The Power of Silent Diplomacy

Low-hanging clouds hide snowy mountains and the light of the upcoming sun. While the plane descends I wonder how Switzerland has always been able to guard its neutral position. It must be the geographical setting as these sharp, bare range of teeth seem to carefully protect its paradisiacal core at the lake called Geneva, the scenery of so many Peace Conferences and Treaties.

The past days, fifty Syrian women from civil society organizations and activists from all walks and talks, from inside and outside of Syria, have been gathering in Geneva. Many of the women took great risks to travel here. They come from areas where people starve from hunger; eating leaves from the very few trees that grow in Syria, or even grass. Others have travelled through scenes of war, death, destruction, torture, experiencing kidnapping or detainment to arrive here.

The Netherlands and UN Women initiate this conference. The Netherlands are playing an active role in organizing this assembly of many women from different backgrounds, professions and diverse groups in Syria that reflects and honors its mosaic of people. Based upon Resolution 1325 and 2122 it has been proven many times in history that the active involvement of women mostly accelerates peace processes. One of the most famous examples is how the women of Liberia managed to finally create peace after many years of bloody war by a collectively initiated sex strike.

The lengthy and careful procedures to enter the UN ‘Palais des Nations’ in Geneva seem a reference to the fragility of the house of all nations. A place that enables countries and regions to create world peace and mutual understanding clearly needs to be well protected.

Speaking to one of the hosts who observed the Syrian women working together in this process of peace building. Working shoulder to shoulder leaving political differences and religious backgrounds behind. Working with dedication till in the early hours. Working on a statement that identifies solutions to bring back security, rights and dignity to the suffering Syrian people. This obviously shows the tremendous importance of women engagement in a pluralistic Syrian sustainable peace process. Not only are these brave and wise women the voices for far more than fifty percent of Syria’s population, but until now they are the only ones that have presented a statement and a plan to take steps to create peace in Syria.

Pressroom III is filled with international press and expectations when four Syrian women and Ms.Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, the director of UN Women who’s motto is: ‘Forward ever, backward never,’ take a seat. Then the Syrian activist Rafif Jouejati starts talking. Her voice is calm and decisive, her eyes look stern. I feel a shiver running over my back witnessing this historical moment, a statement of determined Peace finds it way into the ears of the world.


Sabah Alhalak, Rafif Jouejati, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Kefah ali Deeb, Delsha Ayo

‘We  cannot remain silent regarding events in Syria, such as daily death, massive  destruction, starvation, displacement of hundreds of thousands of families (in Syria and abroad); and the spread of terror, violence, ongoing detentions, acts  of kidnapping, destruction of infrastructure and the spread of disease,  particularly among children.’

‘Syrian women are paying a heavy price as a  result of the current situation. No less than 80 per cent of refugees or the internally displaced are women and children. Large numbers of women have been detained, kidnapped or have disappeared. We know many of these women: they are from our families, our friends and our colleagues at work. We cannot remain silent in the face of our people’s suffering. And it is our right to envision Syria as a civil, democratic, pluralistic and united State. We have come to make peace, we are tired and exhausted, forgiveness is the only way forward, we have come to make Peace!
(click on ‘Peace’ to read and spread the complete statement)!’

Over Esseline van de Sande

Opmerkelijke Ontmoetingen Wondrous Encounters
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