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30 May, 2013

Women Nobel Laureates Hold Historic Meeting, Call for Cuts in Global Military Spending


(Belfast, United Kingdom)—30 May 2013 – Six women Nobel Peace Laureates today urged G8 leaders to reduce spending on weapons of war to ensure a peaceful world for future generations.

The six members of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, who gathered in Belfast, Northern Ireland for a historic international conference to discuss strategies for a nonviolent world, made their appeal ahead of the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland on June 17 and 18.

In a statement released today, the Laureates of the Nobel Women’s Initiative called on the G8 leaders, who will be meeting at a Summit in June in Northern Ireland, to reduce military spending. “We strongly urge G8 states to decrease military spending,” urged the Laureates, “Redirect the investment to education, training and social services that will improve livelihoods and address the root causes of violence.”

Over 100 activists, academics, journalists, philanthropists, policymakers and community leaders have participated in the Nobel Women’s Initiative biennial conference, “Moving Beyond Militarism & War: Women-driven solutions for a nonviolent world” which was held this week at the Culloden Hotel near Holywood, County Down.

The three-day conference has provided peacemakers with an opportunity to analyze governments’ rising dependence on militarisation, including the ‘war on terror’ and ‘war on drugs’. It also offered peacemakers the chance to share the innovative tactics and strategies they employ for nonviolence and peace.

“Our world has been ravaged by conflict, time and time again. And yet, instead of investing in our women, children, and future generations, our states continue to spend more money on our militaries — a solution that has failed to increase the human security of those at risk,” said Mairead Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to help end the conflict in Northern Ireland.

During the United Kingdom’s presidency of the G8 in 2013, ending sexual violence in conflict has been made a priority and focus, with a Declaration on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict at the Foreign Ministers meeting in June. However, significantly more needs to be committed by G8 leaders—and other nations—to support women’s rights and women’s security.

Militarism is a state’s military readiness and includes such factors as maintaining an army or developing advanced weaponry. While conflicts are ongoing throughout the world, militarisation occurs when a state deploys their military resources to combat perceived threats, which include conflicts over political power, natural resources, or sections of civil society. Globally, militarisation—and military spending including the advancement of new technologies—has risen substantially, while social services budgets continue to decrease. On the frontlines, women overwhelmingly feel the impact of these changes and struggle to overcome the challenges left in their wake.

Despite tackling stopping rape in conflict, G8 nations continue to be the highest arms exporters and among the largest investors in new weapon technologies.

“We have seen significant progress on the awareness of how conflict impacts women around the world—from the prevalence of rape to the destruction of land and increasingly unequal distribution of resources,” said Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams. “Our gathering this week was a critical opportunity for a different sharing of stories: what successful strategies are being implemented to end the violence. Over the past two days we have heard example after example of inspiring and creative tactics women are using to take nonviolent action. These are the people governments should be supporting if they are genuinely interested in ending conflict.”

The Nobel Women’s Initiative was established in 2006, and is led by Nobel Peace laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman and Mairead Maguire. The Nobel Women’s Initiative uses the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize and of courageous women peace laureates to magnify the power and visibility of women working in countries around the world for peace, justice and equality.

Read the full statement released by the Nobel Women’s Initiative below.

Moving Beyond Militarism and War: Women-driven Solutions for a Nonviolent World

Final Statement from the Conference

(Belfast, May 30, 2013)

As we bring to a close a three-day conference that brought together women peacemakers from more than 20 countries—including six women Nobel Peace laureates together for the first time—we call on G8 leaders to put human security at the centre of their agenda in their upcoming Summit being held next month in Northern Ireland. The effects of war, conflict and militarism are ravaging our communities, our nations, our environment, and our economies—and the prospect of a healthy, peaceful, and prosperous future under threat.

Human security and sustainable peace require the inclusion of more women in peace processes, and in leadership and decision-making roles, whether in local structures, national assemblies and governments, or multilateral organizations. All United Nations member states are expected to fully implement women’s empowerment and participation under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. This includes Northern Ireland, where the peace agreement (The Belfast Agreement 1998) commits all parties to the full and equal political participation of women. Action is needed both on local and global levels.

All too many governments in the world respond to real and perceived threats by increasing military spending, investing in nuclear weapons, acquiring new weapons—with no regard for international law—and pursuing policies that put our populations at risk. The “war on terror” and “war on drugs” are two examples of misguided policies that fail to create true human security and significantly threaten the safety of women and entire communities.

Governments have choices. Diplomacy, compromise and negotiation are all nonviolent tactics that work. Governments can also learn from and support the hundreds other strategies pursued by women and grassroots groups across the globe. Tolerance and compassion can be learned and cultivated, but it will require patience, resources and commitment. It will take all of us working together, at every level of society.

We strongly urge G8 states to decrease military spending. Redirect the investment to education, training and social services that will improve livelihoods and address the root causes of violence. We also call upon governments to prioritize support and protection for grassroots groups that use nonviolent means to end conflict and war, and address the negative impacts of militarization—including sexual violence against women. We also call upon the G8 countries to adhere to international law, and the international human rights framework.