July 2016 E-News
A remotely-controlled robot used to detonate an explosive to kill a sniper. More police violence against black Americans. More terrorist attacks in the Middle East and Europe. And what on earth is happening in the United Kingdom? The constant throughout these mounting crises is weapons. Weapons used to commit violence, weapons exported for profit, weapons determining how we engage with each other. Our relentless investment in weapons and war over alternatives is a self-fulfilling prophecy of death: the more we invest in violence, the more violence there will be. The more violence, the more xenophobia, the more racism, the more inequality.
There was at least one hopeful development in the last month, however. On 23 June an historic agreement was signed between the Colombian government and FARC-EP, ending more than fifty years of armed conflict in Colombia. WILPF Colombia noted with cautious optimism that although it is still waiting for the final signing of all the negotiated points of the agreement and its approval by the Colombian people, it is celebrating “the progress of what we consider one of the most historical points and that lays the foundation for the building of a sustainable and lasting peace in Colombia.”
Peace is possible, if peace is the priority. We need to make it a priority in our economic, political, and social engagements with the world.
In this edition:
- On the road to banning nuclear weapons
- Arms exports called into question at human rights review
- Second annual meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty
- Conventional weapons treaty up for review
- Moving the money from war to peace
- WILPF resolutions on militarism, refugees, and accountability
- Upcoming events
- Featured news
- Recommended reading
Attention to the impending negotiations of a nuclear weapon ban treaty is growing. Most recently, on 14 July, the US State Department hosted a forum on nuclear weapons that included a debate on the ban. Participants included Ray Acheson representing WILPF and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons; Adam Mount from the Center for American Progress, and Rebeccah Heinrichs from the Hudson Institute. The perceived value of nuclear weapons and legitimacy of threatening nuclear violence were foremost issues during the debate.
Next up, join anti-nuclear campaigner Dr. Helen Caldicott, Daniel Högsta from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and Ray Acheson from WILPF to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Panelists will discuss the current state of play on nuclear disarmament. Register today to attend the webinar, which will take place at 15:00 EDT / 21:00 CEST.
In addition, the first draft of the Chair’s report from the open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament will be issued by early August. The Chair will hold formal and informal meetings throughout the rest of the month and the report will be considered for adoption on 19 August in Geneva. The discussions at the OEWG in May saw the majority of countries supporting the negotiation of a nuclear weapon ban treaty, which should be reflected in August’s report. WILPF, as a member of ICAN, will be at the August meetings and will report on the decisions made there, which will be important for action at this year’s UN General Assembly First Committee!
From 6-24 June 2016, the Committee of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights reviewed Angola, Burkina Faso, France, Honduras, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. WILPF submitted shadow reports on France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, focusing on the impact of exports of weapons to Saudi Arabia or its allies on the right to health, education, and adequate housing of people in Yemen. Taking up these reports, the CESCR Committee reminded the UK to conduct thorough risk assessments prior to granting licences for arms exports and to refuse or suspend such licences when there is risk that arms could be used to violate human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights.
The second Conference of States Parties (CSP2) of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will be held in Geneva from 22 to 26 August 2016. This is an important moment for states to assess the implementation and universaliation of the Treaty and to make decisions on reporting and international assistance, among other things. In the lead up to CSP2, a series of preparatory meetings have been held to discuss some of the crucial administrative and financial modalities of the Treaty and it's conferences. WILPF has covered these preparatory meetings and will provide daily analysis of CSP2 through our ATT Monitor. Subscribe today to receive this important resource during the conference.
A Preparatory Committee for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Review Conference will be held from 31 August to 2 September 2016 in Geneva. This convention, which focuses on weapons “deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects” has in recent years taken up work on lethal autonomous weapon systems, which WILPF has actively campaigned against. The CCW also addresses issues related to incendiary weapons, mines other than anti-personnel mines, and more. WILPF will provide coverage of the Preparatory Committee and the Review Conference—subscribe to our conventional weapons mailing list for daily coverage!
From 7–8 July, WILPF’s women, peace and security (WPS) programme PeaceWomen held a workshop that brought together civil society experts from development and security sectors to develop concrete strategies for gender equality and peace. Participants reported on the workshop’s findings at an 11 July side event at the High Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals. At the workshop, RCW’s Ray Acheson moderated a panel with Cynthia Enloe of Clark University and Nela Porobic of WILPF Bosnia on militarism and military spending, highlighting how ideas of militarism affect ideas of masculinity, security, and even feminism.
The International Board of WILPF, meeting in June 2016, adopted three resolutions denouncing militarism and supporting nonviolent approaches to peace and justice. The resolutions include:
- Supporting the development of an international treaty to ensure accountability for human rights violations by corporations
- Condemning the sexual assault and murder of Okinawan woman by former US marine and calling for the withdrawal of US military from Okinawa, Japan
- Provision of gender-sensitive support to Syrian women refugees
Conference on Disarmament
2 August–16 September 2016, Geneva
Webinar on a nuclear weapon free world
5 August 2016
Open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament
5, 16, and 19 August, Geneva
71st anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima
6 August 2016
Preparatory Committee for the 8th Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention
8–12 August 2016, Geneva
71st anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki
9 August 2016
Arms Trade Treaty Second Conference of States Parties
22–26 August 2016, Geneva
10th Conference of High Contracting Parties to Protocol V of the CCW
29 August 2016, Geneva
18th Conference of High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II of the CCW
30 August 2016, Geneva
Preparatory Committee for the Fifth Review Conference of the CCW
31 August–2 September 2016, Geneva
Over 50,000 Okinawans protest US military presence
At least 50,000 people gathered in Okinawa, Japan to protest against heavy US military presence after a local woman was murdered by an ex-Marine.
UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia to be scrutinised in high court
Leigh Day solicitors, on behalf of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, argued that the indiscriminate nature of the airstrikes by Saudi Arabia in Yemen meant that there was a significant chance of any weapons sold there being used for human rights abuses, making them illegal under British and European arms export laws. In a hearing at the high court in London Mr Justice Gilbart gave permission for a judicial review into this matter. The hearings must go ahead by 1 February next year.
Activists protest arms fair in Farnborough, UK
Activists protesting arms transfers to Saudi Arabia led a day of protests against the Farnborough arms fair. Saudi Arabia was among the countries invited by the UK government to send a military delegation.
US to continue selling cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia
US Congress has opted to continue selling cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, citing a need not to "stigmatize" the weapon.
Canadian government faces renewed pressure over transparency in arms export decisions
Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion made a decision earlier this year on whether to allow Canadian-made military goods to be shipped to Thailand, which since the 2014 coup has faced what Human Rights Watch calls a “deepening human rights crisis,” but the government won’t divulge whether he blocked or approved these exports or what military goods were involved.
Police use remote-controlled robot to detonate an explosive device
On 7 July the Dallas, Texas police used a remotely-controlled bomb disposal robot to deliver an explosive that detonated, killing a man suspected of shooting more than a dozen people. While several media headlines have called this a “killer robot,” the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has explained that it is not the type of autonomous weapon that the global coalition of non-governmental organizations has been campaigning against since 2013. Nevertheless, the use of a robot in policing with lethal intent may raise ethical and other concerns.
Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to be shut down, power replaced by renewables, efficiency, storage
An historic agreement has been reached between Pacific Gas and Electric, Friends of the Earth, and other environmental and labor organizations to replace the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors with greenhouse-gas-free renewable energy, efficiency and energy storage resources. Friends of the Earth says the agreement provides a clear blueprint for fighting climate change by replacing nuclear and fossil fuel energy with safe, clean, cost-competitive renewable energy.
Abigail Ruane, “Paris, Lebanon, Iraq, USA: disarm gender-based violence for peace and human security,” 20 June 2016
Nancy Kricorian, “In Gaza, the Drones Never Sleep,” In These Times, 28 June 2016
Nobuo Hayashi, “Nukes, Gaps, and International Law—Clearing Metaphorical Entanglements,” The Huffington Post, 1 July 2016
Norman Solomon, “The Most Important US Air Force Base You’ve Never Heard Of,” The Nation, 7 July 2016
Bombing businesses: Saudi coalition airstrikes on Yemen’s civilian economic structures, Human Rights Watch, 10 July 2016