December 2013 E-News

2013 has been a busy and exciting year for Reaching Critical Will and for humanitarian disarmament as a whole. We have worked for the adoption of a strong Arms Trade Treaty, a renewed focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and a mandate to discuss killer robots internationally. We have participated in several campaigns, bringing the voice of WILPF to join with friends working to prohibit and restrict the development, possession, and use of weapons around the world. And we look forward to so much more in 2014!

If you would like to support our work for next year, please consider giving a gift to Reaching Critical Will. There are many ways you can give: you can sign up for a one-time donation or a monthly pledge through our online credit card service Just Give. You can also donate online through PayPal or write a cheque to the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and mail it to 777 UN Plaza, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10017, USA.

Bellow follows a recap of some of the progress that has been made this year. We’ve listed what we consider to be the five top achievements of 2013. We hope it will serve as inspiration for the coming year. The calendar for next year looks even busier, and we can’t wait to get started.

We want to thank all of our colleagues in civil society, in international organisations, in governments, and our donors for the valuable support for our work. We look forward to working together with you in the coming years to make even more progress on the key disarmament challenges ahead.

Happy holidays and best wishes for the new year!

Ray, Beatrice, Gabriella, and Mia

The top-five achievements in 2013

Reaching Critical Will actively participated in some exciting new campaigns and initiatives in 2013. Here are our top five favourite moments!

1. We made it binding!

att-banner-2On 2 April, the UN General Assembly adopted the first ever Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). This was a historic moment, and we were particularly excited that it is the first treaty that ever recognizes the link between gender-based violence and the international arms trade.

Reaching Critical Will/WILPF ran a campaign during the ATT process to make prevention of armed gender-based violence legally-binding in the treaty. The inclusion of this provision was supported by over 100 governments and hundreds of civil society groups around the world. We know the treaty is far from perfect, but it is a starting point for addressing the human suffering caused by arms transfers.

What’s next? In 2014, we will be busy with implementing the treaty, and its gender-based violence provision. We will be developing materials and tools to help governments and civil society groups determine the best way to ensure that the treaty lives up the expectations the world has for it!

Read more about it

2. We changed the discourse on nuclear weapons

In 2013, we made huge strides in refocusing the debate on nuclear weapons to their devastating an unacceptable impact on humans and the environment. For the first time, governments, international organisations, and civil society addressed the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons at a conference in Oslo, Norway from 4-5 March 2013. RCW helped coordinate civil society participation, delivered statements, and reported on the event. At the 2013 NPT Preparatory Committee, 80 governments signed a statement on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, and by the 2013 First Committee, 125 governments were on board.

In 2013, efforts by civil society, governments and international organisations really did change the discourse on nuclear weapons, and have lead to a widespread recognition that no adequate humanitarian response would be possible in the event of a nuclear weapons detonation.

What’s next? States and other actors will convene once again in Nayarit, Mexico from 13-14 February 2014 to discuss the global and long-term consequences of a nuclear detonation from the perspective and variables of the 21st century society. RCW will be there to report and advocate, and will keep you all updated through our website and newsletters.

Read more about it:

3. A ban is coming!

ican-ban posterThroughout 2013, we’ve advocated that the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons cannot be tolerated, and therefore we need a ban on nuclear weapons. More and more governments are joining the call for a prohibition. In forums like the NPT Preparatory Committee, the Open-ended Working Group, the High-level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament, and the UNGA First Committee, calls for a ban grew stronger and stronger throughout the year.

What’s next? In 2014, we hope that governments will get ready to start negotiating a ban on nuclear weapons. RCW will continue to advocate and produce materials to help facilitate this.

Read more about it:

4. An emerging focus on gender in disarmament discussions

As one of the issues closest to our hearts, we were very excited to see a growing gender-perspective in disarmament discussions and negotiations during 2013. The ATT negotiations resulted in a legally-binding provision on preventing armed gender-based violence. UN Security Council resolution 2117 (2013) on small arms and light weapons (SALW) recognizes the interrelationship between SALW, women, peace and security, and human rights. The UN General Assembly once again adopted a resolution by consensus on “Women, disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation”. And Ambassador Uffe A. Balslev of Denmark delivered an entire statement on gender and disarmament in First Committee. We think this growing recognition of the importance of a gender perspective and women’s participation in disarmament affairs reflects the ongoing work of Reaching Critical Will, and will work even harder to ensure that governments take it seriously in 2014.

What’s next? In April 2014, WILPF will celebrate 99 years of working for peace and disarmament through a gender perspective (hooray!), and we’ll make sure that this day won’t go unnoticed in the disarmament world. We will also produce materials relevant to this topic over the next year and will be working with governments and civil society groups to ensure that gender becomes a priority in the disarmament context.

Read more about it:

5. Killer robots get on the international agenda. Fast.

killerbots-logo-fullWhen RCW, together with eight other NGOs, launched the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots in April, we had no idea how fast results would come. In May, the Human Rights Council discussed fully autonomous weapons; in October, governments raised the issue at First Committee in New York; and by November, there was a broad consensus amongst governments at the CCW to hold an experts meeting on fully autonomous weapons in 2014. In the disarmament world, this is a blistering development and shows how effective civil society coalitions can be when we work together.

What’s next? We’re not expecting this issue to slow down anytime soon, and will now focus on the coming expert meeting in Geneva on 13-16 May 2014. We’ll continue to work with the Campaign to advocate for a ban on fully autonomous weapons.

Read more about it


Our publications in 2013

Unspeakable suffering

2013 NPT Action Plan Monitoring Report

Still assuring destruction forever

First Committee briefing book

Preventing collapse: the NPT and a ban on nuclear weapons


Meetings we monitored in 2013

Conference on Disarmament 2013

Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Oslo

Second Negotiation Conference of the Arms Trade Treaty

Disarmament Commission 2013

2013 Preparatory Committee of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Human Rights Council session on extra-judicial killings

Open-ended working group on “taking forward proposals for multilateral nuclear disarmament”

High-level meeting on nuclear disarmament

General Assembly’s General Debate

General Assembly’s First Committee

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons