June 2012 E-News

With negotiations to develop legally-binding standards for the international arms trade only a few weeks away, reading the daily news clearly demonstrates the urgency of this task. So-called “conventional weapons” are used throughout the world to kill or maim civilians; violate human rights; cause refugee crises; facilitate sexual violence and trafficking; obstruct economic and social development; and more. The global arms trade is valued at over US$50 billion per year. Above all else, weapons are tools of violence and repression by those that use them and tools of financial gain by those who make and sell them.

Reaching Critical Will and WILPF National Sections will have a strong presence at the arms trade treaty (ATT) negotiations beginning at the United Nations on 2 July. We will be actively working to demand that member states negotiate a robust and comprehensive treaty that includes all types of conventional weapons and ammunition and that contributes concretely to protecting human rights. We will also work to ensure that the treaty does not encourage or facilitate the arms trade or result in the United Nations being used a cover for future arms transfers. See below for more details on our ATT work. To follow the action, you can subscribe to our daily ATT Monitor, which will be published during the negotiating conference.

At the same time as Reaching Critical Will has been working on the ATT, WILPF International has been working to support the reinforcement of women’s peace and security in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. WILPF has met with experts and grassroots activists from women’s and youth organizations from Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and Morocco. At the end of June, two participants from each country will be invited to present and discuss the outcome of these local consultations in Geneva, in connection with the 20th session of the Human Rights Council. The programme will focus on the existing specific challenges and opportunities facing women’s participation in government reform processes and on-going political transformations. Special attention will be given to women’s participation into security issues, and on how to create an agenda to end discrimination and strengthen women’s rights.

Among other things, these women will discuss the implications of the arms trade and disarmament policy for their security. The arms trade has specific gender dimensions and direct links to discrimination and gender-based violence. Emboldened by weapons, power and status, both state and non-state actors often perpetrate gender-based violence, disproportionately affecting women, with impunity. This has far-reaching implications for efforts to consolidate peace, security, gender equality, and sustainable development.

For this reason, WILPF, the IANSA Women’s Network, and Amnesty International have joined together to draft a policy paper on including gender-based criteria in the arms trade treaty. This paper will be available in the coming weeks and will be available on our websites.

In the meantime, take a look at our other ongoing work below and please consider supporting us as enter into these busy months ahead.

In peace,
Ray Acheson, RCW Project Director

In this edition:

Nuclear Abolition Day

2 June 2012 marked the second Nuclear Abolition Day, an annual global day of action for a treaty to outlaw and eliminate all nuclear weapons. It is coordinated by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. All over the world, people organized street demonstrations, benefit gigs, nuclear-free picnics, vigils, marches and education workshops check out some photos posted by ICAN. Also be sure to watch this video prepared by ICAN: ten seconds is all it takes!

Human rights and disarmament

On 24 May 2012, two nuclear weapon possessors—India and the United Kingdom— were up for the Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

WILPF argues that nuclear weapons, military expenditure, the arms trade, and violent conflict are closely interlinked with human rights violations such as the reduction of available resources for social and economic development, gender-based violence and arms sales to countries likely to commit human rights violations. WILPF therefore produced two submissions on the UPR of United Kingdom and India, in order to raise these issues in the human rights council setting. The submissions include questions for the government of India and United Kingdom, and suggested recommendations for the outcome report. 

Read our submissions on India and the United Kingdom

WILPF also organized a side event, Upholding Human Rights, which addressed these linkages in a specific UK-context on 23 May. Also read our press release on this event.

Arms trade treaty negotiations begin in July

The UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will meet at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from 2–27 July 2012. Governments have been holding meetings since 2006 to discuss the scope, parameters, and implementation clauses for a robust, comprehensive, legally-binding treaty that establishes standards and restrictions on the international trade in conventional arms. Currently, trade in bananas and children’s toys is more heavily regulated than weapons. This July, civil society groups and governments from around the world will come together to change that.

WILPF will be actively engaged in the negotiating conference. We believe that the ATT must be a strong tool with the primary purpose of preventing armed conflict, preventing the violation of human rights and international humanitarian law, and seriously reducing the culture and economy of militarism. WILPF will be promoting a strong ATT that does not facilitate the arms trade or the arms industry, but that instead helps build the foundations for not just the regulation but also the reduction of the arms trade, along with the reduction of militarism throughout politics and society, reduction of military spending, and redirection of economic resources.

During July, four WILPF National Sections will be participating in a training session to develop national strategies for implementing a robust ATT and combating the irresponsible trade in weapons. WILPF Secretary General Madeleine Rees will participate in a public event with the IANSA Women’s Network and Amnesty International to highlight the connections between gender and the arms trade. And WILPF will also participate in an event of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Committee to discuss the relevancy of the ATT for its work. And of course, Reaching Critical Will is going to be providing daily analysis and reporting on the official negotiating conference through the ATT Monitor. Subscribe now to receive the ATT Monitor in your inbox throughout July!

The aide memoire for NGO participation is available online. Accreditation for organizations has now closed. Mandatory online pre-registration for participants through accredited organizations closes 22 June 2012.

Please see the RCW website for more information about the ATT, including the following Reaching Critical Will materials and publications:

Background information and documents:
First Preparatory Committee (July 2010)
Second Preparatory Committee
 (February-March 2011)
Third Preparatory Committee
 (July 2011)
Fourth Preparatory Committee
(February 2012)
Chair's paper

Draft provisional agenda of the negotiating conference

Provisional rules of procedure of the negotiating conference

Small arms review conference coming up

The Second Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons In All Its Aspects will meet at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from 27 August–7 September 2012. The meeting will be chaired by Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria.

The UN Programme of Action provides the framework for activities to counter the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. It was adopted by all UN member states in 2001. Since that time the UN has worked to support the implementation of the UNPoA at national, regional, and international levels. This Second Review Conference is an opportunity for all member states to agree on measures for strengthening implementation of the UNPoA.

The aide-memoire for NGO accreditation and registration is available online. Please note: Organizations not accredited to the 2012 PrepCom in March must apply for accreditation by 30 June 2012. If your organization was accredited to the PrepCom, you don’t need to reapply. However, all individual representatives of all organizations, regardless of previous accreditation status, must pre-register online by 17 August 2012. Please see the aide memoire for details.

Reaching Critical Will has a website for archiving statements and other documents from the conference. We will also be producing a daily Small Arms Monitor during the RevCon along with Global Action to Prevent War. Subscribe now to receive the Monitor once the conference begins.

Background information and documents:
2012 Preparatory Committee for the Review Conference (PrepCom)
2011 Meeting of Governmental Experts (MGE)

2010 Biennial Meeting of States (BMS4)

2008 Biennial Meeting of States (BMS3)

2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons

Global week of action against gun violence

Each year, the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) coordinates a global week of action against gun violence, which this year runs 11–17 June 2012. The week of action highlights the international campaign to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons. IANSA has prepared some materials on the week of action for members and others to use in their actions and campaigns. Ms. Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, has issued a statement in support of the global week of action.

This year, WILPF, the IANSA Women’s Network, and Amnesty International have teamed up to promote the inclusion of gender in the arms trade treaty (to be negotiated in July) as a contribution to the week of action campaigns. We will soon launch a paper outlining how the ATT can help prevent gender-based violence, which will be a useful tool as we enter the negotiations in July, and to assist licensing officers and others involved in arms transfer decisions. This paper will be available soon on the RCW website.

Explosive weapons and protection of civilians

In May, WILPF and RCW joined the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), an NGO partnership calling for immediate action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. According to INEW-member Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), in 2011 at least 21,499 civilians were reported killed or injured by explosive weapons and that 87% of these casualties occurred in populated areas. 2012 has already seen stark examples of the impact on civilians from explosive weapon use in populated areas. The UN Secretary General's new report on Protection of Civilians is a significant step forward. The report recognizes the use of explosive weapons in populated areas as a leading cause of humanitarian harm in areas such as Cote d'Ivoire, Libya, Sudan and Syria, and the SG makes clear recommendations for action to address this problem. The upcoming Security Council Open Debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, on 26 June in New York, presents an opportunity for states to support steps to curb the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and to provide stronger civilian protection in the future. INEW calls on states and other actors to face up to this problem as a policy challenge, to meet the needs of victims and survivors, to review their national practices and to come together to develop stronger international standards to curb this pattern of violence. For more information about the work of INEW, please visit www.inew.org

WILPF in the World

WILPF Secretary General Madeleine Rees received the Human Rights Film Festival of Barcelona’s AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AWARD on behalf of the team behind the movie The Whistleblower, which highlights the work of Madeleine and others in combating human trafficking in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Congratulations to the whole team!

Upcoming Events

Conference on Disarmament 2012 Session: Part Two
14 May–29 June 2012 | Geneva, Switzerland

Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence
11–17 June 2012 | Global

Arms Trade Treaty negotiating conference
2–27 July 2012 | New York City, USA

Group of Governmental Experts on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space
23–27 July 2012 | New York City, USA

Conference on Disarmament 2012 Session: Part Three
30 July–14 September 2012 | Geneva, Switzerland

2012 World Conference against A and H Bombs
2–9 August 2012 | Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan

IPPNW Student Congress
22–23 August 2012 | Hiroshima, Japan

IPPNW Main Congress
24–25 August 2012 | Hiroshima, Japan

Featured News

NYC action for disarmament: 30th anniversary
12 June 2012 marked the 30th anniversary of the massive march through New York City and a rally in Central Park, which drew one million people calling for nuclear disarmament and reduction of military spending. It's past time to make these demands a reality!

US Congress debates new plutonium pit facility
US Congress is possibly revisiting the issue of funding a new plutonium pit facility in New Mexico, but the directors of the nuclear weapons complex have already called for a delay in funding this facility. See the Los Alamos Study Group for up-to-date information on this issue.

Japan moving to restart nuclear reactors
While the prime minster still needs to give his final approval to bring the reactors online, the mayor of a town near the plant in question agreed to the re-start. The mayor of Oi said he would support the restarting of units 3 and 4 at the Oi nuclear plant, following an appeal from Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who stressed the importance of restarting the units. The decision could be made as early as Saturday, 16 June.

UK banks step back from involvement in cluster munitions
Two UK banks and a UK insurer are stepping back from investments in cluster bomb manufacturers, after campaigners “exposed the hundreds of millions of pounds high-street banks have invested in the controversial industry.” However, a study published by IKV Pax Christi “also shows that billions of pounds is still invested in cluster bombs worldwide and that nine British financial institutions still have ties to the industry, two years after the UK signed up to a UN convention banning the use, production and trade of the indiscriminate weapons.”

Recommended Reading

R. Jeffrey Smith, “The Nuclear Weapon Industry’s Money Bombs,” MotherJones, 6 June 2012.

Praful Bidwai, “No margin for error,” Hindustan Times, 4 June 2012.

Nick Hopkins, “Arms trade treaty must include global sale of ammunition, urges Oxfam,” The Guardian, 30 May 2012.