January E-News

As we move into a new year, we encourage all of us to take prison abolitionist Mariame Kaba’s words to heart: “Hope is a discipline.” As RCW’s Ray Acheson recently explained, “hope is a practice that we have to engage in every single day as part of our work. It’s about being fierce in our commitment to … change and understanding that even if all the odds are stacked against us, we still have to try. That’s the only way anything will change, and the only way anything does change in our world.”

Learn more about RCW’s plans for the upcoming weeks in our first E-News of the year, and join us in our work for peace, justice, and disarmament!

In this edition

Updates on disarmament meetings amidst new wave of COVID-19

The Tenth NPT Review Conference is postponed again but civil society continues to maintain momentum

The Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was scheduled to meet 4–28 January 2022 in New York. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference has been postponed to a later date.

The President-designate of the Review Conference (RevCon) has asked for a tentative hold to be placed on the dates of 1–26 August 2022 for the RevCon. Those dates are subject to formal confirmation by states parties at a later date.

In the meantime, if you are looking for conference documents, working papers, national reports, and civil society materials, please visit the Reaching Critical Will website. 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 states parties.

Despite the postponement, civil society continues to mobilise for nuclear disarmament. A joint statement endorsed by more than 90 civil society groups worldwide was delivered to NPT states parties. The statement built on the statement delivered in 2020, when the RevCon was first postponed. It highlights three key messages for states parties to consider at the RevCon,  and offers extensive policy analysis and recommendations. Through a series of short video clips, the statement will continue to be promoted on social media throughout January—look for #NPT2022 on Twitter. In addition, some side events are still going ahead virtually. Please see our calendar of events for details.

RCW has published an updated version of its regular study about nuclear modernisation: Assuring destruction forever: 2022 edition. As of late 2021, the nuclear-armed states are estimated to possess approximately 13,150 nuclear weapons, most of which are many times more powerful than the nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima. All the nuclear-armed states have plans to modernise—upgrade and / or extend the lives of—their nuclear weapons. 

Consultations for a political declaration on explosive weapons postponed

The planned consultations on a political declaration on explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA), scheduled for 2–4 February in Geneva, is postponed in view of the ongoing situation relating to COVID-19. Ireland, which has led this process since 2019, reiterated its commitment to maintain momentum and announced it will reschedule the consultations in Geneva as soon as possible. This last round of consultations are intended to conclude this process and adopt a political declaration to prevent humanitarian harm from the use of EWIPA. The revised political declaration text will be shared once new dates have been worked out. In the meantime, the UN Security Council, under the Norwegian presidency, will hold an open debate on Wars in cities: Protection of civilians in urban settings on 25 January. RCW will monitor and report on the debate.

ATT Working Group meetings and informal preparatory meeting for CSP8 scheduled to go ahead

The first round of Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Working Group meetings in this cycle, and a preparatory meeting for the Eighth Conference of States Parties (CSP8) to the ATT, will take place in Geneva from 1518 February 2022. Meeting modalities will be announced by the end of January, subject to COVID-19 developments.

The chair of CSP8 is Thomas Göbel of Germany. He will seek to promote three key issues this meeting cycle: universalisation, post-shipment controls, and “taking stock” of the first six years of the Treaty.

After CCW’s failure to meaningfully prevent killer robots, activists and states are looking for other avenues for a ban

Late last year, RCW monitored and reported on both the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Autonomous Weapon Systems (AWS) as well as the Sixth Review Conference (RevCon) of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Although states have been discussing limits on AWS for eight years, the RevCon ended without a conclusive agreement.

The RevCon’s outcome did not represent the will of the majority of states to develop an international legal response to AWS. It now seems clear that an urgently needed treaty on autonomous weapons will not be achieved through the CCW, and it is time for states committed to ensuring meaningful human control over the use of force to take a lead on an external process that can deliver real results. WILPF, as part of the Stop Killer Robots Campaign, stands ready to assist states in achieving a treaty as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will continue to report on the next round of GGE discussions, scheduled for 7–11 March and 25–29 July 2022.

New cycle of UN cyber meetings kicked off in late December

The UN’s second open-ended working group (OEWG) on information and communications technologies (ICTs) embarked on its five-year cycle substantive work with a well-attended and content-rich first substantive session in late December. The issue of how non-governmental stakeholders can participate in OEWG sessions is on-going however and was a significant area of debate during the December 2021 session. If you want to catch up on all things cyber, RCW monitored the meeting, and published extensive analysis in its Cyber Peace & Security Monitor. WILPF also provided a written submission to the December 2021 session, highlighting the importance of meaningful civil society engagement, human-centric and gender approaches, and views on current cyber threats, norms, and law. The next round of talks are scheduled for 28 March–1 April 2022.

Nuclear ban treaty: Celebrating one year of its entry into force as the antinuclear community prepares for its first Meeting of States Parties 

This Saturday, 22 January 2022 marks the first anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). This is a big day and cause for celebration! Since its entry into force, more states parties have come onboard (Peru being the most recent addition as the 59th state party), an ever-increasing number of cities, parliamentarians, and other actors have supported the Treaty; and financial institutions in both states and non-states parties are starting to sell off assets in nuclear weapons producing companies, amongst many other positive developments.

To celebrate the anniversary, many campaigners have organised events, which you can access on ICAN’s calendar. If you have not done so already, please add your event to this page so others can access it and share! As part of the celebration, our director Ray Acheson will speak at a virtual event on 22 January hosted by Science for Peace and the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Students Against Nuclear Weapons Virtual Forum. In addition, a new virtual reality documentary, On the Morning You Wake (To The End of the World), which uses the false missile alert in Hawai’i in 2018 to draw attention to the urgent need to abolish nuclear weapons, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on 22 January. Among many others, Ray is featured in the documentary, highlighting the importance of the TPNW.

While it’s important to pause and celebrate our achievements, there is still plenty of work ahead of us. As campaigners and states are preparing for the first Meeting of States Parties (1MSP), scheduled to take place from 2224 March 2022 in Vienna, Austria, WILPF Sections from Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Togo, and Zimbabwe, amongst others, are mobilising their governments to join the Treaty, and to effectively participate in 1MSP. Please note these dates and details about civil society participation are subject to developments with the COVID-19 pandemic; please stay tuned for details on our website and through ICAN.

WILPF calls for feminism, demilitarisation, decolonisation, and degrowth in environmental peacebuilding

In collaboration with the Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS), WILPF contributed a white paper to a compendium of lessons learned, visions for, and recommendations towards the future of environmental peacebuilding. We argue that to be sustainable, conflict prevention and transformation would benefit from a structural root cause analysis informed by feminism, demilitarisation, decolonisation, and degrowth economics. 

The full project will be available and launched on 1 February 2022 at the Second International Conference for Environmental Peacebuilding. For now, the organisers are sharing the 50 contributions to the compendium in the weeks leading up to the conference.

WILPF invites video submissions on the links between conflict, environment, and militarism

WILPF is publishing a short video spotlighting the links between conflict, environment, and militarism. Building on WILPF’s webinar Feminist resistance: Militarism and climate change, we would like to continue raising awareness about the strong links between the climate crisis and militarism, a connection still often overlooked. We also want to spotlight the WILPF network’s resistance to these challenges, and share wide and far why a feminist analysis is crucial if we are to build a world based on feminist peace, including environmental justice. Head over here for more information on how to participate.

Recommendation of the month: Gender and Disarmament database

The new collaborative book Feminist Solutions for Ending War provides a solution to war using innovative examples of how feminist and queer theory and practice inform pacifist treaties, movements and methods. The contributors propose a range of solutions that include arms abolition, centring Indigenous knowledge, economic restructuring, and transforming how we 'count' civilian deaths. For the book’s launch, editors Megan MacKenzie and Nicole Wegner put together a video highlighting contributions from the authors of various chapters, including RCW’s Ray Acheson. Feminist Solutions for Ending War is available to order from Pluto Press, and with the code WAR50, you get 50 per cent off.

Upcoming events


UN Security Council open debate: Wars in cities: Protection of civilians in urban settings
25 January, hybrid

ATT Working Group meetings and informal preparatory meeting for CSP8

1518 February, Geneva

Webinars and virtual events

Climate change and nuclear war: What we can do about the twin existential threats
22 January, online

Canadian students against nuclear weapons virtual forum
22 January 2022, online

On The Morning You Wake (To The End of the World) launch
22 January 2022, online

Nuclear weapons are banned: what does this mean for Britain?
23 January, online

Murky money: Opaque investments, lethal autonomous weapons and the decay of democracy
25 January, online

Nuclear colonialism in the age of the ban treaty: From New Mexico to the Marshall Islands and across the Pacific
25 January, online

Report launch: Explosive weapons with wide area effects: A deadly choice in populated areas
27 January, online

Corporate responsibility, human rights, and the arms industry – coming together or remaining apart?
27 January, online

The many masks of imperialism: COVID-19 and the consolidation of power
31 January, online

Featured news

New York City adopts comprehensive legislation to advance nuclear disarmament

In December, the New York City (NYC) Council adopted comprehensive legislation, calling on NYC to divest from nuclear weapons. Resolution 976 calls upon the NYC Comptroller to instruct the pension funds of public employees to divest from companies involved in the production and maintenance of nuclear weapons. This stands to impact approximately $475 million of the $266.7 billion fund. The package of legislation also establishes a committee responsible for programming and policy related to NYC’s status as a nuclear-weapons-free zone. NYC also joined hundreds of cities, calling on their governments to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The adoption of legislation comes after many months of organising and advocacy by grassroots activists. 

Five nuclear-armed states vow to prevent nuclear war but continue modernising their arsenals 

The five nuclear-armed states (P5) within the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) released a joint statement on preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms races. The statement, which was meant to coincide with the pandemic-delayed NPT Review Conference this month, sought to communicate that they take their responsibilities seriously. While the statement is welcome by arms control advocates, activists criticise the continued modernisation and investments in nuclear weapons by the P5.

Germany to participate as observer in TPNW’s first Meeting of States Parties

Germany’s newly formed coalition government announced its participation as observer in the first Meeting of States Parties (1MSP) of the TPNW, currently scheduled to take place in late March 2022 in Vienna, Austria. This will make Germany the second NATO member state after Norway and the first country in which nuclear weapons are stationed to commit to observe the MSP. Antinuclear activists argue that if Germany is serious about advancing nuclear disarmament, it should pursue the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons stationed in Germany.

Close to 60 civil society organisations call on Canadian government to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Nearly 60 civil society organisations have issued an open letter calling on the Canadian government to end the flow of arms to Saudi Arabia. The letter follows a series of preceding letters published in 2019 and 2020, and  raises concerns about the serious ethical, legal, human rights, and humanitarian implications of Canada’s ongoing transfer of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Pentagon decides that no US troops will be punished for deadly Kabul drone strike

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has decided that no US military personnel will be punished over the August drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including seven children. Following a review of the strike, Austin instructed the heads of Central Command and Special Operations Command to make recommendations to improve Defense Department policies and procedures. But their recommendations did not include holding anyone accountable or punishing anyone involved in the strike.

88 NGOs and independent experts call on the EU to sanction spyware company

In a letter to the European Union (EU) foreign policy chief and foreign ministers of EU states, 88 human rights groups and independent experts call for sanctions against NSO Group. The Israel-based company produces spyware. The call follows years of credible reporting that the group’s Pegasus spyware, which turns an infected phone into a portable surveillance tool, has assisted governments in human rights abuses.

Tension is rising amidst fear of Russian invasion of Ukraine

Negotiations between Russia and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) have not contributed to ease worries by Ukraine and its allies about a possible invasion of Russia to Ukraine. Ukraine also accuses Russia of a massive cyber-attack that disrupted key government websites. Russia rejected these claims, arguing no evidence was behind this accusation. Many states, including Canada, United Kingdom, and United States, amongst others, have sent military equipment to Ukraine to respond to Russia’s troop build-up at its border with Ukraine. Adding to the tensions, Belarus launched a wave of military exercises. Russia continues to deny any intention to invade Ukraine. 

Recommended reading

Gorana Mlinarević and Nela Porobić, “The peace that is not: 25 years of experimenting with peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina–Feminist critique of neoliberal approaches to peacebuilding,” WILPF, December 2021

Ray Acheson, “Militarism and Afghanistan–Blog series,” WILPF, December 2021

Katherine Chandler, “Does military AI have gender? Understanding bias and promoting ethical approaches in military applications of AI,” United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, 7 December 2021

Joelien Pretorius and Tom Sauer, “When is it legitimate to abandon the NPT? Withdrawal as political tool to move nuclear disarmament forward,” Contemporary Security Policy, 2 December 2021

Dr Lucie Béraud-Sudreau et al,. The SIPRI top 100 arms-producing and military services companies, 2020, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, December 2021

Leonie Nimmo and Hana Manjusak, Environmental CSR reporting by the arms industry, Conflict and Environment Observatory, 15 December 2021

Eloide Hainard and Olena Shumska, 2021 Small arms trade transparency barometer, Small Arms Survey, December 2021

Gem Romuld (ed.), Troubled waters: Nuclear submarines, AUKUS and the NPT, ICAN Australia, January 2022

Various authors, Looking ahead 2022 blog series, Forum on the Arms Trade, January 2022

Ray Acheson, Nela Porobić, Katrin Geyer, and Doug Weir, “Environmental Peacebuilding through Degrowth, Demilitarization, and Feminism: Rethinking environmental peacebuilding to stay within planetary boundaries and champion social justice,” WILPF and Conflict and Environment Observatory, 18 January 2022

Allison Pytlak, “Paths for building cyber peace in 2022,” Forum on the Arms Trade, 18 January 2022