September 2014 E-News

It’s time for another session of the UN General Assembly, one of the busiest times of year for Reaching Critical Will. The UN opened its 69th session with a summit on climate change, following a lively, loud, and BIG march through the streets of New York City. The overwhelming demand for effective action on climate change is a sobering reminder of the threat our planet faces—threats that are made even worse by ever increasing militarisation and the wasting of resources on weapons and war.

Reaching Critical Will has been active so far this month to confront these challenges in Berlin at the ICAN Action Academy and in Geneva at the Human Rights Council. Our work will continue in New York at the General Assembly and later at First Committee. We are working with other organisations, coalitions, and campaigns to demand new action and effective policies on nuclear weapons, explosive weapons, killer robots, armed drones, small arms, and so much more. To find out more about some of the key issues we’ll be working on over the next six weeks, check out our First Committee briefing book and our new publication on small arms and armed violence and read more below!

Disarmament at Human Rights Council

Right now in Geneva the 27th session of the Human Rights Council is exploring issues related to military expenditure and armed drones. WILPF’s human rights programme is actively covering the session and partnered with Reaching Critical Will to host a side event on military expenditure and gender equality. Among other things, this event launched the update to WILPF’s publication You Get What You Pay For, which examines the relationship between military spending and gender equality. In addition, WILPF issued a statement on armed drones, outlining our concern with the use of armed drones both for extrajudicial killings outside of armed conflict and to conduct attacks during conflict. Amnesty International hosted an event on armed drones and international law, highlight human rights concerns over the use of armed drones.

UN General Assembly high-level debate

The UN General Assembly will begin its high-level debate on 24 September! During the following week, heads of state and government, ministers of foreign affairs, and other high-level officials will address the UN, giving their perspectives and priorities on the state of the world and the year ahead. As always, Reaching Critical Will is going to extract and post all references to disarmament, arms control, and militarism in our handy UNGA Disarmament Index—so stay tuned to find out what your government is saying about weapons and war. In addition, WILPF’s PeaceWomen programme will be extracting all references to gender and women.

Nuclear Abolition Day

26 September 2014 is the first official International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Events to commemorate the event will be held at the UN in New York and Geneva and around the world. To commemorate the event, ICAN has chosen this day for its annual Nuclear Abolition Day activities. You can find online some suggested actions and register your event! Events will also be held at the United Nations in New York and Geneva to mark the day.

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 is proud to 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 and check out our briefing book covering a variety issues of concern for this year’s meeting. On the margins of First Committee, civil society groups working on humanitarian disarmament issues will gather for the third annual conference focusing on the cross-cutting nature of our work. Register today!

Small arms, big issues

Ahead of the UN General Assembly First Committee, Reaching Critical Will and Instituto Sou da Paz have published a briefing paper examining the relationship between small arms and armed violence reduction. Effectively mainstreaming small arms issues into development, human rights, crime prevention, and peace and security agendas is a challenging - but necessary - undertaking. This briefing paper draws from Instituto Sou da Paz’s recent think piece What Next? Thoughts for Global Civil Society Working on Arms Control and Armed Violence Reduction.

Outreach on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

As a partner of the International Network on Explosive Weapons, WILPF was one of organisations to sign on to letters to the UN Secretary-General and the permanent representatives of the current 15 UN Security Council member states to express concern over the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Against the background of mounting civilian casualties and widespread destruction from artillery, rockets and airdropped bombs in the towns and cities of Gaza, Syria, Ukraine, the letters call for an international commitment to prevent the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. The situations in Gaza, Syria and Ukraine are the most recent examples of a predictable pattern of harm to civilians when heavy explosive weapons are used in populated areas. Read more >>

Upcoming Events

UN General Assembly high-level debate
24 September–1 October 2014 | New York, USA

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
26 September 2014

Keep Space for Peace Week
4–11 October 2014

UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security
7 October–5 November 2014 | New York, USA

2014 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
13–14 November 2014 | Geneva, Switzerland

Featured News

West Africa ready to ban nuclear weapons

From 7–15 September, ICAN campaigners organised a tour in five countries in West Africa: Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Senegal. All states declared their will to participate in the third conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna. This tour was also successful in inspiring new civil society partners, especially human rights and development organizations.

Italian parliamentarians present motion supporting a treaty banning nuclear weapons

A motion was recently submitted to the Italian Parliament supporting the humanitarian initiative and urging the government to take action towards a nuclear weapons ban.

PAX kicks of campaign for a national ban on nuclear weapons in The Netherlands

On 18 September 18 in The Hague, ICAN partner PAX launched a major campaign Sign Against Nukes, which aims to push the idea of a national law banning nuclear weapons onto the Dutch political agenda. 

Montego Bay roundtable demonstrates regional support for nuclear weapons ban

On 20–21 August 2014, a regional roundtable meeting on nuclear weapons was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Informal expert meeting on strengthening the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, convened a second informal meeting of governmental, military and other experts on strengthening the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in Oslo from 17-18 June 2014.

Recommended Reading

John Borrie and Tim Caughley, An Illusion of Safety: Challenges of Nuclear Weapon Detonations for United Nations Humanitarian Coordination and Response, UNIDIR, 2014

Voices from Ukraine: Civil Society as a Driver for Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, September 2014

Thomas Nash, “Imagining a ban on nuclear weapons,” ICAN Action Academy, Berlin, 11 September 2014

WILPF Statement to the Human Rights Council on armed drones and international law, 22 September 2014

Daniel Mack, Small arms, big picture, Reaching Critical Will and Instituto Sou da Paz, September 2014