Spread the word » Facebook Twitter

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Ligue Internationale de Femmes pour la Paix et la Liberté

Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad

Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC, UNCTAD and UNESCO;

Special Consultative Relations with FAO, ILO, and UNICEF.

Dear All,

I started to work for WILPF in 2010, and many of you will have heard me say it was because I saw in WILPF an analysis and a vision that no one else could offer and that it was right. Right and absolutely necessary. There was a vision that had been given to us by Jane Addams and the amazing women who had been with her and those that came after her and I bought into that: totally.

WILPF is needed almost more than ever given the number of wars that are being fought, the levels of militarization, the failures of the multilateral system, the extent of the arms trade… and the list goes on. We are trying to work on many, many fronts to keep the vision alive and we are getting the message across! If you look at what is being achieved by the RCW, by PeaceWomen and by the office in Geneva, by our active and positive sections, then you should be glad that we are “fighting back”. And on Syria, we have just come back from meeting with the most amazing women who are holding on to their dignity, their strength and their absolute determination to end this war! And they need WILPF to help them do that.

Instead, I read what is going on in the US section with utter disbelief and feel degraded and angry. I care not as to the origins of the disputes at this moment in time, because it is the conduct in those disputes which I find so disgraceful.  WILPF is a PEACE organization and I see the behaviour of a small minority reflecting the conduct of the Tea Party! How did it get to this when the Secretary General, and I am not alone, feels that the organization is working in exactly the same ways as the governments, the corporations, and the political parties we were determined to change. Since when do we use the public domain to disparage and slander each other? Since when did members of this magnificent organisation put themselves and their purported interests above those of WILPF as a whole? 

There are procedures in place to deal with all the issues that have been raised. There will be elections, there will be a new board. These regulations are there so as to ensure that disputes are dealt with properly. Going outside of these rules ensures that it becomes personalized, is not based on fact but on conjecture and accusation and goes beyond what could be considered legitimate. 

We are a serious organization with a serious role. In 2015 we will be 100. Right now, the conduct of some WILPF members, even if you think you have legitimate complaint, is doing serious damage to all of us. What credibility can we have when we look no different than the worst of the organizational models: unable to settle our own disputes peacefully, if not amicably, how can we pretend to work on ending the violence of others?

I have read the e-mail exchanges, seen some of the “newsletters” and I can say only this. Stop it! If you are members of WILPF get over this and get on with making us a great organization. Use the proper mechanisms to get your arguments across and do it without anger or prejudice. If you do not want to be part of WILPF that is also your decision, but as the SG I do not want to see us to self-destruct. We cannot be so selfish when we have promised so much more.

Madeleine Rees

Secretary General


WILPF International | WILPF-US | PeaceWomen | Reaching Critical Will