May E-News

"We must reject the framing that violence has no alternative," writes WILPF’s Nela Porobić in a insightful article about the importance of holding onto feminism and nonviolence in the midst of war. The article rejects the idea that under the current circumstances in Ukraine there is no space to actively work to end the war in nonviolent ways. “Our history is full of examples of the important role feminists have played in pushing back against war and militarism, at both national and global levels, keeping our communities and planet away from the brink of annihilation.” Porobić calls on everyone to question the narrative that only weapons can save lives, and argues, “in the long run, from the perspective of saving lives and pushing back against patriarchy, feminists have more to gain in demanding peace than demanding weapons."

In this edition

Upcoming disarmament meetings

Upcoming: Fourth Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

The government of Austria will hold the fourth conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons on 20 June 2022 in Vienna. The conference will consist of expert panels and presentations and registrations can be done until 3 June 2022.

Upcoming: 1MSP of the nuclear ban treaty

The first meeting of states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is scheduled to take place from 21–23 June in Vienna, Austria. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is holding a civil society forum in advance. 

As the antinuclear community prepares for 1MSP, we are welcoming an ever growing number of states parties to the Treaty. The latest addition is the Republic of Congo, which recently became  the 61st state party.

Beyond 1MSP, activists around the world continue to mobilise against nuclear weapons. In New York, between 17–24 May, Times Square Arts will present Amnesia Atómica NYC, a public exposition centred around artist Pedro Reyes’s ZERO NUKES, a 30-foot-tall inflatable sculpture that will function as a beacon to bring experts, political leaders, and engaged citizens together to address nuclear threat. The sculpture will serve as a central platform for a series of public programs and events designed to spotlight the voices of activists, artists, scientists, and community organisations in the anti-nuclear field, and drive conversations around non-proliferation and disarmament. ICAN and other antinuclear organisations will be at an information expo from 19–20 May and free screenings of the VR documentary On the Morning You Wake will be available. 

 Upcoming: UN cyber working group 

After months of deadlock on the issue of civil society participation in the UN's Open-ended working group (OEWG) on information and communications technologies (ICTs), agreement was reached in late April on modalities. This applies to the upcoming third substantive session taking place in July 2022. The deadline for accreditation is 24 May 2022, and more details can be found in this Aide-Memoire. Our resource page for the OEWG II has additional documents, statements, and information. 

Upcoming: Small arms meeting in June

The eighth Biennial Meeting of States (BMS8) on the UN Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons is scheduled to take place from 27 June–1 July. Please let the RCW team know (allison.pytlak(a)wilpf.org) if you are a WILPF member and planning to participate in the meeting. The deadline to register is 20 June 2022.

Upcoming: 2022 NPT Review Conference

The Tenth Review Conference (RevCon) of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is scheduled to take place from 1 to 26 August 2022 in New York. You can find information about civil society participation, in addition to conference documents, working papers, and national reports at Reaching Critical Will website

Modalities for civil society participation are outlined in this information note. Based on the practice of the previous review conferences, representatives of non-governmental organisations will be allowed, upon request, to attend the meetings of the Review Conference in-person. Organisations interested in attending have to follow the steps to apply for accreditation until 17 June, and to register until 18 July

In order to book the room allocated to civil society to host side events, please email disarm(a)wilpf.org informing your event name, general theme or focus, organiser/host information, and your top three preferences of date and time. We are also happy to post information on our website about virtual and online side events.

We also encourage those following the NPT and its conferences to check out our recently published 2022 NPT briefing book for information about critical issues and recommendations for state parties.

Recently concluded UN disarmament meetings

First virtual informal discussion of the GGE on autonomous weapons systems

On 26–27 April, the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on autonomous weapon systems (AWS) convened the first of three informal, virtual intersessional discussions. States, international organisations, and civil society discussed the various proposals that have been tabled for consideration by the 2022 session of the GGE, with a focus on the three themes proposed by the Chair: possible challenges to the application of international law; possible prohibitions and regulations; and legal reviews. The discussions highlighted some convergences as well as remaining divergences in approach and perspective on AWS. While there are overlapping elements among the various proposals under consideration, states remain at odds over whether an international, legally binding instrument (LBI) is the best way forward, or whether voluntary national measures are sufficient. If you want to learn more about what was discussed, you can read our CCW Report.

Second round of preparatory meetings of CSP8 of the Arms Trade Treaty

The second round of Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Working Group meetings and a preparatory meeting for the Eighth Conference of States Parties (CSP8) to the ATT took place in Geneva from 26–29 April. One of the main concerns discussed in the meetings by both civil society and states is the decline in transparency.  The increase in private national reporting, coupled with declining rates of compliance with ATT reporting obligations and the challenges posed by data aggregation are collectively undermining the Treaty’s transparency aims and objectives.  Our report provides more information on this and other topics.

WILPF unveils winners of inaugural photography competition exploring militarised masculinities and alternatives

Colombian photographer Carolina Navas Gutiérrez is the winner of WILPF’s inaugural photography competition, which invited photographers from around the world to respond to the theme ‘Militarised Masculinities and Alternatives’.  Carolina’s powerful series of images ‘Nos miran’ (They gaze upon us) portrays the vulnerabilities of young men living in the Tumaco region of Colombia’s Pacific Coast, which is notorious for being one of the world’s largest cocaine-producing regions and an area with one of the highest violent death rates in the country. They offer an essential and urgent reflection of the theme.

Honourable mentions were awarded to two entrants, Lauren Justice, for her portrait and interview collection with perpetrators of domestic violence and their counsellor, a survivor of domestic abuse, “What Would I Have Done If I Would Have Killed Her That Night?” in the United States, and former humanitarian aid worker, Pedram Pirnia PhD, for his single image entitled :“Classroom with a Gun” taken in Afghanistan.  

RCW launches podcast series with WILPF’s WPS programme

WILPF is launching a new limited podcast series on Tuesday, 24 May, the International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament.

“Think & Resist: Conversations about Feminism and Peace” explores how feminism can redefine security. Each episode features representatives from WILPF’s Women, Peace and Security and Disarmament teams moderating discussions with experts about different themes in international peace and security from a feminist lens. The conversations explore relevant policymaking and practice, identify opportunities and gaps, and recommend ways to advance change. Topics include the international arms trade, digital security, climate, masculinities and women human rights defenders. A new episode will be released every week, with a total of six episodes. Look for it on www.wilpf.org or on social media (#ThinkResist).

Celebrating WILPF’s 107th anniversary!

On 28 April 1915, WILPF’s roots began to take hold when 1,136 activists for women’s voting rights and peace gathered in The Hague as the First World War raged in Europe. At the meeting, the activists engaged in dialogue about the root causes of war and committed to taking action to help end the suffering. Together, they established the International Women’s Committee of Permanent Peace; in 1919, the Committee was officially renamed the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)—now a global feminist peace organisation with representation in more than 50 countries worldwide. We invite you to delve into our storied past by reading our WILPF Heritage Month zine, our Herstory page, and our timeline

In order to celebrate the occasion, we would like to share the incredible work that WILPF’s sections have been doing around the world!

WILPF Canada

Within the scope of the project “Demilitarise, decarbonise, decolonise,” WILPF Canada raised awareness about the military’s impact on the climate and the issue of military emissions and expenditures. Some of the materials produces in the past months include the report Soaring: The harms and risks of fighter jets and why canada must not buy a new fleet, and  two fact sheets: “Canada’s Carbon Bootprint: Military Emissions and Military Expenditures” and “NATO is a Threat to People and the Planet”.

WILPF Central African Republic (CAR)

WILPF CAR organised a training workshop in January 2022 covering two topics: "Place and role of women in environmental protection" and "Impacts of armed conflicts on the environment". The initiative was essential to raise awareness about the harmful effects of conflict on the environment and to encourage women to commit to environmental protection.(Image credit: Cyrille Yapendé)

WILPF Germany

WILPF Germany held a two day conference, titled “Peace, Disarmament & Climate Justice: Connecting the Dots.”. Through a creative conference structure that combined both expert input and interactive elements, participants were able to learn about the intricate connection between environmental justice and the arms industry and develop their personal expertise by applying their new-found knowledge in various workshops.


The Campaign #10RazonesFirmaTPAN has brought together more than 40 entities with the aim of carrying out initiatives to encourage the Spanish government to join the TPNW. WILPF Spain has carried out several initiatives to raise awareness about the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, and a report about the links between nuclear weapons and their environmental impacts from a feminist peace perspective will be published in the upcoming months. (Image credit: WILPF Spain)


WILPF Zimbabwe

Within the project “Transforming the cycle of militarisation, land degradation, climate change and conflict”, WILPF Zimbabwe raised awareness among grassroots communities on livelihoods and non-violent actions in addressing the scarcity of resources in the region of Kwekwe. The organisation also drafted policy documents on disarmament and held a webinar titled “The vicious cycle of climate change and militarism”.

Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the month

The presentation by Madeleine Rees, WILPF’s Secretary General, at the HagueTalks in 2015 provides an insightful perspective on why the existing peace infrastructure is not enough to address root causes of conflict. She argues that those causes are buried in economic structures that are also heavily gendered. In order to provoke actual change, she highlights the need to ensure that politicians represent the people’s interest, and not corporations’. The starting point would be to advocate for fundamental changes regarding equality within our families, education systems, and employment systems. Rees also calls for mechanisms that allow dialogue, such as dispute resolution and arbitration, to be used instead of violence when addressing conflicts, and that criminal prosecution and other accountability measures are put in place against those who violate international law. 

Upcoming events


Open-ended Working Group on Conventional Ammunition: First substantive session
23–27 May | New York, USA

UN Security Council Open Debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict 
25 May | New York, USA

Informal consultations of the GGE on autonomous weapons systems
1 and 3 June | Geneva, Switzerland

ICAN Nuclear Ban Forum
18–19 June | Vienna, Austria

Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
20 June | Vienna, Austria 

First Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
21–23 June | Vienna, Austria

Eighth Biennial Meeting of States on the UNPoA on small arms
27 June–1 July | New York, USA


Towards the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW: Goals, Agenda and Events
20 May | Online

Open Consultation on the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
23 May | Online

Protection of Civilians Week 2022
23–27 May | Online

Launch of Immoral Code
24 May | Online

Cyber Offence Uncovered: Introducing the Cyber Arms Watch
30 May | Online 

Featured news

Use of explosive weapons in Ukraine

Amid a mounting number of reports and testimonies pointing to possible war crimes in Ukraine, the UN Human Rights Council held a special session on 12 May in Geneva. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that the pattern of abuses continued to be caused “by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas, such as shelling from heavy artillery, including multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes”. Highlighting the latest harrowing findings of UN investigators in the Kyiv and Cherniviv regions, Ms. Bachelet told the forum that 1,000 civilian bodies had been found in the Kyiv region alone. Some had been killed in hostilities, but others appeared to have been summarily executed.

PAX recently published a new report on the impact of bombing and shelling on healthcare in Ukraine. Based on extensive open sources monitoring, the publication offers a comprehensive overview of the situation on the ground, by providing a list of locations and incidents recorded since the beginning of the conflict, which illustrate the tremendous impact of explosive weapon use on healthcare.

In April 2022, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 107 incidents of explosive weapon use in Ukraine, which resulted in 973 civilian casualties of whom 270 were killed and 703 injured. There were at least 24 children and nine women among the civilian casualties. AOV found that at least one death or injury from the use of explosive weapons was recorded in 21 countries and territories in April 2022. The five most affected countries and territories in terms of civilian casualties from the use of explosive weapons were Ukraine, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, and Burkina Faso. 

Human Rights Watch has also drawn attention to the use of cluster munitions in attacks that killed hundreds of civilians and damaged homes, hospitals and schools since its invasion of Ukraine. In its recent report “Intense and Lasting Harm: Cluster Munition Attacks in Ukraine,” HRW details how Russian armed forces have used at least six types of cluster munitions in the international armed conflict in Ukraine. The organisation calls for states to cease the use of this banned weapon and commit to joining the international treaty prohibiting cluster munitions.

World military expenditure passes US $2 trillion for first time

Even amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, world military spending hit record levels, according to new data on global military spending published on 25 April by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The report shows that world military spending continued to grow in 2021, reaching an all-time high of US $2.1 trillion. This was the seventh consecutive year that spending increased.

The diversion of resources from much needed social investments in order to buy weapons has devastating consequences for the world population. Experts have already pointed out that the escalating military spending will definitely have a direct impact on a range of spending that the North has committed to developing countries—from official development assistance (ODA) to climate finance. Ukraine itself has been forced to spend 245.1 billion hryvnia ($8.3 billion) on its war with Russia instead of development, as stated by the Ukrainian finance minister on 12 May. The spending–drawn from some funds initially budgeted for development – went on everything from buying and repairing weapons to emergency support for internally displaced people. Additionally, the significant weapons transfers from other countries, particularly the US, will have a negative impact on other types of spending. As experts have pointed out, if the US Congress signs off the new request for aid to Ukraine, the US will have authorised $47 billion in total spending to Ukraine this year alone, which is more than the Biden administration is committing to stopping climate change and almost as much as the entire State Department budget.

UN Yemen visits the country to discuss peace agreement

Hans Grundberg, UN special envoy for Yemen, visited the city of Aden, Yemen’s southern port city, on 24 April with the goal of restoring the truce between warring parties. In early April, the UN Special Envoy had announced that the parties to the conflict had agreed, for the first time since 2016, to halt offensive military operations inside Yemen and across its borders for two months. However, the government of Yemen and the Houthis traded accusations over breaches to the UN-brokered truce across the country and delays in resuming commercial flights from Sanaa airport. The UN special envoy aimed to discuss the truce and peace efforts with Rashad Al-Alimi, president of the Presidential Leadership Council, and other government officials, as reported by local news. 

NATO expansion and the risks associated with it

Finnish leaders announced their intentions to join NATO on 13 May, and Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson followed suit a few days later, confirming her government had decided to begin the process of seeking NATO membership. Those announcements have been critiqued by many civil society organisations, including WILPF. As stated in an article signed by representatives of Sweden’s and Finland's WILPF Sections, “we peace organisations know that sustainable peace and security cannot be built through military alliances and armaments. NATO membership makes our countries and the world more insecure.” The activists argue that NATO’s military strategy is based on a belief in nuclear deterrence, using the threat and use of violence as its main tool. However, instead of providing security, deterrence leads to increased mistrust, more weapons in circulation, and a higher risk that armed conflict will actually break out. Both National Sections urge Sweden and Finland to remain nuclear-weapon-free and strong voices for disarmament, reiterating that “sustainable peace is not created through weapons and the military trained in warfare, but through negotiations, cooperation, diplomacy, and addressing the root causes of armed conflict.” 

Free screening of the documentary On the Morning You Wake (To the End of the World)

If you are in New York City on 19-20 May, check out a free screening of the virtual reality documentary On the Morning You Wake in Times Square. You can book your ticket at https://bit.ly/3wnDI0f

Access Now new report on internet shutdowns

Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition documented 182 internet shutdowns across 34 countries in 2021. This shows a dramatic resurgence of this oppressive form of control compared to 159 shutdowns recorded in 29 countries in 2020. For a full exploration of trends and triggers over the last year, read their new report, “The return of digital authoritarianism: internet shutdowns in 2021”.

The use of pegasus spyware in Spain

Last month, researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab revealed that at least 65 individuals connected with the Catalan independence movement had been targeted with spyware between 2017 and 2020. A few weeks later, the Spanish government announced that the phones of the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the defence minister, Margarita Robles, had been hacked with Pegasus in May and June last year. The software, created by the Israeli company NSO and sold exclusively to governments, penetrates devices to read texts, listen to calls and activate their microphones. Experts are underscoring the urgent need for the setting up of an independent commission that has the authority to investigate what had happened and to suggest reforms to prevent it from happening again. 

UNIDIR’S New Cyber Policy Portal

UNIDIR has recently updated its Cyber Policy Portal. The new Portal contains a full-text search in the summaries on the profiles of states and organisations, as well as translation of the individual summaries via Google plugin to all the UN official languages. Using the Portal, it will also be possible to view submissions of the “National Survey of Implementation of United Nations recommendations on responsible use of ICTs by states in the context of international security”The website also has a new, improved design and Portal map, and thanks to technical improvements, the updated Portal also offers a smoother browsing experience. The Portal interface will also be available in all UN official languages in the upcoming weeks. 

First OEWG on reducing space threats

The first Open-ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats met in Geneva on the week of 13 May. The group is a result of a UN General Assembly resolution approved last December, that seeks to promote recommendations on possible norms, rules, and principles of responsible behaviours relating to threats by States to space systems. For more information on the process and priorities of the work of the OEWG, you can access Project Ploughshares website and their latest written submission to the group.

#NoWar2022: Resistance & Regeneration

Registrations are open to #NoWar2022: Resistance & Regeneration, the World BEYOND War's virtual global conference that will take place from 8–10 July. The event seeks to explore what the alternative to war and violence can look like by highlighting unique stories of change-making around the world that challenge the structural causes of war and militarism.  The schedule of the meetings can be accessed here.

Recommended reading

Aida A. Hozić and Juliana Restrepo Sanín, “Reimagining the aftermath of war, now,” The LSE Women, Peace and Security blog, 10 May 2022

Action on Armed Violence, “Explosive violence in April 2022”, 10 May 2022.

Ray Acheson, “The perpetual struggle for freedom in the United States,” WILPF, 10 May 2022.

Nela Porobić, “Holding onto nonviolence and feminism in the midst of war,” WILPF, 9 May 2022.

Lode Dewaegheneire, Jonathan Bannenberg, and Merel Selleslach, "Comment la Belgique peut arrêter les robots tueurs," Le Soir, 9 May 2022

David Felipe Gómez et al, “Negotiating disarmament – The gender dimension: Barriers to the inclusion of women in disarmament negotiations,” GPS Policy Brief, May 2022

Michael Brzoska, Wuyi Omitoogun and Elisabeth Sköns, “The human security case for rebalancing military expenditure,”, SIPRI, May 2022

Human Rights Watch, “Intense and Lasting Harm – Cluster Munition Attacks in Ukraine,” May 2022

Podcast: “Humanity in war: An ICRC humanitarian law & policy podcast”, ICRC, May 2022

Olena Lyubchenko, “On the frontier of whiteness? Expropriation, war, and social reproduction in Ukraine,” LeftEast, 30 April 2022

Rachel Stohl, “Why is the Biden Administration Still Silent on Arms Trade Treaty?,” Stimson, 27 April 2022

Elizabeth Kirkham, “Preventing and mitigating the risk of arms diversion in Africa,” Saferworld, April 2022

PAX, “Impact on healthcare from bombing and shelling in Ukraine,” 31 March 2022