Global: News

16 Days of Activism and IHL

11 December 2023

As we conclude the impactful 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and approach the significant observance of Human Rights Day, the Diakonia IHL Centre reaffirms its commitment to promoting international humanitarian law (IHL) across crucial themes. Here's a brief overview of our key statements.

Gender-Based Violence and IHL:

1. Women and girls are exposed to a heightened risk of sexual and gender-based violence during armed conflict. The IHL Centre continues to strive for better respect for the rules of IHL that prohibit such acts of violence and ensure that survivors have access to survivor-centered support, including medical care and counselling and that perpetrators are held to account.

2. Amplifying the voices of women in conflict zones is essential. Beyond the 16 Days, the IHL Centre will persist in sharing women’s lived experience of armed conflict and ensure women's experiences shape our IHL advocacy.

3. At the Diakonia IHL Centre, our goal is to deepen the understanding of international humanitarian law to bolster protection measures against sexual and gender-based violence. Through heightened awareness and knowledge, we strive to create a safer environment and enhance safeguards for those affected by conflicts.

4. The IHL Centre works to increase knowledge and implementation of the rules of armed conflict. We take an inclusive and intersectional approach to our work. We seek to ensure that all civilians affected by armed conflict, including women and girls, receive the strongest possible protections provided by international law.

5. Breaking the silence on gender-based violence requires sustained effort to dismantle negative and discriminatory societal views on the rights of women and girls. The Diakonia IHL Centre is committed to advocating for inclusive policies that empower women and girls in conflict and address the systemic barriers hindering their access to justice.

6. A strong understanding of IHL and IHRL within women-led organizations serves as a catalyst for tackling concealed instances of gender-based violence. It significantly increases the potential to break the silence surrounding these issues and diminishes the prevalence of impunity, promoting accountability and justice.

7. The Diakonia IHL Centre is committed to embedding feminist principles in all our endeavors. We integrate these values into our policies and actions, striving for gender equality, empowerment, and inclusivity in the implementation of the law of armed conflict, conflict resolution and humanitarian efforts.

Health and IHL:

8. During conflicts, ensuring equal access to healthcare is critical, particularly concerning women's healthcare and reproductive rights. The IHL Centre continues to use IHL to advocate for the protection of healthcare during armed conflict. This aligns with the overarching aim of creating a world where women's well-being is safeguarded, and their rights are respected.

9. In armed conflicts, women frequently endure immense psychological strain. The Diakonia IHL Centre is dedicated to advocating for and implementing robust initiatives that prioritize effective psychosocial support, aiding women in accessing coping mechanisms and support amidst the adversities of war.

Education and IHL:

10. Education serves as a guiding light amid turmoil, equipping girls and women with knowledge, strength, and the means to build a more stable and fair future. We at the IHL Centre seek to ensure women’s right to education is protected and respected at all times, including during armed conflict.

IHL and persons with disabilities:

11. In times of armed conflict, people with disabilities are exposed to heightened risk of harm and exclusion. The Diakonia IHL Centre is committed to fostering inclusivity, advocating for and implementing measures that cater to the particular needs of individuals with disabilities, affected by conflict. Our commitment rests in establishing an environment that respects their rights, preserves their dignity, and encourages their full participation in all facets of conflict resolution and humanitarian efforts.

Other IHL Themes:

12. On this concluding day of activism, let's renew our commitment to a world where women, as leaders in conflict situations, shape a future guided by the principles of international humanitarian law.

13. Our dedication to women's empowerment extends beyond the 16 Days. It's an ongoing promise to integrate diversity and intersectionality into our work, ensuring that every woman's voice is heard and valued.

14. The Diakonia IHL Centre recognizes that women and girls right to act of agents of change and to equal participation in conflict resolution and peace building processes. We commit to persist in advocating for their active and meaningful engagement, to amplify their voices and to strive to shape a world grounded in justice and equality.

15. Engaging communities to foster gender equality and protection, especially within the context of armed conflict, strengthens collective resilience—an unwavering belief held by the IHL Centre. By focusing on women's empowerment in conflict zones, we fortify societies, enabling them to confront challenges and cultivate enduring solutions collaboratively.

16. In the realm of armed conflict, the Diakonia IHL Centre firmly believes that women embody unparalleled resilience and hope. Their unwavering spirit, determination, and compassion illuminate pathways to peace and healing. In their strength and grace, they redefine courage, inspiring us all toward a world where their voices are heard, their rights upheld, and their contributions celebrated.