FAS

The Role of Women in the Pacification Process – Interview with Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

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By Alice d’Eramo

Translated by Amy Wilcock

Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Source : FIFDH, crédits photo : Miguel Bueno

On 8 March 2015, International Women’s Day, the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) organised a discussion in Geneva, on the role on women in the peace process.

The film Pray the Devil back to Hell, by Gini Reticker and Abigail E. Disney was shown during the event. The documentary tells the story of thousands of Liberian women who decided to join forces in spite of their religious differences in order to restore peace to their country. Indeed, between 1989 and 2003, civil war ravaged Liberia and Sierra Leone, causing more than 400,000 deaths. Traumatised and exhausted, these women together denounced the sordid daily life of conflict, including drugged child soldiers, sexual torture, packed and raided refugee camps, greed and the exploitation of natural resources. With their peaceful protests, they succeeded in putting pressure on political leaders to reach a peace agreement. They then pushed for the country’s disarmament and were involved in the democratic elections where the first female African president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was elected.

Finally, in 2012, Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia and rebel leader, was sentenced to 50 years in prison by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

These events illustrate the tremendous power of peacekeeping intervention that women can have, as much on a local as on a global level. Therefore, better integrating women into the peacekeeping process is absolutely essential.

Protest women
Peaceful protest of Liberian women in Monrovia in July 2003, during the civil war -A shot from the documentary “Pray the Devil back to Hell”. Photo credits: Pewee Flomoku

Keeping the Liberian case in mind, outstanding figures were invited to discuss  the issue of the participation of women in the peacekeeping process, including; Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; Alejandra Ancheita, Human Rights Activist, Mexican lawyer and 2014 Martin Ennals Award Laureate; and Bineta Diop, founder and President of Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), and Special Envoy to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Women, Peace and Security. The discussion was moderated by RTS journalist, Laurence Difelix.

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