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Beijing Platform for Action. Chapter IV – Paragraph 147(c)(d)

2022-04-27

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): The Good Men Project

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/03/08

Strategic objective E.5.

Provide protection, assistance and training to refugee women, other displaced women in need of international protection and internally displaced women

Actions to be taken

147. By Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and other institutions involved in providing protection, assistance and training to refugee women, other displaced women in need of international protection and internally displaced women, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme, as appropriate:

c. Take steps to protect the safety and physical integrity of refugee women, other displaced women in need of international protection and internally displaced women during their displacement and upon their return to their communities of origin, including programmes of rehabilitation; take effective measures to protect from violence women who are refugees or displaced; hold an impartial and thorough investigation of any such violations and bring those responsible to justice;

d. While fully respecting and strictly observing the principle of non-refoulement of refugees, take all the necessary steps to ensure the right of refugee and displaced women to return voluntarily to their place of origin in safety and with dignity, and their right to protection after their return;

Beijing Declaration (1995)

In paragraph 147 sections (c) and (d) of the Beijing Declaration, we’re dealing with core issues of wellbeing, physical wellbeing. Here, it talks about the “safety and physical integrity of refugee women, other displaced women.” In that, safety simply means a place away from harm and in some reasonable comfort, where danger does not necessarily lurk, immediately, around the corner. The physical integrity, for women, can take, as described in some parts a while back, three main forms: sexual violence, physical violence, and less obviously psychological (including emotional) violence.

In these forms of violence, we come to the ways in which violence imposed disproportionately on innocent actors in physical ways comes towards women. Those women without the proper protections of ordinary citizens can explain the contexts for many women around the world coming to us as refugees or displaced women. Reminding, the women who are refugees are displaced outside of the country; women who are displaced are simply outside of the boundaries of the society while within the bounded geography of the society.

These are the contexts for millions of people and millions of women. This is life; this is part of the frays in the global culture developed by and for us. We can turn inward and reject these people, deny them rights and luck afforded to us, or do something, how ever small, in support and for them, as fellow human beings. Are we connected or not? Do the bees in the hive work together or shun one another for the hive to function?

Interdependency is what makes life work, whether nationalist or internationalist. When some may refer to globalist or nationalist visions of the world, we should define some terms here. The term globalist stems from the idea of globalization, wherein the interaction and integration of a vast swath of the world become the basis for the consideration of a unified idea of life.

In democratic parts of the world, the systems of governance get decided by elected officials given power by the population. The population who, in theory, are the most active at the most crucial times in a democracy, voting period, in the federal vote. National democracies and international democratic movements have been moving the trend line in the history of the world to more positive ends. This seems reasonably clear, as with Pew Research working on this particular research:

As of the end of 2017, 96 out of 167 countries with populations of at least 500,000 (57%) were democracies of some kind, and only 21 (13%) were autocracies. Nearly four dozen other countries – 46, or 28% – exhibited elements of both democracy and autocracy. Broadly speaking, the share of democracies among the world’s governments has been on an upward trend since the mid-1970s, and now sits just shy of its post-World War II record (58% in 2016).

Democracy is functioning better than many other systems of governance seen today, in spite of the changes in some of the international political, economic, and social scene, and the discontents and flaws in the system of democracy in a technocratic era. When we think of nationalists in North America, we think of negatives, as in ethnic nationalist visions of a ‘White America’ or White Nationalism.

If you look at one of the main websites for white nationalists, Stormfront, they state, “We are a community of racial realists and idealists. Black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish Nationalists openly support their racial interests, with American taxpayers even required to support the Jewish ethnostate of Israel. We are White Nationalists who support true diversity and a homeland for all peoples, including ours. We are the voice of the new, embattled White minority!”

The previous eras of America were more fraught in many ways, especially for black Americans in general and African Americans in particular. Lenny Bruce and others became extremely infamous for their work to talk about the undiscussable. Paul Mooney recalls, “When I was 16 or 17, I saw Lenny Bruce being taken to jail. They took him off stage because he talked about race.”

Certainly, the ‘browning’ of America continues apace based on demographics of the nation. Vox reported on this way back in 2018. A nation built from annexed land of the Mexican peoples, the murders even genocide of the Native Americans, and enslavement of different tribes of Africans forced to come to the Americas (North America) to work for nothing and by the pain of the whip held by a white hand.

With the mass immigration or influx of Europeans into the formation of a mostly European North America, this represents a historical perspective, where the change of the melanin coloration, statistical distribution, of the country marks something akin to further change. Nothing has been very permanent in the last few centuries in North America. Then we come to some more recent enflamed political and social rhetoric around the browning of America, White Nationalism, and a ‘White America.’

These are some of the contexts for a North American mind, in part, on nationalism and globalism. Many white communities in America were nearly economically destroyed by some of the systems proposed to protect and assist them. Of course, they’d be pissed off and distrustful of such a system. They have a right to be, as many Americans do there. An admission of American and pre-American history does not amount to criminal charges against a people, or a sociocultural category; it’s an admission of history.

Globalism, or more clearly inter-nationalism, happens when one country begins to link with another one deeply, as in trade, travel, tourism, ideas, finance, resources, and the like. When this is not present, this can represent one form of strong nationalism because, by definition, internationalism amounts to dealing with others at an international level. A pragmatic form of nationalism may take the form of everyone within the state working together while pragmatic internationalism/globalism means everyone in the world should work together.

One can stratify this in a consistent manner, simply make the individual, the family, the nation, and the international community part of the same general ethic of working together when of, ideally, proportional and even benefit to one another. The international economic situation may be more stable. National economies can infer their national interests in the manner of the international systems and the families – and communities – and individuals can make choices guided by relevant interdependent choices.

Here, Paragraph 147 section (c) deals more with general steps rather than particulars of refugee women and displaced women, stating:

c. Take steps to protect the safety and physical integrity of refugee women, other displaced women in need of international protection and internally displaced women during their displacement and upon their return to their communities of origin, including programmes of rehabilitation;

Trauma occurs with displacement and with the returning to one’s country, as a refugee, or to one’s support structures within the societal systems, as an internally displaced person. The White Swan Foundation describes some of the mental health issues:

The mental health challenges faced by women refugees change over time depending on a few factors – their lived experience, current living conditions, future possibility of relocation or return to their homeland, emotional coping mechanisms and available social support systems.  

Acute symptoms in women refugees after they have arrived at a camp can manifest in various forms.

Describing issues including:

        -Sleeplessness

        -Acute anxiety

        -Loss of appetite

        -Low mood

        -Flashbacks

        -Nightmares

        -Lack of affect (absence of emotional expression in varying degrees to situations)

        -Mutism

These reflect trauma in a psychological sense rather than the physical integrity described at the outset. However, “physical integrity” can mean one’s self-determination as well. When we take a look at the means by which many women who are displaced internally or externally (refugee women), their ability to self-determine. The three forms of violence can be more probable in the case histories of women who are displaced or who are refugees.

At the same time, the ability to begin to have some control and self-determination over their lives becomes another aspect of physical integrity for these women, as they should have, as anyone. The “programmes of rehabilitation” will need to include some of these facets of consideration because of the trauma, the building of a sense of self and direction, and the recovery from the desperation of isolation, i.e., or in short, the reintegration into human societies.

Paragraph or section (c) of Paragraph 147 continues to state:

take effective measures to protect from violence women who are refugees or displaced; hold an impartial and thorough investigation of any such violations and bring those responsible to justice;

How do you acquire justice for women affected by physical, sexual, or psychological violence coming out of the uncertain and dangerous contexts of displacement? One is an impartial and thorough investigation. Okay, but then, how do you do that? It seems like a tall order in a context of precarity open to lying with little ease of tracing because of the basis of refugee or internally displaced status. One may be best to leave this to lawyers, jurors, and judges, or perhaps for exploration, in brief, as this series continues to develop.

In the cases of any “violations,” as in, for instance, the violation of the physical integrity of a woman while an internally displaced person or a refugee. The ability to lay claim to justice, in a formal and recognized and above-board manner, would be a formal investigation and then the bringing to justice the violators of the particular woman or women.

Even with the United Nations, it can commit crimes. As Azad Essa in Al-Jazeera reported:

According to a recent investigation by the Associated Press, between 2004 and 2016, the United Nations received almost 2,000 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against its peacekeepers. 

The UN says it has a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, but survivors, activists, lawyers and human rights organisations say such crimes have been allowed to continue with impunity. 

Through conversations with UN peacekeepers and officials, gender experts, academics, researchers and activists, as well as through an investigation of UN data, we try to navigate these competing accounts to answer the question: How did some peacekeepers become predators?

Isn’t the United Nations immune to this? Aren’t those claiming the highest ideals and the organizations proclaiming the best of intents supposed to be better? Yes and no, or it depends; in some contexts, they perform far better than so many, and then in other contexts, not so much. When I worked for that aforementioned foundation, they mentioned some of the UN Women stuff simply being in shambles, i.e., in spite of the highest goals and intentions, which include three years of work by me with this particular foundation, and a good person and a decent organization. C’est la vie… or even further: C’est la vie. Et les personnes et les organisations dans la vie peuvent commettre des crimes graves, malgré les idéaux proclamés.

We move forth and work for the betterment, nonetheless, seeking justice in the meantime. The final section of Paragraph 147 section (d) deals more explicitly with the principle of non-refoulement of refugees.” The UNHCR defines the principle of non-refoulement as follows:

Under international human rights law, the principle of non-refoulement guarantees that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm. This principle applies to all migrants at all times, irrespective of migration status.

Thusly, the refugee women and the displaced women shall not be put in a situation of precarity once more if the principle of non-refoulement is recognized and implemented. It would be countered with a non-existent ‘principle of refoulement,’ which may exist in practice but does not have a formal complement or logical formal complement in a title in the same manner of the principle of non-refoulement.

Indeed, this principle of non-refoulement shall apply “at all times.” We’re all in this boat together folks, best make sure to keep this thing afloat. (d) speaks to the right of choice of women in return based on “voluntarily to their place of origin” stipulated within the Beijing Declaration and in a ‘dignified manner’ or with ‘dignity.’ One can, with some sense, assume with proper procedure, clothes on, and soon, rather than in some degrading and inhumane manner.

–(Updated 2019-08-21, only use the updated listing, please) Not all nations, organizations, societies, or individuals accept the proposals of the United Nations; one can find similar statements in other documents, conventions, declarations and so on, with the subsequent statements of equality or women’s rights, and the important days and campaigns devoted to the rights of women and girls too:

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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