September marks the beginning of a series of events here at UN Headquarters in New York, starting with the opening of the 66th General Assembly and the general debate from 21–30 September. As usual, Reaching Critical Will is going to monitor and analyze government statements to the general debate and will index all references to disarmament and arms control issues by country and topic. (RCW’s sister project PeaceWomen will do the same for all references to women, peace, and security issues).
The thematic focus of this year’s general debate is “Strengthening the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution,” which is particularly relevant to much of WILPF’s work. We expect member states to use this opportunity to express political support for disarmament, reduction of military expenditure, human rights, women’s participation, and sustainable peace.
There will also be numerous high-level meetings on the side, including one on nuclear safety and security on 22 September that was called for by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station. In anticipation of this high-level meeting, as well as the UN system-wide study on nuclear power commissioned by Ban, Reaching Critical Will has coordinated a global civil society study on nuclear power. Released on 11 September, six months after the disaster at Fukushima, the report includes analysis of government policies from around the world and dismantles many of the myths of nuclear power. It is available online in PDF; more information about the report and the high-level meeting are available below.
On the same day as the high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security, a delegation of survivors from Fukushima will be holding a side event in New York City. See below for more details.
Following the high-level General Assembly segment, the UNGA’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security will commence its work on 3 October—details are below. Once again RCW will be monitoring and analyzing the committee through our weekly First Committee Monitor—subscribe now to be sure to receive this important resource during the month.
We are also delighted to inform you that the Reaching Critical Will website is currently undergoing a massive overhaul. It is being redesigned to be more user-friendly and will include a searchable database for statements and other documents. The new version should be online early in 2012 and we hope that it will enhance the accessibility of our resources.
While we look forward to the events ahead, September has already brought big changes for RCW. Project associate Beatrice Fihn is now on maternity leave and is due later this month. We look forward to welcoming a new anti-nuclear activist to the world! Gabriella Irsten, who has been working with us in the Geneva office since January, will be filling in until Beatrice returns in early 2012. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ray Acheson, Project Director
Costs, risks, and myths of nuclear power
On 22 September, governments and UN entities will gather for a high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security, which was called for by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station. Ban also commissioned a UN system-wide study on nuclear power ahead of this meeting.
In anticipation of these two items, Reaching Critical Will coordinated a global civil society study on nuclear power. Costs, risks, and myths of nuclear power: NGO world-wide study on the implications of the catastrophe at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant is a collaborative work of non-governmental researchers, scientists, and activists. It was released on 11 September 2011, six months after the disaster at Fukushima. The report includes civil society analysis of nuclear power infrastructure and government policies from around the world. It also articulates arguments against the common myths of nuclear power in its relationship to safety, the environment, renewable energy, climate change, economics, and more.
Japanese WILPF member Kozue Akibayahsi asks in her preface to the report, “What is nuclear safety? How will the safety and the livelihood of people to which we all are entitled be ensured with regard to nuclear power? Would ensuring safety be possible at all? These are not rhetorical questions but real ones. We need to have clearer answers to these questions, not in the future, but now.” Reaching Critical Will is looking forward to an invigorating debate at the high-level meeting, where these questions must be addressed. We have answered them ourselves in the report, with M.V. Ramana’s chapter on nuclear safety answering no, nuclear power will not be safe. He explains, “Catastrophic accidents are inevitable with nuclear power. While these may not be frequent in an absolute sense, there are good reasons to believe that they will be far more frequent than quantitative tools such as probabilistic risk assessments predict. Any discussion about the future of nuclear power ought to start with that realization.”
We look forward to hearing what governments will say on 22 September. RCW will be monitoring the meeting and will circulate a report at the end. We will also provide a short assessment of the UN system-wide study on nuclear power. Stay tuned through the e-news and the website.
Related upcoming and current events
On the same day as the high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security, a delegation of survivors from Fukushima will be holding a side event in New York City. The meeting will be held at the American Friends Service Committee Meetinghouse, 15 Rutherford Place between 15th and 16th Streets and Third Avenue, from 12:00–2:00 PM. Please bring a brown bag lunch; beverages will be provided.
On 23–24 September, the New School for Social Research is hosting a two-day conference on “The Bottom Line on Climate Change: Transitioning to Renewable Energy,” which will look at renewable energy in a post-Fukushima world. Free tickets are available online.
On 1 October, Coalition Against Nukes is organizing a rally in New York City inspired by the Fukushima disaster. The rally will be held at Pier 95 Hudson River Park, 12th Ave @ West 55th Street, from Noon to 3:30 pm.
In Australia, Footprints for Peace is leading a Walk Away from Uranium Mining, in which 40+ people are walking from Wiluna to Perth to protest against the uranium industry. International guests are welcome to join! You can follow their walk on “updates from the road” and view their photos on Flickr.
UN General Assembly General Debate
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is consensus-building body, where issues of international peace and security are collectively discussed among all UN member states. Its regular session convenes in September of each year. For two weeks, heads of state, foreign ministers, or other high-level representatives have the opportunity to address the entire international community with their concerns, priorities, and opinions about a variety of topics. This year’s general debate will take place from 21–30 September 2011.
During the general debate, Reaching Critical Will complies all references to disarmament, peace, and security and posts them online bycountry and topic. The statements from the general debate will give us an idea of the issues upon which governments will be focusing during the UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, which begins on 4 October.
Fact sheet on the General Assembly
To find out more about the General Assembly, check out Reaching Critical Will’s two-page fact sheet that explains what the General Assembly is, why its important for disarmament, and how you can make an impact.
UN General Assembly First Committee
The General Assembly’s work on disarmament is conducted through one of its main committees, the First Committee on Disarmament and International Security. The First Committee provides space for each state to discuss their positions on disarmament-related matters, to build consensus on the issues or highlight divergences, and to table and adopt non-binding resolutions. Of course, the First Committee often fails to make good use of its potential, but it provides one of the best opportunities for outreach, education, and advocacy efforts on disarmament and non-proliferation issues.
First Committee 2011: 3 October–1 November
Chairperson: Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen (Finland)
Side events are an excellent way to educate each other, delegations, and members of the Secretariat on a broad range of disarmament and security issues. NGO side events are becoming increasingly popular with both diplomats and civil society.
In accordance with ST/AI/416 of 26 April 1996, all requests for the use of United Nations premises should be either sponsored by a Permanent or Observer Mission to the United Nations or by departments or offices of the United Nations.
The deadline for seeking UNODA sponsorship is 23 September 2011. If you want to request UNODA to sponsor your event, please feel out the sponsorship request form (doc) and submit it the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, Information and Outreach Branch: email@example.com. Please note that your request for sponsorship does not imply it will granted.
For those NGOs who already have government sponsors and are requesting rooms and technical setup for their event, please fill out the room request form (doc) and submit it to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, Information and Outreach Branch:firstname.lastname@example.org.
A calendar of events is available online. Please note that dates, times, and locations are tentative and subject to change. Please check back regularly for updates. If you have already booked your event, please let RCW know so that we can add your event to the calendar, which is the number one resource for all those looking for updates on the First Committee.
Contributing to the First Committee Monitor
We encourage you to use the First Committee Monitor to publicize an important announcement, event, or project hosted by your organization.
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Finally, if you are interested in following events at the First Committee, subscribe to receive the First Committee Monitor in your inbox each Monday morning during October.
What else can civil society do around the First Committee?
Media Outreach: While decisions taken on matters of disarmament and non-proliferation are some of the most critical issues to the world, there remains a lack of adequate coverage of these issues by the mainstream media. Many mainstream media agencies aresubsidiaries of military corporations. These agencies are never going to give positive media coverage to groups and messages that challenge their power. Notice the correspondents in the print, radio, and TV media covering nuclear or foreign policy matters. Build a data base of media contacts and keep a select group of journalists, or your entire list, informed of your activities and analysis of events and developments in this field.
Create your own media: newsletters, radio shows, video documentaries, email lists, webpages. To find out how to get involved with local independent media near you, see: www.indymedia.org.
Organize an event at home: With the First Committee in session, it is a prime teachable moment to continue your own education, outreach and advocacy efforts at home. To find out what disarmament NGOs are working in your area, check our NGO contact database.
Reach out to your representatives: Contact your representatives in New York and in your capital. Fax or email them letters urging them to support disarmament-focused resolutions. Offer them resources for more information and demand a response. For more information on writing a letter, see RCW’s action tips. Find out who represents you at our Government Contacts database.
Organize a meeting with your representatives; listen to their opinion on nuclear issues and share yours. Find out who represents you at our Government Contacts database.
Missile testing on the International Day of Peace?
21 September is the International Day of Peace. However, on this day, the United States has scheduled a test of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to a target in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. WILPF member Macgregor Eddy is organizing a protest against the test and reports the following:
These tests have recently occurred about once a month. Each test costs tens of millions of dollars. In addition to the budgetary implications, such tests result in serious international relations problems.
David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, stated that the ongoing US testing program is provocative and stimulates other countries to improve or develop nuclear weapons and conduct their own tests. He said, “The continued testing of Minuteman III nuclear missiles is a clear example of US double standards. The government believes that it is fine to test-fire these missiles time and again, while expressing criticism when other countries conduct missile tests. Such double standards encourage nuclear proliferation and make the world a more dangerous place.”
She argues that when North Korea launches short-range missiles the US demands sanctions against the country and “uses North Korea as an excuse for the massive military build-up in the Pacific, including the expansion of the so-called missile ‘defense’ to Korea, and the construction of a Naval base on the beautiful Jeju Island of Peace in South Korea, which will be used to dock US Aegis destroyers.”
“For the sake of Korea and the world,” Eddy says, “and in support of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which these tests undermine, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom calls on all of the 21 September International Peace celebrations to raise awareness of this double standard.”
Note: At a similar test on 27 July 2011, MacGregor Eddy and Father Vitale, a Franciscan priest, were arrested while protesting the launch. MacGregor had just returned from Jeju Island, a beautiful World Heritage site in South Korea, where the ruling party is trying to build a naval base which will host US Aegis destroyers carrying missile “defense” interceptors. Villagers have delayed base construction with their non-violent protests for four years. After their arrest MacGregor wrote, “Fr. Louie and myself were inspired by the actions of the people of Gangjeong to go onto the base and attempt to stop the launch by citing international law and the need for world peace.”
For more information, please see http://vandenbergwitness.org/.
Keep Space for Peace Week
1–8 October 2011 will mark the annual Keep Space for Peace Week, during which there are international days of action to stop the militarization of outer space. The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space is managing an online list of international events and has additional information about the week.
WILPF is a co-sponsor of this annual event and will be participating in some of these events. In addition, several WILPF members are available as speakers if you want to organize an event. In addition, WILPF member Carol Urner has written the headline article in thelatest edition of the Global Networks newsletter Space Alert!Her article is about space-directed drones, which are “in the first wave of satellite-guided robots now drastically changing the way war is fought and perceived.”
Reaching Critical Will will be monitoring progress on outer space-related issues at First Committee during this week. There will be an annual resolution on preventing an arms race in outer space, from which last year only the United States and Israel abstained. There may also be a resolution on transparency- and confidence-building measures in outer space—a group of government experts will begin its work on this issue in 2012. Stay tuned to the First Committee Monitor for updates.
Update on Jeju Island
In the village of Ganjeong on Jeju Island, off the coast of South Korea, local people are struggling to prevent the construction of a naval base. The base is intended to service US Navy Aegis destroyers that hold Raytheon’s missile “defence” systems. South Korean peace activists argue that the base will build-up offensive military systems in North East Asia, undermining security and prompting military responses from China and North Korea. Villagers also oppose the base because of the loss of farm land, where they have grown rice, garlic, tangerines, and more on the fertile land. The base will destroy the local environment, including coral reefs named by UNESCO as key environmental treasures. The Navy intends to pour concrete over the rocks and marine life to make wharfs for the Aegis destroyers.
Clashes between police and protests have intensified over the last few weeks. Save Jeju Island, a website created by international activists, has an excellent account of recent developments and a comprehensive collection of media resources, as well as many suggestions for how you can get involved the campaign to prevent the construction of the naval base.
On 24 September, Korean artist Koh Gilchun from Jeju Island will be in New York City. His art and activism are at the center of the struggle in Gangjeong. An icon of “4.3” art that reveals the truth of the 1948 massacre, Koh’s art promotes healing, reunification, and peace. Joining Koh are Gloria Steinem, feminist icon and author, and Christine Ahn of the Korea Policy Institute, who will share their perspectives on why Americans must get involved in preserving paradise island, island of peace. The event will be held at NYU, room to be determined, from 5:30–7:30 PM with a reception to follow. Inquries can go to Christine Ahn at email@example.com
30th Anniversary of the foundation of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp
In September 1981, the first activists arrived at the then US Air Force base of Greenham Common. This event heralded the start of one of the most iconic anti-nuclear protests of the Cold War and was a defining experience for a whole generation of political campaigners.
In September 1981 a group of women opposed to the decision to base US nuclear-tipped Cruise Missiles at Greenham Common and Molesworth arrived at the end of a 120 mile march from Cardiff. Under the title 'Women for Life on Earth', the 36 women, together with male supporters, delivered a letter to the Base Commander requesting a discussion on the expected arrival of the missiles. When that was not forthcoming the group decided to remain at the base as a peace camp. From these small beginnings, little noticed by the media, there grew a series of camps surrounding the base, the last of which persisted for 19 years.
The peace camp, which became women-only in 1982 saw thousands live in very basic conditions in all weathers with the constant threat of eviction, often brutally executed and ongoing harassment from police, military or vigilantes. The camp organised ongoing peaceful protests against the base and Cruise missiles, ranging from decorating and cutting the perimeter fence through to blockading the roads and infiltrating the base and disabling the missile convoy vehicles. Other protests grew from the camp, such as when around 30,000 women "embraced the base" on 12th December 1982 or when four miles of fence were simultaneously taken down on October 29th 1983. CND co-ordinated other actions with the camp such as during Easter 1983 when around 70,000 campaigners formed a 14 mile long human chain linking the nuclear warhead factories at Aldermaston and Burghfield to Greenham Common.
Kate Hudson, the General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said, "The women's peace camp at Greenham Common has rightly achieved iconic status nationally and internationally over the last three decades. Not only was it creative and innovative in terms of its campaigning methods and gender profile, it also moved and provoked new generations of women into action, many of whom have been profoundly shaped by the experience and inspiration of Greenham. The example of the camp also led to many others being established across Britain and internationally. On occasion pulling down miles of the perimeter fence and even dancing on the missile silos, the women demonstrated a determination for disarmament that even the brutality of the security services could not deter."
"In December 1982 I was one of over 30,000 women who held hands around the base at Greenham. One of my earliest experiences of the peace movement, it transformed my approach to politics and action - as it did for countless others. It is just and fitting to pay tribute to the Greenham women at this time: cruise missiles were eventually removed from Britain - and their protest played no small part in creating the conditions for that victory."
Cruise missiles - which were designed to make a 'limited' nuclear war 'winnable' within the 'European theatre were carried on trucks whose convoys were said to be able to 'melt into the countryside', making most of southern Britain and the Midlands a potential target for a counter-attack. Members of 'Cruisewatch' tracked and often disrupted the movements of the convoys, making a mockery of the claim that the missiles carrying convoys - that would often stretch to more than a quarter of a mile long - would be undetectable by the Soviet Union.
The campaigns of the camp greatly contributed to the popular demand for disarmament that led to the signing of the INF Treaty in 1987 (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty) which mandated the removal of the Cruise missiles. The US returned the base to British control in 1992 with the common land returned to local people in 1997. The last campers departed after holding a New Year's Eve party in December 1999 with a commemorative garden opened in October 2002.
For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND's Press Officer on 020 7700 2350 or 07968 420859.
Inputs sought for next edition of IANSA Women’s Network Bulletin
The following release has come from the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) Womens’ Network:
We are beginning to prepare the next issue of the Women's Network Bulletin, “Women At Work: Preventing Gun Violence”.
As you know, the primary intention of the Women’s Network is to make visible the fact that the damage that women suffer from the availability and misuse of guns is disproportionate to their own role as users of guns – but also to record and celebrate your innovative, courageous and effective efforts, and those of other women around the world, in resisting gun violence.
To further strengthen the knowledge base of the Women’s Network and help us to become more informed and effective, it would be wonderful to hear about your inspiring work and experiences, both good and bad.
Perhaps you have participated in or observed an event; or heard local news which should be circulated more widely; or want to share personal experiences or observations about your community, group or country; or have simply read or heard about a useful newspaper or magazine article, book or website.
If so, please take a few moments to share these with us. We welcome all contributions short and long, and in the language of your choice. You can also submit photographs, images (such as logos), and drawings.
This edition will focus more particularly on preparations for the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, so contributions on this topic are particularly encouraged, but all topics are welcome.
For submissions to be considered for the next Women's Network Bulletin, the deadline is 30 September 2011.
However, we welcome contributions at all times. With your consent, your voices and perspectives may be used in future editions of the Women's Network Bulletin, the website, information kits or reports.
Report on the workshop to mark to the International Day against Nuclear Tests
by Daria Medvedeva, Reaching Critical Will Intern
On 1 September, the mission of Kazakhstan and the EastWest Institute hosted a side event at the UN to mark the 29 August International Day against Nuclear Tests. During her opening speech, Ambassador of Kazakhstan H.E. Yerzhan Kazykhanov commemorated the 20th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. She attributed this as one of the Kazah government’s contributions toward a nuclear weapon free world.
Mr. Sergio Duarte, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations, argued that building confidence between states and trust in international relations will be bring about formidable political benefits, whereas nuclear security-enhancing measures will lead to considerable economic savings. He believes that banning nuclear testing will help launch a process of delegitimizing nuclear weapons. He called on states to resist improving their nuclear weapons, saying that any step in preparation for nuclear testing throws us off the track towards disarmament.
Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan, Chair of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations, spoke about the necessity to eliminate the role nuclear weapons still play in inter-state relations, which is proved by the figure of 20,000 nuclear warheads stockpiled in the world. He also emphasized the need to learn how to conduct “give and take” negotiations, given that all nations are equal and none of them has a moral authority to perform violence against others.
Most delegates noted frustration that the CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty) has not entered into force. Ms. Annika Thunborg, Spokesperson and Chief of Public Information, Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), cited domestic policies among the reasons for the delayed ratification by several countries. She believes that nuclear disarmament is a deep moral and ethical issue to be addressed by not only the international community, but also by each state in a human rights and humanitarian framework. Each country needs to deliberate over the questions: “what can WE do? What responsibility do WE have?”, she argued.
In her closing remarks, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan enthusiastically called on nations and individuals not to use nuclear weapons, but to follow the good example set by Khazakstan instead.
Abolition 2000 Annual General Meeting
16 September 2011 | Geneva, Switzerland
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Conference
17–19 September 2011 | Geneva, Switzerland
UN General Assembly General Debate
21–30 September 2011 | New York City, USA
High-level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security
22 September 2011 | New York City, USA
Fukushima eye-witnesses from Japan visit New York
22 September 2011 | New York City, USA
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Article XIV Conference
23 September 2011 | New York City, USA
The Bottom Line on Climate Change: Transitioning to Renewable Energy
23 – 24 September 2011 | New York City, USA
Resisting the Militarization of Jeju, Island of Peace
24 September 2011 | New York City, USA
UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security
3 October–1 November 2011 | New York City, USA
Coalition Against Nukes Rally
1 October 2011 | New York City, USA
Keep Space for Peace Week
1–8 October 2011 | Global
NNSA announces it is moving ahead with plans to build a new plutonium pit facility in New Mexico
On 26 August, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced it was moving forward with its plans for the nuclear facility portion of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project (CMRR) at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It filed itsSupplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed $4 to $6 billion plutonium storage and processing complex, a project that “would dwarf, in constant-dollar cost any previous government construction project in New Mexico history,” according to theLos Alamos Study Group’s press release. The Study Group’s director Greg Mello argues, “As a job creation program—which is partly why New Mexico Democrats support this project so far— this project stinks. Tax cuts would have a much greater stimulative effect than such a wasteful project, which also produces no economically useful goods, services, or infrastructure. This project is hugely dangerous to the future of New Mexico. It is little more than a corporate attack on our tax dollars, under the false guise of national security. But it would do nothing for national security either.”
Australian Greens react to the joint statement between Australia and France on “civilian nuclear safety”
Spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlma called the agreement, which indicates the two countries will work together to promote nuclear safety, a “declaration of delusion”. He also commended Reaching Critical Will’s report on the costs, risks, and myths of nuclear power as “comprehensive and meticulous”.
Explosion at France's nuclear waste treatment plant
The explosion “comes as France’s nuclear regulator carries out safety checks at the country’s installations to determine whether they can withstand floods, earthquakes and loss of power and cooling.” It also comes at the six month anniversary of the Fukushima disaster and the release of RCW's report on the costs, risks, myths of nuclear power...
A nonviolent struggle against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu is ongoing
Many people are on hunger strike demanding the plant be shut down permanently. Field reports have been posted on this website from Idinthakarai Village, Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu.
Art for disarmament
ICAN's new project is aimed at building popular support for a ban on nuclear weapons.
Willem Maltan, “CMRR would be starting point of a new arms race,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 27 August 2011.
Report from the meeting on Intersections of Violence Against Women and Militarism
This report chronicles the key discussion points of the Strategic Conversation on Militarism and Violence Against Women, convened by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University from June 9-11, 2011. The meeting brought together thirty feminist activists, academics and experts from around the world to: (i) identify and explore feminist perspectives of militarism; (ii) examine the intersections between militarism and violence against women; and (iii) develop global feminist strategies to challenge militarism.
Horizon 2012: Sailing in the Same Boat Toward a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East
On March 19-23, 2011, Peace Boat, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) co-sponsored the first meeting of Horizon 2012: Sailing in the Same Boat Toward a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East. Held onboard Peace Boat, the three-day-meeting brought together 15 civil society representatives from Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Turkey, Japan and Europe, as well as UN representatives, parliamentarians, former military officials and international disarmament experts to serve as an advisory group to the project and identify effective ways for civil society to contribute the process and exchange views on possible strategies.