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March 2015 E-News

Last week was International Women’s Day (IWD) and Reaching Critical Will marked the occasion by, among other things, withdrawing our participation from the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. WILPF’s work on disarmament, gender equality, and peace will continue elsewhere, in venues where progress can and will be made. At our annual IWD seminar in Geneva and at an event during the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, we discussed how gender shapes the impact of weapons and violence on individuals, how it shapes the role of weapons in society, and how it shapes how we work together to develop and implement the policy and legal responses that violence demands. We have seen this with small arms, armed drones, explosive weapons, and nuclear weapons, and it is up to us to work together constructively for powerful solutions. We hope many of you will join us in The Hague next month at WILPF’s 100th anniversary, where we will forge a new peace agenda for the 21st century!

In this edition:

Saying goodbye to the CD

After covering the work of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) for decades, WILPF finally decided that after 17 years of inaction, it is time to focus our time and energy on other more promising forums and initiatives. In our statement to the CD, we noted that the CD is a body that has firmly established that it operates in a vacuum. That it is disconnected from the outside world. That it has lost perspective of the bigger picture of human suffering and global injustice. Maintaining the structures that reinforce deadlock has become more important than fulfilling the objective for which it was created—negotiating disarmament treaties. Should the CD begin to work again in the future, we will happily pick up where we left off. Until then, we will continue to tell it like it is elsewhere.

Calling for meaningful human control

In preparation for an experts meeting in April on autonomous weapon systems, we are working with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots to demand meaningful human control over all use of weapons and a ban on autonomous weapons. This requires a process of legal decision-making and moral reasoning by human beings for each individual attack. This issue has been raised in diverse quarters recently. The Future of Life Institute published an open letter signed by more than 4000 experts and specialists, including Stephen Hawking, which draws attention to the urgent need for research to ensure that artificial intelligence systems “do what we want them to do” and to articulate what meaningful human control over weapons systems should look like. Meanwhile, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, several publications and a panel addressed issues related to autonomous weapon systems.

During the experts meeting in April, Reaching Critical Will is going to produce daily analysis with the CCW Report as we did in 2014. Subscribe today to ensure you receive this resource and check out the Campaign's website for all the latest on side events, the programme of work, and more.

Women’s power to stop war

On 9 March 2015, WILPF held its annual International Women’s Day seminar at the UN in Geneva. The seminar focused on the importance of having a gender perspective as an overarching approach to all work related to peace and conflict resolution, in particular disarmament. We also engaged at the Commission on the Status of Women to explore issues of gender and disarmament, and we will host event on women and explosive weapons on the margins of the Human Rights Council. These events are part of our charge gearing up for WILPF’s 100th anniversary, 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 meantime, you can participate in our webinar series, book a booth for the conference market place, check out our anniversary atlas, and consider donating to support the biggest conference in WILPF’s history! Also learn some history about WILPF this interview with two active members Edith Ballantyne and Felicity Ruby and with this video about WILPF’s 100 Year of Peacemaking.

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 has now passed. The calendar of side events is almost full and is updated regularly—email info[at]reachingcriticalwill.org to book the room or have your event listed. On 2 May during the Review Conference, Hibakusha Stories and Peace Boat are sponsoring a concert for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so be sure to get your tickets today! 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[at]reachingcriticalwill.org by 6 April 2015.

New publications

NPT Action Plan Monitoring Report 2015

At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, states parties adopted a 64 point action plan in order to further the implementation of the treaty. Reaching Critical Will, in partnership with the Government of Switzerland, has produced comprehensive reports on the implementation of this action plan from 2011 to 2015. Our final monitoring report provides a straight forward review and assessment of the Plan’s implementation. In addition to actions on nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the report covers the initiatives related to the Middle East weapons of mass destruction free zone and the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.

Women and explosive weapons: Now in Arabic!

WILPF is pleased to release its report on women and explosive weapons in Arabic! The report briefly describes explosive weapons and the legal tools available to assess their use, focusing in particular on legal documents that support greater inclusion of gender analysis and women’s participation. The second part of this paper gives an overview on how explosive weapons specifically affect women and why a gendered analysis of the impact of explosive weapons use in populated areas is needed.

Upcoming Events

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

Women and explosive weapons: the case studies of Syria and Nigeria
17 March 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

CD Civil Society Forum
19 March 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

GGE to make Recommendations on a Treaty Banning the Production of Fissile Material
23 March–2 April 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

UN Disarmament Commission
6–24 April 2015 | New York, USA

GGE on information and telecommunications security: third session
13–17 April 2015 | New York, USA

Second Meeting of Experts on autonomous weapon systems
13–17 April 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland

Global Conference on Cyber Space 2015
16–17 April 2015 | The Hague, Netherlands

Vienna ATT Informal Consultation on the first Conference of States Parties
20–21 April 2015 | Vienna, Austria

International Peace and Planet Conference, March, and Rally for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World
24–26 April 2015 | New York, USA

WILPF’s 100th Anniversary: Women’s Power to Stop War
27–29 April 2015 | The Hague, the Netherlands

2015 NPT Review Conference
27 April–22 May 2015 | New York, USA

WITH LOVE to Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A concert for disarmament
2 May 2015 | New York, USA

Featured News

More than 50 countries have endorsed the Austrian Pledge

Every day new countries are associating themselves with the Pledge delivered at the Vienna conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, committing themselves to work together to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.”

33 Latin American and Caribbean states endorse the Austrian Pledge

At the third annual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), heads of state of all 33 countries, issued a declaration fully supporting the outcomes of the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna last December and formally endorsing the Austrian Pledge.

Law and morality at symposium on nuclear weapons

From 28 February–1 March 2015, Reaching Critical Will’s director participated in a symposium hosted by the Helen Caldicott Foundation on “The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction”. She moderated the second day of the symposium and also delivered opening remarks to report back on the Vienna conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. An archived video of her presentation, and the rest of the conference, is available online.

Feminist victory stops Swedish military deal with Saudi Arabia

Last week marked a major victory for disarmament and women’s rights activists, as the Swedish government declared it will not continue a heavily criticised military cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia. While the agreement did not include explicit provisions on specific arms deals, it has been a key driver for Sweden’s increased arms sales to the Saudi regime the last decade. The public debate these last weeks has shown a very strong support for putting human rights and gender equality front and centre. Swedes do not want to arm human rights abusers.

ACLU files new lawsuit over Obama administration drone ‘kill list’

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will file a disclosure lawsuit for secret Obama administration documents specifying, among other things, the criteria for placement on the so-called “kill list” for drone strikes and other deadly force. (A 2014 report from Reaching Critical Will and Article 36 examined the implications of using sex as an indicator for militancy in the targeting and assessment of drone strikes.)

Guidelines for preventing attacks on education released

New international Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict aimed at conflict parties were released in December 2014, at an event hosted by the Permanent Missions of Norway and Argentina in Geneva. The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, which supported the development of the guidelines, works to address the problem of targeted attacks on education—its institutions, personnel, and individuals who access it—during armed conflict.

Recommended Reading

Eric Schlosser, “Break-in at Y-12,” The New Yorker, 9 March 2015

Felicity Ruby and Edith Ballantyne, “What it takes for peace,” Green Agenda, 21 February 2015

Beatrice Fihn, “A process in the making,” International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, 11 March 2015

Ray Acheson, “A legally-binding treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons,” Inter Press Service, March 2015