April E-News

This April marks 106 years since 1,136 women gathered together in The Hague in the midst of the First World War to discuss the root causes of conflict and take decisive action for a future of peace. The meeting ended with the founding of what would become the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

WILPF’s first resolution, adopted in 1915, called for an end to “the madness and the horror of war.” Today, WILPF’s growing global movement includes 32 Sections, 13 Groups, and nearly 7,000 activists representing 49 countries—making it one of the oldest and largest feminist peace movements in the world. In celebration of our 106 years of activism, advocacy, and organising, throughout April WILPF will be highlighting key moments, events, and people from WILPF’s past, so make sure to head over to WILPF’s social media channels to learn more!

In this edition

New curriculum resources on countering racism and other structures of exclusion and domination in teaching on nuclear issues

In March, Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security (SGS) released an initial annotated bibliographic list of interdisciplinary scholarly and other works exploring and countering the expression of structural racism and other forms of exclusion and domination in nuclear arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation, and security studies. It is intended as an evolving, curated curricular resource for scholars, activists, and others interested and engaged in understanding and advancing a more self-reflexive scholarship, teaching, and practice on nuclear weapons issues, one that acknowledges the presence and impacts of systemic racism, exclusion, and domination. 

This initial list of curriculum resources was developed by SGS students, researchers and faculty led by Tamara Patton and Sharon Weiner, and includes contributions from RCW’s Ray Acheson, as well as Sara Al-Sayed, Chris Lawrence, Ananya Malhotra, Zia Mian, Ryo Morimoto, Anne Stickells, and Jana Wattenberg.

The Curriculum Resources Project is part of the Program’s acknowledgement of and response to structural racism and other forms of exclusion and domination that work to deny and limit the dignity and rights of minoritised and marginalised communities to participate freely and contribute fully and equally in society. To offer additional suggestions for the project’s consideration, please email sgs-curriculum (a) princeton.edu.

WILPF Sections to discuss—Canada's feminist foreign policy: rhetoric or reality?

The Canadian government will soon release its Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP) after months of consultation. But what will it include and what policies are needed to make the rhetoric of feminism a reality? A webinar organised by WILPF Canada will present an overview of how the Canadian FFP process has evolved, including recent consultations; the key principles of feminist foreign policy; and will offer a critical look at existing foreign policy. The webinar will also be an opportunity to hear from WILPF Sweden about what has, and what has not, worked in the context of Sweden’s FFP.

In related news, RCW’s Canadian staff members recently co-drafted and coordinatedan open letter, signed by a diverse group of more than 40 feminist representatives from academia and civil society calling on the Canadian Task Force on Women in the Economy to demand the Trudeau government to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia and increase humanitarian assistance to Yemen.

WILPF US: Researching “forever chemicals” on military poisons website

The WILPF US Earth Democracy Issue Committee and WILPF US Burlington Branch have recently redesigned and relaunched the website www.militarypoisons.org.  The new website is an excellent research tool for those who want to learn more about the PFAS chemicals (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and their use by the US military across the globe. Scientists call PFAS “forever chemicals” because their chemistry keeps them from breaking down under typical environmental conditions. They build up in our bodies and never break down in the environment. Small doses of PFAS have been linked to cancer, reproductive and immune system harm, and other diseases. 

WILPF members are advocating that the military be included in all climate agreements and state and national environmental legislation. The website is currently focusing on US data but the WILPF US Earth Democracy Issue Committee is looking to add more countries to the list. To learn more about this project, watch WILPF US’ recent webinar on the topic. For more information and ways to contribute with data, contact Marguerite Adelman with WILPF Burlington at madel51353 (a) gmail.com or Nancy Price with WILPF US Earth Democracy Issue Committee at nancytprice39 (a) gmail.com.

WILPF Sections continue working for the abolition of nuclear weapons

WILPF members continue to play an integral role in raising awareness and engaging with other activists to abolish nuclear weapons. 

WILPF Spain is in the process of launching a campaign called #10ReasonsToSignTPNW (#10RazonesFirmaTPAN) to raise awareness about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which entered into force 22 January 2021. The aim of the campaign is to encourage the Spanish government and political parties to ratify the Treaty. The campaign also consists of a series of blog posts published on the 22nd of each month on various themes related to nuclear weapons, available on WILPF Spain’s website

WILPF Finland is also continuing the work for nuclear disarmament. Building momentum for the entry into force of the TPNW, the Section co-signed a statement calling on the Nordic governments to sign and ratify the Treaty and work towards the establishment of a Nordic nuclear-weapon-free zone. More recently, the Section invited Dr. Tarja Cronberg, Distinguished Associate Fellow with the SIPRI European Security Programme and Chair of Finnish Peace Union, for an online discussion on the threats associated with nuclear weapons to conclude WILPF Finland’s annual meeting on 25 March 2021.

WILPF Cameroon held a press conference about the urgency for Cameroon to ratify the TPNW. The event brought together media representatives, members of civil society organisations, as well as a government representative. WILPF Cameroon took the opportunity to inform the public about the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons on humanity and the environment, and explained how Cameroon’s existing commitments to nuclear disarmament and the Sustainable Development Goals aligns with the ratification of the TPNW.

WILPF speaks out against US border imperialism, police brutality, arms sales, and other topics at the Human Rights Council

On 17 March, at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, WILPF’s Vice-President and WILPF US member Melissa Torres  delivered a powerful statement on behalf of WILPF, speaking out against US border imperialism, police brutality, arms sales, surveillance, and nuclear weapons. At the occasion of the adoption of the report of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United States, WILPF called for the abolition of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and the redirection of military and police budgets to provide care and justice for all. It urged the US to stop " squandering of wealth on military budgets and invest in human security based on human rights for all.” Watch or read the full statement. (Picture credit: WILPF Cameroon)

WILPF Sections continue to mobilise for a ban on killer robots across the globe

WILPF Sections have been working tirelessly and creatively to raise awareness about the threat of killer robots, and to get their countries on board for a ban on fully autonomous weapons.

WILPF Ghana recently launched the new initiative “Arts for Peace,” facilitating activities such as art exhibitions, art shows, social media campaigns, storytelling with images, poems, photo essays, photography books, cartoons, drawings, creative posters, amongst others, to increase awareness and gather more public support for a ban. WILPF Ghana believes that art is a catalyst for positive change that can alter public perception and move people to action and therefore makes it a valuable peace building tool.

Beyond this recent campaign, WILPF Ghana has been building public awareness by educating community members, organising rallies in town halls, holding press conferences, briefing the national Parliament, and hosting educational conferences and training.

WILPF Sweden also continues to work hard to get the Swedish public and government on board for a ban. Just in the last few months, they held a workshop for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on killer robots and gender, produced accessible information material for WILPF members and the public on the topic, featured in a Channel 4 news piece, and mobilised other civil society organisations to work actively on the issue of autonomous weapons. 

WILPF Zimbabwe advanced civil society mobilisation in its country, by hosting workshops for civil society colleagues as well as government representatives. The workshops addressed different aspects of killer robots, including discussions about what they are and why they need to be banned. One workshop centred on the gender dimensions of killer robots, and brought together youth organisations led by young girls, women-led civil society groups, as well as students and others. This led to an alliance of women and youth led civil society organisations now working jointly for a ban on killer robots.

WILPF Burundi’s recent activities focused on the inclusion of youth as the future actors to support a ban on killer robots. Their recent activities therefore included identification and outreach to youth, and the organisation of a workshop with young people. As a follow-up, WILPF Burundi set up discussion groups via WhatsApp for possible actions and exchanges related to stopping killer robots. (Picture credits: WILPF Zimbabwe and WILPF Burundi)

ATT states parties to meet for the first time in 2021

The first round of preparatory and working group meetings of the Seventh Conference of States Parties (CSP7) of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will meet virtually from 26-30 April 2021.

The meetings will take place every day from 12:00-15:00 CEST. The RCW team will monitor and report on these meetings through our ATT Monitor. To catch up on what’s currently at stake in this space, head over to our most recent ATT Monitor and be sure to subscribe for updates.

The second round of preparatory and working group meetings initially planned for 2021 will not take place. States parties have decided to hold remote consultations intersessionally in May-June to finalise documentation arising out of the April meetings. These will be submitted to CSP7, to take place from 30 August to 3 September 2021, for consideration and possible adoption or endorsement.

Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the month

The correlation between proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Iraq and rates of violence against women is a new joint report by WILPF and Asuda, an Iraqi women’s rights organisation. It explores the impact of firearms on women in Iraq and illustrates, amongst other things, a lack of disaggregated data on the topic; that gender-based violence (GBV) is underreported; that weapons play a role in all forms of GBV; and that gender norms–including those encouraging violence as a form of masculinity–must be addressed. The report, available in English and Arabic, offers recommendations to advocates and policy makers to limit the spread of firearms that will help to reduce instances of GBV in Iraq. The report was recently launched nationally and internationally, including through an online event webinar that featured some of the researchers and also outlined the gaps in the Iraqi legal landscape concerning firearms possession.  

Upcoming events


Building political support for the nuclear ban
24 April 2021, online

Living with Chernobyl: personal stories from the world's worst nuclear disaster
25 April 2021, online

DC Student Consortium On Women, Peace and Security Presents: Banning the Bomb, Smashing the Patriarchy
27 April 2021, online

WILPF Canada: Canada’s feminist foreign policy–rhetoric or reality?
29 April 2021, online

CODEPINK book launch: Banning the Bomb, Smashing the Patriarchy
5 May 2021, online

International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament
24 May 2021


Arms Trade Treaty Working Group & CSP7 Preparatory Meetings
26-30 April, online

Featured news

Scottish Green party pledges to ban Trident

The Trident nuclear programme could be banned from Scotland using devolved powers under ambitious proposals included in the Scottish Greens Holyrood manifesto. The pro- independence party recently set out its election pledge, which includes committing to updating the ­Marine Scotland Act, which regulates activities in Scottish waters. This would make it impossible for the Royal Navy to operate Trident from Faslane.

Poll: 74 per cent of Canadians want Canada to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

A new poll commissioned by Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition, the Simons Foundation, and le Collectif Échec à la Guerre finds that a large majority (74 per cent) of Canadians want the government to join the nuclear ban. It is the first poll to be conducted in Canada since the TPNW was adopted. The poll finds that 73 per cent of those surveyed thought that Canada should join the TPNW even if there was pressure from the United States not to do so, and only 9 per cent believed it is acceptable for countries to have nuclear weapons.

Following cyber sabotage operation, Iran says it will enrich uranium to 60 per cent, throwing nuclear talks in doubt

Iran says it will start increasing the purity of uranium it enriches to 60 per cent for the first time after a cyber operation targeting a key nuclear facility, in what Iranian officials called an act of sabotage that they suggested had been carried out by Israel. This raises fresh concerns about the future of talks to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the US walked away from under the Trump administration. Until now, Iran has been enriching uranium up to 20 per cent purity, but the new target would be a step closer to achieving weapons-grade levels, which require uranium enriched to around 90 per cent purity. 

UK continues to face negative reactions with its decision to increase nuclear arsenal 

The international reaction to the decision to increase the UK's nuclear arsenal has been a swift and overwhelmingly negative one. Germany’s Foreign Minister took the unusual step of criticising the decision in public. Of the states described in the Integrated Review as threats to British security, Russia said the increase threatens global stability, and Iran accused the UK of hypocrisy. The UN Secretary-General has expressed his personal view that the move is in violation of Britain’s obligations under article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), while civil society from across the globe continues to express outrage at the UK’s decision.

First meeting of the UN nuclear ban treaty set for January 2022

The first meeting of the signatories of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will take place in Austria in January next year. The TPNW, which prohibits by international law the development, manufacture, possession and use of nuclear weapons, entered into force on January 22 2021. The United Nations said the meeting will be held in Vienna from January 12 to 14 to discuss the future operations of the Treaty.

Judgement: German arms company Heckler & Koch (H&K) to pay over €3 million for arms exports to Mexico

In the case of arms exports by H&K to Mexico, the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) rejected the appeals by the prosecutor’s office and the defendants respectively, thus largely confirming the verdict from the previous instance. More than three million euros will be confiscated from Heckler & Koch of revenues from the illegal deal. End-use declarations were judged not to be part of export licences under the War Weapons Control Act. This is a landmark ruling with far-reaching implications for the German arms export control system. 

Canada cancels export permits for drone technology to Turkey

Canada has cancelled export permits to Turkey for drone technology after a government review found that Canadian-made systems had been used by Azerbaijan in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. The foreign affairs department said that the review “found credible evidence” that Canadian airstrike-targeting gear was diverted to the disputed territory during six weeks of fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia late last year. The conflict claimed more than 5,000 lives. 

US sanctions Russia over cyber operations

The US government has placed sweeping sanctions and diplomatic expulsions on Russia in relation to its interference in the 2020 US election and more recently the SolarWinds cyber operation, along with "severe human rights abuses" in Crimea. In doing so the US formally named the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service as the force behind the SolarWinds hack that affected the federal government and different elements of the private sector. This is the first time the US has taken such strong action in relation to an international cyber operation. The move has been supported by the Five Eyes countries that the US is allied with, as well as some NATO countries. Russia delivered a sharp response to the Biden administration’s sanctions, blacklisting senior officials and targeting the US diplomatic mission.

German truck corporation MAN profiting from Myanmar atrocities

The NGO Justice For Myanmar has uncovered evidence of significant links between German truck manufacturer MAN, majority owned by Volkswagen, and vehicle sales to the Myanmar military. MAN owns 25 per cent of Sinotruk’s Hong Kong-listed subsidiary, and MAN executives hold four seats on the board of Sinotruk Hong Kong. Sinotruk also has access to MAN technology and the two companies have a joint brand. Since the brutal and illegitimate military coup earlier this year, Sinotruk vehicles have been used to attack peaceful protesters, terrorise the population and transport individuals arbitrarily detained.

Fears of “digital dictatorship” as Myanmar deploys AI

Protesters in Myanmar fear they are being tracked with Chinese facial recognition technology, as spiralling violence and street surveillance spark fears of a “digital dictatorship” to replace ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Human rights groups say the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to check on citizens’ movements poses a “serious threat” to their liberty. They had called for the inclusion of dual-use goods and surveillance equipment in the arms embargo in late February. Threats of surveillance are compounded by continued internet shutdowns, further stifling access to information in the country. 

Activists call for bans on facial recognition and autonomous weapons in New York City

Thirty-five civil society groups have called on NYC City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to introduce a  comprehensive ban on government use of facial recognition in New York City. For years, the groups note, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) “has been a leading user of facial recognition, systematically subjecting New Yorkers to this biased, broken, and invasive technology. While we believe that no police department should use facial recognition, the NYPD’s history of misconduct urgently requires nothing less than a categorical ban.”

In addition, NYC council member Ben Kallos is proposing what would be the United States’ first law banning police from owning or operating robots armed with weapons. As the NYPD has started using robots in some of its operations, concerns are rising that the police may begin to weaponise these systems. The proposed legislation is supported by NYC-based members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

Global Days of Action on Military Spending demand defunding of the military to defend people and the planet

The Global Days of Action on Military Spending, taking place from 10 April to 17 May, and founded by the International Peace Bureau, with support from civil society across the globe, demand that governments across the globe drastically reduce their military expenditures, especially those accounting for the largest shares of the world’s total spending, and reallocate the freed-up resources to human and common security-oriented sectors, notably for confronting the coronavirus pandemic and the eco-social collapse we are now facing.

European Council sets up ‘European Peace Facility’, allowing the EU to provide military equipment to third countries' armed forces and military operations

The EU's Foreign Affairs Council formally established the so called European 'Peace' Facility (EPF). Worth up to €5 billion for the period 2021-2027, the 'EPF' will, for the first time, allow the EU to provide military equipment (including weapons and ammunition) to third countries' armed forces and military operations. Many civil society organisations have been very critical of the establishment of the EPF, as they fear that the use of this instrument will likely lead to more, instead of less, insecurity. 

UN Office on Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) shares new series of educational videos 

UNODA launched “#Intro2Disarmament”, a new series of educational videos. It is designed to drive interest and build understanding of what disarmament is and how it works. The videos can be used to engage anyone with an interest in international peace and security.

Recommended reading

Hyun Lee interviewed by Janine Jackson, “Washington has been asking the wrong question on North Korea,Portside, 27 February 2021

Verity Cole and Anna Crowe, “The Arms Trade Treaty’s gender-based violence risk assessment: A questionnaire for information sources,” The Stimson Center and International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, February 2021  

Comment fonctionne le Traité sur l’Interdiction des armes nucléaires, ICAN France, March 2021

Mike Small, “Global Britain: repressing dissent at home, armed to teeth abroad,” Bella Caledonia, 17 March 2021

Christine Ahn, Terry K Park, and Kathleen Richards, “Anti-Asian violence in America is rooted in US empire,The Nation, 19 March 2021

Webinar: “The feminist case for a peace agreement to end the Korean war,” Korea Peace Now, 19 March 2021  

Abolishing the war on terror & building communities of care:  A grassroots policy agenda for the Biden–Harris Administration and 117th Congress, Justice for Muslims Collective, Project South, Heart, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights et al., 2021

Matt Tracy, “Community protests nuclear weapons on Bayard Rustin’s birthday,” GayCityNews.com, 18 March 2021

Marie Berry and Milli Lake, “Policing patriarchal violence,” Gender Justice & Security, 18 March 2021 

Mary Wareham, “Don’t arm robots in policing: proposed New York City law a model for regulation,” Human Rights Watch, 24 March 2021

Jody Vittori, “Mercenaries and money laundering in Libya: What a UN report on Libya reveals about the nexus of private security operators and illicit financial flows,Inkstick, 29 March 2021

Sahr Muhammedally, “Counter-terrorism hangover or legal obligation? The requirement to protect civilians in war,War on the Rocks, 30 March 2021

Erin Hunt and Farah Bogani, “Missed opportunities: disarmament and Canada’s National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security” in Reflections on Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security: gains, gaps & goals, Women, Peace and Security Network - Canada, March 2021

Alex Adams, Death TV: Drone warfare in contemporary popular culture, Drone Wars, March 2021

"Death falling from the sky: civilian harm from the United States’ use of lethal force in Yemen," Mwatana for Human Rights, March 2021

John Lindsay-Poland, “Mexican police who massacred Guatemalan migrants get their guns from the US,” nacla, 1 April 2021

All about feminist foreign policies,” WILPF, 1 April 2021

Seyed Hossein Mousavian, “Why a quick return to the Iran nuclear deal is needed to avoid a real nuclear crisis,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11 April 2021