24. Juli 2023 Blog posts, Events and activities

Brussels 6th to 9th July 2023

Violence is gender determined and war and conflict are rooted in social inequality, a lack of justice, exploitation and patriarchal organisation of society. Women worldwide are the biggest victims of poverty and violence. They want justice and peace, only then a sustainable society can be established.

An international instrument to reach this goal is resolution 1325 of the UN Security Council and the nine follow-up resolutions in which the UN member states see women not only as victims of war and conflict, but foremost as legitimate and fully-fledged participants in peace negociations and the building of peace.

Last March a group of women from across the world, got together online, to present an action plan to ensure women’s mobilisation on protest actions against NATO and all forms of agression and militarisation by any party. The United Women present alternatives to war and a new vision on security. They want to engage actively for peace and justice.

The group of Peace Women calls itself GLOBAL WOMEN FOR PEACE AGAINST NATO.

As part of the international protests, they organised a programm of events in Brussels, home of the NATO headquarters. The events were women-led.

Around the same time NATO prepared for its summit in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11th and 12th.

NATO’s New Strategic Concept that continues to establish roles and tasks that go far beyond NATO’s original ‘defensive’ purposes, replacing functions and tasks which are the sole responsibility of the United Nations. The New Strategic Concept is completely at odds with the ‘Helsinki spirit’ that seeks peaceful cooperation between states and the rejection of threat or use of force. This offensive reconfiguration of NATO is in contrast with the constitutional principles of many of the member states. Often approved without the consent of national parliaments, it is also at odds with the manifest desire for peace of so many of the peoples of the NATO states. While many face a severe cost of living crisis, governments are required by NATO to raise military spending even beyond 2% of GDP, to meet the ongoing frenzied rearmament. And promotes an increasingly militarised culture.

Military alliances have failed – they did not avoid war in the past nor do they in the present.

From the 6th till the 9th of July meetings, debates, seminars and street actions took place in Brussels. A meeting at the European Parliament and NATO headquarters was on the program.

Members of the European Parliament: MEP Özlem Demirel (German) and MEP Clare Daly (Ireland) – of The Left GUE/NGL invited the Global Women for a debate at the European Parliament. MEP Daly stated: “There is no way to peace through bombs and war. Feminism rejects domination.” MEP Demirel concluded: “Violance and war is no more an acceptable way to solve problems”

WILPF US welcomed the participants to a seminar/webinar on EUROPE – NATO/US threats and consequences

Europe, with 31 NATO member states (22 of them EU member states) is actively taking part in encircling Russia. US nuclear weapons are based across Europe. Large military exercises are polluting air and land. NATO use of DU-weapons in the 90’s Balkans war have left a toxic legacy causing serious health problems among civilians and soldiers. Some NATO states are supplying these weapons for use by the Ukrainian army. Defence spending across Europe is increasing at an alarming rate.

During the session on Europe, DU weapons and the Ukraine war was presented by

  • Marilina Veca from WILPF Italy: “War crimes in time of peace – Depleted Uranium – the silent killer”
  • And Ria Verjauw – from ICBUW: “The human and the environmental cost of Depleted Uranium weapons.”

 The EUROPE session was followed by:

  • NATO in Global South – mainly Africa.
  • NATO in the Asia Pacific – Canberra (Australia)
  • NATO in Latin America.

Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the US war on Iraq– in Brussels, opened the session on: Stopping US and CANADA’s Participation in NATO’s wars.

The focus was on US and Canada as key members of the war organization NATO. Activists from the US and Canada discussed their countries‘ history of involvement in NATO and in the wars in Europe and Afghanistan and call for the end of war-mongering NATO.

NATO headquarters in Evere/Brussels was ready to meet with 10 Global Women for Peace from 10 different countries (US, UK, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Hungary, Cyprus, Australia, Finland) . The statement of the Global Women’s network was handed over to Mr. Nicola de Santis – Head Engagements Section, Public Diplomacy Division NATO together with a letter from ICBUW on the degradation of the ecosytem and the destruction of the environment as part of war and the preparation of war.

In the letter

  • we reminded NATO on its adoption of the Climate Change and Security Action Plan as well as to the action plan to protect the environment in conjunction with NATO’s activities.
  • We demand NATO to take this seriously, by not supportng the use of Depleted Uranium or any other toxic and radioactive substance by helping the civilian population that suffers from the impact of DU weapons. Part of this help is the environmental remediation of affected areas.
  • In the context of NATO’s DU war actions in Serbia in 1999 we urged NATO not to reject the talks on the claims raised by our cooperation partner Dr. Sdran Aleksic in the legal proceedings that he strated at the Belgrade Court .
  • We draw NATO’s attention to their unjustly pretended immunity in this case.
  • We reminded NATO of its own promises as well as of existing international legal obligations of the organisation such as the precautionary principle

At the end of the day a street event in the center of Brussels took place. The focus was the Vilnius Summit and the adoption of the 2% as a minimum standard contribution to NATO. And the rising military budgets.

Global Women for Peace United Against NATO plan meeting and looks for new connections for further common actions and plans . A short statement was made at the end of the conference:

STATEMENT – 9th July Brussels-Belgium – by Global Women For Peace United Against NATO

The Global Women For Peace United Against NATO network with representatives of over 120 organizations from 35 countries, strongly opposes the use of Cluster Bombs and weapons that contain Depleted Uranium and condemns the countries, namely the United States and the United Kingdom, that are sending them for use in Ukraine.

We warn the Government of Ukraine and the Russian Federation against the illegal and criminal use of these weapons.

You can also read the following report on the events: Brussels: Global Women For Peace United Against NATO Meet With EU Parliament, NATO Representatives – PopularResistance.Org


Please sign the Declaration:

(Ria Verjauw)