Durban NGO Alert: The Womens International League for Peace and Freedom
- Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has lobbied for an NGO Forum at the Durban Review Conference, erasing the antisemitism and virulent anti-Israel rhetoric of the NGO Forum at the first Durban conference in 2001.
- In statements to the UN, WILPF promotes a very biased view of the Israel-Arab conflict, falsely accusing Israel of “relentless destruction of Palestinian infrastructure” and maintaining “more than 650 checkpoints where Palestinians are brutalized and die.”
- WILPF is a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), a highly politicized Israeli NGO umbrella group funded by NIF and the EU. CWP marked Israel’s Independence Day in 2007 with commemorations of the “Naqba” – the Palestinian “catastrophe.” (page 20).
Established in Geneva in 1915, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) claims to bring “together women from around the world who are united in working for peace by non-violent means, promoting political, economic and social justice for all.” WIPLF enjoys ECOSOC consultative status and is thus automatically accredited to the Durban Review Conference, and is a member of the NGO Working Group on the Middle East.
WILPF was an active participant in the 2001 World Conference against Racism, and has been heavily involved in the Durban Review Process. Since September 2007, WILPF has initiated three letters (see below) to the Preparatory Committee, partnering with MRAP, Nord-Sud XXI, Interfaith International, EAFORD, Badil and other groups on these interventions. Each of these statements praises the 2001 conference, promotes the Durban Review Conference, and lobbies for NGO participation and government sponsorship. WILPF erases the antisemitism and anti-Israel biases surrounding the Durban Conference, and specifically calls for an NGO Forum in 2009.
WILPF is funded by the the Netherlands, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs , as well as by individual women and foundations.
Membership in the Coalition of Women for Peace
WILPF is also a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), a highly politicized Israeli NGO umbrella group funded by NIF and the EU. CWP, which includes New Profile, Machsom Watch, Women in Black, and others, “is committed to the struggle to end the occupation; to the full involvement of women in peace negotiations; to an end to the excessive militarization of Israeli society.” For instance, in the EU-funded “Re-framing security” project, CWP “explore[d] this term [security] from the broadest feminist-civil perspective.” CWP marked Israel’s Independence Day in 2007 with a public commemorations of the 59th anniversary of the Naqba” (page 20).
WILPF claims to have dealt with the Arab-Israeli conflict since the early 1920s. In its statements to the UN (see below) WILPF espouses a skewed perspective of the conflict, accusing Israel of “relentless destruction of Palestinian infrastructure” and “more than 650 checkpoints where Palestinians are brutalized and die.” WILPF has also condemned the “excessive disproportionate military retaliation by Israel,” without providing the basis for this allegation or the context of terror that precipitated Israel’s military response.
Statements endorsing the Durban Review Conference and a parallel NGO Forum
WILPF Statement (with 27 other NGOs) to the Preparatory Committee for the Durban Review Conference, September 25, 2007
We want to emphasize the need to have the victims of racism and racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance fully engaged in the preparations for the Conference and to have their participation in the review conference ensured. This calls for special material support.
We all have a responsibility – the UN, governments and NGOs together – to counter the smear campaigns against Durban that is being carried on in some quarters.
Finally, we strongly urge that the Durban Review Conference and its preparations be adequately funded from the regular UN budget and call on governments to contribute generously to make this review conference a turning point in the struggle against racism.
LETTER IN SUPPORT OF THE DURBAN REVIEW CONFERENCE AND NGO PARTICIPATION, May 26, 2008
We are writing this letter to convey through you, to the Members of the Preparatory Committee, our strong desire as Non-Governmental Organisations and anti-racist movements to contribute to the successful preparations for the Durban Review Conference in 2009.
Also at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, the NGO Forum was an important catalyst for many victim groups to come together, network, interact and build support for the work against racism and discrimination.
We strongly believe in the necessity of a vigorous public mobilization effort for the Durban Review Conference. This includes efforts by Non Governmental Organisations, victim groups and anti-racist movements who must receive the full support of both the Preparatory Committee and the United Nations Secretariat, in particular the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In the view of the undersigned it is necessary that a positive decision is taken to enable civil society to fully contribute to a successful Durban Review Process and that financial resources are allocated to support the holding of an NGO Forum in the immediate vicinity of the official Conference site.
Joint statement to the 9th Session of the Human Rights Council, September 22, 2008
Together with many other NGOs we have given high priority to the combat against racism in our work and in our cooperation with the United Nations. As we are now commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights we find it important to highlight that the combat against racism was at the forefront of the United Nations commitment to Human Rights since the inception of the organisation. The campaign against Apartheid became a catalyst for joint action between Governments, the United Nations, NGOs and world public opinion.
This has to include effective measures to ensure the full participation of non- governmental organisations from all regions in the forthcoming meetings of the Preparatory Committee as well as full support for the holding of a well attended NGO Forum at the Review Conference.
Other statements to the UN
An Open Letter to the negotiating parties, the Middle East Quartet and the host government concerning the talks in Annapolis on peace in the Middle East, November 22, 2007
The road leads to an end to the Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. The road is one that refugees can walk on to exercise their right of return.
Instead of a concrete road to peace, there is an illegal concrete wall. Instead of a real pathway to peace, there is a daily grinding occupation, the demolition of homes, ever expanding settlements, and more than 650 checkpoints where Palestinians are brutalized and die. Instead of confidence building measures, there are extrajudicial assassinations, aerial bombardment, massive military aid to one party, while for the other party aid is frozen and tax funds withheld.
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Denounces Escalation of Military Aggression in Lebanon, Israel and Gaza, July 17, 2006
We condemn the targeting of civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure by all parties and, in particular, the excessive disproportionate military retaliation by Israel as violations of international law.
We recognize that the current dangerous and volatile situation is the direct result of Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian lands and its relentless destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, particularly in Gaza where a humanitarian crisis is growing among the 1.4 million inhabitants.
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom appeals to Israel to cease the military stranglehold on Gaza and to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, to end the blockade and stop the siege of Lebanon and the destruction of civilian infrastructure.
Written Statement of the NGO Working Group on the Middle East to the 62th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
The construction of the Separation Wall on the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) by the Government of Israel is violating UN Resolutions and International Law. In addition, Israeli settlements in the OPT (including East Jerusalem) was clearly condemned by the International Court of Justice ICJ when it concluded, ‘the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of International Law.’
The NGO Working Group on the Middle East believes that the international community (citizens as well as organizations and governments) have an obligation to implement international law and work for the non-violent struggle to dismantle the Separation Wall before it is fully established. If this does not happen and Israel is allowed to continue to act unchecked, the credibility of the rule of law will no longer exist.
NGO Statement on “Palestine” to the 59th Session of the United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights, 2003, Jean-Pierre Lagnaux, endorsed by WILPF
Palestine has been the object of innumerable resolutions adopted by the Security Council, none of which have ever been applied by Israel. Furthermore, Israel possesses arms of mass destruction, biological, chemical, and nuclear, and militarily occupies foreign territories. This situation has never incited the United States to treat Israel as Iraq is treated today.