May 2014 E-News

From nuclear weapons to killer robots, Reaching Critical Will is on the case. After two weeks of monitoring, analyzing, reporting, and providing advocacy at the NPT Preparatory Committee in New York, the RCW team headed to Geneva to do the same at the first intergovernmental meeting of experts on fully autonomous weapons. Working collective with other civil society groups in coordinated campaigns, we are seeking a ban on both nuclear weapons and autonomous weapons. One would come nearly 70 years too late—we have seen the catastrophic effects of the use, development, and testing of nuclear weapons and must develop a framework for their prohibition and elimination once and for all. The other would be a preemptive ban, oriented towards preventing machines from being granted the capacity to kill human beings without any meaningful human control.

Banning weapon systems is only one aspect of our work. In the upcoming months, we also be working to strengthen international work on preventing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and prevent the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Stay tuned for more details!

In peace,
Ray Acheson, Director

NPT PrepCom closes its work

After two weeks of discussion, the NPT Preparatory Committee closed without adopting the Chair’s draft recommendations to the Review Conference. There were some positive outcomes, however. There is clarity on where things stand with the nuclear-armed states and an emerging vision and determination about what to do about it. The logic of prohibiting nuclear weapons as a means to facilitate their elimination is hard to dismiss. Against the background of growing frustration with protracted deadlock and the continued refusal by the nuclear-armed states to meet their obligations, it is becoming an increasingly compelling way forward for many delegations.

For full coverage and analysis, please see the NPT News in Review produced daily by Reaching Critical Will. You can also find statements, documents, national reports, and other information on the RCW website.

CCW holds first meeting on autonomous weapons

The Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) began work this week on autonomous weapon systems. While this is an informal meeting of experts, it provides an opportunity for states to consider crucial issues related to the technical, legal, moral, and ethical dimensions of weapons that can kill without human intervention. Delegations must make the most of this chance to explore the parameters of meaningful human control and evaluate the lawfulness and morality of future autonomous weapons. Civil society is predominantly represented by members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, of which WILPF is a member.

Reaching Critical Will has been providing full coverage and analysis with the CCW Report and is archiving statements and documents online. During the general debate, RCW Director Ray Acheson delivered a statement on behalf of WILPF expressing concern over the possibility of weapons that may operate without meaningful human control and calling for a preemptive ban on this technology.

New RCW publications on nuclear weapons

tbnw-coverA treaty banning nuclear weapons

This joint paper by Reaching Critical Will and Article 36 explores the development of a legal framework for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

Read more

ADF-2014-coverAssuring destruction forever: 2014 edition

This updated study explores the ongoing and planned nuclear weapon modernization programmes in China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Read more

Upcoming Events

Conference on Disarmament, Part Two
12 May–27 June 2014 | Geneva, Switzerland

CCW informal meeting of experts on autonomous weapon systems
13–16 May 2014 | Geneva Switzerland

Fifth Biennial Meeting of States on the UNPoA
16–20 June 2014 | New York

Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty
23–27 June 2014 | Maputo, Mozambique

Featured News

Austrian foreign ministry announces date for next humanitarian conference

On 29 April, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the dates for the third international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, which will take place on 8–9 December 2014 in Vienna. To capitalise on the momentum and to energise, educate, and demonstrate the unity of civil society, ICAN will host a large scale Civil Society Forum in Vienna on 6–7 December 2014, immediately before the Vienna Conference.

Recommended Reading

Reports and papers

A treaty banning nuclear weapons, Article 36 and Reaching Critical Will, April 2014

Assuring destruction forever: 2014 edition, Reaching Critical Will, April 2014

Nuclear weapon free zones and banning nuclear weapons, Article 36, May 2014

Nuclear disarmament and the humanitarian initiative: making sense of the NPT in 2014, Article 36, May 2014

Key areas for debate on autonomous weapons systems, Article 36, May 2014

Shaking the foundations: the human rights implications of killer robots, Human Rights Watch, May 2014

Explosive events, Action on Armed Violence, May 2014


Samuel Oakford, “UN Debates the Future of Killer Robots,” Vice News, 14 May 2014

Charli Carpenter, “‘Robot Soldiers Would Never Rape’: Unpacking the Myth of the Humanitarian War-bot,” The Duck of Minerva, 14 May 2014