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January 2015 E-News

Happy New Year from Reaching Critical Will! We’re still energised from Austria’s pledge in December to pursue the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, and we’re gearing up to make 2015 a crucial year for banning these weapons of terror. We’re also looking to make serious progress on ending the bombing of towns and cities, preventing the development of autonomous weapon systems, and making sure the Arms Trade Treaty is responsive to the needs of those suffering from armed violence and conflict. We look forward to working with you all this year to inspire and peace and overcome the challenges of militarism—including at WILPF’s 100th anniversary in April!

In this edition:

Fill the gap!

In December, the government of Austria pledged to “fill the legal gap” for prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons! The Austrian Pledge is based on the conviction that nuclear weapons raise profound moral and ethical questions that go beyond debates about their legality and that efforts are needed now to stigmatise, prohibit, and eliminate these weapons of terror. This is the most exciting opportunity we have ever had to finally ban and eliminate nuclear weapons. Along with the Austrian government, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is now working to encourage other states to endorse the Pledge and initiative the process to ban nuclear weapons. For an assessment of the conference where Austria made this pledge, please see Reaching Critical Will’s report Filling the gap.

NPT review coming soon

The ninth NPT Review Conference will be held in New York from 27 April to 22 May 2015.

Please see the information note from the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs on civil society participation for details on accreditation and registration. The deadline for applications of accreditation of organisations is 6 March 2015. Such requests should be made through the United Nations Civil Society Network (CSO-Net) by completing an online accreditation form available at http://bit.ly/1zogseC.

In the meantime, you can book your side events. NGOs have Conference Room C reserved for their use in the UN. It seats approximately 70 people. Booking the NGO side event room is done on a first come, first serve basis. Please email info@reachingcriticalwill.org">info[at]reachingcriticalwill.org to book the room. The calendar of events will be updated regularly. There is no interpretation available during side events. A projector and screen will be available for use in Room C during the conference but any other equipment must be provided by the organizer of the event.

Whether or not you are planning to attend the Review Conference, consider getting involved in drafting civil society presentations to the meeting. The tentative date for civil society presentations is Friday, 1 May. You can subscribe to the listserv we use to draft presentations by going to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/npt_presentations. Email traffic on this list will be quite heavy between February and April.

Explosive weapons, gender, and protection of civilians

On 27 January 2015, the UN Security Council will hold an Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. The debate’s focus will be on women, peace and security, which means WILPF will seek to highlight the intersections between women’s rights and the gendered impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. In advance of this debate, the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) distributed a briefing paper to state representatives highlighting the implications of explosive weapons use for civilian protection and making recommendations for political work on ending the bombing of towns and cities. The briefing paper gives updates on current progress on the issue, and also addresses the debate’s focus of women, peace and security, drawing on WILPF’s report Women and Explosive Weapons.

Women’s power to stop war

On 18 January, WILPF will be marking the 100th day before WILPF's 100th Anniversary. Count down with us! We've got suggestions on how to celebrate:

  • Spread the word on the upcoming Anniversary by hosting a 100th before the 100th event with your Section or organisation.
  • Register for the Anniversary Conference to take advantage of the 100 euro conference discount. It will be available on 18 January only!
  • Attend our next webinar on the history of WILPF and the women's peace movement, featuring Edith Ballantyne, Catia Confortini, Cynthia Enloe, and speakers from all our Sections' regions. The webinar is open and free for all, and will take place in early February.
  • Keep an eye on our site to find out the winner of the Women Stop War Poster Competition and keep on top of new updates on the WILPF 2015 Conference.

Upcoming Events

GGE on information and telecommunications security: second session
12–16 January 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

 GGE to make recommendations on a treaty banning the production of fissile materials: third session
12–23 January 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

 Conference on Disarmament 2015, Part 1
19 January – 27 March 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
27 January 2015 | New York, USA

UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, 63rd Session
27 January 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

Convention on Cluster Munitions: First Preparatory Committee for the First Review Conference
5 February 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

Featured News

Austria’s Alexander Kmentt is named “Arms Control Person of the Year” for 2014

Austria's Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Alexander Kmentt received the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the "2014 Arms Control Person of the Year."

Vatican calls for a ban on nuclear weapons

During the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons last month, Pope Francis expressed support for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

Australian nuclear test survivor took her story to the Vienna Conference

Indigenous Australian nuclear test survivor, Sue Coleman-Haseldine, spoke to over 150 governments at the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.

ICAN UK held a parliamentary briefing

In late November, ICAN UK held a briefing in Parliament with the All Party Group on Weapons and the Protection of Civilians (which is facilitated by ICAN partner Article 36). Chaired by Sir Nick Harvey MP, former Minister of State for the Armed Forces, there was cross-party attendance from Liberal Democrats, Labour, and the Scottish National Party (with the Green Party expressing strong support but unable to attend), and both Houses of Parliament represented. Rebecca Johnson and Thomas Nash spoke for ICAN.

AI experts call for meaningful human control over weapon systems

Artificial intelligence experts and scientists have signed an “open letter” collected by the Future of Life Institute urging research to "help maximize the societal benefit of AI.” The letter links to a list of research topics that includes a host of questions on 'lethal autonomous weapons systems' or killer robots. According to the research document, “for certain types of safety-critical AI systems – especially vehicles and weapons platforms – it may be desirable to retain some form of meaningful human control, whether this means a human in the loop, on the loop, or some other protocol.”

Recommended Reading

Judith Bello, “Bombs Away: Weaponized Drones Flying High,” CounterPunch, 13 November 2014

The Impact of Explosive Weapons: three years of data, 2011-2013, Action on Armed Violence, 1 December 2014

Steve Goose and Ole Solvang, “Deadly cargo: explosive weapons in populated areas,” Open Democracy, 30 December 2014

Explosive weapons and protection of civilians, International Network on Explosive Weapons, January 2015