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Recommendations of the Round Table on the Roles of WIDOWS in Conflict Management and Peace Building held on March 2, 2004

Recalling that, in spite of unprecedented high numbers of widows and wives of the “missing” among the female populations of countries emerging from conflict, the fact that these women survivors are the sole supporters of families, key contributors to economic and social reconstruction, that many are very young mothers, and that this category of women are marginalised, in poverty and invisible in the Beijing Process and their needs and roles not addressed or recognised in SCR 1325 . Furthermore that the plight of widows and wives of the missing is exacerbated in the violent militarised post-conflict environment

Request the S-G for the following actions to be taken by the UN agencies, the international community, and Governments:

  1. The S-G request a special study on the situation of widows and wives of the missing in the post-conflict environment.
  2. The S-G endorse the following actions to be taken by the appropriate actors:
    1. Collection of data using all appropriate methodologies in order to identify the numbers, ages and demographic profiles of this category of women (since conventional methods of collecting statistics does not reveal this information)
    2. Undertake research and a situational analysis of widowhood in the aftermath of war, recognising that the poverty and stigma that breeds violence against increases in the post-conflict transition.
    3. Encourage and support widows to “band together” to form their own associations so that their voices can be heard and their needs addressed in the reconstruction and peace-building process.
    4. Ensure that, in proportion to the percentage of widows in the female population, they are adequately represented in all decision-making committees, at all levels, from the national parliaments down to local and village councils.
    5. Address the extreme poverty of widows and their children, in the context of the MDG goals and the PRSPs, and as a means of conflict prevention, recognising that a generational cycle of poverty breeds violence and future conflict.
    6. Address specifically widow-abuse within the extended family by penal sanctions.
    7. Establish a special fund for the education of conflict widows’ children.
    8. Create, in every country, a national WIDOWS’ RESOURCE AND INFORMATION CENTRE, with local branches, which would develop a WIDOWS’ PROTOCOL to guarantee widows’ human and legal rights.
    9. Ensure that Law and Constitutional reforms include specific references, in civil and criminal codes, to widows’ rights in compliance with international human rights conventions such as CEDAW and the CRW and in the spirit of the Beijing PFA and SCR 1325
    10. Legislate to give widows legal rights to inheritance and land ownership
    11. Criminalise all harmful traditional and customary practices relating to widowhood such as property-grabbing, forced marriage to male relatives, degrading and life-threatening mourning and burial rites.
    12. The UN to appoint an independent expert evaluation team to evaluate the operations of international, national, and ad hoc war crimes tribunals as well as traditional justice and reconciliation systems in the context of widows’ individual protection as witness, appropriate compensation, redress. And to ensure that perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes such as rape are made subject to due process of law.
    13. Redefine “justice” to ensure that it is broad enough to encompass widows’ rights to basic needs such as adequate shelter, food, health care, and training for income-generation.
    14. Address the specific problems for refugee and IDP widows still homeless years after peace accords are agreed because their security is threatened should they return to their former homes.


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