February E-News

“The spectre of war over Ukraine continues to loom. But war cannot resolve this crisis. This situation has arisen because of many complex factors that have been compounded and enabled by militarism; thus militarism cannot solve it. A people-centred peace process, with the equitable and meaningful participation of all those affected, is imperative. De-escalation, demilitarisation, and disarmament are crucial to preventing this war—and the next”. This is Ray Acheson’s urgent message in an article in WILPF’s new blog series, calling for an end to war in Ukraine and everywhere.

In a series of articles, WILPF staff demonstrates why diplomacy, demilitarisation, and disarmament are the only sustainable solutions for real peace, in Ukraine, and elsewhere. WILPF’s Secretary-General Madeleine Rees has written an open letter to the UN Security Council, demanding that it bring together relevant parties for mediation and peaceful resolution, while WILPF Sections all over the world have also called for de-escalation. Nela Porobić Isaković, who leads WILPF’s work on feminist political economy, has issued a call to action to prevent this war and all war.

We hope you'll join us in our continued struggle against militarism and for feminist peace. 

In this edition

WILPF community celebrates banniversay

On 22 January 2022, the antinuclear community celebrated the one year anniversary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) since its entry into force.

Many WILPF Sections and Groups used the Treaty’s first anniversary to celebrate, and used the occasion to call on their governments to join the Treaty. 

In the Americas, WILPF Costa Rica sent New Year's cards to 20 presidents and prime ministers urging them to sign and ratify the Treaty. WILPF US branches worked with other anti-nuclear activists on events around the country to celebrate the TPNW and draw attention to its existence. For these events, the Section created a banner and a yard sign and provided the QR Code of a WILPF petition to the US-President and Senate asking them to sign and ratify the Treaty. Prior to the anniversary, members of the Section prepared four resource guides to inform and educate the public about the TPNW. 

In Europe, WILPF Germany, together with other peace activists, organised a vigil in front of the Munich City Hall. With this action, the Section called on the German government to join the TPNW, to end nuclear sharing within NATO and to withdraw nuclear weapons from German soil. In addition, protestors called out the recent classification of nuclear energy as "green" by the European Commission. WILPF Italy organised a sit-in in Rome, calling on the Italian government to ratify the Treaty and, as a first step, to attend the Treaty’s first Conference of States Parties as an observer, following NATO members’ Germany and Norway announcements of their participation as observers. WILPF Spain, together with other Spanish civil society organisations, has been advocating for the ratification of the TPNW by promoting various initiatives through the #10RazonesFirmaTPAN (#10ReasonsSignTPNW) Campaign. For the anniversary, the Section organised an online discussion, submitted a petition to Congress, and published an article on the efforts of civil society to accelerate ratification.

In the African region, WILPF Cameroon held a press briefing and meeting with national stakeholders, including civil society organisations and government representatives. They demanded its government to make efforts to become a state party before the First Meeting of States Parties (1MSP) later this year.

At the international level, RCW’s director participated as keynote speaker in a student-led forum, focusing on the humanitarian implications of the nuclear arms race and the potential of the TPNW to build a world free of nuclear weapons. (Picture credits: WILPF Germany and WILPF Italy)

Arms Trade Treaty meetings currently underway

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, are currently taking place in Geneva from 15–18 February 2022 in a hybrid format. RCW is posting documents, statements, and video recordings of all sessions on its website, and has been invited to make a presentation about gender and reporting to the Working Group on Transparency and Reporting.

UN will continue talking about killer robots, but action is needed

The 2022 round of talks on autonomous weapon systems will begin at the UN in Geneva from 7–11 March. RCW will monitor and report on these talks, but after years of talk and no action, it now seems clear that an urgently needed treaty on autonomous weapons will not be achieved through this forum. We will continue to work with Stop Killer Robots to mobilise against these weapons globally!

Cyber meetings set to start soon, too!

The next round of the UN’s second open-ended working group (OEWG) on information and communications technologies (ICTs) is scheduled for 28 March–1 April, likely in a hybrid format. Although the participation modalities for civil society continue to be unresolved and a point of dispute among states, RCW will cover the meeting through its Cyber Peace & Security Monitor and we will continue to call for urgent action to prevent cyberwar and ensure human rights.

Nuclear ban meeting postponed

The first meeting of states parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was scheduled to take place 22–24 March in Vienna, has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New dates have not yet been set, but we welcome the postponement to ensure the best possible participation from delegates from around the world as well as civil society! In the meantime, we can all work to get more states to join the treaty, more parliamentarians and cities to support it, and more banks to divest from the bomb!

UN Security Council debates war in cities and the protection of civilians

On 25 January 2022, the UN Security Council (UNSC) held an open debate on “war in cities—protection of civilians in urban settings.” As the current president of the UNSC, the Norwegian delegation chose this topic to engage with the findings of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that more than 50 million people are currently affected by conflict in urban areas, and with the UN Secretary-General (UNSG)’s most recent report on the protection of civilians, which highlights that civilians make up the vast majority of casualties when conflicts are waged in populated areas. 

Reaching Critical Will monitored the meeting; find the full report here.

New virtual reality film calls for nuclear abolition and demilitarisation

A new VR documentary, On The Morning You Wake (To The End of the World), centres the false missile alert in Hawai’i in 2018 to highlight the dangers of nuclear weapons and the urgent need for abolition. Narrated by Kanaka Maoli wahine artist, activist, scholar and storyteller Dr. Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, and featuring the voices of several antinuclear activists including RCW’s Ray Acheson, the film critiques imperialism and militarism and highlights ongoing organising for disarmament. Chapter 1 of the film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January and chapters 2 and 3 will premiere at SXSW in March.

Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the month

This month’s recommendation makes a powerful case for the importance of women’s role in building durable peace, with the example of Ukraine
. The article “What would real peacebuilding in Ukraine look like?,” written by Almut Rochowanski, argues that without a people-centred peace process, patterns of exclusion will not be remedied, and grievance will last generations. The author offers insights into the diversity, expertise, and strength of Ukrainian women, and their indispensable contribution to a just and durable peace.

Upcoming events


ATT Working Group meetings and informal preparatory meeting for CSP8
15–18 February, Geneva

CCW Group of Governmental Experts on autonomous weapon systems, first session of 2022
7–11 March, Geneva

Second substantive session of the UN's second Open-ended Working Group (OEWG II) on ICTs
28 March–1 April, New York

Webinars and virtual events

Taking stock of ATT reporting
17 February, online

Emergency briefing on the crisis in Eastern Europe
19 February, online

Legal approaches to reduce gun violence: Amicus briefs and the Mexican lawsuit
24 February, online

Featured news

Tension over crisis in Ukraine increases while peace activists call for de-escalation

Western governments as well as the Ukrainian government are voicing increasing concern over the likelihood of a Russian invasion. Russia continues to deny it is planning such an invasion. Cybersecurity officials warn of a potential wave of Russia-backed cyberattacks that could destabilise NATO countries. The European Union’s cybersecurity agency ENISA and its in-house cyber response team CERT-EU released a joint warning saying they had "reported a substantial increase of cybersecurity threats for both private and public organisations across the EU." The US says it believes Russia will attack Ukraine by the end of the week, although it is not yet certain what form it will take. NATO issued a statement, in which it stresses that “any further Russian aggression against Ukraine will have “massive consequences” and carry a “high price”. NATO accuses Russia of sending more troops to a massive military build-up around Ukraine, while Russia says that it has withdrawn forces and is open to diplomacy. 

The UN Secretary-General expressed his concern over the heightened tension, and said that “abandoning diplomacy for confrontation is not a step over a line, it is a dive over a cliff.” Similarly, peace activists from Ukraine, Russia, and all around the world have called for immediate de-escalation and demilitarisaton of the conflict. 

New report exposes harmful impacts of fighter jets as Canadian government seeks to buy 88 new fighter jets

As the Canadian government plans to buy 88 new fighter jets for $19 billion, the second most expensive procurement in Canadian history, a new report examines their past and present harmful impacts, including environmental, climate, nuclear, financial, socio-cultural and gender-based. It also exposes the air force bases where they are stationed across Canada. The Canadian Section of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) calls on the federal government to be transparent with Canadians and with Indigenous communities about the adverse impacts of a new fleet of fighter jets. WILPF Canada is asking the federal government to conduct and publicise a full life-cycle cost analysis, an environmental assessment, a public health study, and a gender-based analysis of the fighter jet procurement before any final decision is made.

UN expert recognises negative impacts of autonomous weapon systems on persons with disabilities

 A new report by the UN Special Rapporteur Gerard Quinn on the rights of persons with disabilities recognises that autonomous weapon systems will have "deleterious effects" on persons with disabilities, including in relation to assistive devices as well as facial and emotion recognition technology. The report was submitted to the Human Rights Council and contains a thematic study on artificial intelligence and the rights of persons with disabilities.

US military contractor says nuclear war can be won

In contradiction to the recent statement signed by the five nuclear-armed states of the UN Security Council, a US nuclear contractor sent a Guide to Nuclear Deterrence in the Age of Great Power Competition to the US Air Force Global Strike Command claiming that nuclear war can be fought and won. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists dissects and interrogates the contents of the report. 

United States cancels military aid for Egypt after major arms sale

The US State Department has said Egypt has not met the conditions, due to human rights concerns, to receive the $130 million in military aid. Just a few days before the announcement, the US and Egypt had concluded an arms sale worth $2.5 billion, including military transport planes and radar systems. US officials are cited as saying that the withheld military aid and the arms sale are unrelated.

Call for youth applications for a workshop series on disarmament

The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNOD) invites young leaders, aged 18-29 years, to apply for a newly launched workshop series on disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control. The selected applicants will explore the role of young people in advancing disarmament objectives during five interactive and engaging workshops conducted with UNODA staff, youth speakers and other experts. For more information about the content, and how to apply, visit the dedicated webpage.

Recommended reading

Erica Chenoweth and Zoe Marks, “Revenge of the patriarchs: Why autocrats fear women,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2022

Feminist conversations on peace, Sarah Smith and Keina Yoshida (eds.), Bristol University Press, 2022

Alicia Sanders-Zakre, Michaela de Verdier, and Josefin Lind, “No place to hide: Nuclear weapons and the collapse of health care systems,” International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, 2022 

Stories of feminist peace 2021, WILPF, February 2022

Podcast: After the bombing podcast, episode 1: The impact of bombs on the human body, International Network on Explosive Weapons, 10 February 2022

Webinar: Why Canada shouldn’t buy the F-35: Harms and risks, Canadian Foreign Policy Institute and WILPF Canada, 10 February 2022

Alan Kaptanoglu and Stewart Prager, “US defense to its workforce: Nuclear war can be won,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2 February 2022

How to end the Ukraine crisis and redirect military spending towards climate, health and prosperity,” NATO Watch, 1 February 2022

Tamara Lorincz, “Soaring: The harms and risks of fighter jets and why Canada must not Buy a new fleet,” WILPF Canada, February 2022

Peter Maass, “Pentagon professes shock that US airstrikes frequently kill civilians,” The Intercept, 29 January 2022

Jasmine Owens, “The time to act on nuclear disarmament is now,” inkstick, 27 January 2022

Susi Snyder, “Rejecting risk: 101 policies against nuclear weapons,” PAX and ICAN, January 2022