By Colonel (Ret) Ann Wright / Popular Resistance
The weekend before the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Global Women for Peace United against NATO representing women in 35 countries met July 6-9, 2023 for three days of peace discussions in Brussels, Belgium.
I am writing with details of each of the excellent panels and webinars to provide a sense of the numbers of women from around the world who participated in the program.
Photos of the various events in the conference are being posted in the media section of the Global Women’s website. Video recordings of the sessions are included for each session, but due to technical problems with the recordings, some are not of as good of quality as we had wished.
Global Women Meet With Members of the European Parliament
On July 6, 2023, twenty Global Women delegates met with members of the European Parliament to express their concern about the war-making role of NATO. The meeting was moderated by Skeyi Koukouma, from Cyprus, Secretary General of the Progressive Women’s Movement POGO. Irish member of the European Parliament Clare Daly and German member of the European Parliament Özlem Demirel spoke to the Global Women delegation about their concerns about NATO. The delegation gave a copy of the founding statement of Global Women to the members of the European Parliament.
MEP Clare Daly forcefully said that war and militarism are anathema to feminism and equality and stressed that equality, justice and peace are the principles that underpin women’s struggle for freedom. She emphasized that there is no place for militarism or the use of violence to achieve geopolitical goals. She underscored that NATO’s purpose is domination, not justice or the defense of human rights. MEP Daly emphasized that women must resist NATO’s policies, calling for its dismantling and the restoration of equality and peace and not allow NATO to co-opt the use of the term “Feminine Foreign Policy” and “Women, Gender and Equality.”
In her speech, MEP Özlem Demirel referred to the need for immediate demilitarization and obtaining peace only through peaceful means. She also stressed that the funds given for the purchase of arms and military equipment are at the expense of having funds for the strengthening of health, education and other services for the people worldwide.
Almost all of the twenty Global Women delegates took turns speaking, each emphasizing the problems faced in their countries because of NATO’s military actions and mandatory military expenditures. The need for world peace, demilitarization, for human services such as health and education and for strengthening the protection of human rights was emphasized by all delegates.
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Friday, July 7, 2023 Opening Welcome
On July 7, the Global Women For Peace United Against NATO hybrid meeting was formally opened by conference coordinator Ulla Klotzer and Ann Wright. at the Pianofabriek community facility in Brussels.
Europe – NATO/US Threats and Consequences
The first panel of the conference was “EUROPE – NATO/US THREATS AND CONSEQUENCES,” co-hosted by Emmelien Lievens who works in the Belgian peace organization Vrede also part of the “No To Nato No to War” international network and Ada Donno from Italy with the Association of Women of the Mediterranean Region-Italy.
Here is the video of the panel. (Minute 9:42- 49:11)
Speakers in this panel were:
Zeynep Goru – World March of Women-Women’s NATO aspect
Kristine Karch – Co-chair “No to war – NO to NATO” international network, board member of INES, founding member of Ecomujer, Peace Camp Stop Air Base Ramstein Peace Award 2023, Move the Money from war to needs of people and planet
Cristina Ronchieri – Observatory against militarization of school: Activities of the Italian Observatory against the militarization of schools (and the increased presence of military in teaching (a contribution to peace in Europe)
Video Link for these speakers (Minute :02 – 1:48:25)
Sophie Bolt – Vice-Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) Nuclear weapons in Europe
Ria Verjauw – The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, ICBUW The human and the environmental cost of Depleted Uranium weapons
Marilina Veca – WILPF Italy (virtual) War crimes in time of peace – Depleted Uranium – the silent killer
Angelika Claußen – Head of the German section of IPPNW (virtual) No to NATO as a climate killer – towards climate justice and human security
Vera Zalka – Hungarian Social Forum (HSF) NATO in Eastern Europe – consequences and threats
Skevi Koukouma – Secretary General of the Women’s Movement POGO NATOs accelerating activities in the Mediterranean
Ingeborg Breines – Former Chair of IPB and UNESCO Director (virtual)
Ulla Klötzer – Women for Peace – Finland NATOs Northern expansion – consequences and threats
They spoke about Europe, with 31 NATO member states (22 of them EU member states), 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 radioactive weapons for use by the Ukrainian army. Defense spending across Europe is increasing at an alarming rate.
Visit to NATO Headquarters
(No video allowed.)
On July 7, a ten-woman delegation composed of women from Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, UK and the US went to NATO HEADQUARTERS outside of Brussels to deliver the Women’s Declaration for Peace and to express their concerns over NATO war actions. 24 hours before the meeting we were notified that the NATO Head of Engagements Section of the Public Diplomacy Division Nicola deSantis would meet with the delegation instead of Anette Parviainen, Political Affairs and Security Policy Division.
Mr. de Santis welcomed the group and presented a 20-minute talk on NATO’s “defensive” role in peace. Each of the ten-woman delegation made a two-minute response with each person’s view of NATO and NATO’s effect on her country.
As noted by Skevi Koukouma in her report to the conference, “In an “enthusiastic and proud” manner, de Santis reviewed the history of NATO with references to different periods and gave the floor to the participants for a brief intervention.
Each participant referred to different issues relating to her region. I, as a retired US Army Colonel who in the 1970s had been in the NATO subcommand Allied Forces Central Europe, told Mr. de Santis and the 4 persons on his staff, that NATO’s massive war maneuvers on the border of the Russian Federation and the two new US military bases in Poland and Romania were not “defensive” but “offensive” in every sense of the word. I told de Santis that I had resigned as a US diplomat in 2003 when the war in Iraq started. De Santis responded, “I know.”
Koukouma’s report continued: “All the speeches highlighted the escalation of NATO’s intensifying aggression, the channeling, together with the European Union, of vast sums of money into investments in the war industry and technology, the development of the anti-missile shield and the establishment of a network of military bases around the world. Further issues were NATO’s attempt to globalise its activities, both through its constant expansion eastwards and through the creation of various regional partnerships and satellite programmes. By involving as many states as possible in NATO raids and missions for operational needs NATO creates political legitimacy for its interventions and undermines international law and the principles on which the UN was built.
From Ukraine to Syria and from Africa to the South China Sea, NATO forces are performing the tasks of the armed wing of Western imperialism.
The discussion indicated that NATO officials had explored the biography of each of the participants, with deSantis making relevant comments in relation to the interventions.
After the statements of the delegation members, de Santis started to comment provocatively on the statements and initiated a verbal confrontation with the participants strongly highlighting the real role of NATO and its actions aimed at serving its own geo-strategic goals and interests. The debate ended amidst disagreements and counter-arguments.”
The meeting ended in strong disagreement on NATO’s mission and the Global Women For Peace United Against NATO’s commitment to continue to educate our communities about the dangers from NATO.
As the delegation left the grounds of NATO Headquarters, we held the banner “Ban Uranium Weapons,” reminding NATO of the well-known horrific health and environmental consequences of weapons containing depleted uranium.
NATO in Africa Webinar
Video Link (Minute :01- 1:26:47)
The second of the five geographic webinars was from Africa. The UN Decade for People of African Descent began on January 1, 2015 and ends on December 31, 2024. Speakers reinforced the UN Decade message calling for “Recognition, Development, Justice” in addition to ending military operations of NATO and AFRICOM.
Co-Hosts of the webinar were:
Theresa Al-Amin (virtual), Board Chair of the Southern Anti-Racism Network and chapter organizer of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (US)
George Friday (virtual), the National Field Organizer for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation since 2008 and one of the founding members of Move to Amend in 2009, member of the National Peace Action Board and WILPF US Board.
Ernest Gibson Kpordotsi (in Brussels), co-founder and Director of Programs and Projects at the Bureau of African Peace in Ghana and the Global Peace Association of Ghana. He is a Board member of the International Peace Bureau.
Nomazotsho Memani, former Member of Provincial Legislature in South Africa 1994- 1999, Activist Lawyer, Advocate of the High Court in South Africa. A member of the ANC, ANCWL – provides legal services on pro bono.
Dr. Gnaka Lagoke, Assistant Professor of history and of Pan-Africana Studies at Lincoln University (PA). He is also a founding member of the Convention for PanAfricanism and Progress (CPP), www.cpp-ubuntu.org.
Edwick Madzimure, Founding Director of WILPF Zimbabwe Section and the Alternate Regional Representative for WILPF Africa.
Khadija Ryadi, Moroccan human rights defender, winner of the UN Prize for the cause of human rights in 2013; Coordinator of the CMODH.
Rally to Invest in Peace in Albertina Square, Downtown Brussels
Late in the afternoon of July 7, Global Women, as a side event to the conference, joined peace activists from Brussels for a spirited Rally For Peace in downtown Brussels with banners and an interactive play.
Belgian and international peace and woman organizations called for a protest action against NATO plans to further increase military spending at the upcoming Vilnius summit in July. Rising military spending cannot be justified while budgetary needs for nurseries, public transport, education, reception of asylum-seekers, health care, climate change mitigation and adaptation,… are so high. We call on policymakers to curb rising military spending and make human security a priority by investing in social and environmental protection.
Evening Program – Global NATO or Global Peace?
To end the very full day of the Global Women For Peace conference, a side event community event organized by “No to War No to NATO” & Vrede Belgian peace organization was held at the Pianofabriek.
Speakers at the event were:
Ludo De Brabander (Vrede vzw – Belgium)
Ann Wright (Veterans for Peace – US)
Reiner Braun (IPB – Germany)
Sophie Bolt (CND – UK)
Moderator: Lode Vanoost (De Wereld Morgen – Belgium)
The panelists discussed the main problems of NATO and explore how the peace movement can be strengthened to achieve a non-militarized international security system based on justice, solidarity and sustainability with respect for people and the environment. How to counter Global NATO and strengthen the peace movement?
Just a few years ago even powerful leaders declared NATO ‘obsolete’ or ‘brain-dead’. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine the credibility and legitimacy of the western military alliance seems greater than ever before. Finland, formerly a neutral country, became a new member. Sweden will soon follow. Political opposition to the massive arming of Ukraine – which keeps the war going, rising military budgets and the militarization of Europe is virtually non-existent within NATO states.
Led by the US, NATO is increasingly casting itself as a global player both to defend democracy and the interests of its members. The global reach of NATO and its powerful members nourishes new tensions with rival powers like Russia and China. Its nuclear armed status raises the terrifying prospect of nuclear war.
The NATO summit in Vilnius is meant to confirm and strengthen the global power of NATO and the influence of its military industrial complex. This comes at the expense of an alternative security architecture based on good neighbourliness and human security. NATO’s unilateralism is undermining the multilateral political system as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
Saturday July 8, 2023
The Saturday, July 8 Global Women For Peace United Against NATO conference was filled with 3 geographic webinars.
The first was the Asia Pacific Webinar – Pacific Against Militarism. The webinar was recorded on July 1 as a part of the Pacific Peace Network series. Passcode: C^C*a34O
The link above is the better recording of the webinar, but video link below has the introductions to the panel
VIDEO LINK (Minute 4:24- 2:38:47)
Co-hosting the webinar from Brussels were:
US: Ann Wright – Pacific Peace Network, IPB council member, Codepink: Women For Peace, Veterans for Peace, World BEYOND War
Australia: Dragana Zivancevic – Raising Peace Network
Joy Enomoto – virtual Asia Pacific moderator from Hawai’i Peace and Justice Welcome, Introductions and Overview
Dr. Melinda Mann – a Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman and winner of the 2020 Tracey Banivanua Mar PhD prize for her exceptional thesis on Indigenous young people’s educational transitions.
Mililani Ganivet – was raised in Tahiti, but left at age 17 to earn a BA and MA from the Sorbonne. As a graduate student at the University of Hawai’i, she has researched the histories and legacies of French nuclear tests in French Polynesia.
Monaeka/Naek Flores – a queer CHamoru artist and organizer from Guåhan. Naek is core member of dynamic community organizations that focus on CHamoru self-determination, environmental justice, and the protection of sacred sites: Prutehi Litekyan – Save Ritidian and Independent Guåhan.
Judy Ann Miranda – from the Philippines, Secretary General, Partido Manggagawa Vice Chairperson, Women’s Day Off; Convenor, Women Workers United Full time labor organizier, engaged in union and community education, women and youth committee formations and labor rights campaign. Took part in the Women World Conference and International Trade Union Conference Against War and Exploitation 2022. Labor leader,activist, human rights defender and feminist.
Sung-hee Choi – she joins the struggle opposing the Jeju navy base and militarization of Jeju. She has worked for the village international team, Gangjeong Peace Network, Association of Gangjeong Villagers Against the Jeju Navy Base, People Making Jeju a Demilitarized Peace Island, Inter-Island Solidarity for Peace and Jeju Climate Peace March. She is also a Korean board member of Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. See savejejunow.org
Shinako Oyakawa is an indigenous Ryukyuan mother, activist, writer, co-director of Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans (ACSILs) and part time lecturer of Okinawa University. Shinako specializes in language revitalization, demilitarization and de-colonization of the Ryukyu islands. Shinako has attended UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) to report colonized situation of the Ryukyu islands.
Hanaloa Hēlela is a native Hawaiian who came from a US military family and who joined the military himself. He is active in demilitarization of Hawai’i and many cultural issues as well as the 2021 US Navy’s Red Hill toxic fuel spill which contaminated the drinking water of 93,000 persons on Oahu, Hawaii.
The webinar generated numerous comments from the live and zoom audience.
NATO’s Growing Presence in Latin America
The next geographic webinar was on NATO’s Growing Presence in Latin America
VIDEO LINK (Minute 5:08 – 1:21:45)
Facilitator: Kristine Karch, Co-chair “No to war – NO to NATO” international network, board member of INES, founding member of Ecomujer, Peace Camp Stop Air Base Ramstein Peace Award 2023
Laura Capote (Colombia) journalist, member of the OBSAL (Observatory on the Latin America’s and Caribbean Conjuncture) of the Tricontinental Institute, and of the IEALC – UBA (Workgroup on Colombian Critical Thinking)
Rosa Elva Zúñiga López (Mexico), feminist popular educator, secretary general of the Council for Popular Education in Latin America and the Caribbean – CEAAL.
Julieta Daza (Colombia/Venezuela), member of Juventud Rebelde Colombia and a political and social activist living in Venezuela; (Unable to attend)
Greetings from Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan
Present in person in Brussels were women from Afghanistan, Russia and Ukraine who spoke of their experiences in war countries.
VIDEO LINK (1:29:26 – 2:15:50)
Nadiia Yefymyshch was born in the USSR and is of the Komi nationality. She graduated from Kyiv State University, Ukraine and stayed at the university as a lecturer. She was the head of an educational project in Kyiv, the Russian Center for Science and Culture. She participated in a “Human rights education” project with the Council of Europe and European Youth Center in Budapest. She was the moderator in “Prevention of women trafficking” from 2018- 2021 and was the Deputy Chairman of the Council of National Minorities of Ukraine before she left Ukraine. She now lives in Budapest, Hungary.
(TRANSLATOR is Vera Zalka from Hungary.)
Nazia Noory from Afghanistan and was a Civil Society member, Gender Youth activist (UNWomen), Founder of Afghan Women Alliance for Peace and development (AWAPD) and member of WILPF. She now lives in Germany, but much of her family remains in Afghanistan.
Stopping US and Canada’s Participation in NATO’s Wars Webinar
The final webinar in the geographic series was “Stopping US and Canada’s Participation in NATO’s Wars.”
The US and Canada are 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.
VIDEO LINK (1:55:15)
Co-hosting the webinar were:
US: Ann Wright – Retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the US war on Iraq (In Brussels)
Canada: Alley McDonald (virtual) – National Coordinator for Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (On-line)
Medea Benjamin – American political activist and the co-founder of CodePink: Women For Peace
Joseph Gerson – Director of American Friends Service Committee’s Peace and Economic Security Program in New England, USA
Tamara Lorincz – PhD candidate in Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs at Wilfrid Laurier University. Member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom / Canada Section
Shivangi Misra – Chairperson of International League of Peoples’ Struggle, Canada and an international human rights lawyer based in Ottawa, Canada.
Planning Further Common Activities
After three days of events, on Sunday, July 9, 2023 Global Women for Peace United Against NATO met to plan for further actions and statements.
With the next NATO summit scheduled to be held in Washington, DC, Global Women will urge women to go to Washington in July 2024. More details will follow.
Committees for the following topics were set up:
– Militarization of Schools: Cristina Roncieri/Italy, Patrizia Sterpetti/Italy, Dragana Zivancevic/Australia, Vera Zalka/Hungary,
– Violence (NATO) against women & reclaiming UN 1325: Alessandra Mecozzi/Italy, Paola Melchiori/Italy, Ada Donno/Italy, Khadija Ryadi/Morocco
– NATO – climate killer: Tamara Lorincz/Canada, Liisa Taskinen/Finland, Patrizia Sterpetti/Italy, Marinella Corregio/Italy
– Relationships – Global South – non-aligned movements: Paola Melchiori/Italy, Patrizia Sterpetti/Italyt, Franziska Kleiner/Germany, Claire Delstanche/Belgium + Global South women
No to Cluster Bombs and Depleted Uranium Weapons
With the announcement of the United States and the United Kingdom that they were sending cluster bombs and depleted uranium weapons to Ukraine, Global Women issued the following statement on Sunday, July 9 denouncing sending cluster bombs and depleted uranium weapons and the use of these weapons.
July 9, 2023
The Global Women For Peace United Against NATO network, with representatives of over 120 organizations from 35 countries, in its meeting in Brussels, Belgium, 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 these weapons for use in Ukraine.
We warn the Government of Ukraine and the Russian Federation against the illegal and criminal use of these weapons.
Contact Ria Verjauw Riaverj@gmail.com
Contact Ann Wright, email@example.com
Please read the Founding Statement from the Global Women.
Global Women in the 24-hour Peace Wave
Global Women were also present during the second-annual 24-hour Peace Wave, an event organized by International Peace Bureau and World BEYOND War on July 8-9, 2023. You can find more information here.
The Global Women For Peace United Against NATO conference was a success!
Organized in less than four months through zoom calls with women in 35 countries, the conference attendees got their message of NO to NATO and its war policies directly to NATO Headquarters and to the European Parliament in Brussels through their in-person visits.
Six webinars provided opportunities for women and men worldwide to hear from community members who are concerned about the militarization of our world and wars that threaten the survival of the human race.
We will continue to meet to strengthen our international/global solidarity and plan for actions July 9-11, 2024 in Washington, DC for the 75th anniversary of NATO.
Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was also a U.S. diplomat and served in U.S. embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned in 2003 in opposition to the U.S. war on Iraq. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”