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November 2014 E-News

From First Committee to the meeting of states parties of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, we have heard many concerns with the use, development, and trade of weapons. But we have also heard many reasons why progress is not possible. We have heard the nuclear-armed states say that the conditions are not right for nuclear disarmament. We have heard from arms importers that regulations on arms transfers potentially violate their right to self-defence or sovereignty, and from arms exporters that regulations on certain items are too complicated. We have heard from some that use explosive weapons in populated areas that existing laws are adequate—just as some argue they are adequate to also regulate the development of future weapons such as autonomous weapon systems.

But we have also heard, from the majority of states and publics, that prohibiting nuclear weapons, regulating the arms trade, putting an end to the bombing of towns and cities, and preventing the development of further autonomy in weapons will enhance security. As we gather internationally in UN forums as we have one in October and November, and as we look towards the upcoming Vienna conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in December, we must seek to achieve “an approach to disarmament that is driven by the needs and rights of people most affected by armed violence, not by the discretion of states and others most responsible for it.”

In this edition:

Conventional and emerging technologies of violence

The 2014 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) met from 13–14 November. During plenary meetings and side events, states and civil society addressed autonomous weapons, armed drones, incendiary weapons, mines, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and more. Among other things, the CCW agreed to a mandate for further work on autonomous weapon systems next year. States parties will meet for five days from 13 to 17 April 2015 to continue examining the legal, technical, operational, and ethical aspects of these weapons. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, of which WILPF is a member, is calling on states to make sure that future talks are aimed at developing new law that would prohibit weapons systems that operate without meaningful human control.

Reaching Critical Will monitored the session and will release a CCW Report early next week. Subscribe today to our “conventional/emerging technologies of violence” newsletter to be sure to receive this report.

First Committee

The 2014 session of the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security met from 7 October–4 November 2014. Reaching Critical Will was as busy as ever throughout the 69th session, publishing analysis and reporting in the First Committee Monitor, archiving primary documentation, coordinating civil society interventions, and engaging in advocacy on many different issues. Some highlights this year included 175 states supporting the humanitarian perspective on nuclear weapons, with 155 of those states stating that nuclear weapons must never be used again under any circumstances; the adoption of an enhanced resolution on women and disarmament; and increased attention to issues of vital importance including autonomous weapons and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. You can find statements, resolutions and voting results, and analysis on the RCW website.

Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

The government of Austria will host the third international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons on 8 and 9 December 2014 at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. This conference is aimed at strengthening the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime and at contributing to the growing momentum to firmly anchor the humanitarian imperative in all global efforts dealing with nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament. The conference will look at the impacts of nuclear weapon explosions, including nuclear testing; the risks of nuclear weapons use; challenges and capabilities regarding the use of nuclear weapons; and existing international norms and laws.

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 on 6 and 7 December. 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.

Humanitarian disarmament campaigns forum

Over 100 campaigners gathered from 17–19 October for the third annual Humanitarian Disarmament Campaigns Forum organised by Control Arms, Pace University, and WILPF. The Forum focused on the link between gender and arms, highlighting issues of the gendered discourse around and impacts of weapons, as well as gender diversity in negotiations and discussions on disarmament. The Forum produced an action plan including specific initiatives that connect gender and arms and which conference participants have committed to supporting over the coming year. This plan aims to help ensure that gender will not be marginalized or overlooked in campaign planning, research, and reporting. Participants also recorded “It’s Time” statements for a campaign video made over the weekend.

Women and armed conflict: 20 years after Beijing

Last week, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women in Geneva organised a NGO Forum before the official Beijing+20 review process. This process will review the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted in 1995. WILPF hosted a panel discussion about women and armed conflict, which is one of the critical areas of concern in the Beijing outcome. This panel highlighted issues related to women’s participation in peace processes, military expenditure and its effects on international peace and security, and the situation of refugee and internally displaced women in conflict regions like the Ukraine and Pakistan.

New publications

Sex and drone strikes: gender and identity in targeting and casualty analysis

This paper from Reaching Critical Will and Article 36 addresses concerns that the sex of individuals is being used as a signifier to designate people as militants in drone strike targeting decisions and post-strike analysis of casualties. The identification of people as objects for attack will always be fraught with challenges and difficulties, but using sex or gender to systematically remove a person’s claim to protection as a civilian is unacceptable.

Banning nuclear weapons: an effective measure for nuclear disarmament

This paper from Reaching Critical Will explores the effective measures for nuclear disarmament presented by the New Agenda Coalition in its 2014 NPT working paper. It examines the options explored in the NAC paper and argues that in the current context the most effective and achievable measure for nuclear disarmament is a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

Upcoming Events

How nearly everything in Dr. Strangelove is true, and what we need to do about it
25 November 2014 | London, UK

ICAN Civil Society Forum
6–7 December 2014 | Vienna, Austria

Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
7–8 December 2014 | Vienna, Austria

Featured News

Arms Trade Treaty set to enter into force with 50th ratification

With the ratification by eight states at a signing ceremony in New York on 25 September, the ATT is now set to enter into force on 24 December 2014. The entry into force of the ATT will mean that international arms transfers must comply with a set of provisions to reduce human suffering caused by irresponsible and unregulated trade.

155 states support joint statement on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons

The overwhelming support for the statement, read out in First Committee by Ambassador Dell Higgie of New Zealand, demonstrates the momentum growing around the humanitarian perspective on nuclear weapons.

Rendez-Vous Ottawa highlights growing support for a nuclear weapon ban treaty

On October 25 and 26, Mines Action Canada, ICAN, Project Ploughshares and Physicians for Global Survival hosted Rendez-Vous Ottawa, bringing Canadian and American civil society together to discuss the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. 

Strong showing of global support for upcoming Vienna humanitarian impact conference

At the 2014 session of the UN General Assembly’s First Committee in October, more than 180 states voiced their support for the forthcoming Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

PAX launches 2014 edition of Don’t Bank on the Bomb

This updated report reveals that global financial institutions made an estimated 402 billion US dollars available to nuclear weapons producers. The report identifies 411 banks, insurance companies, and pension funds with investments in 28 companies involved in the production, maintenance, or stockpiling of nuclear weapons.

WILPF marks UN International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

In a blog posting, WILPF highlighted how unjust economic power systems and the greed of many industrial complexes drive the destruction and exploitation of natural resources, thereby laying the roots of conflict.

Recommended Reading

Sex and drone strikes: gender and identity in targeting and casualty analysis, Reaching Critical Will and Article 36, October 2014

Banning nuclear weapons: an effective measure for nuclear disarmament, Reaching Critical Will, October 2014

Unacceptable Risk: Use of explosive weapons in populated areas through the lens of three cases before the ICTY, PAX, October 2014

Don’t Bank on the Bomb, PAX, November 2014