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August 2012 E-News

The month of August is generally a slow time around the United Nations. But Reaching Critical Will has not been idle. Immediately after wrapping up the arms trade treaty (ATT) conference in July, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) began the third part of its 2012 session in Geneva. Another season of the CD is almost over with no progress toward establishing a programme of work let alone beginning negotiations on any of its topics. This year’s UN General Assembly will need to address the continued stalemate head-on: the CD has been given more than enough time to get back to work and the General Assembly must accept its responsibility to make progress on disarmament by determining a new way forward. First Committee provides an excellent opportunity to start.

This upcoming First Committee will also need to deal with the failure of the ATT conference to adopt a treaty. Member states need to articulate a stronger treaty text for a vote, rather than accepting a weak treaty developed on the basis of consensus. The rule of consensus has been used once again as a veto, which tends to result in a lowest common dominator process and product. UN member states can and must do better.

But before First Committee begins, we have the second review conference of the UN Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons in August/September; and the UN General Assembly high-level debate in September. RCW looks forward to providing information and analysis from both; details can be found below and in the next edition of the E-News. This E-News also provides information on several activist opportunities regarding outer space, the Jeju Island naval base, and hibakusha visiting Israel.

In peace,
Ray Acheson, RCW Project Director

In this edition:

Governments fail to adopt an arms trade treaty

On the final day of the arms trade treaty (ATT) negotiating conference, the United States, followed by Cuba, DPRK, Russia, and Venezuela, declared that negotiations needed to be extended. Thus the six year process to develop an ATT failed to achieve its goal.  

But this setback might only be temporary, as the process continues and the General Assembly will take action on this issue later this year. And despite discouraging behaviour by some states, 90 countries delivered a joint statement on Friday expressing their disappointment. These countries, which included several of the major arms exporters such as Germany and France, indicated that the draft treaty developed by the conference had “the overwhelming support of the international community as a base for carrying forward our work.”

The ATT process demonstrated that there is already an overwhelming norm against transferring arms when there is a risk of violation of human rights and international humanitarian law, including acts of gender-based violence.

However, it is essential to remember that the final draft treaty presented during the negotiations was insufficient to close the gaps in the international arms trade. It contained significant loopholes that would have undermined its ability to truly diminish human suffering as a result of the irresponsible arms trade. Any action taken at the General Assembly this autumn must aim for a stronger treaty that would go a long way towards diminishing the violent consequences of this trade.

Since the beginning of the ATT process, Reaching Critical Will/WILPF has argued that a strong ATT can help 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. As we pause for reflection in the process to develop an ATT, we should keep this nobler goal in mind.

For more information about Reaching Critical Will's views on the ATT negotiations, please see the ATT Monitor. Reaching Critical Will actively monitored the negotiating conference and providing analysis and advocacy to diplomats. We posted statements and documents online and posted on Twitter @RCW_ and the hashtag #armstreaty and on Facebook.

Getting gender-based violence in the ATT

Together with the IANSA Women’s Network and Amnesty International, WILPF actively worked to ensure that gender-based violence was included in the negotiating drafts of the arms trade treaty (ATT). Before the conference began, we published a joint policy paper with suggested language. Throughout the negotiating conference, we continued to provide advocacy, analysis, and relevant information to encourage adoption of the strongest language possible. The following pieces on gender were published in the ATT Monitor and on ATT Monitor: The Blog.

IANSA Women’s Network and WILPF also kept track of the level of support for including gender-based violence in the ATT; by the end of the conference, at least 75 countries supported its inclusion. Gender-based violence was included in the criteria of the final draft ATT.

WILPF also held several side events during the ATT conference in conjunction with others. Madeleine Rees, WILPF Secretary-General, briefed member states on 10 July and presented at a side event about the intersections of gender and the ATT on 12 July. WILPF also organized panel on Friday, 20 July to discuss the important ways in which the ATT and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), along with the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 et al. can work to prevent discrimination and violence against women, particularly in conflict and post-conflict situations. The latter resulted in CEDAW issuing a statement on the need for a gender perspective in the ATT.

Furthermore, Five WILPF Sections (Philippines, Spain, Mexico, US, and Sweden) participated in a one-day training session that will focus on enhancing the work on a national level concerning arms trade and military expenditure. The training included drawing up plans for national project and coordinating such projects with an international strategy, and had specific focus on fundraising and how to interact with governments on a national level.

Read summary and details of the above events here>>

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.

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. Subscribe now to receive the Monitor once the conference begins.

WILPF will be supporting the IANSA Women’s Network efforts to integrate gender mainstreaming in implementation of the UNPoA during the Review Conference. The Chair’s summary of elements for discussion at the Review Conference includes the need to integrate a gender perspective in the implementation of the PoA and increasing the participation of women in small arms policy making. You can also view IANSA’s guidelines for gender mainstreaming for the effective implementation of the PoA.

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

Hiroshima survivors to visit Israel

The Hibakusha Peace Boat Project is a unique, civil society initiative that enables Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki) to participate in around-the-world voyages to give personal testimonies about the effects of the atomic bombs, foster exchanges with youth and citizens around the world, and call for peace, international cooperation and a sustainable future.

The Israeli Disarmament Movement is made up of two different sectors that work together; the official NGO Regional Peace and disarmament Movement (RPM), and the grassroots movement According to Foreign Sources. Both aim to up public discourse in Israel on the matter of nuclear disarmament and other nuclear-related issues, which include a strong and loud opposition to a war on Iran. While ambivalence regarding such discussion is still very strong in Israel, the movement is working to develop educational materials, create public awareness and lobby for a WMD-free zone in the Middle East as a step forward or a side-by-side program with other endeavours for a comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention for a Nuclear Weapons Free World. The Israeli Disarmament Movement also represents the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – ICAN.

Hibakusha in Israel

 The Hibakusha Peace Boat, According to Foreign Sources, and ICAN in Israel are organizing a week-long visit of four Hibakusha in Israel starting September 10th.

This is an historic visit as it is the first time Hibakusha will be visiting Israel, as well as the first time that Israelis will have opportunity to meet Hibakusha and hear their personal stories.

For most Israelis, any discussion about nuclear weapons is taboo. However we believe that the compelling message that the Hibakusha bring with them of “No More Hiroshimas, No More Nagasakis,” conveys a new angle and supports our demands for an open nuclear discourse in Israel. Additionally we hope that their visit will help us create discourse that might generate more focus on the need for Israel to participate in any regional or international talks promoting a Nuclear Weapons Convention or a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East.

We believe that this visit will open new doors for the Israeli media, Israeli civil society, and hopefully members of parliament.

Agenda

Among other activities, the Hibakusha will meet with Holocaust survivors, visit Yad Va-Shem (Israel’s Holocaust Museum ), place wishes calling for a world free of nuclear weapons in the Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, hold public events in East Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, and meet with MPs and mayors.

Fundraising request

As you may know the Israeli Disarmament Movement is still young and the present Israeli discourse, in particular with regards to Iran, doesn’t always provide us with a supportive climate. We see the Hibakusha visit as a step in the right direction and it is the highlight of our year. Therefore we are turning to you with a special request and asking for your support through donations, both small and large, in order to guarantee the success of the visit. We are not really looking for big donations, just whatever people can afford.

Please contact us regarding how to transfer your donation to our bank or for an address for checks.

Thank you for your consideration and generosity.

Sharon Dolev
Founder and Director
Israeli Disarmament Movement
e-mail: sharon.dolev[at]gmail.com

Keep Space for Peace Week

This year’s International Week of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space will be held on 6–13 October 2012. See the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space for details.

ksfpw12 posterInternational Action Week for No Naval Base on Jeju Island

A week of international solidarity actions to prevent the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island will take place 2–9 September 2012 during the World Conservation Congress 2012, which will be held on Jeju Island.

The 2012 World Conservation Congress, which is an environmental conference held every 4 years by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is to take place from 6–15 September in Seogwipo city, Jeju Island. Jeju Island is located in the southern part of South Korea, adjacent to China, Taiwan, and Japan.

However, in Gangjeong village, which is only 7 km far from the congress site, construction to build a massive naval base is being enforced. The total size of the naval base is 490,000 square meters and it will not only harm the environment but also ignite military tensions despite the opposition of a great number of villagers.

Gangjeong village is a coastal town with a sacred environment and high value preservation not only in Jeju Island, but also in the world. The Sea of Gangjeong village is designated as a national cultural treasure (natural memorial No. 442) by the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea and is adjacent to Beom Island, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The sea of Gangjeong is one of the major habitats of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, one of the species listed by the IUCN. It is estimated that there are only 114 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in Korea.

Gangjeong village is located between the two biggest creeks in Jeju Island and has the biggest freshwater fish habitat on the island. It provides 70–80% of drinking water to southern residents in the island. As Jeju Island lacks water due to its porous basaltic land, this uncommon village is nicknamed as ‘Il-Gangjeong’ which means the best Gangjeong village. Due to this character, it has been the ‘heartland of agriculture’ from ancient times. Artifacts from prehistoric times showing the transformation of housing culture have been also discovered in Gangjeong. For such reasons, Gangjeong was appointed as a limited development district until the Jeju naval base construction plan was drafted.

Gureombi rock, located at the Jeju naval base construction site, is a broad flat rock with 1.2 km in length and 250m in width and it forms a greatly peculiar bedrock wetland where spring water comes upward. As Gureombi rock is a part of absolute preservation area by Jeju local government, it is home to the Government designated endangered species such as sesarma intermedium, small round frogs, Jeju saebaengi (native freshwater shrimp of Jeju Island), and clithon retropietus v. martens.

However, the Government is unilaterally enforcing the construction of the naval base without appropriate evaluation and even by easing regulations expediently or ignoring them illegally. It is clear that the naval base will not only destroy the environment of the sea of Gangjeong village, but also cause the serious destruction of the environment of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve located just 2 km away from the construction site.

There is no doubt that this construction is entirely contrary to the principals of the World Conservation Congress. The efforts of the South Korean government and Jeju local government to promote Jeju island as a world environmental city, while unilaterally enforcing the construction of the naval base, is deceiving global citizens.

Actions suggested

1. Please choose at least one day during the International Action Week (2–9 September 2012) and organize any individual or collective actions to oppose the Jeju naval base.

2. Please inform the world that the construction of the naval base in Jeju is fully contrary to the principal of 2012 World Conservation Congress. Please make calls to the World Conservation Congress member organizations and member states to express concerns about the Jeju naval base construction.

3. Please ask the South Korean government and Jeju local government to stop building the military base, revoke the naval base project, and make Jeju Island develop intact as an island of world peace.

4. It is hypocritical for Samsung, the main contractor of the naval base project, to support financially the largest environmental event in the world. Please urge Samsung C&T and Daerim, two main contractors, to stop constructing naval base in Jeju.

5. To spread this amazing event widely, please send your endorsement (with your organization’s name) and your action plans to the Gangjeong international team (gangjeongintl@gmail.com" target="_blank">gangjeongintl@gmail.com) in advance. After your actions, please kindly send your photos and videos with a simple explanation to the team as well.

6. There are many events being planned in Jeju Gangjeong village during the international action week (2-9 September 2012). If possible, please come to the village and be part of our nonviolent struggle which has continued over the last 6 years.

The following groups endorse the action:

  • Gangjeong Village Association
  • Jeju Pan-Island Committee for Stop of Military Base and for Realization of Peace Island (26 organizations)
  • Korea Environment NGO Network (36 Korean environmental NGOs) 
  • National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base in Jeju Island (125 Korean civil society organizations)

Please send your endorsement (organization’s name) and send it to gangjeongintl[at]gmail.com. We will collect all international groups’ endorsements and list your names here.

For more information, please visit:

http://savejejunow.org/
http://www.savejeju.org/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/nonavalbase/

https://www.facebook.com/SaveJeju

http://cafe.daum.net/peacekj
 (Korean/ English/ Chinese/ Japanese)

Upcoming Events

Nuclear Free Future Month
August | Global

ICAN Campaigners’ Meeting
21 August | Hiroshima, Japan

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

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

Second Review Conference of the UNPoA on small arms
27 August–7 September 2012 | New York City, USA

International Day against Nuclear Testing
29 August 2012 | Global

International Action Week for No Naval Base on Jeju Island
2–9 September 2012 | Global

UN General Assembly high-level meeting on the rule of law
24 September 2012 | New York City, USA

Opening of the UN General Assembly high-level general debate
25 September 2012 | New York City, USA

UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security
8 October–6 November 2012 | New York City, USA

Featured News

Activists break into Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee
On 28 July, Sister Megan Rice, 82, and two accomplices “carried out what nuclear experts call the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex, making their way to the inner sanctum of the site where the United States keeps crucial nuclear bomb parts and fuel.” The New York Times reports, “With flashlights and bolt cutters, the three pacifists defied barbed wire as well as armed guards, video cameras and motion sensors at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in Tennessee early on July 28, a Saturday. They splashed blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility—a new windowless, half-billion-dollar plant encircled by enormous guard towers—and hung banners outside its walls.”

B61 bomb life extension program facing massive cost overruns
The B61 nuclear bomb was first developed in the 1960s. Its “life extension” was estimated two years ago to cost $4 billion. However, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has requested an additional $4 billion to complete the program. Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists notes that “the already too high B61 LEP cost estimate does not include other pricy elements of the B61 modernization program. In addition to the LEP itself comes a new guided tail kit assembly that the Air Force is developing to increase the accuracy of the B61. The cost estimate for that tail kit has recently increased by 50 percent from $800 million to $1.2 billion. Add to that the cost of equipping the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with the capability to carry the new weapons, recently estimated at around $340 million. If the LEP and tail kit increases mentioned above are any indication, however, then the cost of equipping the F-35 with nuclear capability is also likely to increase.” He concludes, “The escalating costs may eventually make the B61 LEP the most expensive nuclear weapons program (per warhead unit) in the U.S. arsenal.”

UN Special Rapporteur urges mechanism to investigate drone attacks
Ben Emmerson QC, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, called on the United States to open itself to an independent investigation into its use of drone strikes. “We can't make a decision on whether it is lawful or unlawful if we do not have the data. The recommendation I have made is that users of targeted killing technology should be required to subject themselves, in the case of each and every death, to impartial investigation. If they do not establish a mechanism to do so, it will be my recommendation that the UN should put the mechanisms in place through the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and the Office of the High Commissioner,” he said. (Independent, UK)

Recommended Reading

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2012

Catastrophic Humanitarian Harm, ICAN, August 2012

Statement of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the need for a gender perspective in the text of the Arms Trade Treaty, July 2012