May 2017 E-News
Good news, folks. So far, the nuclear weapon ban treaty has not destroyed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Not that we thought it ever would, or could. But nuclear-armed and nuclear-supportive states have routinely asserted that prohibiting nuclear weapons would somehow lead to the downfall of the non-proliferation regime—and it hasn’t. The first preparatory committee, held earlier this month in Vienna, was not impacted at all by ban treaty negotiations. Given that this was the predominant concern of these radioactive states in the lead-up to the first preparatory committee, it seems fair to assume that their other predictions and anxieties about the prohibition treaty are equally unfounded.
The only thing threatening the credibility of the NPT is the nuclear-armed states’ continued maintenance and development of their nuclear arsenals, and the nuclear-supportive states’ continued valorization of nuclear weapons as magical tools of security and stability. A strong prohibition treaty will impact these policies and practices, however. It’s only one more month until negotiations resume, and this edition of the E-News has lots of information about this and other elements of the nuclear, explosive, patriarchal order that we are collectively chipping away at!
In this edition:
- On the road to banning nuclear weapons
- Women's March to Ban the Bomb!
- Non-Proliferation Treaty concludes its first preparatory committee
- Rebel. Reframe. Resist. Reclaim.
- Explosive violence on the rise
- Arms transfers and child soldiers
- Upcoming events
- Featured news
- Recommended reading
On the road to banning nuclear weapons
There is less than one month to the start of the second round of negotiations at the United Nations of a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons! The draft treaty text will be released on Monday, 22 May at an event in Geneva hosted by the President of the negotiating conference, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica. We’ll be putting out reactions and briefing papers in the weeks to come as part of our advocacy leading up to 15 June–7 July negotiations, so stay tuned! While we wait for the text, if you are with civil society, please make sure that if you want to attend the negotiations you have applied for accreditation for your non-governmental organisation. The deadline is today, 19 May! Registration of participants will be possible for all accredited organisations until 7 June. Also be sure to let us know if you’re planning any side events.
To stay updated with the next round of negotiations, please subscribe to our ban treaty mailing list to receive daily updates. You can also follow us on social media with the hashtag #nuclearban and the Twitter accounts @RCW_ and @nuclearban.
Women's March to Ban the Bomb!
It’s also just one month to the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb!
It’s going to be a great day and we’re looking forward to bringing as many groups and people on board. We have a new video you can share to raise awareness about the march and we’re always producing new resources like infographics, flyers, and other materials for distribution. Your organization can endorse the march, you can donate to support our efforts, you can volunteer to help with the march and rally in NYC, you can organise your own event! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more!
Non-Proliferation Treaty concludes its first preparatory committee
The first Preparatory Committee of the latest review cycle for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), held in Vienna the first two weeks of May, was a procedurally smooth affair but clearly showed the challenges ahead. Nuclear weapon modernisation, failure to implement agreed commitments and legal obligations related to disarmament, and the lack of progress on developing a WMD free zone in the Middle East pose threats to the Treaty’s credibility. The one progressive action currently underway, the nuclear weapon ban treaty, is supported by the vast majority of the NPT’s states parties, but is still rejected by states that dangerously valorize nuclear weapons as tools of “security” and “stability”.
The Chair of the PrepCom, Ambassador Henk Cor Van der Kwast of the Netherlands, received praise but also criticism for his factual summary, produced “on his own authority”. One positive development in the factual summary relates to increasing the participation of women in the work of the NPT. The summary reflects research brought to the Preparatory Committee by Ireland showing that women’s participation in NPT meetings is lower than in other multilateral forums, and notes that states parties “were encouraged, in accordance with their commitments under United Nations Security Council resolution 1325, actively to support participation of female delegates in their own NPT delegations and through support for sponsorship programs.”
For more details about the work of the PrepCom, please check out our resources online, including our regular reports in the NPT News in Review!
Rebel. Reframe. Resist. Reclaim.
From 26–28 April, while the heads of the United Nations (UN) met for a retreat in Montreux to discuss the future of the UN, over 150 leading women’s rights and peace activists from around the world have convened at the UN office in Geneva to analyse and review how the principles of the UN itself can be reclaimed.
WILPF organised this convening, inviting many diverse women-led civil society groups and allies in international intergovernmental organisations. In-depth discussions were held on disarmament, political economy, humanitarian and development interventions, as well as on the gendered dynamics within the field of peace and security, especially at the local level. One message was clear: local women and women’s groups must be at the centre of conflict prevention efforts because they have the analysis, the knowledge, and the capacity to do so. Participants from Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Africa, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, among others demanded that the UN must listen and hear from the communities affected by the conflict that these women represent. As a peaceful organisation, the UN must move from managing conflicts to addressing root causes of instability, contributing to building “sustainable feminist peace” with women at the forefront.
For more information, see our report from the convening. In order to ensure an open and inclusive convening, all plenaries were live-streamed on WILPF’s Facebook page and viewers were invited to ask questions to the panels. All videos are available on facebook.com/wilpf. Also check out Twitter with the hashtags #MissingVoices and #ReclaimUN.
According to the latest report from Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), a partner of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), there were 45,624 deaths and injuries by explosive weapons in 2016. More statistics can be found in the report and in a video by AOAV. Another INEW partner, PAX, has just released a report on the impacts of explosive weapons on health care in Ukraine. The report Operating under Fire shows that when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, they often inflict harm on the health care system, even when they are not intentionally directed at hospitals. On 25 May, states will gather or an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict at the UN Security Council. INEW recommends states use this opportunity to support a political declaration to protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
In May, WILPF made a submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child on its review of the United States in relation to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Highlighting US arms transfers to Colombia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Nigeria, where child soldiers are known to be used by state and non-state armed forces, WILPF’s submission urged the Committee to reiterate its recommendations to the USA with regard to arms transfers, in particular the recommendation to enact and apply full prohibition of arms exports, including small arms and light weapons, as well as any kind of military assistance to countries where children are known to be, or may potentially be, recruited or used in armed conflict and/or hostilities.
Conference on Disarmament, Party Two
15 May–30 June 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
Arms Trade Treaty CSP3 Preparatory Committee
1 June 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence
5–17 June 2017
GGE on the UN Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditure
5–9 June 2017, New York, USA
Nuclear weapon ban treaty negotiations
15 June–7 July 2017, New York, USA
Women’s March to Ban the Bomb
15 June 2017
Military expenditure nears $1.7 trillion in 2016
World military expenditure is estimated to have been $1686 billion in 2016, equivalent to 2.2 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) or $227 per person. The 2016 estimate is a marginal increase of about 0.4 per cent in real terms on 2015.
Saudi Arabia to launch national arms industry
Saudi Arabia announced that it will launch a national weapons manufacturing company. The new company will be called Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), and aims to become one of the top 25 defense companies in the world by the year 2030, according to a statement by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
Tunnel collapses at Hanford nuclear site
A tunnel collapsed at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, with rail cars full of nuclear waste inside. According to an emergency report from Hanford, the alert was triggered after a routine inspection detected that soil had caved into a tunnel over an area of about 20 feet by 20 feet next to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility. The Hanford site is known as the most radioactive-contaminated site in the United States.
Outdoor peace art exhibit opens in Toronto
In Toronto’s east end, an artist is using iconic images of peace and peacemakers to encourage new generations to search for ways to maintain a “sustainable peace.” Ashley Woods is the curator of Making Peace, a free outdoor art exhibit of 125 photographs that are displayed in the Canary District. It's the exhibition's first stop in North America after having already been to 12 cities around the world.
Tim Wright, “If you abhor chemical attacks, support a ban on nuclear weapons,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 25 April 2017
William J. Astore, “The Threat of Nuclear Weapons to America,” Bracing Views, 26 April 2017
Allison Pytlak, “Cyber Insecurity Under Trump,” Forum on the Arms Trade, 29 April 2017William D. Hartung, “We Are Spending a Trillion on War and We Need to Own Up to It,” The Nation, 9 May 2017