ICJW representative Eftihia Simha, ICJW representative to UN Geneva, attended the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, organized by UN Watch on February 20th 2018, one week before the 37th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Courageous dissidents, human rights victims, activists, diplomats, journalists and students gathered to speak out about urgent Human Rights situations that require global attention.

The Geneva Summit opened with a welcome speech by Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, on behalf of the 25 NGOs,  co-sponsors of the Geneva Summit.

He started by saying that in 2018 we celebrate both the tenth anniversary of the Geneva Summit and the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Then he said: “Let’s go back to the time and imagine…. Imagine the common vision that brought up together Roosevelt, De Gaulle and many other personalities in order to protect Human Rights and therefore protect Humanity…. Yet, the 2018 Human Rights Council has no more idealists and includes also dictators! … At the Geneva Summit, today, by giving  voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless we have the opportunity to imagine what the United Nations would have looked like back in the year 1948”.

Hillel Neuer finished his speech by presenting the speakers of the Geneva Summit 2018. Human Rights heroes, activists, former political prisoners from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Venezuela and other countries, who came to testify their personal struggles for Human Rights, Democracy and Freedom and join hands to plan strategies for action.

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You can find a complete list of the speakers at: www.genevasummit.org/speakers/

Following the speaker’s testimonies, Mrs Ruth Dreyfuss, former and first female President of Switzerland, took the floor and introduced the laureate of the International Women Rights’ prize, Julienne Lusenge.

Julienne Lusenge is a leading women’s rights champion, combatting rape as a weapon of war in eastern Congo. She is also president of SOFEPADI (Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development).

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She started by thanking the Geneva Summit organisers for giving her the opportunity to speak on behalf of all the Congolese women, who are fighting to survive as they seek democracy and peace.

She said: “The Democratic Republic of Congo is not the capital of rape! It is the capital of courageous women who suffered because of that terrible war about resources. …. You must understand that violating women is violating the unity of a community. Although rape is a weapon of war in Congo, we (women) are not discouraged. We are organized!”

She continued by describing the work of her organisation, SOFEPADI, an organisation that provides holistic services to all women, victims of war.

  1. Medical aid to all victims of violence and follow up of the general health of women as well as their families.
  2. Legal and financial aid in order to bring the cases of rape before a Court.
  3. Social and economic reinsertion of the survivors.
  4. School reinsertion.
  5. Organisation of meetings and hearings at the villages
  6. Prevention and Education of the communities.

She added that the situation in Congo is still unstable and that the country might again experience war, because democracy is not yet strong enough. She underlined the importance of the international community’s support, for the Congolese women’s fight for the future of their children and grandchildren. A noble fight for Human Rights and for National Resources together with the desperate need for a legal framework in order to promote Human Rights and share National Resources.

She concluded by saying: “We have heard horrors that have shocked and traumatized us for our entire life. But we are proud to say that the women who come to us as victims, become survivors when they work with us and when they leave they are agents of change who help raise awareness in order to change mentalities. They work for social transformation because it is only with a strong women’s movement that one day we will create a Congolese society built upon justice”.

It was an additional powerful testimony on this very informative, often moving and well organized day,  meant to encourage us all, NGO’s and other civil society members as well as media representatives, to uphold the promotion and protection of Human Rights!