Interview with Kristina Lunz
Kristina Lunz is the co-CEO and co-founder of the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy (CFFP), a think tank and international research and advocacy organization on Feminist Foreign Policy. Founded in 2016 and based in Berlin and London, CFFP’s vision is to implement an intersectional feminist approach to global foreign policy.
We got to interview her about her advocacy for Feminist Foreign Policy, as well as the work and goals she and her team at the CFFP have.
You can find the previous article on Foreign Feminist Policy here.
The interview was held by Janine Röttgerkamp.
IFAIR: To get started, Kristina, could you please define in your own words what a Feminist Foreign Policy is.
KL: Sure. At the CFFP, we define Feminist Foreign Policy as the attempt to dismantle patriarchal structures in foreign and security policy. Foreign and security policy, like all areas in our society, has been influenced by patriarchy for thousands of years. This means that issues and characteristics such as dominance, oppression, and military strength dominate, while human rights, and especially the rights of political minorities such as LGBTQI persons and women, are not given such a high priority. Political realism supports the assumption that anarchy prevails at the state level because there is no world government. This assumption leads to these strategies of dominance and control. We want to change that. As we know through research the most sustainable factor in terms of whether a country is violent internally and externally is the level of equality within the country. That means that without an intersectional feminist approach to foreign policy, there can be no sustainable peace.
IFAIR: The first feminist demands by women on foreign policy are still relevant today. Can you elaborate on what those demands were and also explain in general what the demands of a Feminist Foreign Policy are today?
KL: This first meeting you’re referring to was in 1915 in The Hague when about 1500 feminists from all over the world came together to express their outrage and discontent with the war. They ended up with twenty demands that are still very relevant. One of the most important, which historically builds the foundation of feminist efforts in foreign and security policy, is the demand for dismantling the industrial military complex. As long as a system allows companies to make profits from the proliferation of weapons in war and conflict, there will be no real peace.
In addition, women at that time called for the democratization of foreign policy and mediation as the main means of conflict resolution.
IFAIR: What happened after that meeting in The Hague?
KL: The 1915 meeting prompted a follow-up conference in Zürich in 1917, from which the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) emerged. Many of the feminists in this tradition have contributed significantly to the Nuclear Ban Treaty and the Arms Trade Treaty, which was the first international arms treaty to include a provision on gender-based violence.
Countries like Sweden – the first country to introduce a Feminist Foreign Policy in 2014 – or Canada, which is currently working on its white paper on FFP, or Mexico and Spain stand in this tradition of more than a hundred years and on the shoulders of these feminists in foreign and security policy.
IFAIR: You mentioned that countries with more equal societies are more peaceful. Why is that the case?
KL: A society where an elite of white men have the most power and resources, and everyone else is subordinate to that, is characterized by very strong hierarchies, which are maintained through violence. Male violence against women is omnipresent. But these hierarchies also exist against other political minorities. We only have to look at racialized violence, violence against LGBTQI people, or people with disabilities. It all serves to maintain the power of the few. When we start to break down those hierarchies, and in doing so, move towards a more equal and fair society for all, we break down those systems of violence at the same time.
IFAIR: How about the finding that peace processes last longer when women are involved in the negotiations?
KL: This study by Jamille Bigio and Rachel Vogelstein, published by the Council of Foreign Relations, found that peace processes last longer when women and other political minorities are involved. That’s because transition processes, where states come together after years of violence to start a new chapter, can only really work if we bring all the realities, experiences, desires, and needs to the table. In the end, politics can only be as good as the people who make these political decisions are diverse.
IFAIR: And how does the CFFP work to ensure that this scientific evidence acted upon in foreign policy?
KL: At the CFFP, we focus on six main areas, which are listed on our website under Project Overview [author’s note: these are anti-racism, feminist nuclear politics, demilitarization and disarmament, climate justice, combating anti-gender movements, and Women, Peace and Security].
For example, we look at how the aforementioned hierarchies are maintained through weapons and the military. That concerns smaller weapons as well as nuclear weapons. We are huge fans of and cooperate a lot with Beatrice Fihn and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
On behalf of Greenpeace, we did a study on ‘Exporting Violence and Inequality. The Interlinkages between German Arms Exports and Gender-Based Violence’. It contains concrete demands on what Germany should do to counter this status quo of ever more militarization and armed violence. Germany, as measured by the federal budget, spends more money on defense strategies than on health, for example. We have now seen that this is not very sustainable and helpful when there is a global pandemic.
IFAIR: Do you have another example?
KL: We also look at the UN Security Council’s Women Peace and Security Agenda and try to bring in a greater focus on LGBTQI rights. Since the 90s, but especially over the last four to six years, women’s and LGBTQI rights are being attacked at the international level. Emanating from the Vatican historically, it now also comes from some states. In this regard, Turkey is currently very prominent, but also the USA under Trump, Brazil, the Philippines, Hungary, or Poland. Attempts are being made to maintain this old world order by withdrawing from conventions like the Istanbul Convention, establishing LGBTQI-free zones, or restricting women’s access to reproductive health care and thus the right to self-determination.
At the CFFP we are advocating for an intersectional and just world order instead.
IFAIR: Let’s talk about how Feminist Foreign Policy relates to climate justice. Why is the climate crisis a threat to security and what intersections play into it?
KL: Climate justice means that the climate catastrophe is not just seen as an environmental issue, but a social justice issue. It’s important for us to convey that when crises happen, it’s always those who are already furthest down the hierarchies in a patriarchal society who are most affected. The movement for climate action and climate justice has historically been led by Indigenous People and People of Color, who have consistently called attention to the fact that the destruction of our planet primarily affects these same people. Also, research by Valerie Hudson et al. shows the connection between equality and sustainable peace. It illustrates the following connection: the more patriarchal a society is the more it destroys the environment. So, the global patriarchal system, which is closely linked to colonialism and capitalism, is clearly connected to the destruction of our planet. That is a security issue. That’s why Feminist Foreign Policy focuses on the concept of human security rather than state security.
This nexus between climate justice and security, however, has been insanely neglected, and for many years states like Russia and China, but also others in the United Nations Council, have argued that this is not a serious problem. But something is starting to change. Germany, for example, has established an Informal Group on climate security in the United Nations Security Council in 2019/20.
IFAIR: Finally, what are the measures and tools that the CFFP has to change the current status quo?
KL: We do that through analysis and concrete proposals concerning resources, institutional changes, and political leadership. During the pandemic, we wrote an analysis for the German Federal Foreign Office on why Covid-19 is a feminist concern and what should be done to internationally counter the pushback against women’s rights during the pandemic. We give concrete examples of how arms export control should be changed to align with feminist values. Furthermore, we are currently writing demands for a Feminist Foreign Policy for the new German government after the upcoming elections. These include the issues of migration, climate, disarmament, defense of human rights but also institutional changes.
It finally needs to be said ‘ok we fucked up in the past and now it’s time we get it right’.
IFAIR: That was a powerful closing statement! Thank you very much for your time, Kristina.
Kristina has previously worked for the German Federal Foreign Office as a consultant building the women's network 'Unidas', she has been to Myanmar for the UNDP and has worked for the NGO 'Sisma Mujer' in Colombia on the peace process. She is also an activist and has founded an NGO and organized several successful campaigns, one of which led to an important change in the sexual offense law in Germany. Kristina is a Gates Foundation SDG Goalkeeper, Ashoka Fellow, a BMW Foundation Responsible Leader, and was selected for the ‘30 under 30’ Forbes Magazine list and three months later the Forbes DACH ‘30 under 30’ list.