January 2017 E-News

Welcome to 2017! Big things are afoot, starting with a Women’s March on Washington and sister marches around the world on 21 January. It’s a chance for many of us to take a stand together in solidarity and hope. We’ll need to continue standing strong on many fronts moving forward—including when it comes to taking on nuclear weapons.

With nuclear weapon prohibition treaty negotiations beginning in March and the next non-proliferation treaty review cycle starting in May, it’s going to be an intense, creative, and meaningful year of work against these weapons of mass destruction. Public consciousness of the urgency of this issue is mounting and it’s great timing for citizens and governments around the world to develop new law and reenergise our actions.
Taking heed of WILPF’s overarching goals of stigmatising war and violence and building feminist peace, Reaching Critical Will is also stepping up our work against remote warfare this year. We are publishing a report on military bases, drones, and sexual violence in Djibouti, as well as a study on the humanitarian impact of armed drones. We’re also working with others to build up civil society collaboration on this issue internationally. In addition, the UN has finally decided to start a formal process on lethal autonomous weapon systems this year, which we hope will lead to a prohibition on their development.
In the meantime, we’ll also be continuing our work challenging the arms trade, promoting gender diversity and perspectives in disarmament, and working with women in the Middle East and elsewhere to end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
It’s going to be a busy year. Join us!

In this edition:

 On the road to banning nuclear weapons

On 23 December 2016, the UN General Assembly confirmed the adoption of the resolution establishing negotiations on a nuclear weapon ban treaty in 2017. We’re all set to go on 27 March—but there’s much work to be done in the meantime. Stay tuned for materials and advocacy, as well as information for civil society engagement in the negotiations. We’ll have more information for you soon on our website on the parameters for getting accredited to the UN process, booking side events, hosting exhibitions, and more.
In the meantime, we can all get ready for the Global Week of Action for the ban treaty! From 10 to 17 February, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is encouraging partner organisations to hold events around the world to raise awareness and encourage governments to participate in the negotiations. Check out the new ICAN website www.nuclearban.org for more details!

 Arms Trade Treaty working groups to meet next month

Intercessional work on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will begin in February. The programme of work includes a meeting of the working group on implementation (6-7 February), transparency and reporting (8 February), and universalisation (9 February).  This is in addition to a one-day informal preparatory meeting on 16 February and a meeting for civil society on 15 February. These meetings are the first time that states parties are meeting since the second Conference of States Parties (CSP2) in August. They present a potentially important opportunity to advance substantive discussion across all subjects, particularly those left unresolved or overlooked at the CSP.  Civil society, including WILPF, will advocate that this include discussion about the failure of some states parties to fully implement their commitments, particularly by continuing to transfer arms to known human rights abusers.

 UN Security Council discusses cyber security

On 28 November 2016, Spain and Senegal organised an Arria-formulameeting on cyber security and international peace and security at the UN in New York. Participants discussed challenges resulting from the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) that can threaten international peace and security. Some common themes and concerns emerged from the discussion, including concern about attacks on critical infrastructure and the development of international norms and confidence building measures. This is the first time that the Council has taken up the issue; it is typically considered by the UN Group of Governmental Experts on ICTs.

 New Don't Bank on the Bomb report launched

Dutch peace organization PAX launched the 2016 edition of its Don’t Bank on the Bomb report in December. The report profiles a number of financial institutions that are contributing to the creation of a world without nuclear weapons by prohibiting or limiting investment in nuclear weapon producing companies. Twenty-seven companies are involved in the production, maintenance, and modernisation of nuclear weapons, making available a combined total of 498 billion USD to producers. Those companies are based in France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

 Upcoming events

Conference on Disarmament
23 January–31 March 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
ATT working group meetings
6–9 February 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
ATT preparatory committee meeting
16 February 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
GGE on the UN Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures
13–17 March 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
Nuclear weapon ban treaty negotiations
27–31 March 2017, New York, USA

 Featured news

UK exported 500 cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia in 1980s, admits Ministry of Defense
The UK exported hundreds of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s, official figures show. The defence secretary said 500 cluster munitions were delivered to Saudi Arabia from the UK between 1986 and 1989.
Pakistan has fired its first submarine-launched cruise missile 
The launch of the nuclear-capable Babur-3 missile, which has a range of 450 km (280 miles), was fired from an undisclosed location in the Indian Ocean.
Syrian officials black listed by US
The officials are connected to the country's weapons of mass destruction programme, after an international investigation found Syrian government forces were responsible for chlorine gas attacks against civilians.
Denmark plans to increase military spending
The move comes in response Russian missile deployments in the Baltic region that it perceives as a threat.
EU tightens rules on firearms
The European Union (EU) says it has tightened rules on firearms but falls short of demands to ban AK-47 semi-automatic rifles outright.

 Recommended reading

Allison Pytlak, “The ‘business as usual’ approach to arms sales? That’s so last year,” Forum on the Arms Trade, 10 January 2017
WILPF Statement to the Fifth CCW Review Conference, 12 December 2016