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logo of World Conference to review and appraise the achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace

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World Conference to review and appraise the achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace

26 July 1985

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Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies. III. Peace

  1. Obstacles

  2. Basic strategies

  3. Women and children under apartheid

  4. Palestinian women and children

  5. Women in areas affected by armed conflicts, foreign intervention and threats to peace

  6. Measures for the implementation of the basic strategies at the national level

III. Peace

A. Obstacles

232. The threat to peace resulting from continuing international tension and violations of the United Nations Charter, resulting in the unabated arms race, in particular in the nuclear field, as well as wars, armed conflicts, external domination, foreign occupation, acquisition of land by force, aggression, imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, apartheid, gross violation of human rights, terrorism, repression, the disappearance of persons and discrimination on the basis of sex are major obstacles to human progress, specifically to the advancement of women.

233. Such obstacles, some of which occur with increasing frequency, continually reinforce and are reinforced by historically established hostile attitudes, ignorance and bigotry between countries, ethnic groups, races, sexes, socio-economic groups and by lack of tolerance and respect for different cultures and traditions. Their negative effects are increased by poverty, tensions in international economic and political relations which are often aggravated, as well as by the arms race, both nuclear and conventional. The arms race in particular diverts resources which could be used for developmental and humanitarian purposes, hinders national and international development efforts and further handicaps the well-being of the poorest nations and the most disadvantaged segments of the population.

234. Despite the achievements of the Decade, women's involvement in governmental and non-governmental activities, decision-making processes related to peace, mobilization efforts for peace, education for peace and peace research remains limited. Their participation in the struggle to eradicate colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism, totalitarianism including fascism and similar ideologies, alien occupation, foreign domination, aggression, racism, racial discrimination, apartheid and other violations of human rights has often gone unnoticed.

235. Universal and durable peace cannot be attained without the full and equal participation of women in international relations, particularly in decision-making concerning peace, including the processes envisaged for the peaceful settlement of disputes under the Charter of the United Nations nor without overcoming the obstacles mentioned in paragraph 232.

236. Full equality between women and men is severely hampered by the threats to international peace and security, lack of satisfying progress in the field of disarmament, including the spread of the arms race to outer space, violation of the principle of the right of peoples under alien and colonial domination and foreign occupation to self-determination and independence and respect for the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of States as well as justice, equality and mutual benefit in international relations.

237. It is evident that women all over the world have manifested their love for peace and their wish to play a greater role in international co-operation, amity and peace among different nations. All obstacles at national and international levels in the way of women's participation in promoting international peace and co-operation should be removed as soon as possible.

238. It is equally important to increase women's understanding and awareness of constructive negotiations aimed at reaching positive results for international peace and security. Governments should take measures to encourage the full and effective participation of women in negotiations on international peace and security. The rejection of the use of force or of the threat of the use of force and foreign interference and intervention should become widespread.

B. Basic strategies

239. The main principles and directions for women's activities aimed at strengthening peace and formulated in the Declaration on the Participation of Women in Promoting International Peace and Co-operation /7 should be put into practice. The Declaration calls for Governments, the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, relevant institutions and individuals to strengthen women's participation in this sphere and it provides the overall framework for such activities.

240. Women and men have an equal right and the same vital interest in contributing to international peace and co-operation. Women should participate fully in all efforts to strengthen and maintain international peace and security and to promote international co-operation, diplomacy, the process of détente, disarmament in the nuclear field in particular, and respect for the principle of the Charter of the United Nations, including respect for the sovereign rights of States, guarantees of fundamental freedoms and human rights, such as recognition of the dignity of the individual and self-determination, and freedom of thought, conscience, expression, association, assembly, communication and movement without distinction as to race, sex, political and religious beliefs, language or ethnic origin. The commitment to remove the obstacles to women's participation in the promotion of peace should be strengthened.

241. In view of the fact that women are still very inadequately represented in national and international political processes dealing with peace and conflict settlement, it is essential that women support and encourage each other in their initiatives and action relating either to universal issues, such as disarmament and the development of confidence-building measures between nations and people, or to specific conflict situations between or within States.

242. There exist situations in several regions of the world where the violation of principles of non-use of force, non-intervention, non-interference, non-aggression and the right to self-determination endangers international peace and security and creates massive humanitarian problems which constitute an impediment to the advancement of women and hence to the full implementation of the Forward-looking Strategies. In regard to these situations strict adherence to and respect for the cardinal principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and implementation of relevant resolutions consistent with the principles of the Charter are an imperative requirement with a view to seeking solutions to such problems, thereby ensuring a secure and better future for the people affected, most of whom are invariably women and children.

243. Since women are one of the most vulnerable groups in the regions affected by armed conflicts, special attention has to be drawn to the need to eliminate obstacles to the fulfilment of the objectives of equality, development and peace and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

244. One of the important obstacles to achieving international peace is the persistent violation of the principles and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations and the lack of political will of Governments of such countries to promote constructive negotiations aimed at decreasing international tension on the issues that seriously threaten the maintenance of international peace and security. For this reason, the strategies in this field should include the mobilization of women in favour of all acts and actions that tend to promote peace, in particular, the elimination of wars and danger of nuclear war.

245. Immediate and special priority should be given to the promotion and the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to sex, the full application of the rights of peoples to self-determination and the elimination of colonialism, neo-colonialism, apartheid, of all forms of racism and racial discrimination, oppression and aggression, foreign occupation, as well as domestic violence and violence against women.

246. In South-West Asia women and children have endured serious suffering owing to the violation of the Charter of the United Nations, leading, among other things, to the vast problem of refugees in neighbouring countries.

247. The situation of violence and destabilization that exists in Central America constitutes the most serious obstacle to the achievement of peace in the region and thus hinders the fulfilment of the Forward-looking Strategies vital to the advancement of women. In this regard and to promote conditions favourable to the objectives of the Strategies, it is important to reiterate the principles of non-intervention and self-determination, as well as the non-use of force or rejection of the threat of use of force in the solution of conflicts in the region. Therefore, the validity of the United Nations resolutions that establish the right of all sovereign states in the area to live in peace, free from all interference in their internal affairs, should be reaffirmed. It is necessary to support the negotiated political solutions and the peace proposals that the Central American States adopt under the auspices of the Contadora Group, as the most viable alternative for the solution of the crisis in Central America for the benefit of their people. In this sense it is important that the five Central American Governments speed up their consultations with the Contadora Group with the aim of bringing to a conclusion the negotiation process with the early signing of the Contadora Act on Peace and Co-operation in Central America (see A/39/562-S/16775, annex).

248. Women have played and continue to play an important role in the self-determination of peoples, including through national liberation, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Their efforts should be recognized and commended and used as one basis for their full participation in the construction of their countries, and in the creation of humane and just social and political systems. Women's contribution in this area should be ensured by their equal access to political power and their full participation in the decision-making process.

249. Strategies at the national, regional and the global levels should be based on a clear recognition that peace and security, self-determination and national independence are fundamental for the attainment of the three objectives of the Decade: equality, development and peace.

250. Safeguarding world peace and averting a nuclear catastrophe is one of the most important tasks today in which women have an essential role to play, especially by supporting actively the halting of the arms race followed by arms reduction and the attainment of a general and complete disarmament under effective international control, and thus contributing to the improvement of their economic position. Irrespective of their socio-economic system, the States should strive to avoid confrontation and to build friendly relations instead, which should be also supported by women.

251. Peace requires the participation of all members of society, women and men alike, in rejecting any type of intervention in the domestic affairs of States, whether it is openly or covertly carried out by other States or by transnational corporations. Peace also requires that women and men alike should promote respect for the sovereign right of a State to establish its own economic, social and political system without undergoing political and economic pressures or coercion of any type.

252. There exists a relationship between the world economic situation, development and the strengthening of international peace and security, disarmament and the relaxation of international tension. All efforts should be made to reduce global expenditures on armaments and to reach an agreement on the internationally agreed disarmament goals in order to prevent the waste of immense material and human resources, some part of which might otherwise be used for development, especially of the developing countries, as well as for the improvement of standards of living and well-being of people in each country. In this context, particular attention should be given to the advancement of women, including to the participation of women in the promotion of international peace and co-operation and the protection of mothers and children who represent a disproportionate share of the most vulnerable group, the poorest of the poor.

253. Women's equal role in decision-making with respect to peace and related issues should be seen as one of their basic human rights and as such should be enhanced and encouraged at the national, regional and international levels. In accordance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, all existing impediments to the achievement by women of equality with men should be removed. To this end, efforts should be intensified at all levels to overcome prejudices, stereotyped thinking, denial to women of career prospects and appropriate educational possibilities, and resistance by decision-makers to the changes that are necessary to enable equal participation of women with men in the international and diplomatic service.

254. Mankind is confronted with a choice: to halt the arms race and proceed to disarmament or face annihilation. The growing opposition of women to the danger of war, especially a nuclear war, which will lead to a nuclear holocaust, and their support for disarmament must be respected. States should be encouraged to ensure unhindered flow and access to information, including to women, with regard to various aspects of disarmament to avoid dissemination of false and tendentious information concerning armaments and to concentrate on the danger of the escalation of the arms race and on the need for general and complete disarmament under effective international control. The resources released as a result of disarmament measures should be used to help promote the well-being of all peoples and improve the economic and social conditions of the developing countries. Under such conditions, States should pay increased attention to the urgent need to improve the situation of women.

255. Peace education should be established for all members of society, particularly children and young people. Values, such as tolerance, racial and sexual equality, respect for and understanding of others, and good-neighbourliness should be developed, promoted and strengthened.

256. Women of the world, together with men, should, as informal educators and socialization agents, play a special role in the process of bringing up younger generations in an atmosphere of compassion, tolerance, mutual concern and trust, with an awareness that all people belong to the same world community. Such education should be part of all formal and informal educational processes as well as of communications, information and mass-media systems.

257. Further action should be taken at family and neighbourhood levels, as well as at national and international levels, to achieve a peaceful social environment compatible with human dignity. The questions of women and peace and the meaning of peace for women cannot be separated from the broader question of relationships between women and men in all spheres of life and in the family. Discriminatory practices and negative attitudes towards women should be eliminated and traditional gender norms changed to enhance women's participation in peace.

258. Violence against women exists in various forms in everyday life in all societies. Women are beaten, mutilated, burned, sexually abused and raped. Such violence is a major obstacle to the achievement of peace and the other objectives of the Decade and should be given special attention. Women victims of violence should be given particular attention and comprehensive assistance. To this end, legal measures should be formulated to prevent violence and to assist women victims. National machinery should be established in order to deal with the question of violence against women within the family and society. Preventive policies should be elaborated, and institutionalized forms of assistance to women victims provided.

C. Women and children under apartheid

259. /12b Women and children under apartheid and other racist minority régimes suffer from direct inhumane practices such as massacres and detention, mass population removal, separation from families and immobilization in reservations. They are subjected to the detrimental implications of the labour migrant system pass laws and of relegation to the homelands where they suffer disproportionately from poverty, poor health and illiteracy. The Programme of Action of the World Conference to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1978) /14 provides an overall framework for action. Its objective is to eradicate apartheid and to enable black African people in South Africa to enjoy their full sovereign rights in their country. Governments that have not already done so are urged to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 30 November 1973. /15

Full international assistance should be given to the most oppressed group under apartheid - women and children. The United Nations system, Governments and non-governmental organizations should identify the basic needs of women and children under apartheid and other racist minority régimes, including women in refugee camps in southern Africa, and provide them with adequate legal, humanitarian, medical and material assistance as well as education, training and employment.

Assistance should be given to women's sections in national liberation movements in order to strengthen their work for women's equal opportunities, education and training so as to prepare them to play an important political role in the present struggle and in nation-building after liberation.

The Forward-looking Strategies should take into account the destabilizing effects of apartheid on the economic infrastructure of neighbouring independent African States, which impede the development of the subregion.

Institutionalized apartheid in South Africa and Namibia as realized in the day-to-day political, legal, social and cultural life remains an enormous obstacle and hindrance to advancement, equality and peace in the African region.

The Forward-looking Strategies should aim at the speedy and effective implementation of Security Council resolution 435 (1978) concerning the independence of Namibia. The total and unconditional liberation of Namibia should be a major objective of the Forward-looking Strategies, which should also aim at the improvement of the condition of women and children.

The United Nations and the international community must strengthen their resolve to see the abhorrent apartheid system eradicated and Namibia freed from the forces of occupation. Owing to South Africa's position in the international political and economic structure, the international community has the greatest responsibility to ensure that peace and human dignity are restored to southern Africa.

In addition to measures already taken, further effective measures, including sanctions, should be taken to terminate all collaboration with the racist régime of South Africa in the political, military, diplomatic and economic fields with a view to eliminating untold misery and loss of life of the oppressed people, the majority of whom are black women and children.

The international community must insist upon the effective implementation of Security Council resolution 435 (1978) concerning the independence of Namibia and all the United Nations resolutions calling for sanctions against South Africa, its isolation and abandonment of its racist policies. All efforts should be made for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of South African forces from Angola.

The international community must condemn the direct aggression committed by the armed forces of the racist régime of South Africa against the front-line countries as well as the recruitment, training and financing of mercenaries and of armed bandits who massacre women and children and who are used to overthrow the legitimate Governments of these countries by reason of their support for the people of South Africa and Namibia.

The international community should provide greater moral and material assistance to all the bodies struggling to remove apartheid, especially the national liberation movements - the African National Congress of South Africa, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and the South West Africa People's Organization the African front-line States, the Organization of African Unity, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and non-governmental organizations.

Women, together with their Governments, should strengthen their commitment to the eradication of apartheid and support to their struggling sisters in all possible ways. To this end, women and women's organizations should keep themselves constantly informed about the situation of women and children under apartheid, disseminate information widely and build up awareness in their countries about the situation by organizing national solidarity and support committees where these do not yet exist as a means to educate the public about the evils of apartheid and its brutal oppression of women and children in South Africa and Namibia.

D. Palestinian women and children

260. /15a For more than three decades, Palestinian women have faced difficult living conditions in camps and outside, struggling for the survival of their families and the survival of the Palestinian people who were deprived of their ancestral lands and denied the inalienable rights to return to their homes and their property, their right to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty (see A/CONF.116/6). Palestinian women are vulnerable to imprisonment, torture, reprisals and other oppressive practices by Israel in the occupied Arab territories. The confiscation of land and the creation of further settlements has affected the lives of Palestinian women and children. Such Israeli measures and practices are a violation of the Geneva Convention. /16 The Palestinian woman as part of her nation suffers from discrimination in employment, health care and education.

The situation of violence and destabilization which exists in southern Lebanon and the Golan Heights put Arab women and children who are living under Israeli occupation in severe situations. Lebanese women are also suffering from discrimination and detention. Therefore, all relevant United Nations resolutions, in particular Security Council resolutions 497 (1981), 508 (1982) and 509 (1982), should be implemented.

The implementation of the Programme of Action for the Achievement of Palestinian Rights /17 should be kept under review and co-ordinated between the United Nations units and agencies concerned, with emphasis on the role of Palestinian women in preserving their national identity, traditions and heritage and in the struggle for sovereignty. Palestinian people must recover their rights to self-determination and the right to establish an independent State in accordance with all relevant United Nations resolutions. The special and immediate needs of Palestinian women and children should be identified and appropriate provision made. United Nations projects should be initiated to help Palestinian women in the fields of health, education, and vocational training. Their living conditions inside and outside the occupied territories should be studied by the appropriate United Nations units and agencies assisted, as appropriate, by specialized research institutes from various regions. The results of these studies should be given broad publicity to promote actions at all levels. The international community should exert all efforts to stop the establishment of new Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Palestinian women should be allowed to enjoy security in a liberated homeland also in accordance with United Nations resolutions.

E. Women in areas affected by armed conflicts, foreign intervention and threats to peace

261. Armed conflicts and emergency situations impose a serious threat to the lives of women and children, causing constant fear, danger of displacement, destruction, devastation, physical abuse, social and family disruption, and abandonment. Sometimes these result in complete denial of access to adequate health and educational services, loss of job opportunities and overall worsening of material conditions.

262. International instruments, ongoing negotiations and international discussions aimed at the limitation of armed conflicts, such as the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, adopted in 1977, provide a general framework for the protection of civilians in times of hostilities and the basis of provisions of humanitarian assistance and protection to women and children. Measures proposed in the 1974 Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict (General Assembly resolution 3318 (XXIX) should be taken into account by Governments.

F. Measures for the implementation of the basic strategies at the national level

1. Women's participation in efforts for peace

263. Governments should follow the overall framework of action for disarmament as provided by the Final Document of the tenth special session of the General Assembly, which was devoted to disarmament (resolution S-10/2). Women's participation in the World Disarmament Campaign and their contribution to education for disarmament should be supported.

264. Publicity should be given by Governments and non-governmental organizations to the main treaties concluded in the field of arms control and disarmament, and to other relevant documents. More should be done to mobilize women to overcome social apathy and helplessness in relation to disarmament and to generate wide support for the implementation of these agreements. Publicity should also be given to the declaration by the General Assembly of 1986 as the International Year of Peace, /18 and the participation of women in the programme for the Year should be encouraged.

265. Non-governmental organizations should be encouraged to play an active role in promoting the restoration of peace in areas of conflict, in accordance with United Nations resolutions.

266. Women should be able to participate actively in the decision-making process related to the promotion of international peace and co-operation. Governments should take the necessary measures to facilitate this participation by institutional, educational and organizational means. Emphasis should be given to the grass-roots participation and co-operation of women's organizations with other non-governmental organizations in this process.

267. Governments which have not done so should undertake all appropriate measures to eliminate existing discriminatory practices towards women and to provide them with equal opportunities to join, at all levels, the civil service, to enter the diplomatic service and to represent their countries as members of delegations to national, regional and international meetings, including conferences on peace, conflict resolution, disarmament, and meetings of the Security Council and other United Nations bodies.

268. Women should be encouraged and given financial support to take university courses in government, international relations and diplomacy in order to obtain the necessary professional qualifications for careers in fields relating to peace and international security.

269. Governments should encourage women's participation in the promotion of peace at decision-making levels by providing information on opportunities for such participation in public service and by promoting equitable representation of women in governmental and non-governmental bodies and activities.

270. Non-governmental organizations should provide opportunities for women to learn how to develop self-reliance and leadership capabilities in order to promote peace, disarmament, human rights and international co-operation more effectively. They should emphasize the participation of women from trade unions and organizations in rural areas that have not as yet received sufficient attention and should make periodic assessments of strategies for women's participation in the promotion of peace at all levels, including the highest decision-making levels.

271. National machinery should be established to deal with the question of domestic violence. Preventive policies should be elaborated and institutionalized economic and other forms of assistance and protection for women and child victims should be provided. Legislative measures should be strengthened and legal aid provided.

2. Education for peace

272. Governments, non-governmental organizations, women's groups and the mass media should encourage women to engage in efforts to promote education for peace in the family, neighbourhood and community. Special attention should be given to the contribution of women's grass-roots organizations. The multiple skills and talents of women artists, journalists, writers, educators and civic leaders can contribute to promoting ideas of peace if encouraged, facilitated and supported.

273. Special attention should be given to the education of children for life in peace within an atmosphere of understanding, dialogue and respect for others. In this respect, suitable concrete action should be taken to discourage the provision of children and young persons with games and publications and other media promoting the notion of favouring war, aggression, cruelty, excessive desire for power and other forms of violence, within the broad processes of the reparation of society for life in peace.

274. Governments, educational institutions, professional associations and non-governmental organizations should co-operate to develop a high-quality content for and to achieve widespread dissemination of books and programmes on education for peace. Women should take an active part in the preparation of those materials, which should include case studies of peaceful settlements of disputes, non-violent movements and passive resistance and the recognition of peace-seeking individuals.

275. Governments should create the conditions that would enable women to increase their knowledge of the main problems in contemporary international relations. Information should be widely and freely disseminated among women, thereby contributing to their full understanding of those problems. All existing obstacles and discriminatory practices regarding women's civil and political education should be removed. Opportunities should be provided for women to organize and choose studies, training programmes and seminars related to peace, disarmament, education for peace and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

276. The participation of women in peace research, including research on women and peace, should be encouraged. Existing barriers to women researchers should be removed and appropriate resources provided for peace researchers. Co-operation amongst peace researchers, government officials, non-governmental organizations and activists should be encouraged and fostered.


7/ General Assembly resolution 37/63, annex.

12b/ The United States voted against paragraph 259 because of its opposition to the references in the eighth and ninth subparagraphs to the imposition of sanctions and aid to liberation movements.

13/ General Assembly resolution 36/71.

14/ Report of the World Conference to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, Geneva, 14-25 August 1978 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.79.XIV.2), chap. II.

15/ General Assembly resolution 3086 (XXVIII).

15a/ The United States voted against this paragraph because of its strong objection to the introduction of tendentious and unnecessary elements into the Forward-looking Strategies document which have only a nominal connection with the unique concerns of women.

16/ Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949 (United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973, p. 287).

17/ Report of the International Conference on the Question of Palestine, Geneva, 29 August-7 September 1983 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.83.I.21), chap. I, sect. B.

18/ General Assembly resolution 37/16.