Preparing WILPF’s European Meeting in Berlin March 20th – 23rd in Commemoration of the Peace Organizations’s Forthcoming Hundredth Birthday

Reflections by Irene Eckert, Wilpf member since 1981, Berlin, March 19th 2014

Mind UN and UNESCO CHARTA!

While Wilpf, the world’s oldest international women’s peace organisation, is busy preparing for its hundredth birthday celebrations, preparations for more wars are under way. Wars have always been prepared long before they started. „Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed“ This is what the UNESCO Charta says. Let us use the opportunity of being together this coming weekend to come forward with a strong statement condemning all efforts preparing for more military adventures.

The UN Charta designed before the UNESCO was founded, aimed at liberating the humankind from the scourge of war. Spirit and letter of the UN Constitution rule out the use of force in international relations. This precious document laid the ground for peaceful conflict resolution. The following conventions and covenants that our founding mothers have been working for, must be our instruments and guiding our daily work for peace and human rights. Our unique organization has rightfully dedicated itself to defend the peaceful purposes of international law. Beyond international law, there is pure machevelian strength that would govern the world. We are witnesses of the dire consequences. We therefore strongly support the maintenance of the original wording of the UN Charta.

Defend WILPF’S heritage!

Our noble duty as women belonging to Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is also to defend the heritage of our founding mothers. We must speak out and act in defense of international law, peaceful conflict solutions and and we must not allow it being warped by what ever noble cause there may be. The protection of human rights is a noble cause. Gender equality is a noble cause, part of the human rights agenda. Let us never forget over it to underline that the right to live and to live in peace is the first one among all human rights. After having made sure that all people on this globe have the right to live in peace and security we must also see the Human Rights Declaration of 1948 and the following Covenants based on it as an entity.

We are women and we come from different horizons, from different cultures and from different social backgrounds. What unifies us is perhaps nothing more than our strong common desire to live our different lives unhindered under peaceful conditions.

German ex-chancellor Brandt, nobel peace prize award of 1971, once said:„Peace is not everything, but there is nothing without peace“. This is still true.

Respect Differences and Dissent!

As we are different our attitudes and opinions may differ on many issues. We therefore can not, as an organization, come out in support of the policies of the EU or any party. We can only demand from our elected politicians and from any candidate who runs for office to strictly represent our wishes for a more peaceful policy following the rules of international law.

We cannot support women just because they are women. We cannot expect from a stronger representation of women in office a better policy. Women have special qualities and skills, but these can be misused under given power structures just as it has been done with men and their abilities.
To ask for gender equality may be a fair aim, if understood well, but it can also be misleading. Women and men are different, they have different needs that have to be accounted for.

Call for Gender Equality Insufficient

We as a women’s peace organisation cannot possibly opt for more women becoming part of the militarized bodies of our societies. We must on the contrary denounce such efforts as a violation of the women’s cause which is always pro life and and for the protection of a peaceful environment. We must also encourage men, our sons, brothers, partners to not serve in the NATO armies.

We have aquired enough knowledge by now to be able to understand what is being done to women soldiers. We have not forgotten Cadett Jenny Böken who wanted to become a navy officer and who was cold heartedly sent to death by her commanders on the German ‘Schulschiff’ Gorch Fok in 2008.
We know what is being done to women who serve in the army elsewhere, even as doctors in the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan for example. You can be forced to act as an armed soldier once you are in it.

While preparing for the European regional meeting, we have been asked by our European co-ordinator, to reflect upon the idea of „Women Serving as Better Defense ministers“.

Women the Last Resort for Warmongers?

Well, since 1990 we have had female defense minsters in about ten NATO countries. Where ever we look, we cannot see that NATO policies have become more peaceful since then – on the contrary. What is more, women are serving in many key positions of powerful nations within the scope of the „North Atlantic Defense Alliance“. Let me quote only some of them: Susan Rice is presently one of the top advicers of President Obama, (war mongerer Hillary Clinton is waiting to be the next US president, Madame Albright is known for her heartless word about the Iraqi children – the three of them are ex-secretaries of state), Samantha Power is US Embassador at the UN. As mistresses of democratic demagogery they have advocated military interventions in sovereign countries under the pretext of halting genozide. They might have being doing their job better than men in the eyes of their employers. The victims of their military interventions may see it differently. The results of their politics can be studied under scrutiny now. The fate of women in their zones of interference have worsened tremendously. Karen Donfried is another example for power politics less known in public. She has been US intelligence officer for Europe. Presently she is director of the German marshall fund in Berlin, known for veiling the interventionist policies of her government. Better known is Victoria Nuland who makes us believe that the Maidan activists siding with Neo Nazis are democrats.
German women, too are tough in leading positions. Ms von der Leyen’s first act in office as „defense minister“ was it to visit her “boys” and girls (!) in Afghanistan, soldiers in a none declared war zone.

Hence we must get away from the small minded concept of gender equality. UNSR 1325 will not do it all for the women’s cause – on the contrary.

Sisters, such concepts can be used against us! And they are, while we have been sleeping and dreaming of National Action Programs, our masters have their own ideas about such action plans. They need more women in the military machine in order to help them justify their wars.

Let us be on the alert. Wars must be named by their true name again. They are nowadays falsely called protective shields or humanitarian interventions or activities to saveguard peace.

Call War by its True Name

But their ugly face and reality is still the same: War means armed interference in souvereign countries and might even be waged by mercenaries and private companies. Such wars are still the worst enemy that humankind ever has experienced. Cyber war which comes next after unmanned drone warfare is still causing desasterous evil and we as women have a great chore.

We must call armed intervention by their true names. As Germans we remember how Hitler defined his occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938. His propaganda machine spoke of “The creation of the Reichs protectorates Bohemia and Moravia”. His interference was said to be a protective act in defense of the human rights of the German population there.

Let us be honest, let us be frank, let us be inclusive. We need to protect humanity from another extended war. We must once again make our voices heard and say:

„Lay down your Arms“!
No to the further militarization of the EU!
No to NAT0!