This newsletter edition reflects on the past year and GAPS’s priorities moving ahead. With the violence in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian Territories escalating into 2024, states and the wider international community must act on their commitments to uphold international law, protect human rights and advance gender justice. GAPS will continue its calls for an immediate and full ceasefire-, the end of occupation and cease arms exports. Remaining vocal and active is a non-negotiable for organisations committed to principles of decolonisation and feminism. This year has been one of extreme difficulty in the sector, where voices that are usually loud have become stifled. Decisions to be non-political in a sector where our work is inherently political draws attention to the hypocrisy at present. GAPS hopes that 2024 will pave the way for stronger forms of solidarity against the violence and conflict that continues in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palestine and beyond.
2023 has consisted of many high-level forums, such as Women, Peace and Security week, which have fulfilled the performative agendas of states, with little actual progress globally. The W7 summit in Japan concluded 2023 with the same call to international actors as others of its kind, that states must carry out their commitments to support women’s rights organisations and help renegotiate power to achieve gender justice. For GAPS, our work has been directed to pushing the UK government to act on its commitments as it outlined in its release of the WPS NAP and the International Women and Girls Strategy in early 2023. We have presented our analyses on the International Development White Paper, pointing to the UK’s failure to connect domestic and foreign policy, as witnessed through the signing of the Rwanda Asylum Treaty and the passing of harmful and draconian legislation. With the upcoming general election this year, consistency across the domestic and foreign is an imperative priority for all political parties. The impending election offers an opportunity to push the UK government to act on the promises made this year, particularly within their role as a penholder of Women, Peace and Security, to ensure that prevention and responses to conflict are informed by feminist principles and approaches. This includes resourcing women’s rights and women-led organisations in localised, feminist ways that support the work of these local organisations who best know their communities and priorities without the barriers of bureaucracy.
GAPS is focused on the following priorities for the year ahead:
- Hold the UK Government account to its WPS commitments and other relevant frameworks and commitments, especially those made in the UK NAP on WPS, and ensuring consistency between international and domestic policies.
- Advocate UK political parties to include the WPS agenda in their manifestos and government work programmes.
- Develop new learnings on gender justice in policy through research, network building, and participation in global fora, focusing on three thematic areas; Migration, Arms Control, Security and Justice.
- Contribute to international WPS global policy, such as external advocacy efforts for an immediate and full ceasefire in Gaza and cross-border solidarity with Sudan.
- Continue to strengthen our feminist network, identify avenues for collaboration with our network members and beyond as well as support the sector in advancing WPS agenda.
The DRC’s election was a halting step towards embedding democracy
Chatham House provide an accessible summary on the 2023 election results in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in light of Felix Tshisekedi’s victory with 73% of votes. “A Tshisekedi victory was widely predicted – he had the backing of some of the DRC’s political heavyweights, bringing votes from many corners of the country’s fractured electoral mosaic, and faced a divided opposition that proved unable to unite behind a single candidate. Though Tshisekedi did not deliver fundamental change during his first term, his promise of free primary education was well received, as were efforts to renegotiate mining contracts signed under his predecessor. His militant stand against Rwanda-backed M23 rebels in the East of the country is also likely to have played well with a war-weary public.” Read the full article here.
Feminists in Conversation: Voices from Syria, Libya and Nigeria on Redesigning the Peace Table
In case you missed it
Japan’s G7 Presidency has now concluded and the G7 will be moving to Italy. The Steering Committee of W7 Japan 2023 released a final statement before the end of their term calling for a peace based on gender equality and on principle of non-violence. The full statement can be read here.
South Africa has brought a case of genocide against Israel to the International Court of Justice, with the first hearings set for January 11 and 12. The 84-page document states that the “acts and omissions by Israel” are “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group”.
A new agreement is set to override the current European Union asylum and migration system. The harmful agreement between the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU members states covers border management and asylum procedures and plans to curtail the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers. Under this new system, EU countries that experience a ‘mass influx’ of migrants are allowed accessions to key human rights obligations, along other harmful developments. Read the press release by the Council of the EU here.
Senior Advocacy Advisor-Gender Equality and Justice, (London). 15 January.
Feminist Lead, (London).
Programme Manager- South Caucasus, (London). 14 January.
Programme Manager- South Caucasus, (London). 14 January.
Programme Officer- South Caucasus, (London). 15 January.
Gender-based Violence and Protection Global Advisor, (London). 15 January.
Campaigns and Activism Assistant, (London). 14 January.
Programme Officer, MENA/Europe, (London or Netherlands). 22 January.