For women in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), day to day life involves regular risk of violence, threats, intimidation, restriction on movement and discrimination, which violate international humanitarian and human rights law.
Yet women peace activists continue to take leadership in demanding accountability for action on women’s human rights and creating dialogues that build the foundation for peace.
In January 2018, Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC), Community Action Center (CAC), Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) and WILPF submitted a civil society shadow report to the Human Rights Council’s (HRC’s) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Israel entitled, 'Palestinian Women under Prolonged Israeli Occupation: The Gendered Impact of Occupation Violence’. The report showed how creating the conditions for women’s political participation, addressing the risks to women human rights defenders and ensuring political solutions are critical to supporting a democratic transition process and effective peacebuilding that enables women’s human rights and sustainable peace.
As WILPF’s Secretary-General, Madeleine Rees, wrote back in October 2017, if the UN Security Council is going to be able to fulfil its mandate and take action to sustain peace, it must provide women in communities affected by conflict with an opportunity to give real input, analysis and information, and must use this information to take actions responsive to the diverse needs, rights and requirements of all people.
However, the UN Security Council has been unable to take effective action on the situation of Israel and Palestine with little appearance that anything will change on this in the near future.
How can the UNSC action in Palestine be revitalised in a way that makes a difference for women?
The 22 February 2018 Arria Formula Meeting on the situation in Palestine provided one opportunity for re-initiating dialogue on this intractable conflict. It had potential to open up new spaces for dialogue based on the recommendations and experiences of local women and girls. Peru, Sweden and the UK did provide important references to women's participation in the discussion. However, broader discussion that integrated gender-conflict analysis to address women’s leadership and gendered violence, such as around settlements and attacks against human rights defenders, remained a missed opportunity.
Integrating documentation submitted for the UPR review in the UNSC analysis and decision-making is not only mandated by Resolution 2282, it represents one of the avenues to mobilise a paradigm shift in the approach taken to peacebuilding, one which ensures that local women speak for themselves (rather than be spoken for), addresses women’s human rights and understands gender inequalities as one of the root causes of conflict.
As Security Council continues its work for peace, it is must build on local women’s voices, in Palestine and elsewhere, for holistic and targeted action toward sustainable and feminist peace.