Women’s Leadership in Transitional Justice

On October 12, Panzi Foundation participated in an interactive discussion between UN Women, the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation, and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The event marked the 20th anniversary of the Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325), which was unanimously adopted by the United Nations Security Council on October 31, 2020. This landmark resolution was the first to address the disproportionate impact of conflict on women and emphasized the importance of women’s involvement in peace and security issues. Although too often under-utilized, women’s contributions to peace building and conflict resolution are a necessity to creating lasting and sustainable peace.

The event consisted of a general session, moderated by Dr. Clara Sandoval, and included notable panelists such as Ángela Maria Escobar, Pramila Patten, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and Dr. Denis Mukwege. Following the general session, participants broke out into three groups to discuss on-going transitional justice initiatives in Colombia, Iraq, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“The dreams that we all had about WPS 1325 are still to be fulfilled,” stated Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN USG & Executive Director of UN Women. The 20th anniversary of the UNSCR 1325 serves as a call to action for states and the international community to put into practice the ideals of Women, Peace and Security agenda by supporting survivors and their calls for justice and peace.

“Thank you to the survivors that are already stepping up, speaking out and showing us that meaningful survivor participation is not only possible, but it is the most impactful way for us to achieve peaceful and inclusive societies.”

-Dr. Clara Sandoval

Panelists stressed that the international community, governments, and civil society actors must put the rights and dignities of survivors first in their responses to conflict. When the panelists were asked what governments can do to ensure access to justice for survivors, Dr. Mukwege responded: “We urge the international community and states to fear impunity. It is the weak link of all strategies to protect survivors and witnesses in achieving true justice.”

“We are going from theory to practice, so it is necessary that victims and survivors participate from the early stages and all through the development of judicial processes… the direct support of the international community to victims is crucial.”

-Ángela Maria Escobar

The DRC breakout session consisted of panelists such as Maud Salomé-Ekila, Communications Officer for both the Mukwege Foundation and Panzi Foundation DRC, Chantal Yelu Mulop, Special Advisor to the Head of State in Charge of Youth & Violence against Women, and Tatiana Mukanire, founder of the National Movement of Survivors of Sexual Violence in the DRC. Participants discussed the necessity of survivor participation in transitional justice initiatives, the importance of commemorating victims and their families, and the responses of the current administration of the DRC.

The 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 also coincides with the 10th anniversary of the publication of the UN Mapping Report, which documented 617 violent crimes committed in the DRC between 1993 and 2003. These crimes included mass rapes, crimes against humanity, and even crimes that may constitute genocide. Panzi Foundation, along with the National Movement of Survivors of Sexual Violence in the DRC, the Mukwege Foundation and Amnesty International, have circulated an online petition calling for the DRC to implement transitional justice mechanisms and to “ensure the effective participation of victims, including women and all survivors of sexual violence, in the design, implementation and evaluation of holistic justice measures that affect them” and to “encourage the creation […] of a compensation fund for the benefit of survivors and victims of crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations.”

The webinar finished with some of the 180+ viewers turning on their cameras to give a round of applause to the panelists and participants.

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