan.

Next week, WILPF U.S. will be briefing Congress on those consultations at a round table hosted by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Congressman Russ Carnahan.

Here's the thing: the U.S. must fundamentally change its foreign and military policy to truly implement the women, peace and security agenda. Military intervention does not make people more secure. Access to food, health care, education, shelter, and jobs make people secure. That's what I mean when I say I'm a human security advocate. It means I respect the fundamental needs that must be met in order to make an individual secure. It means I reject the notion that a monolingual military propping up warlords can ever make Afghan women secure. It means I worry about Iraqi women whose access to basic necessities, like clean water, sewers and electricity was destroyed by the U.S. military and never fully restored.

We in WILPF recognize that creating the women, peace and security framework isn't enough. That's why we monitor all international disarmament negotiations through our Reaching Critical Will project. We provide daily newsletters during those conferences -- updates relied upon by diplomats and civil society alike to keep those processes transparent.

As today is Nuclear Abolition Day, I should tell you that WILPF and its Reaching Critical Will Project strongly supports abolishing the use of both nuclear weapons and nuclear power. We also work towards the reduction of military spending and the demilitarization of politics and economics.

Our current International Secretary General, Madeleine Rees, is leading WILPF in challenging the UN to see disarmament through a human rights framework. The security wonks have never acknowledged the way military spending violates human rights. First, we know the money be better spent on health care, education, housing, and infrastructure development. In other words on implementing the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring human security.

Additionally, selling weapons to countries where they will likely be used to violate international law should be illegal, based on the doctrine of the responsibility to protect.

Right now, Reaching Critical Will is monitoring the Conference on Disarmament. Next month, we will be monitoring the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. Check reachingcriticalwill.org for more information.

I'll be honest with you now. The Los Angeles Branch has been a bit dormant recently. So I invite you to join me in renewing the LA branch of WILPF by becoming a member or at least connecting with me so I can keep you informed about our future work. Thank you.

Posted by cj at June 2, 2012 11:04 PM


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