March E-News 2019
The last year has been a tumultuous one in relation to questions of peace and security on the Korean peninsula. With missile tests and threats by North Korea and the United States, the global community has felt the ramifications of the ongoing war, which has been ongoing for 67 years. The war has had enormous consequences for Koreans, especially for the many families who have been separated. Hostilities have remained high, resulting in the extreme militarisation of the Korean peninsula. We are disappointed with the lack of concrete account at the most recent Hanoi summit, but are more determined than ever to advance feminist, sustainable approaches to peace.
Women in particular have been demanding peace and protesting the war for decades—and now they are seizing on the recent momentum of renewed dialogue between North and South Korea and North Korea and the United States to demand an end to the war, the inclusion of women in a peace process, and disarmament and demilitarisation. It’s been a hectic few months as WILPF has worked with our partners Women Cross DMZ, Nobel Women’s Initiative, and the South Korean Women’s Movement for Peace to launch our global coalition Korea Peace Now in Washington, DC, New York, and Ottawa, and to start engaging in advocacy and mobilisation in the United States, South Korea, and at the UN. We welcome all of you to join us in this journey. Peace cannot be left to two egotistical men—it must be a democratic, inclusive process that reflects the desire of Korean people for sustainable peace and holistic denuclearisation.
Photo credits: Korea Peace Now
In this edition
- Feminists demand Korea Peace Now!
- More states are turning their back on nuclear weapons
- Why killer robots are a feminist issue
- International Women's Day—Celebrating women who disarm the patriarchy
- Upcoming events
- Featured news
- Recommended reading
WILPF, Women Cross DMZ, Nobel Women’s Initiative, and the South Korean Women’s Movement for Peace have formed a global coalition called Korea Peace Now to demand an end to the Korean war, the inclusion of women in a peace process, and sustainable disarmament and demilitarisation. Check out our campaign video, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and view our website for more information and resources. We are also mobilising support in the United States for a resolution from members of Congress calling for an end to the war, and to promote support for peace and disarmament at the United Nations. Sign up to receive more information about the campaign and coming tools and actions that you can take to help support feminist approaches to peace and security on the Korean peninsula and beyond!
More states are turning their back on nuclear weapons
On 25 February, South Africa became the 22nd country to join the Treaty
on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). It is the only country that went from developing its own nuclear arsenal to dismantling it and is an outspoken advocate against these weapons of mass destruction. Reaching Critical Will’s Ray Acheson was there when South Africa deposited its instrument at the United Nations in New York.
The ICAN Cities Appeal continues to make waves, with the latest addition of Washington, DC joining the movement! Its city council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that endorses the TPNW, and further calls on the US administration to make the elimination of nuclear weapons the central focus of its security policy.
Photo credits: Ray Acheson
Why killer robots are a feminist issue
The weekend where members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots are convening in Berlin is almost here! If you want to join, you can still register for the public event on 21 March which is co-hosted with the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy. Amongst others, Reaching Critical Will’s director Ray Acheson will speak about killer robots and feminism, so make sure not to miss this. If you are coming to Berlin, let campaigners know on social media using the hashtag #KillerRobotsGer.
The Campaign will also call on the German government to lead an effort to launch and negotiate a new international treaty to prohibit weapons systems that would lack meaningful human control. The Campaign will continue to work to foster political support in many other countries for a new treaty to preemptively ban killer robots. A new pathway is needed as current diplomatic talks have failed to deliver this shared goal.
In support of constructing this new pathway, Reaching Critical Will has also published a new resource guide about killer robots for WILPF’s network and beyond. We hope it will further accelerate movement building and advocacy activities across the globe that call for a ban on killer robots!
Following the Berlin event, several members of the Campaign will travel to Geneva to participate in the next round of expert group talks on autonomous weapons. RCW will be providing monitoring and analysis through its CCW Report, as well as posting statements and documents. Subscribe on our website and follow us on Twitter at @RCW_.
Photo credits: Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
International Women's Day—Celebrating women who disarm the patriarchy
On this year’s International Women’s Day, Reaching Critical Will’s Allison Pytlak travelled to Canada to disarm the myths about women, weapons and war! She spoke at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, where her presentation highlighted the contributions of women to peacebuilding, disarmament, and arms control and called on Canada to live up to its feminist assistance policy. Reaching Critical Will’s Ray Acheson stayed local and talked about feminist anti-war activism on the eve of International Women’s Day at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in New York.
On the same day, our WILPF colleague Laila Alodaat, and our partner Christine Ahn of Women Cross DMZ received a special shout out in an article by Open Canada. The article recognises “women that are making waves” globally, and acknowledges amazing feminist activists working around the world, whose work is often left without recognition.
WILPF also made a powerful statement at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva and observed that “militarism and corporate greed further squander valuable resources instead of making financing available for the realisation of human rights.” We asserted that “though women are oppressed, we are not powerless. We will continue to speak out.”
Conference on Disarmament, Part 1
21 January–29 March 2019, Geneva
We are the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
21 March, Berlin
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots global meeting
22-23 March, Berlin
Commission on the Status of Women
11–22 March, New York
CCW GGE on lethal autonomous weapon systems
25-29 March 2019, Geneva
ATT Working Group & CSP5 Preparatory Meetings
2–5 April 2019, Geneva
Third Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the NPT
29 April–10 May 2019, New York
New report documents the role of US and European arms used by the Saudi/UAE-led coalition in Yemen
Yemen-based Mwatana for Human Rights, US-based University Network for Human Rights, and Dutch peace organisation PAX released “Day of Judgment”: The Role of the US and Europe in Civilian Death, Destruction, and Trauma in Yemen. The report documents the role of US and European weapons in the Saudi Arabia-United Arab Emirates’-led Coalition’s ongoing military campaign in Yemen. Twenty-seven unlawful Coalition attacks documented by Mwatana for Human Rights between April 2015 and April 2018 killed at least 203 civilians and injured at least 749. Twenty-two of these attacks likely involved weapons produced in the United States (US), two attacks likely involved weapons produced in the United Kingdom (UK), and three attacks likely involved weapons with parts produced in both the US and UK. The attacks struck homes, schools, businesses, farms, a health clinic, a government administration building, and a celebration hall. At least 122 children and at least 56 women are among the dead and wounded.
Germany to extend arms freeze to Saudi Arabia further
Germany announced it will extend the unilateral halt on arms shipments to Saudi Arabia imposed due to concerns about its role in Yemen’s war and the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi. This is an extension of the previous deadline of 9 March. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stated that “Not only will there not be any permits issued until the end of this month, but products with permits already granted will also not be delivered.” Germany is under mounting pressure from its European defense project partners Britain and France to lift the ban or to risk “commercial credibility”.
German arms producer Heckler & Koch fined $4.2 million over assault rifle sales to Mexico
A German court found that the German arms producer Heckler & Koch (H&K) violated the law when it exported thousands of military-grade assault rifles to Mexican states facing armed violence. The company exported rifles and ammunition to a central government buyer in Mexico which then distributed the weapons to states at a high risk for violence and human rights violations. “H&K coached the Mexican procurement agency to eliminate from its end-user certifications references to certain federal states" that were under the German ban, according to the World Peace Foundation, citing witnesses in the investigation. The company was fined $4.2 million and two former Heckler & Koch employees were given suspended prison sentences of 17 and 22 months.
GunPolicy.org offers to bulk-download data on armed violence and gun laws for free
GunPolicy.org, the world’s largest armed violence online knowledge base offers a new free service that allows anybody to bulk-download and display data comparing armed violence and gun laws. The database publishes more than 200,000 web pages, charts and tables of evidence-based, fully referenced data in more than 350 jurisdictions worldwide.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister vows to change gun laws after mass shooting in two mosques
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country’s gun laws will change in light of the mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques that left 49 people dead. She noted "While work is being done as to the chain of events that lead to both the holding of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now. Our gun laws will change."
New SIPRI report reveals: China is biggest exporter of armed drones; India is second largest importer of weapons; US weapons exports increased considerably
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), US weapons exports have increased by 29 per cent in the period from 2015 to 2018, compared to the period from 2009-2013. After Saudi Arabia, India is now the second largest importer of arms in the world after being the largest importer for more than eight years. China has expanded its customer base to 53 countries, up from 41 countries in the previous five years. It is also the world leader in sales of armed drones, supplying 135 armed drones to 13 countries in the same time period.
65th anniversary of the largest nuclear test conducted by the US reminds world of devastating consequences of nuclear weapons use
On 1 March 1954, the United States conducted its largest ever nuclear weapon test, code-named Castle Bravo, in the Marshall Islands. Due to a design error, the explosion reached a yield of 15 megatons, making it 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Radioactive fallout spread over more than 11,000 kilometres with devastating consequences for humans, the environment, and animals.
North Korea and the US abruptly end second summit
The second summit between the US and North Korean administration ended without a joint agreement and without clarity about next steps to advance the denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula. The scope of a deal that would have exchanged verifiable dismantlement of Yongbyon for easing sanctions appeared to be the cause of disagreement. After the meeting, the US administration stressed that it does not support an “incremental denuclearisation process”. Yet, both parties signalled interest in continuing dialogue.
Prior to the summit, US Congressman Ro Khanna along with 18 other Democrats, had introduced a resolution, backed by former President Jimmy Carter, into the US House of Representatives calling for a final settlement of the Korean war.
US administration increases funding for nuclear weapons agency amid new production
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will receive an 8.3 per cent increase over its current budget, so as to complete production of a new low-yield nuclear missile. The NNSA, a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy that has oversight on America’s nuclear weapons stockpile, requires $16.5 billion in the fiscal 2020 budget, an increase of $1.3 billion compared to the current financial year. The agency has five major modernisation programs underway. NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty noted that “The President’s budget request reflects the Trump Administration’s strong commitment to ensuring that U.S. nuclear capabilities are second to none.”
Russia suspends participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty
After the United States’ (US) administration’s notice to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty bans production, testing, and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500km, the Russian administration suspended its participation in the Treaty per decree “until the US ends its violations of the treaty or until it terminates.” The US has accused Russia of developing and deploying a cruise missile that violates provisions of the Treaty and Russia has denied any breaches and in response, accused the US of violating the agreement.
Indian fighter jets drop bombs on Pakistani territory
The Indian Air Force allegedly dropped 1,000 kilos of bombs across the Line of Control with Pakistan. Many in India have called this a retaliation following the recent suicide-attack in Kashmir that killed over 40 people. In response to India’s first air strikes on Pakistan since 1971, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced to meet with the body in control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Since the air strike, four Pakistani armed drones have been intercepted by India. Heightened tensions between the nuclear-armed countries has increased the risks of nuclear war.
Australian Defence Force to invest $9 million to ensure killer robots are “ethical”
The Australian Defence Department funds $9 million for the military to conduct research over a six-year period into autonomous weapon systems. The aim is to build decision-making into robots so they would take actions similar to that which a human may take.
No killer robots for European Defence Fund
A provisional agreement would prohibit the new European Defence Fund (EDF) from investing in the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) or killer robots. The partial political agreement to establish the EDF must still be formally approved by the European Parliament and Council. However, the planned European Defence Fund will still receive a budget of €13 billion for 2021-2027 to finance “collaborative defence research and development projects.”
Report on the humanitarian impact of drones relaunches in Germany
The German peace organisation International Doctors for the Prevention of Atomic War (IPPNW) released an updated version of ‘The humanitarian impact of drones’, a collaborative report of 2017 by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Article 36, and the International Disarmament Institute of Pace University. Translated into German, a major part of the new report is based on the original version. It additionally contains case studies specific to the German context, as well as an further chapter on the psychological consequences for those operating drones. The launch was met with wide media interest, and was discussed in many articles and radio reports such as here, here or here.
Court hears case on Germany's role in US drone deaths in Yemen
The case of bin Ali Jaber vs. Germany seeks to force the German government to admit shared responsibility in the killing of two of the plaintiffs' family members in Yemen in 2012. Furthermore, the plaintiffs are calling on Germany to prohibit the United States from using its Ramstein Air Base in its global drone war. Ground satellites at Ramstein Air Base link operators in the US with space-based satellites and then to the drones. The German government has denied all responsibility for the deaths of civilians in Yemen and says that it has no evidence that Ramstein is involved in the US drone war, and claims that drone attacks are neither launched nor flown from Germany.
US administration ends order to publish drone death data
The US administration has ended a requirement for intelligence officials to report the number of people killed in drone strikes and attacks on terror targets outside conflict zones, with an executive order. The previous administration had introduced the casualty report to improve accountability of the process by which drone strikes are authorised.
Huawei calls for common cybersecurity standards amidst concerns
Chairman Ken Hu of Huawai, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker and currently in the spotlight over the security risks of its telecom equipment gear, urged governments, the telecoms industry and regulators to work together to create a common set of cybersecurity standards. Hu observed,“The fact is that both the public and private sectors lack a basic common understanding of this issue. As a result, different stakeholders have different expectations and there is no alignment of responsibilities. (...) “As a whole, the industry lacks a unified set of technical standards for security, as well as systems for verification.”
OPCW confirms chemical weapons use in Douma in April 2017
The UN Security Council has discussed the latest findings of the report from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that concluded its Fact-Finding Mission assessment. It found that there were “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place, on 7 April”, in the city of Douma, a suburb of Damascus, adding that reactive chlorine had been detected in samples taken, around two weeks after the incident. Dozens were killed during the attack. The report does not assign blame for the likely use of chlorine gas, and found no grounds or evidence, to support an assertion from the Syrian government that rebel fighters in Douma had used a local facility to manufacture chemical weapons.
Tim Shorrock and Kathleen Ok-soo Richards, The Trump-Kim Talks Ended Abruptly - but Negotiations Will Continue, The Nation, 28 February 2019
Manasi Gopalakrishnan, Trump-Kim summit: Denuclearization ‘must apply to all nations’, Deutsche Welle, 27 February 2019
Akira Kawasaki, The Trump-Kim Reality TV Show is over - the World Needs to Get Serious About Denuclearization, Newsweek, 1 March 2019
Rebecca Johnson, Stalemate for Trump and Kim, as India and Pakistan risk nuclear war over Kashmir, openDemocracy, 28 February 2019
Various authors, Special issue: Spotlight on nuclear modernization, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 75, 2019
Tom Sauer and Mathias Reveraert, The potential stigmatizing effect of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, The Nonproliferation Review, 24 December 2018
Kevin Roose, Why Napalm Is a Cautionary Tale for Tech Giants Pursuing Military Contracts, The New York Times, 4 March 2019
The Editors, Don’t Let Robots Pull the Trigger, Scientific American, March 2019
Lan Mei, Building Ethics not Bombs: The Role of Scientists and Engineers in Humanitarian Disarmament, Humanitarian Disarmament, 25 February 2019
Ray Acheson, A WILPF Guide to Killer Robots, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), March 2019
Germany: Support a Ban on ‘Killer Robots’, Human Rights Watch, 14 March 2019
Christine Chinkin, Are we asking the right questions? Reframing peace and security, London School of Economics and Political Science, Centre for Women, Peace and Security, 4 March 2019
Various authors, 4th edition of the WILPF Africa Newsletter, December 2018