December 2014 E-News

2014 has been another busy and exciting year for Reaching Critical Will! We have worked with our civil society partners in coalitions and with like-minded governments to surge ahead with ensuring that humanitarian perspectives dominate the disarmament agenda. Through this approach we have seen a country adopt a Pledge to pursue the prohibition of nuclear weapons—and we anticipate that many more will follow. We have seen the use of explosive weapons in populated areas condemned around the world and states are getting ready to take action. We have seen increased concern about the use of armed drones and development of autonomous weapon systems and more attention to how to prevent and protect from these new technologies of violence.

We aren’t stopping now. We have big plans for 2015 on nuclear weapons, explosive weapons, autonomous weapons, drones, the arms trade, small arms, cyber attacks, outer space, and much more! 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.

This special edition of the E-News offers 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 in our work of 2014. We hope it will serve as inspiration for the coming year. We want to thank all of our colleagues in civil society, international organisations, 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, Gabriella, and Mia

The top-five achievements in 2014

Reaching Critical Will actively participated in some exciting new campaigns and initiatives in 2014. Here are our top five favourite moments!

1. A treaty banning nuclear weapons is coming soon!

Over the past few years, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has made huge strides in refocusing the debate on nuclear weapons to their devastating an unacceptable impact on humans and the environment. Throughout 2014, we’ve stepped up our advocacy for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. More and more governments are joining the call for a prohibition. The Chair’s summary from the second conference on the humanitarian impact on nuclear weapons in Nayarit, Mexico in February 2014 called for the development of new international standards on nuclear weapons, including a legally binding instrument. And at the third conference in Vienna in December, Austria issued a Pledge “fill the legal gap” for prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons!

What’s next? In 2015, RCW will continue to work with ICAN to get states to sign on to the Austrian Pledge and initiate a process to ban nuclear weapons as an effective measure for nuclear disarmament. We’ll continue developing materials and working with like-minded governments and civil society to achieve this goal!

Read more about it:

2. Gender becomes a dominant disarmament theme

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 2014. RCW participated in the Commission on the Status of Women to bring disarmament issues into gender discussions. We also spoke about gender-based violence and the arms trade at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict hosted by the UK. And we co-hosted the third annual humanitarian disarmament campaigns forum in New York together with Control Arms and Pace University. This year’s focus was on gender and RCW gave workshops and spoke on panels to share our views and expertise on integrating gender into disarmament discourse, policy, and initiatives. We also worked with governments to strengthen the General Assembly resolution on women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control and to ensure that government statements at First Committee included policy on gender. Not everything is uphill though. At the CCW experts meeting on autonomous weapon systems in May, 17 men and 0 women had speaking slots. This is unfortunately not a rare sight in disarmament and together with other civil society partners we helped launch an initiative to prevent all male panels. Overall, 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 2015.

What’s next? In April 2015, WILPF will celebrate 100 years of working for peace and disarmament through a gender perspective! We will be having a huge conference to celebrate Women’s Power to Stop War in The Hague 27–29 April, where RCW will bring on the disarmament perspectives! 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:

3. Humanitarian perspectives make change in the disarmament world

From nuclear weapons to small arms, humanitarian perspectives are dominating the disarmament discourse more than ever before. 2014 saw two conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and multiple civil society reports and studies on the issue. This approach as changed the discourse on these weapons of terror and is setting the stage for a ban on nuclear weapons in the coming years! In addition, we saw increased attention to—and condemnation of—the use of explosive weapons in populated areas due to the predictable pattern of humanitarian harm caused by the use of such weapons, especially those with wide area effects, in town and cities. The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) conducted advocacy with partners across may forums, including the UN Security Council, First Committee, and ECOSOC Humanitarian Segment. In addition, Norway and OCHA hosted an experts meeting to look at the problem more deeply. And WILPF has also been active in promoting concerns and solutions to the challenges posed by small arms and armed drones in our ongoing effort to confront the technologies of violence. Finally, civil society coalitions working on a range of disarmament and arms control issues came together in October for the third annual humanitarian disarmament campaigns forum, where we exchanged lessons and challenges surrounding our collective work to reduce armed violence and human suffering.

What’s next? In 2015, RCW will continue working with civil society groups and coalitions, as well as like-minded governments, to challenge the practices, policies, and systems that undermine human security. We will work with INEW and governments to achieve a political commitment on ending the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. We will also continue to highlight the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, small arms, armed drones, cyber attacks, and excessive military spending, and help develop policy and legal responses to these challenges

Read more about it:

4. A new mandate for work on killer robots

The CCW meeting of experts, which met in Geneva from 13-16 May 2014, was the first time that governments met to discuss the issue of autonomous weapon systems. The four-day meeting provided 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. The imperative of maintaining meaningful human control over targeting and attack decisions emerged as the primary point of common ground at this first meeting. In November, the CCW adopted a new mandate for further work in 2015.

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 13-17 April 2015. RCW will be there to monitor, report, and advocate for a ban on autonomous weapons and for meaningful human control over individual attacks along with our partners in the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots!

Read more about it:

5. The Arms Trade Treaty entered into force

While this hasn’t quite happened yet, it will soon! On 24 December, the first ever Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will enter into force after reaching more than 50 ratifications this September. This will be an historic moment, and we are looking forward to our ongoing work to promote its effective implementation.

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 2015, we will focus on promoting the Treaty’s implementation, especially 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:

Our publications in 2014

Filling the gap: report on the Vienna conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons

Banning nuclear weapons: an effective measure for disarmament

A treaty banning nuclear weapons: developing a legal framework for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons

Assuring destruction forever: 2014 edition

NPT Action Plan monitoring report 2014

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

Women and explosive weapons

Small arms, big picture

An assessment of the PoA

First Committee Briefing Book 2014

NPT Briefing Book 2014


Meetings we monitored in 2014

Conference on Disarmament 2014

Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Nayarit

2014 Preparatory Committee of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons expert meeting on autonomous weapon systems

UN Programme of Action Biennial Meeting of States 2014

General Assembly’s General Debate

General Assembly’s First Committee

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Meeting of High Contracting Parties

Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna