December 2017 E-News

It’s that time of year again; when we recount our top five kicks from the past year, and ask you for help to keep going next year.
This year’s top five are pretty good—a march, a treaty, a peace prize ... and that’s just to start. It’s not all gravy though; it took a lot of hard work to get where we are now, and there is still SO much more to do. We need your help to do it.
There are many ways you can give: you can sign up for a one-time donation or a monthly pledge through PayPal, or you can write a cheque to the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and mail it to WILPF, 777 UN Plaza, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10017, USA (with “Reaching Critical Will” in the memo line). You can also send money orders or wire transfers—just email us for details!
Thank you for considering us in your holiday giving this year. Happy holidays and best wishes for the year ahead!


Banning nuclear weapons

On 7 July, we banned the bomb! It still feels remarkable to be able to say that, finally. After seventy years of activism and several recent years of concerted intergovernmental efforts, we have a legally binding instrument that categorically prohibits nuclear weapons: the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As atomic bomb survivor Setsuko Thurlow said in her remarkable closing statement to the negotiating conference on 7 July, “This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.”
This treaty was conceived of as a tool that could help change the politics and economics of nuclear weapons as a means of facilitating disarmament. It provides a solid foundation to change policies and practices, as well as to shift the thinking and discourse on nuclear weapons even further. Reaching this agreement is an amazing feat of collective action by people who came together to do something that had not been tried before. Like anything created by people, it has its imperfections. But it’s a good start on the road to abolition, and it gives a glimpse of what is possible in this world. That, all on its own, has meaning.
Reaching Critical Will provided daily analysis from the negotiations and posted all relevant documents and statements online. Check out some great videos from the conference on ICAN’s Vimeo page and Reaching Critical Will’s Facebook page. You can also read RCW and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)’s writings at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and view photos on ICAN’s Flickr page. After the negotiations, our director Ray Acheson was honoured to be invited to discuss the treaty with Democracy Now!, Al Jazeera, and PRI’s The World.
What’s next? The support expressed for the treaty over the last several years continues into this new phase where we will need to work even more closely with states and legislators to join and implement it, including the nuclear-armed states and nuclear-supportive states that have so far boycotted this process. 56 states have signed the Treaty and three have ratified it so far. We will continue to be active on the steering group of the ICAN to ensure that our global, diverse initiative gets even stronger in the years ahead!
Read more from Reaching Critical Will

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize

On 10 December 2017 in Oslo, Norway, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize! This honour was in recognition for our work bringing attention to the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons and working with governments to achieve the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
WILPF is an active member of the ICAN International Steering Group and has played a leading role in campaigning for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Reaching Critical Will’s Director, Ray Acheson, was at the awards ceremony in Oslo to represent WILPF. It was truly an honour to be part of the ICAN delegation at these events, which WILPF members from National Sections involved in ICAN’s work also joined.
This Nobel Peace Prize is an acknowledgement of ICAN’s tireless efforts to achieve the ban treaty and reframe the global discourse on nuclear weapons. ICAN’s efforts build on decades of activism against nuclear weapons. Since the first nuclear weapon tests in New Mexico in July 1945 to their horrific and inhumane use against citizens in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the thousands of tests around the world, activists have worked tirelessly to oppose the possession of these weapons on the basis their catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences. Women in particular have mobilised against these weapons, from blocking nuclear bases and convoys with their bodies to leading civil society advocacy including through ICAN. WILPF has actively opposed nuclear weapons since their inception and has campaigned tirelessly for nuclear disarmament. The organisation is honoured to have been part of ICAN for the past ten years, bringing a feminist perspective to the campaign and working alongside atomic bomb survivors from Japan, indigenous test survivors, and antinuclear activists from around the world.
What’s next? We’ll be working within ICAN to use the momentum from the Nobel Peace Prize to carry forward education and ratification processes for the Treaty. We’ll also be engaging new partners around the world to highlight the real, practical alternative this Treaty offers to rising tensions and nuclear war.
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Marching in the rain to ban the bomb

In the midst of nuclear ban negotiations, WILPF hosted the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb. We worked closely with women representing peace, disarmament, women’s rights, indigenous, environmental, and human rights communities to coordinate this epic event.
While the primary march and rally took place in New York City, there were about 150 diverse solidarity actions all over the world, including Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Cameroon, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, and United States!
In NYC, around 1,000 committed people came out to march despite heavy rain and wind. The march was followed by a rally outside of the UN where an inspiring line-up of women addressed the determined crowd. Among them was Kozue Akibayashi, the President of WILPF International, who said, “The sufferings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have continued through generations. It is time for the governments to listen to the voices of women calling for elimination of nuclear weapons.”
You can check out cool videos about preparing the event, and about the event itself. You can also check out photos from the NYC action and photos from across Australia! Also read Ray’s article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists about the Women’s March.
What’s next? While this march was a one-time event, the momentum and community it built for the nuclear ban movement certainly isn’t over. We will be engaging those who participated in Women’s March to Ban the Bomb events around the world in our continuing work on achieving the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
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Read about Reaching Critical Will

Taking on armed drones

Reaching Critical Will stepped up WILPF’s work against armed drones in 2017. In July, WILPF and Article 36 co-hosted a meeting of civil society actors concerned about the threat of armed drones. The meeting in London brought together around 20 people representing academia, policy organisations, and research groups to discuss common approaches and areas of mutual concern, including possible collective responses and new initiatives.
On 13 September, 19 civil society organisations including WILPF raised concerns about the weakness and inadequacy of a US-led initiative to limit the spread of armed drone technology, which does not address the need to define the acceptable limits of armed drone use.
Then, as the United Nations met to review its Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons on 27 and 28 September, WILPF launched a new research report on Djibouti indicating that foreign military bases there may be contributing to sexual violence in that country, including possible human trafficking and forced prostitution. The report, Remote warfare and sexual violence in Djibouti, builds upon the work of two investigative journalists from the Netherlands, Sanne Terlingen and Hannah Kooy.
While many human rights and disarmament groups are carefully tracking humanitarian harm caused by drone strikes in locations they are used, there has not yet been sufficient investigation into the humanitarian harms from where drones are launched. The US uses its base in Djibouti to launch drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia. China just opened its first foreign military base in Djibouti in August 2017. France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Russia, Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom also have bases or troops operating out of Djibouti. Djibouti is on the US State Department’s watch list for trafficking in persons due to the high risks of trafficking and lack of effective prevention, protection, or prosecution policies. Foreign soldiers, including those of the United States and France, have been found engaged in illegal sexual activities with women and girls, though so far only one case has resulted in prosecution.
Finally, on 13 October, WILPF launched a research study on the humanitarian impact of drones together with Article 36 and the International Disarmament Institute at Pace University. With contributions from academics, legal analysts, and survivors of armed drones, this report aims to refocus the debate about drones on the harm caused to people by these weapons as specific technologies of violence. It examines the significant challenges raised by drones to international law, human rights, ethics and morality, peace and security, environmental protection, development, transparency, surveillance, privacy, policing, gender equality, and more. We launched the report at a side event during the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security.
What’s next? Reaching Critical Will is going to continue to disseminate the findings of the research report on the humanitarian impact of drones and to work with civil society and governmental partners to explore ways to prevent humanitarian harm from these weapons.
Read more from Reaching Critical Will

Amplifying links between gender and disarmament

Following the momentum building in previous years, more and more states and civil society activists are making the links between gender perspectives and disarmament. The Chair’s factual summary of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee in May highlights the gendered impacts of nuclear weapon, as does the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted in July. Both documents also emphasis the need for gender equity in discussions and negotiations on nuclear weapons and urge states to do more to ensure women’s voices are included.
In statements to these forums, and to the UN General Assembly First Committee in October, more governments than ever talked about the intersections between gender perspectives, women’s participation, and disarmament discourse and policy. In particular, Canada’s statement to First Committee, as well as Ireland and Sweden’s efforts at the NPT and ban negotiations, have amplified this issue across forums. At First Committee, Canada also coordinated a joint statement calling for better equity in participation and representation. NGOs also delivered a joint statement on gender and disarmament during First Committee, which was written and coordinated by WILPF.
WILPF continues to be a leader on this subject. In 2017, we published a summary version of our resource guide on how to implement the gender-based violence provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty. Together with WILPF’s Crisis Response programme we worked to raise awareness among our partners in the Middle East and North African region about the connections between the international arms trade, the use of explosive weapons, and gender-based violence. The two programmes collaborated to produce materials (an infographic, video, and webinar) in Arabic and English.
We also provided a chapter about gender perspectives on armed drones in our latest publication focusing on the humanitarian impact of drones. And, we published a big research study about the links between foreign military bases, drone strikes, and sexual violence in Djibouti. We also gave presentations on this subject to diplomats, lawyers, scholars, students, and activists across multiple forums throughout the year, and prepared statements together with our Human Rights programme on the arms trade and gender-based violence, making recommendations about this subject to the Human Rights Council and the Arms Trade Treaty conference of states parties.
What’s next? We will be continuing to work with governments and civil society partners in the coming years to ensure that gender diversity in disarmament is increased, and that gender perspectives on weapons, war, and militarism are more fully accounted for. We will also continue our work on trying to prevent gender-based violence and challenge violent masculinities through our activism, writing, and research.
Read more from Reaching Critical Will


The humanitarian impact of drones. This study examines various humanitarian impacts of the use of armed drones from various perspectives and regions. It refocuses the debate on the harm caused to people by these weapons as specific technologies of violence.

Remote warfare and sexual violence in Djibouti. This report looks at possible connections between foreign military bases and sexual violence in Djibouti. Several countries have military personnel and contractors operating in this country and high rates of trafficking and forced prostitution.

Preventing gender-based violence through effective Arms Trade Treaty implementation. This briefing paper provides tools and guidelines for effective implementation of the gender-based violence provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty.

Banning nuclear weapons: prohibitions for a nuclear ban treaty. This discussion paper outlines Reaching Critical Will’s view of important prohibitions for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. It was published during the negotiations of the treaty at the UN.

Banning nuclear weapons: principles and elements for a legally binding instrument. This discussion paper outlines Reaching Critical Will’s view of important principles, prohibitions, and positive obligations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

Assuring destruction forever: 2017 edition. This updated study explores the ongoing and planned nuclear weapon modernisation programmes in China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

2017 NPT briefing book. Published in advance of the 2017 Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee, this briefing book provides an overview of the current state of play and the critical issues ahead for this review cycle.

First Committee briefing book 2017. Published ahead of the 2017 UN General Assembly First Committee, this briefing book highlights a number of critical disarmament topics and suggests how governments can achieve progress.


Banning nuclear weapons

Ending the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

Gender and disarmament

Challenging the arms trade

Challenging armed drones


High-level fissile material cut-off treaty expert preparatory group informal consultations
Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee
United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination
Arms Trade Treaty Third Conference of States Parties (CSP3)
CSP3 preparatory process
ATT working groups
UN General Assembly General Debate
UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security
Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems


21 September 2017 WILPF Statement on the adoption of the 2017 Universal Periodic Review of the United Kingdom in regards to its arms transfers to Saudi Arabia
12 September 2017 WILPF Statement to the Third Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty
03 July 2017 WILPF Statement to the CEDAW Committee's 67th session's review of Italy, regarding its arms exports
28 June 2017 WILPF Statement to the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, on the treaty's prohibitions
19 June 2017 WILPF Statement to the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, on the treaty's general obligations
14 June 2017 WILPF Statement to the Human Rights Council: Human rights must come before profits from the arms trade
13 June 2017 WILPF Statement on the oral update of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, regarding weapons transfers to Syria and their impact on women
06 June 2017 WILPF Statement to the Human Rights Council on the need for continued scrutiny of the gendered impacts of arms proliferation
11 May 2017 WILPF Statement on the USA's arms transfers to countries where child soldiers are used
03 May 2017 WILPF statement to the 2017 NPT Preparatory Committee
29 March 2017 WILPF statement to the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their elimination
20 February 2017 WILPF statement on multidimensional insecurity and its impacts on Libyan women