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Policy Brief: The Role of Armed & Political Movements in Implementing the WPS Agenda
Fight for Humanity and Berghof Foundation are pleased to announce the release of the policy brief: "Opportunities and Challenges for the Implementation of the Women, Peace & Security Agenda in Areas Controlled by Armed and Political Movements". It follows the publication of the research report that analyses the practices, policies, and challenges of two Ethnic Resistance Organisations (EROs) from Myanmar on women’s protection in conflict and their participation in the EROs and in peace building processes. Over the course of 6 months, the research team conducted 47 interviews with the leaders of the two movements – the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and the Karen National Union (KNU) - but also associated civil society organisations, women activists, as well as external stakeholders. A video, “Women on the Margins” was also prepared following these interviews. “Ethnic resistance organisations like the KNPP and the KNU have a key role to play in improving the protection of women in the current conflict in Myanmar. This will only be possible if more women have access to key and leadership roles within the movements themselves. But there needs to be a better understanding that women’s protection is a joint responsibility between both men and women”, says Anki Sjöberg, Fight for Humanity’s Co-Director and co-author of the research. The research offers a set of recommendations for the international community and for the leaders of the two movements. While recognizing the efforts made, it highlights the necessity of encouraging inclusive discussion among conservative members to change their perceptions of women. It also stresses the importance for the EROs to further develop and implement policies on Women, Peace, and Security, with a particular emphasis on policies and measures related to protection. The project team shared the research findings with the two movements who expressed their support to its main recommendations. “In the end, the two EROs have been vocal in recognizing the importance to progress in making women more present at the highest levels of the movement” says Boke Boke, lead author of the research. “This is very positive, and we hope the research will be a strong push to make a difference for women in the conflict.” The methodology was also key in the success of this research: “We worked with two insider experts who are close to the two movements, they participated in each stage of the research, design, collection of data and analysis. It helped to build trust with the EROs, to collect the relevant information and to have a deep understanding of the movements’ internal dynamics when analysing the data.” says Veronique Dudouet, Senior Research Adviser at Berghof Foundation. Fight for Humanity and Berghof Foundation will launch a new project in 2023 to support the implementation of the recommendations with the EROs in Myanmar. It will also extend the research to other armed and political movements in Yemen and the global context. Download the report here. Watch the video here. This project is supported by German Federal Foreign Office
Online Event - No Participation without Protection
Women’s rights in areas controlled by armed and political movements >> Register for the event Online Event | No participation without protection:
Women’s rights in areas controlled by armed and political movements When: Thursday, 8 December 2022 at 13:00-14:15 CET Where: Online event via Zoom *This event will be held in English, Arabic and Burmese, with simultaneous translations. About the Event This event presents recent findings of a pilot study conducted by the Fight for Humanity and Berghof Foundation, with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office, on the role of armed political movements in Myanmar in the implementation of the agenda on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). The findings show that these movements and women’s groups associated with them do indeed engage with the spirit of the WPS agenda, specifically regarding women and girls’ participation and protection, but that they also face various challenges related to limited resources, knowledge and technical expertise. In a panel discussion, we intend to inquire about the progress, difficulties and prospects of women and girls in areas under the control of armed and political movements, and what potential roles these actors can play in the implementation of the WPS agenda. The discussion will be complemented by the comparative perspective of a Yemeni women’s rights advocate. Raising awareness on women’s rights in conflict areas two days before Human Rights Day, this event takes place in the spirit and framework of the UN’s 16 Days Activism Against Gender Based Violence. Event Speakers Beytul Gorkem - Head of Operations, Fight for Humanity Zin Mar Phyo ('Boke Boke’) - local consultant, researcher and journalist May Sabe Phyu - Kachin women’s rights activist Dr Najwa Fadhl - President advisor for women issues of the Southern Transitional Council (Yemen) Danielle Feldstein - Desk Officer for Women, Peace and Security, German Federal Foreign Office The event will be moderated by Véronique Dudouet - Senior Research Advisor, Conflict Transformation Research Department, Berghof Foundation. Additional Information This event is organised by Berghof Foundation and Fight for Humanity.
We are looking forward to involving you in this discussion. Event registration is mandatory.
To attend this event, please register below. You will be redirected to Eventbrite, and receive an email confirmation with further details about the event.
Improving the situation of ISIS-related child detainees in Northeast Syria
In August 2022, Fight for Humanity completed a year-long project in partnership with Purity, Fight for Humanity’s local partner, and with the support of Medico International, to improve the detention conditions and advocate for the release of over 750 male adolescents in two detention centres in Northeast Syria. These children belong to families of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) living in camps. The children’s basic rights have been violated as local authorities laced them in detention as a preventative measure to maintain security in those camps. Fight for Humanity and its partners started with immediate measures to improve their living conditions: the delivery of aid, such as clothes and blankets for the winter, along with the provision of mobility aid and recreational materials. In parallel, to improve the treatment they receive, another of Fight for Humanity’s local partners, Right Defence Initiative (RDI), trained the detention centre’s guards and administrative staff on international standards that regulate the detention of children. The project team also started to provide basic education with a curriculum in Mathematics, Arabic, English, Art, life skills and recreational activities such as music, painting, or sports. These activities have kept the children occupied, stimulating, and preparing them for a future reintegration. However, their mental health has been severely affected by their life trajectory, so Fight for Humanity and its partner also initiated a programme to provide the children with psychosocial support. An individual assessment had been conducted in provision of a deeper and more customised support. The project team benefitted from the experience and coaching of another organisation - Heartland Alliance International (HAI)- that has conducted similar activities with detained children in Iraq. All these measures also aimed to avoid further radicalisation among the children and as Adnan Khalil, Purity’s Director, stressed, “the rehabilitation of detained children has a crucial role in the effectiveness of the reintegration into their societies”. Finally, the project led several advocacy initiatives to find a solution for the children outside of the detention centre, whether it is repatriation to their home country - as dozens of them are foreigners - or reintegration into local communities. Fight for Humanity notably organised a webinar in December 2021, “Detained Children from ISIS-Related Families: How to Best Protect their Rights in Northeast Syria”, on the need for reintegration and repatriation of these children, and the challenges that come along with it. In January 2022, a massive attack against one of the project’s targeting detention centres disrupted the project implementation and added to the children’s trauma. While this event was horrific, both the attack and Fight for Humanity’s project shed light on the inhumane situation of these children, leading more international organisations to act for them. With the support of Medico International and in collaboration with Purity, the project is now continuing with hope that durable and humane solutions can be found.
Continuation of social media outreach campaign on the protection of children, schools & healthcare
Over the last two years, Fight for Humanity have conducted 4 awareness-raising campaigns in Northeast Syria, promoting the need to prevent child recruitment and to protect education and healthcare reaching more than 2 million people in the region online and offline through the distribution of posters, leaflets and booklets, and the dissemination of videos and key messages on social media. Since late 2019, Fight for Humanity has been working in partnership with the United Nations to support the implementation of the Action Plan signed between the United Nations and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to prevent child recruitment and use in Northeast Syria. These campaigns came to support Fight for Humanity’s training and advocacy efforts to end the recruitment of children below 18 in the region and to better protect education and healthcare so that children can have access to these basic services and enjoy a decent life, even in a situation of conflict. The videos, mixing real footage and animations, have been widely disseminated and shared on social media and local TVs, raising awareness of the population but also of key political and armed actors on the importance to preserve the youth for the future of the region. One video was created on the prohibition to recruit children, one on the protection of education and one on the protection of healthcare. Fight for Humanity continues its advocacy efforts and regularly conduct monitoring visits. Despite improvement and measures taken by the SDF, cases of recruitment and use of children continue to be reported. Fight for Humanity with the support of the United Nations, continues to organize advocacy meeting and training with the concerned actors.
Promoting Social Cohesion in Territories Affected by the Conflict with ISIS in Northern Iraq
In a project supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of the Netherlands, a consortium of three partner organizations, Public Aid Organization (PAO), the Alliance of Iraqi Minorities (AIM), and Fight for Humanity (Ffh) are working together to empower and engage local authorities and communities to promote social cohesion between different ethno-religious communities. Twelve locations in the Ninewa and Kirkuk governorates in Northern Iraq have been identified for the project. Sunnis, Yezidis, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Shabaks, Kakais, Shias, Christians – the Ninewa and Kirkuk governorates are home to a number of ethnoreligious groups. Following the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the level of distrust between communities has increased, and therefore essential to “rebuild the social fabric” in areas that were hit hard by the conflict such as Mosul. The consortium has worked to build the capacity of local authorities, police and security personnel and community members on conflict analysis, positive peacebuilding, dialogue, and mediation. Fight for Humanity participated in the elaboration of a training curriculum on how to build social cohesion with a human rights perspective. Fight for Humanity undertook training and mentoring with around 15 people who have become primary trainers and have already delivered dozens of training workshops, focus-group discussions, and mediation sessions for local authorities, civil society organizations and security forces. Through these sessions the consortium aims to help construct and improve social cohesion as well as developing local peace agreements in the target localities.
Research Project: Armed & Political Movements and the UN Resolution on Women, Peace and Security
Fight for Humanity, jointly with Berghof Foundation started in July a participatory research project, examining the role that armed and political movements can play to implement the United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1325 (SCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). This UN resolution, adopted by 192 States in 2000, aims to improve the protection of women and girls during armed conflict and to promote women’s participation in decision-making, peace processes and other mediation efforts. This project’s aim is to help bridge a remaining gap, by focusing on armed and political movements as “duty bearers” and potential implementers of the WPS agenda. It will build on the experiences of two Ethnic Armed Organizations from Myanmar to understand the drivers of change and tactics for a better protection of women during armed conflict and their increased participation in peacebuilding efforts. Between 60 and 80 million persons are estimated to live in areas controlled by non-state armed actors or armed and political movements, 50% of whom are women and girls. To fully implement SCR 1325, it is vital to look beyond national governments and increase the understanding on how armed and political movements can promote and abide by the protection and participation pillars of SCR 1325. The main research findings will be disseminated to policy makers and local organizations through events, a video, and a policy brief. This project comes as a follow up of a webinar organized jointly with the Berghof Foundation in 2020 "Women's rights in times of conflict: Perspectives from women from armed and political movements".
Annual Report 2021- Advocating Respect for Human Rights
2021 was Fight for Humanity’s third year of existence and the second year of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Despite challenges in 2021, the organization obtained funding for and implemented five projects to promote human rights in areas of conflict. Jointly with our partners, we worked hard to improve the terrible conditions of children in detention, end the recruitment of child soldiers, protect invaluable cultural artefacts threatened by the conflict and promote victims’ rights and voices. Throughout the year, we kept committed to our initial belief, that advocating for a better respect for human rights is not only necessary for the people living in areas of conflict, but it is also possible. Our operational activities, including research, aim to help understand, provide, and even create positive examples of human rights implementation in conflict areas. Of course, it is not always easy and straightforward, but it is possible and, we believe, necessary, to work towards creating a change even in an age where democratic values are challenged and accountability towards human rights is weakened. We would like to thank our donors who made the results we got possible, as well as our supporters and partners who continue to believe in our work. >> Read our Annual Report here >> Read our Financial Audited Statement here
Recognizing and Combating Feminicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women
On 23 September 2021, Fight for Humanity’s Co-Director, and Founder Ann-Kristin “Anki” Sjöberg presented on the topic of feminicide at The Geneva Press Club at an event called “The international recognition of feminicide as a crime similar to genocide.” According to Sjöberg, the concept of feminicide, by putting “a name on something that’s happening in many parts of the world, but that is too often [marginalized]," can “helps us frame problems and our solutions, in order to move us forward.” But femicide, understood as the intentional killing of women and girls because they are female, can be prevented. She stressed that “men who misbehave against women often do so because they have misunderstood what it means to be part of the community of men, what being a man is about, and because they a mimicking a negative behavior.” Thus, she emphasized, “the need to work, with men, to change that.” Sjöberg focused her presentation on one element that frequently accompanies feminicide, which is sexual violence. She noted that sexual violence is “always prohibited […] against anyone, everywhere, at any time”, yet, it still remains incredibly prevalent. The concept of sexual violence as a practice was developed by the scholar Elisabeth Wood, who believes that the practice of sexual violence is not necessarily ordered but tolerated by commanders. “It means that if toleration ends, sexual violence may end.” Sexual violence as a strategy, however, is more challenging to confront, as the objective of such violence is employed “totally contrary to humanitarian law and human rights.” Although preventing sexual violence and feminicide may be challenging, Sjöberg believes that it is crucial to continue to document and understand these violations, the trends, and the actors perpetrating it as well as pressure the international community to denounce situations of femicide globally, to demand solutions, and to propose applicable measures. “Sexual violence and violence against women activists can never be tolerated. It can never be considered ‘a mistake’. It is a crime , and we need to do what we can to stop it”. Read Fight for Humanity's presentation transcript here: https://bit.ly/3HSUg3Z Watch the full event here: https://bit.ly/3MsjwSl
Detained Children from ISIS-Related Families: How to Best Protect Their Rights in North East Syria.
The sixth event of Fight for Humanity’s webinar series: “Detained children from ISIS-related families: how to protect their rights in North East Syria?”. On 22 December 2021, more than 60 participants attended the sixth edition of Fight for Humanity’s webinar series “first-hand views on human rights and peace” about the situation of detained children from families of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in North-East Syria (NES). Four panelists discussed the current status of these children and the challenges to their reintegration and repatriation. More than 700 ISIS-related children are currently detained in the region, and many of their rights are violated: they are facing restrictions on seeing their families, obstacles to their development and access to education, poor health, hygiene, and security conditions, and exposure to radicalized individuals in the detention centres. Dr. Annyssa Bellal, a senior legal expert and researcher, discussed the legal responsibilities of the actors involved in this multi-faceted and challenging situation. “...human beings have a right to security [in] prisons and cannot be detained arbitrarily…one needs to know when and how [they will] be released.” Fight for Humanity is currently providing aid to improve their detention conditions; however, it is clear that these children should be not be detained arbitrarily but rather reintegrated into society in the case of detained Syrians and repatriated to their home countries for non-Syrians. Dr. Abdul Karim Omar, Head of Foreign Affairs Office of the Autonomous Administration of North-East Syria (AANES), explained that his administration faces significant challenges with the detainees and called “all countries to repatriate their own citizens” and further “to support the AANES to help improve the situation of women and children in camps.” Yet, some countries have decided to fully repatriate their citizens detained in NES. Cholpon Orozobekova, Director at the Bulan Institute for Peace Innovations, spells out what successful repatriation looks like stating, “The experiences of other countries especially Central Asian countries show that repatriation is possible and can be successful…[A] majority of the children go to school now, and most have integrated well and receive good grades.” Ms. Orozobekova also pointed out a number of challenges she has identified from government officials regarding repatriation; these include the absence of an official consulate in the AANES, the inability to try crimes committed without evidence, and security concerns of repatriations. Mehmet Balci, Founder and Co-Director of Fight for Humanity, concluded, “ISIS is recruiting using the treatment [within detention centers and camps] as their main argument to reorganize outside the camps—not just inside.” To avoid creating a new generation of terrorists, it is essential to succeed in reintegrating those children. Fight for Humanity will keep advocating for a solution for these children and start psycho-social support as well as recreational and educational activities. Watch the full recording of the webinar here.
Environmental Threats Or Assets? Exploring the Engagement of Non-State Armed Actors...
In this article, Independent Diplomat's Guillaume Charron and Fight for Humanity Co-director, Anki Sjöberg give insight on relations between non-state armed actors and environmental protections. Their article titled "Environmental Threats Or Assets? Exploring the Engagement of Non-State Armed Actors on the Protection of the Environment" was part of a larger white paper project made possible through joint efforts by Ecosystem for Peace, the Geneva Peace Building group, and the Environmental Peacebuilding group. Featuring a compendium with contributions from nearly 150 authors, this white paper initiative seeks to influence policy, aid collaboration, and provide solutions for environmental peacebuilding in conflict zones. To read the article and white paper, please click here.
700 Children at Risk in an Attack Against a Detention Center in North East Syria
Around 700 detained children are trapped in the middle of an attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against the prison of Ghuwayran in Hasake, Northeast Syria. In this centre, administered by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, around 5000 ISIS members were detained as well as 700 male teenagers that were separated from ISIS families held in al Hol camp. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attack, launched on Thursday 20th January, and the fighting it triggered, have resulted in at least 154 victims among both those within the prison administration and detainees. The detention centre is still partially under the control of ISIS fighters - both detainees and fighters from the outside and fightings are going between the Syrian Democratic Forces and these ISIS fighters, around and inside the detention centre. Fight for Humanity is seriously concerned about the situation - particularly the welfare of the 700 children - and calls all involved parties to make all efforts towards: • An immediate ceasefire • The safe release and evacuation of all children from the detention centre • The release of injured people and removal of the dead from inside the detention centre • The release of all civilians that were working in the detention centre • The humane treatment of captured fighters by all parties Fight for Humanity advocates for safe solutions for these children and calls on concerned states to ensure children of their nationality are safely repatriated at the earliest opportunity. Since September 2021, Fight for Humanity has been working with the support of Medico International, to support these detained children, notably through recreational and educational activities.
Detained Children from ISIS-Related Families: How to Protect their Rights in North East Syria?
Webinar series: first-hand views on human rights and peace Wednesday 22 December 2pm (CET) Geneva/Switzerland time 3pm Syria time and 8am (EST) New York time >> Register for the event About the event Tens of thousands of children from ISIS-related families are currently held in camps in North East Syria. Of these children, more than 700 were separated and sent to detention centers, reportedly for security reasons. Protecting their rights in such a complex environment poses important challenges. This event will look at the current situation of children in the camps and detention centers, the related legal challenges, as well as the issues of return and reintegration, taking into consideration experiences of repatriation. Among the children, around 27’000 are foreigners (20’000 from Iraq and the rest from a number of countries). While some countries of origin have repatriated some of the most vulnerable of their children, others have not yet done so. In addition to restrictions on seeing their families, obstacles to their development and access to education, poor health, hygiene and security conditions, and exposure to radicalized individuals in the camps and the detention centres, this situation violates the basic rights of the children and places them at risk of radicalization. Fight for Humanity, in collaboration with its local partners, is supporting more than 700 children in detention with basic educational, social, and recreational activities to provide hope and facilitate their future reintegration into society. Speakers
Moderator: Nicolas Sion, Fight for Humanity, Head of Development
Panelists: Dr. Abdul Karim Omar, Head of Foreign Affairs Office of the Autonomous Administration of North East Syria Cholpon Orozobekova, Director, the Bulan Institute for Peace Innovations Dr. Annyssa Bellal, Senior Legal Advisor and Researcher Mehmet Balci, Fight for Humanity, Founder and Co-Director Language: English with interpretation in Arabic
Event registration is mandatory. Once you have registered you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the event on 22 December. You will first access the event waiting room and then the moderator will allow you to join the event at 2:00pm CET. Asking questions to the panelists: during the event, you can send your questions to the moderator by chat messages. There will be no direct webcam or microphone interactions between participants and panelists during the event. >> Register for the event The event is part of Fight for Humanity’s Webinar series “First-hand views on human rights and peace”. The objective of these webinars is to give the opportunity to key conflict actors as well as organisations based in conflict areas to express their views on human rights, peace and the protection of civilians.