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February 2015 E-News

Reading the newspaper is to read a daily casualty report. Civilians killed by bombing and shelling in Syria, Ukraine, Nigeria, Iraq, Sudan.… In January alone, Action on Armed Violence recorded more than 3000 casualties of explosive violence, 71% of which were civilians. Meanwhile allies and enemies flood these countries with weapons, ensuring that the conflicts will continue. Civilians are starved for relief, for peace, when it should be those fighting that are made to starve for bullets and artillery. Our work on ending the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and on preventing arms transfers to conflict zones is increasingly relevant and intertwined. At the same time, we continue to campaign for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, instruments of ultimate explosive violence. Updates on our work on these initiatives and more are below, and will be pursued further at WILPF’s 100th anniversary conference, set to take place in The Hague from 27 to 29 April 2015. Join us to celebrate 100 years of women’s peace activism and help set the agenda for the next 100 years! In the lead-up to this important international gathering, you can also join us in Geneva in March for our annual International Women's Day Seminar and a rock concert celebrating women's power stop war.

In this edition:

Don’t fuel the fire in Ukraine

A recent report issued by a coalition of US think tanks advocates for the transfer of weapons, including multiple launch rocket systems, anti-tank missiles, and artillery. Both sides in the conflict have used these and other types of explosive weapons in populated areas, causing high levels of civilian causalities and severe damage to civilian infrastructure. WILPF argues that it is imperative that all arms flows are halted immediately, that no new transfers are made, and that the parties to the conflict and their allies instead invest fully in a peace process to achieve a sustainable, nonviolent solution to the crisis.

Explosive weapons, gender, and protection of civilians

On 30 January 2015, the UN Security Council held an open debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict. The debate’s focus was on women, peace and security. Against the backdrop of armed conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, Nigeria, and more, WILPF took the opportunity to highlight the intersections between women’s rights and the gendered impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, drawing on our 2014 report Women and Explosive Weapons.

The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) reported on the debate, highlighting that several states raised concerns about the humanitarian harm caused by the use explosive weapons in populated areas, the threat to civilian protection that such actions pose, and the new international standards that are needed as a result. For the first time, an NGO statement was given at the debate, in which Somalian activist Ilwad Elman gave a first-hand account of why this issue must be addressed. 

NPT updates

The ninth NPT Review Conference will be held in New York from 27 April to 22 May 2015. The deadline for NGO accreditation is 6 March 2015, so be sure to be your application in by then. The calendar of side events is filling up quickly and is updated regularly—email info@reachingcriticalwill.org">info[at]reachingcriticalwill.org to book the room or have your event listed. During the Review Conference, RCW will produce daily analysis in the NPT News in Review. During the first week, only one edition will be published. If you would like any advertisements, articles, or other information published that week, please submit it to info@reachingcriticalwill.org">info[at]reachingcriticalwill.org by 6 April 2015.

RCW and ICAN at nuclear disarmament symposium in NYC

The Helen Caldicott Foundation is hosting a two-day symposium on 28 February and 1 March with speakers in disarmament, political science, existential risk, artificial intelligence, anthropology, medicine, and nuclear weapons. RCW’s Ray Acheson is moderating day two of the conference, which features speakers such as Noam Chomsky, MIT; Susi Snyder, PAX; Tim Wright, ICAN; Hans Kristensen, Federation of American Scientists; Greg Mello, Los Alamos Study Group, and many more. If you are in or can get to New York City, register now! The event will also be live-streamed.

Upcoming Events

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

Arms Trade Treaty Preparatory Committee
23–24 February 2015 | Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Symposium: The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction
28 February–1 March 2015 | New York, USA

Women Rock Peace
7 March 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

Women’s Power to Stop War: WILPF’s International Women’s Day Seminar
9 March 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

Disarmament Education: Past Best Practice for the Future
11 March 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

Featured News

Grad rockets used to bomb populated areas in Ukraine

In 35 seconds, 19 rockets killed 30 people and injured over 100 in Mariupol, Ukraine on Saturday, 24 January. They landed among an open market, a school, and damaged 67 buildings.

Oral arguments set for Plowshares protestors

Oral arguments have been set for 12 March for the appeal filed on behalf of the three Plowshares protesters—Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and Greg Boertje-Obed—convicted of sabotage for the 28 August 2012 break-in at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge.

More money for US nuclear weapons

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that over the 2015–2024 period, the Obama administration’s plans for nuclear forces would cost $348 billion, an average of about $35 billion a year.

Anti-drone activist begins federal sentence in United States

Activist Kathy Kelly was sentenced to three months in jail for protesting against armed drones at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. In an interview, she explains, “When I went to trial, the military prosecutor told the judge, ‘Your Honor, Ms. Kelly is in grave need of rehabilitation.’ But I think it’s our policy that’s in grave need of rehabilitation. We’ve already spent $1 trillion on warfare in Afghanistan and will be spending another $120 billion. The Pentagon wants $57 billion for this year alone. We’re squandering resources that are sorely needed at home and abroad to solve extremely serious problems our world is facing, problems like the climate crisis and global poverty.”

World Economic Forum addresses killer robots

Concerns over autonomous weapons or “killer robots” were raised at the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland with various publications and speakers addressing the matter. This is the first time that the annual meeting of world leaders from government, business, and civil society has considered the challenges posed by weapons systems that select targets and use force without further human intervention.

Conference on Disarmament continues enforcing its own irrelevance

After a concerted effort by the delegation of Mexico to achieve agreement on a programme of work and improvement of the participation of civil society in the CD, member states once again revealed their unwillingness or inability to address the structural issues impeding their work. On top of this, Belarus’ concern with “topless ladies screaming and throwing mayonnaise from the gallery” does not do much to help the image of a forum that has not fulfilled its mandate for 17 years.

Recommended Reading

‘Victim assistance’ in a treaty banning nuclear weapons, Article 36, January 2015

A tale of two cities, Action on Armed Violence, February 2015

A pledge to fill the legal gap: Vienna Conference 2014, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, February 2015

Do not fuel the fire: no arms transfers to Ukraine or opposition forces, Reaching Critical Will, 10 February 2015