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August 2014 E-News

August marks the first use of nuclear weapons. On 6 and 9 August 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. An estimated 135,000 civilians were killed and injured from the blast, fragmentation, and radiation. 69 years later, we are still facing the risk of devastation caused by these horrific weapons of mass destruction. And 69 years after the end of World War II, the world is still plagued with the scourge of armed conflict, including the bombardment of towns and cities. The violence in Gaza, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine—to name just a few—rages on. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas has been by far the leading cause of deaths and injuries to civilians during most of these conflicts. The loss of life and the destruction of vital infrastructure means long-term humanitarian suffering for hundreds of thousands of people.

It’s past time to address these challenges. It’s time to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons. It’s time to put an end to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. It’s time to clamp down on the international arms trade. 100 years after the start of World War I, it is time to put the protection of human lives above profits of the arms industry. The next few months will be busy for Reaching Critical Will—we will be working across all our issue areas to bring you the latest information and analysis from international meetings and to advocate for concrete change, now.

Arms trade and the use of explosive weapons in Gaza

Arms transfers from the United Kingdom to Israel are aiding the violation of international humanitarian law. While the UK government called for a ceasefire and urged Israel to exercise restraint during its most recent offensive in Gaza, the UK has refused to impose an arms embargo against Israel. This is despite Israel’s use of explosive weapons in populated areas, resulting in the deaths of scores of Palestinian civilians and destruction of schools, shelters, and critical infrastructure. The UK must condemn these practices and impose an arms embargo against Israel, not help weapons producers profit from the conflict. Read more >>

Scottish independence and banning nuclear weapons

In July, Reaching Critical Will and Article 36 went to Scotland to discuss a treaty banning nuclear weapons with Scottish civil society, parliamentarians, and government officials. Scottish independence could be the most significant development for international nuclear disarmament efforts in many years. The independence movement has reignited discussion about nuclear weapons in the UK and could have important implications for disarmament. Read more >>

ICAN Action Academy

The ICAN Action Academy is a four-day conference in Berlin for European activists under the age of 30. This is an opportunity for you to learn how to make a difference, build professional campaign skills, meet youth activists from all over Europe, and play a leading role in one of the most exciting global campaigns of the decade. The training seminar will help you to build the skills and confidence for working with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to engage your national government and elected officials, the media and the public in the global effort towards a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Read more >>

ICAN Civil Society Forum

In 2013, 500 participants from 130 different organizations joined the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) at our first ICAN Civil Society Forum in Oslo. This December, we’re doing it even bigger and better at our Vienna Civil Society Forum. Campaigners, activists, experts, public figures, and survivors will gather to learn and to teach, to energize and be energized, to demonstrate our unity, and to demand the end of the era of nuclear weapons. Over a packed, but fun-filled two days, we will engage in discussions with the best and brightest voices in the humanitarian disarmament field, hear testimonies from from inspirational individuals who know the meaning of courage, develop our campaigning and advocacy skills and, of course, get up to speed on the ins and outs of the humanitarian imperative to ban nuclear weapons. Read more >>

First Committee

The 2014 session of the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security will meet from 2 October–5 November 2014. The chair will be Ambassador Courtenay Rattray of Jamaica. As always, Reaching Critical Will will be your resource for First Committee, publishing analysis and reporting in the First Committee Monitor, archiving primary documentation, and coordinating civil society interventions. Subscribe today to make sure you receive the information you need! On the margins of First Committee, civil society groups working on humanitarian disarmament issues will gather for the third annual forum focusing on the cross-cutting nature of our work. Registration is now open!

Women’s power to stop war

How does gender influence the way people and societies view weapons, war, and militarism? How can we develop deeper understandings of gun cultures, armament policies, and obstacles to disarmament? What is civil society doing in the disarmament of nuclear weapons, killer robots, explosive weapons, and the regulation of the arms trade, and what role do women play in these movements? Interested in the answers to these questions? All of these and more will be discussed by Reaching Critical Will at the upcoming WILPF 2015 Conference.

Upcoming Events

Conference on Disarmament, Part Three
28 July–12 September 2014 | Geneva, Switzerland

 International Day against Nuclear Tests
29 August 2014

Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties
2–5 September 2014 | San José, Costa Rica

Informal Consultations for the Conference of States Parties of the Arms Trade Treaty
8–9 September 2014 | Mexico City, Mexico

ICAN Action Academy
11–14 September 2014 | Berlin, Germany

Featured News

Austrian parliament calls for prohibition of nuclear weapons

On 10 July, the Austrian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution tasking the Austrian government “to continue its engagement on the international and European level for disarmament and for the complete prohibition of the development, sale, acquisition, proliferation and possession of nuclear weapons under international law.”

UK announces limited suspension of arms licences to Israel

The UK government said it will suspend just 12 export licences for arms and other military equipment to Israel, and only if ‘significant hostilities’ resume. Amnesty International described this as a “massive step backwards,” arguing that it “marks a significant weakening of our existing rules designed to prevent UK arms fuelling war crimes and serious human rights abuses.”

UK Working Group on Arms calls for full arms embargoes on Hamas and Israel

In light of the dire humanitarian situation and the tragic loss of civilian life in Gaza, the UKWG is calling on the UK Government to immediately put in place a full arms embargo on the transfer of military equipment to all parties to the conflict in Gaza and to push for similar action to be taken by the EU and UN.

ATT ratifications up to 43

On 11 and 12 August, the Dominican Republic and Sierra Leone ratified the Arms Trade Treaty. Their ratifications bring the total number to 43, just seven short of the 50 that will bring entry into force.

Recommended Reading

WILPF calls on UK to end its role in Israel’s humanitarian law violations,” Reaching Critical Will, 7 August 2014

Impact of heavy explosive weapons in Gaza exposes UK failure to lead on protection of civilians,” Article 36, 7 August 2014

Gaza highlights need for new international commitment on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas,” International Network on Explosive Weapons, 7 August 2014

Losing sight of the human cost: casualty recording and remote control warfare, Oxford Research Group, August 2014

Banning the bomb: the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Reaching Critical Will, 6 August 2014

Bombs away,” Ray Acheson, 31 July 2014

Gender discrimination, power and saying no to all-male panels,” Article 36, 17 July 2014

Political economy, security, and the summit to end sexual violence in conflict,” Madeleine Rees, 14 July 2014