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Petition: Create a Space for Syrian Women's Voices at Peace Talks

Posted on: Monday, November 25, 2013

Keywords: Syria, Middle East

The peace talks to bring a political settlement to the war in Syria were postponed yet again. In the interim, the slaughter of civilians continues. There will be thousands more deaths as winter encroaches, and as humanitarian aid fails to reach the most vulnerable. Those deaths will be mainly women and children.

Yet, still women are kept out of the peace talks, as if their stake in their future and the future of their country is somehow less important than the voices of the men with the guns. The international community must recognize its legal obligations, moral responsibilities and the practical necessity to ensure women’s participation: peace treaties without women do not work. If women are not a part of peace negotiations, then the peace will reflect only the interests of the most powerful and will ultimately fail.

Women have been organizing, through an inclusive and representative process, and they are prepared to participate in negotiation. Instead, they are told by the United Nations that the political situation is complicated. Women already know that. Yet, they are told that they should look for alternative models and lobby mediators in corridors.

This is untenable and wrong. We must join our Syrian sisters in raising our voices, so that Syrian women are not just included but have a real role in deciding the future of their country. 

Please join in signing this petition and calling for the inclusion of Syrian women’s leadership in the Geneva II negotiations and beyond. To sign this petition, send your organization name/title to petition@madre.org.


Lakhdar Brahimi
The United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria

John F. Kerry
United States, Secretary of State

William Hague
United Kingdom, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Laurent Fabius
France, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Guido Westerwelle
Germany, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs

Sergey Lavrov
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

November 2013

We are acutely aware of the need for peace talks on Syria to be convened as soon as possible. Geneva II is vital and important. To date, Syrian women have not been included in the process, even though they are active, prepared and representative.

There is clear wording in the Geneva communication “that women must be fully represented in all aspects of the transition.” Yet if the peace is dictated by the warring factions, the possibility of women’s rights being accurately reflected in the transition is compromised. Women’s participation starts in the process towards peace and must be maintained.

We commend the United Kingdom for their dedication to work with Mr. Brahimi to ensure the peace talks include a direct role for women’s groups and for their commitment to ensure women’s groups are provided with the support they need to engage in meaningful participation. We urge governments to act decisively and follow the example of the United Kingdom in demanding and ensuring women’s active participation in the process and a seat at the main table of negotiations.

We recall obligations under Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325, the UN General Assembly Resolution GA/65/283 (2011), and the Security Council Resolution 2044, which reaffirm the overarching importance of women’s participation in peace-building, peace keeping and international security processes.

The international community must uphold these obligations and make them work in practice.

As organizations and individuals who work towards women’s human rights and gender equality, we call on the leadership of the negotiating process to:

1. Uphold SCR 1325 by ensuring the direct participation of Syrian women’s leadership as a third party in the Geneva II peace negotiations;

2. Provide the appropriate support Syrian women’s groups need to participate effectively;

3. Ensure that all delegations involved in the negotiations have senior women mediators and gender experts;

4. Provide an additional two seats for each delegation that is a direct party to the talks to be reserved for women.

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