March 2024 E-News

This month marked 70 years since the Castle Bravo nuclear explosion, the largest test of a thermonuclear bomb conducted by the United States. People from the Marshall Islands still live with the consequences of the test, which produced widespread radiological contamination that continues to pose an active threat to people and the environment. Our E-News this month contains information about the test, as well as current initiatives to confront the nuclear legacy. We’ve also included information on work being done globally to end arms transfers to Israel, and updates on upcoming conferences on autonomous weapons and explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA). Enjoy the reading! 

In this edition:

Upcoming disarmament meetings

International follow-up conference to the EWIPA Declaration

The International follow-up conference to the EWIPA Declaration is taking place in Oslo, on 22–24 April 2024. The conference will be held on Tuesday, 23 April at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotelin Oslo. (Image credit: INEW)

Prior to the conference, a cinema screening of “For Sama” will be held at Cinemateket on Sunday, 21 April in Oslo, Norway. The screening will take place at 17:00, followed by a panel discussion, in which the director will participate along with representatives of Norwegian Red Cross and INEW. On Monday, 22 April, civil society partners, INEW, and the Norwegian Red Cross, will convene the Protection Forum. Participants can register for the Protection Forum here.

Additionally, on the morning of Wednesday, 24 April, a range of civil society organisations, states, UN agencies, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will organise two thematic workshops on the topics of military policies and practices and humanitarian access and assistance, which will allow for more in-depth discussion on these central issues. Conference participants are encouraged to attend and can select either workshop regardless of affiliation. Participants can register for the workshops here.

2024 Vienna Conference on Autonomous Weapon Systems

The Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs is hosting the international conference “Humanity at the Crossroads: Autonomous Weapons Systems and the Challenge of Regulation” on 29–30 April 2024 in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. Civil society can register to participate in the meeting until 8 April 2024. Ahead of the meeting, on 27 April, Stop Killer Robots will be hosting a Civil Society Forum. More information will be shared soon.

Recently concluded disarmament meetings

ATT Working Groups meetings

The Arms Trade Treaty Working Groups meetings took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 20–23 February 2024. On 21 February, the Sub-working Group on current and emerging implementation issues held its first meeting, which discussed concerns related to arms transfers to Israel among other topics. Check out our report of the meeting, as well as our statement and a briefing paper about states parties’ legal obligations under the ATT in relation to arms transfers to Israel.

Group of Governmental Experts on autonomous weapons systems

​​The Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems met for its first session of the year on 4–8 March 2024 in Geneva, Switzerland. During the meeting, delegates focused on specific text, which could become a basis for negotiating a legal instrument that prohibits and restricts autonomous weapons. However, there are still a handful of states that clearly have no intention of allowing the formal negotiation of such an instrument in the CCW. Action needs to be urgently taken to move the process to a democratic forum that puts human life and dignity above war profiteering and geopolitical power. Find out more with our CCW Report. Also see all available documents and statements from the session.

Stop Arms Transfers to Israel

The death toll on Gaza has reached more than 31,000 people in over 150 days. Despite the many war crimes being committed by Israel, the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, Canada, and other countries continue to supply weapons to Israel, in flagrant violation of international law. A group of UN Experts released a statement calling on states to stop arms exports to Israel immediately. “Any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law and must cease immediately,” said the experts. They added, “Such transfers are prohibited even if the exporting State does not intend the arms to be used in violation of the law – or does not know with certainty that they would be used in such a way – as long as there is a clear risk.”

The legality of these transfers is being questioned in Canada. Palestinian Canadians and human rights lawyers are suing the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, Melanie Joly, over exports of military equipment to Israel, under the argument that they violate Canada’s obligations under domestic and international law. (Picture credit: WILPF)

The Arms Trade Litigation Monitor has been following legal cases being brought around the world regarding arms transfers to Israel and many others. Check out their recent page about the case brought in the Netherlands, which ordered the suspension of F-25 jet components to Israel.

The UK’s transfers have also raised concerns within international human rights bodies. Last month, WILPF sent to the UN Human Rights Committee a joint submission with Al Haq and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), with the contribution of Saferworld, highlighting profound concerns regarding the UK’s violations of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The submission underscores the UK’s role in arms transfers and their extraterritorial human rights impacts, specifically relating to Israel and the ongoing situation in Gaza. It recalls the UK’s obligations under ICCPR, the ATT, and domestic law to regulate arms exports strictly. It discusses the exploitation of loopholes in the UK’s domestic laws on arms export controls to supply components for US-made F16 and F-35 fighter aircrafts used in Gaza.

A group of more than 100 Australian lawyers referred Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the International Criminal Court (ICC) “as an accessory to genocide in Gaza.” The communication sent by the lawyers also includes Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles, Foreign Minister Penny Wong, and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. It accuses them of having “failed to prevent or respond to the genocide committed by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza and been complicit in carrying out of this genocide.”

WILPF has also put together a toolkit with information on how to take action to end arms transfers to Israel. The toolkit contains templates, ideas, and features activities being carried out by various movements around the world.

Confronting the Nuclear Legacy

On the occasion of the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, UN human rights experts urged states to address the human rights impact of nuclear testing. “From the Pacific to West Asia, from Central Asia to North Africa, the legacy of nuclear testing remains a global issue with far-reaching human rights implications amidst well-documented evidence of global fallout. These tests are also a painful reminder of a colonial past, with local impacts on non-self-governing and Indigenous peoples.” said the experts. (Picture credit: Tim Wright)

Friday, 1 March 2024, marked 70 years since the Castle Bravo test, the largest test of a thermonuclear bomb ever made by the US. “The test was 70 years ago, on March 1, 1954, but the disaster is still happening.  The story of Castle Bravo is not one of scientific triumph or successful cold war deterrence. It is a story of how life on the Marshall Islands was uprooted, lands contaminated, and people left to struggle with the consequences - for generations. 1 March is now a national day of mourning and remembrance, joined by diaspora Marshallese working for nuclear justice elsewhere in the world,” said the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the month

Our recommendation of the month is the article “Lost in space: feminist considerations of space security,” by Jessica West. “The overarching theme is the absence of female bodies, experiences, and values. Linking the implications of this absence to the decades-long intractability of efforts to enhance arms control in outer space, I argue a need to add in not only women, but feminist approaches to peace, security, and disarmament,” writes Jessica.

The article is featured in the Special Issue on “Gender Approaches to Disarmament, Arms Control, Peace and Conflict” of the Zeitschrift für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung, the ZeFKo Studies in Peace and Conflict. “The Special Issue embraces a gender approach to understanding disarmament policy and practice, as well as peace and violence, with a particular emphasis on the role of women and feminism in relevant political processes and lived experiences,” write Nancy Ehrenberg-Peters, Jannis Kappelmann, Henrietta Wilson, and Dan Plesch in the editorial

The Gender and Disarmament Database, created and maintained by Reaching Critical Will, features a wide range of resources such as reports, articles, books and book chapters, policy documents, podcasts, legislation, and UN documents. The database allows the exploration of relevant resources based on their references to distinctive gender aspects in disarmament, such as gender-based violence, gender norms, or gender diversity, and different related topics or types of weapon systems. It currently contains more than 800 resources, and suggestions of new additions can be sent to disarm[at]WILPF[dot]com.

Upcoming events


The Peace and Security Aspect of Autonomous Weapons Systems: An ECOWAS Perspective
16–17 April | Freetown, Sierra Leone

International follow-up conference to the EWIPA Declaration
21–23 April | Oslo, Norway

2024 Vienna Conference on Autonomous Weapon Systems
29–30 April 2024 | Vienna, Austria


Webinar: Pine Gap and Gaza: Blood on Our Lands, Blood on Our Hands
27 March 2024, 19:00 AEDT

Featured News

New publication about nuclear tests in the 21st century

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an edition of their digital magazine called “A Return to Nuclear Testing?”. “Experts believe that Russia and China are currently expanding underground tunnels at their nuclear test sites of Novaya Zemlya and Lop Nur, respectively. In the United States, the National Security Administration is also expanding the Nevada Test Site, officially to improve the diagnostic capabilities for the management and performance of the US nuclear stockpile, without the need to conduct any more underground nuclear explosive tests. But, at the same time, the United States maintains a policy of readiness, by which the country is prepared to conduct a nuclear test within six months should one of its adversaries conduct one. In this game of who-moves-first, other nuclear-armed countries are watching closely,” writes François Diaz-Maurin in the introduction.

UN Secretary-General sends message on the International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness

On 5 March, the UN Secretary-General said that the “second International Day for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Awareness comes at a perilous moment, marked by rising levels of military spending, deepening geopolitical tensions and growing violent conflicts across the globe.” He called on global leaders to invest in peace by strengthening the systems and tools that prevent the proliferation and use of deadly weapons and by developing disarmament solutions.

ICRC warns about the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in the DRC 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned that the consequences of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are “unprecedented and extremely worrying”. Robert Mardini, director general of the ICRC, said that “a sharp uptick in the numbers of civilians wounded by heavy weapons in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is threatening to overwhelm health facilities already struggling to provide care, further worsening one of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian crises.”

Data about explosive weapon violence in January

The monthly update of the bulletin of the Explosive Weapons Monitor found that when explosive weapons were used in populated areas in January 2024, civilians reportedly accounted for 95 per cent of all recorded casualties. There were at least 183 recorded incidents of explosive weapon use affecting aid access, education and healthcare in January. The majority occurred in Palestine and also in Iran, Israel, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Ukraine. (Image credit: Explosive Weapons Monitor)

New SIPRI data about arms transfers in 2023 

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found that “Imports of major arms by states in Europe increased by 94 per cent between 2014–18 and 2019–23, while the global volume of international arms transfers decreased marginally, by 3.3 per cent.” France’s arms exports increased by 47 per cent between 2014–18 and 2019–23, while Russian arms exports fell by 53 per cent between 2014–18 and 2019–23. The SIPRI Arms Transfers database also has a new public interface, which provides for more search options. Records of identified cases of transfers of major arms since 1950 are now available to the public.

Concern around use of AI in warfare is growing

An in-depth feature from Bloomberg explores the United States’ continued development and use of Project Maven, which is “a system built around powerful algorithms intended to identify personnel and equipment on the battlefield.” The software “determines what data to gather, collates and analyzes the resulting information and communicates a commander’s decision to act—potentially to a weapon system.” Another piece written by Branka Marijan analyses how Israel is using AI as a weapon of war. “Israel, once again, seems to be relying on AI in its larger-scale operation in Gaza. And, once again, the scale of destruction undermines any claims of greater precision,” she writes.

New report investigates research collaborations between universities in the United Kingdom (UK) and the Military Industrial Complex

In a new report commissioned by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Okopi Ajonye from Demilitarise Education discusses the deepening ties between universities in the UK and the arms industry and military research, which include arms industry-funded research on campus, dedicated research centres sponsored by the arms industry and/or the Ministry of Defense and other parts of the UK security establishment. Check out the launch event on CAAT's YouTube channel, featuring the report’s author Okopi Agonye and an invited panel, hosted by CAAT's Sam Perlo-Freeman.

Major global banking alliance calls on financial industry to stop financing the weapons industry

ICAN reports that “At the conclusion of its 2024 Annual Meeting in Milan, the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) has put out a joint statement calling on the financial industry to stop financing the production and trade of weapons and arms and condemning any type of violence, fighting, or war, from a humanitarian view.” Susi Snyder, keynote speaker at the annual meeting and Programme Coordinator at ICAN, welcomed the statement: “This powerful statement reinforces what we’re seeing around the world, and particularly for nuclear weapons: financial institutions recognising that the negative outcomes of their investments in weapons on people and planet mean that the investment simply is not worth the risk.  For the nuclear weapons industry in particular, this statement reaffirms the trend of financial institutions excluding these controversial weapons of mass destruction since the entry into force of the  UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW.)” 

Brazilian bank announces it will no longer finance the country’s military industry

Banco do Brasil, a Brazilian bank, stated it “will no longer use its own resources to finance defense companies.” As reported by Pedro Pligher, “Banco do Brasil is a key player for the country’s federal government, which owns half of the business. With assets exceeding 1.4 trillion reals (283 billion USD), the bank plays a significant role in the domestic industry by guaranteeing exports for companies.”

Senators in the United States press Congress to restart committee on “war profiteering”

Politico reported that six senators are calling for the revival of the “Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, a panel led during World War II by then-Sen. Harry Truman (D-Mo.). The panel, known as the “Truman Committee,” looked into the defense industry’s profits to ensure they weren’t ripping off the government during an era-defining fight.” Bill Hartung wrote a piece analysing the proposal, “So, yes, by all means let’s have a new Truman Committee. But congressional efforts to rein in the military-industrial complex shouldn’t end there. We need more guardrails to prevent war itself, not just war profiteering.”

Recommended Resources

Nico Edwards, “Sex, Power & Play at Europe’s Largest Arms Fair,” The Disorder of Things, 8 March 2024

Podcast: “Cynthia Enloe: Militarised Empires Around the World,” WILPF, 6 March 2024

Talei Luscia Mangioni, “Art/Story of the Niuklia Fri Pasifik: On Doing Creative Pacific Histories,” The Journal of Pacific History, 26 February 2024

Ellie Shackleton, “The Weaponization and Destruction of Land and Forests,” Medium, 19 February 2024

Podcast: “Militarised masculinities: a closer look,” WILPF, 14 February 2024

Dimity Hawkins, “‘We will not Relax our Efforts’: The Anti-Nuclear Stance of Civil Society and Government in Post-Independence Fiji,” The Journal of Pacific History, 14 February 2024

Nic Maclellan, “Introduction: Resistance and Survival – The Nuclear Era in the Pacific,” The Journal of Pacific History, 7 January 2024

Nancy Ehrenberg-Peters, Jannis Kappelmann, Henrietta Wilson, and Dan Plesch, “Editorial,” ZeFKo Special Issue editorial: gender approaches to disarmament, arms control, peace and conflict, Z Friedens und Konflforsch, 4 January 2024 

Marco de Jong, “Our Pacific Through Native Eyes’: Māori Activism in the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement, 1980–5,” The Journal of Pacific History, 18 December 2023

Carol Cohn, “ZeFKo special issue appreciation,” ZeFKo Special Issue editorial: gender approaches to disarmament, arms control, peace and conflict, Z Friedens und Konflforsch, 18 December 2023

Shirine Jurdi, Nancy Ehrenberg-Peters, “Untold stories: exploring the link between the illicit proliferation and possession of weapons and gender-based violence in Lebanon,” ZeFKo Special Issue editorial: gender approaches to disarmament, arms control, peace and conflict, Z Friedens und Konflforsch, 12 October 2023

Miriam Mona Mukalazi, “The African Union’s Silencing the Guns: between stereotyping and owning gender roles,” ZeFKo Special Issue editorial: gender approaches to disarmament, arms control, peace and conflict, Z Friedens und Konflforsch, 17 August 2023

Maritza Chan, Eloisa Romani, “Represented but not always heard: an analysis of the progress of gender equality at the United Nations through the lens of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” ZeFKo Special Issue editorial: gender approaches to disarmament, arms control, peace and conflict, Z Friedens und Konflforsch, 3 April 2023