March E-News

The news is bleak - conflicts in multiple countries, a nuclear armed-state invading one of its neighbours, countries committing ever more money to military spending and developing weapons. Amidst unspeakable human suffering and destruction across many different conflicts, WILPF has launched the campaign #NoMoreWars. If we allow militarism to triumph it will lead to the annihilation of all life. In WILPF’s call to action, we note that “we no longer have the luxury to stand by and wait for reactions from those that have lost themselves to power and greed. We must act now.” Join us in saying #NoMoreWars and standing for peace, disarmament, and non-violence!

In this edition

WILPF mobilises for peace in Ukraine and elsewhere

Along with so many other peace groups, antiwar organisers, and disarmament activists from around the globe, WILPF has been taking a stance against war and for peace, diplomacy, and disarmament in Ukraine and everywhere. 

As part of the campaign #NoMoreWars, WILPF has published a series of articles providing root cause analysis of the war in Ukraine and advocating for de-escalation and peace. The articles warn against a new arms race and “militarised solidarity,” but the authors also illuminate paths out of the war machine and the risks of nuclear war. As RCW’s Ray Acheson notes, “We need to … use financial resources and human ingenuity for disarmament, for providing for people everywhere—education, housing, food security, and overall care and well-being—and for confronting the climate crisis.”

There are too many activities happening at the moment to list them all here, but to name just a few of WILPF’s contributions to the global peace calls: WILPF’s Secretary-General published an open letter to the UN Security Council while RCW live-Tweeted and reported on an emergency session, organised by the UN General Assembly to respond to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine from 28 February to 2 March. Moreover, WILPFers all over the world have taken to the streets, condemning Putin’s war, and urging for de-escalation and diplomacy. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of which WILPF is a steering group member, has been working hard to raise awareness about the threat of nuclear war, issuing statements and speaking to media, amongst others.

We are finding hope in all those organising locally, nationally, and globally, with rallies, petitions, statements, webinars, direct actions, advocacy with political leaders, and countless gestures of solidarity with those fleeing war. 
Image: International Queers Against Nukes in New York City saying no to war and nuclear weapons. Photo credit: Seth Sheldon

Recent and upcoming disarmament meetings

UN talks on killer robots

The first session of the 2022 round of talks on autonomous weapon systems took place from 7–11 March in Geneva. RCW monitored and reported on the discussions as much as possible given its format. After years of talk and no action, it is clear that an urgently needed treaty on autonomous weapons will not be achieved through this forum. 

The meeting was hijacked by the Russian government, which refused to allow the meeting to function in a formal mode. Arguing that its delegation was being “discriminated against”—because it was more difficult for its experts to travel from Moscow to Geneva under the sanctions imposed in response to its illegal invasion of and war against Ukraine—the Russian government wasted two of the GGE’s five days, and then only permitted substantive discussions to begin in informal mode without webcasting. This meant there was limited transparency and accessibility for civil society and other delegates that could not travel to Geneva due to the pandemic, war, climate crisis, economic inequalities, or other reasons. Once in informal mode, states discussed various proposals by different states or groups of states about possible outputs from the GGE.

We will continue to work with Stop Killer Robots to mobilise against these weapons globally! Autonomous weapons will not solve the problem of war; they will make it much worse.

Cyber meetings 

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, in an in-person format. Although the participation modalities for civil society continue to be unresolved and a point of dispute among states, RCW is intending to cover the session through its Cyber Peace & Security Monitor and contribute to the informal meetings for non-stakeholders. More information on the OEWG II, including documents, statements, and working papers, are on the RCW website

Consultations for a political declaration to stop explosive weapons in towns and cities

After various COVID-19-related postponements to hold consultations on a political declaration on explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA), new dates for the next round of meetings are confirmed: states and civil society organisations will meet from 6–8 April at the United Nations in Geneva. Ireland, which has led the process since 2019, is working to see that the meeting can be followed remotely.

This next round of consultations are intended to revise the draft political declaration to prevent humanitarian harm from the use of EWIPA, the urgency of which is very clear as towns, cities, and civilians in multiple conflicts continue to be unlawfully targeted. The latest version of the political declaration is available on RCW’s website, and RCW will participate in and report from the meeting. 

Second round of Arms Trade Treaty meetings

The second 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 26–29 April 2022. Meeting modalities are to be confirmed. RCW will be posting documents, statements, and video recordings of all sessions on its website.

10th NPT Review Conference: New dates confirmed

After various COVID-19 related postponements, states parties to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have finalised new dates for the Tenth Review Conference. It will be held from 1-26 August 2022 in New York. Details about accreditation, side events, and other civil society participation matters, will be provided at a later stage.

Amidst escalating tensions between nuclear-armed states and their allies, this meeting will be a crucial opportunity to mobilise against nuclear weapons and for diplomacy and peace.

+++Please reach out to the RCW team at disarm(at)wilpf.org if you are interested to learn more about any of the above meetings, and/or would like to participate!+++

WILPF advocates for disarmament and demilitarisation at this year’s Commission on the Status of Women 

The 66th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) is currently underway until 25 March in hybrid form in New York. This year’s priority theme is gender equality in the context of climate change. As every year, WILPF is participating actively in the meetings, advocating for demilitarisation and disarmament as key to achieving gender equality amidst an ecological crisis. As part of our advocacy efforts, WILPF submitted a written statement on how militarism and armed conflict harm the environment, and, in turn, impact women's rights and human rights more broadly. Both the WILPF Secretariat as well as WILPF Sections are hosting many parallel events on topics such as (de)militarisation, gender and climate justice; or the gendered environmental impacts of conflict. For a full overview of all events, and information on registration, please see here. With negotiations for an outcome document underway, WILPF continues to reiterate our calls for demilitarisation, decolonisation and degrowth, as laid out in a joint paper with the Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS). 

New UN human rights report examines links between youth and firearms

The  UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has presented to the 49th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), taking place this month, a report “Impact of the civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms by children and youth

The   analysis   in   the   report   shows   several   of   the   ways   in   which   firearms negatively impact a wide range of human rights of children and youth. The   report   offers   a   nuanced   picture   of   the   interconnectedness   of   firearms violence   with   a   range   of   other   considerations,   such   as   differentiated vulnerability   and   impacts,   and   the   various   drivers   of   violence,   including structural issues. It also contains important points about certain concepts of masculinity in the context of youth and firearms, and recommends, amongst others, that states  demonstrate a clear and consistent political commitment to alter the social and cultural patterns of conduct of boys and men that contribute to the trend of firearms deaths being, in raw numbers, overwhelmingly caused by and inflicted upon men, a trend that “is tied to a stereotyped and inherently harmful notion of masculinity which also contributes to gender-based violence and abuse.” The reference to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in the report is a useful reminder to both states and companies that arms producers and dealers have responsibilities to conduct robust human rights due diligence.

WILPF made  a submission for the report last October, which featured inputs from WILPF Sections and partners. 

Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the month

The webinar, “Pursuing global feminist peace,” featuring WILPF’s Ray Acheson and Nela Porobić, in conversation with Emilia Reyes, Wardarina, and Tetet Lauron, is a one-hour feminist deep dive into the current war in Ukraine, and an exploration of structural solutions. The webinar is an episode of the series “Let’s talk economic justice” with the Despise Girls and is hosted by the Campaign of Campaigns. It offers a feminist and anti-war perspectives on the invasion of the Russian government in Ukraine, as well as other ongoing conflicts, from Afghanistan to Yemen, Palestine, and Syria. 

Upcoming events

The humanitarian consequences of urban warfare
21 March, online

Voices from Feminist Theoretical Approaches to WPS and Feminsit Foreign Policy
22 March, online

CSW parallel event: Connecting the dots between militarism and climate justice
23 March, online


Second substantive session of the UN's second Open-ended Working Group (OEWG II) on ICTs
28 March–1 April 2022, New York

Fifth consultations on a political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas
68 April 2022, Geneva

Arms Trade Treaty Working Group & CSP8 Preparatory Meetings
26–29 April, Geneva

Featured news

Illegal invasion of Ukraine continues while international community mobilises for peace 

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, thousands have been killed and more than 2.8 million people have fled the country. Russian military forces have used explosive weapons in cities, towns, and villages, being the leading cause for civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure. The war has already created substantial damage to the environment, and significant risks of radioactivity exist when Ukraine’s nuclear reactors are attacked. Risk of a nuclear war is also rising, with the Russian president’s announcement of raising the alert level of his country’s nuclear forces. 

Russia’s defence ministry spokesperson said that Russian forces had taken full control of all territory in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, while Russian troops are currently about 9 miles from the centre of Kyiv. Talks between Russia and Ukraine are set to resume imminently. While previous talks focused on humanitarian issues, the latest talks aim to achieve a ceasefire, securing Russian troop withdrawals and establishing security guarantees for Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials. 

The majority of the international community condemns Russia’s war on Ukraine. Western countries have imposed sanctions and many have vowed to increase their military expenditure. Peace activists have warned against “militarising solidarity”. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the war and calling for peace, while UN Secretary-General António Guterres declared that “we need peace now,” warning against a global hunger meltdown and UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet urged an immediate halt to Russia’s military action. Anti-war protests are happening around the world, including in Russia, despite grave security risks, while peace organisations condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The cyber dimensions of the war in Ukraine

The digital dimensions of the war on Ukraine have illustrated the increasing role that cyber operations play in international relations and military strategy. In the lead up to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, numerous operations targeting the country’s critical infrastructure occurred.The CyberPeace Institute has been tracking many of these operations and making the link to the societal harms they cause.  . Since the invasion however, the pace of cyber operations has slowed, surprising some experts. This may be owing to Ukraine’s open call to establish a National Cyber Army, which some feel is controversial or raises unique questions in relation to accountability and international law. Meanwhile, sanctions on Russia have led to a withdrawal of many technology companies from the country, which is also occurring as Russian authorities crackdown on free media, and risks further isolating the Russian people.

DPRK launches 9th missile test in 2022, exacerbating tensions

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has fired a single ballistic missile into waters off the east of the Korean Peninsula in March, which is the country's ninth such test of the year. The United States and ten other countries condemned the DPRK’s latest ballistic missile launch and urged the UN Security Council to respond, saying its inaction erodes the credibility of the UN’s most powerful body and undermines global efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The US administration said that two of the recent tests were with a relatively new intercontinental ballistic missile system. Russia said it understands DPRK’s decision to renew frequent missile launches and sees no prerequisites to restart Korea de-nuclearisation talks.

India admits to accidental firing of missile into Pakistan

On 9 March, India accidentally fired a missile into Pakistan. India said this was due to a “technical malfunction” during maintenance. Pakistan's military had said that the "high-speed flying object" had crashed near the eastern city of Mian Channu and its flight path had endangered passenger flights. Nobody was killed in the incident. India has ordered a high-level investigation into the incident. Military experts have in the past warned of the risk of accidents or miscalculations by the nuclear-armed neighbours, which have fought three wars and engaged in numerous smaller armed clashes. 

New data: Global arms trade falls slightly, but imports to Europe, East Asia, and Oceania rise

New data by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) show that the volume of international transfers of major arms in 2017–2021 was 4.6 per cent lower than in 2012–2016, but was 3.9 per cent higher than in 2007–2011. The five largest arms exporters in 2017–2021 were the United States, Russia, France, China and Germany. Together, they accounted for 77 per cent of all arms exports in 2017–2021. South American arms imports have reached their lowest level in 50 years while increasing or continuing high rates of weapons imports were recorded to places like Europe, East Asia, Oceania and the Middle East. From 14 March 2022 SIPRI’s open-access Arms Transfers Database includes updated data on transfers of major arms for 1950–2021, which replaces all previous data on arms transfers published by SIPRI. 

Military spending: Germany to buy F-35 Fighter jets 

Germany plans to buy up to 35 US-made F-35 fighter jets and 15 Eurofighter jets, a parliamentary source, as part of a major push to modernise the armed forces in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In total, Germany committed €100 billion euros to military spending amidst Russia’s invasion.

New website allows visitors to explore arms sales patterns to conflict zones

The World Peace Foundation has launched a new website that presents a series of interactive graphics, enabling visitors to explore answers to the question, who arms war? Based on Sam Perlo-Freeman’s research that was published as a report last year, “Business as usual: How major weapons exporters arms the world’s conflicts,” the new site allows visitors to explore the key data through graphics presenting sales to 32 conflict zones and overviews of the sales patterns of the top 11 weapons producing countries.

Call for grant proposals to conduct critical nuclear weapons scholarship

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has issued a call for proposals for grants to conduct  and disperse critical nuclear weapons scholarship. Research grants will range from 5’000-10’000 CHF, for a period of up to eight months, and can cover a range of research and publication activities. Deadline for applications is 21 March. See here for more information.

On The Morning You Wake (To the End of the World) launches at SXSW

A new virtual reality (VR) documentary about the dangers of nuclear weapons and the risk of nuclear war premiered at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas in March. The film tells the story of the false missile alert in Hawai’i as a starting point to explore global nuclearism and the urgency of nuclear abolition. Two panel events were also held at SXSW to engage audience members in discussions about nuclear weapons.

Recommended reading

Vincent Intondi, “From Sanford to Hiroshima: Trayvon Martin, nuclear weapons, and the concept of the ‘other’,” Outrider, 22 February 2022

Ray Acheson, “End war, build peace,” WILPF, 1 March 2022

William D. Hartung, “Pathways to Pentagon spending reductions: Removing the obstacles,” Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, 2 March 2022

Branka Marijan, “Guerilla cyberwar can have unintended consequences,” CIGI, 3 March 2022

Carmen Magallón, “Weapons will not save us,” WILPF, 3 March 2022

Andrew Lichterman, The Peace Movement and the Ukraine War: Where to Now? Western States Legal Foundation, 4 March 2022

"Environmental trends in the Ukraine conflict, 10 days in," Conflict and Environment Observatory, 5 March 2022

Nela Porobić, “F*** you and your world order! Voices for peace, freedom, and solidarity,” WILPF, 7 March 2022

William D. Hartung, “War in Ukraine spells bounty for weapons contractors,” Inkstick, 7 March 2022

Backgrounder: Enhanced blast weapons in Ukraine,” Human Rights Watch, 7 March 2022

Katharine A. M. Wright, “A feminist perspective on the Russian-Ukraine war: Implications for NATO,” London School of Economics and Political Science, 8 March 2022

Thalif Deen, “Is World War III a nuclear reality or an empty threat?IDN–InDepthNews, 8 March 2022

Tell the world that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons can never be condoned–a message from Setsuko Therlow to Japanese Prime Minister Kishida,” Peaceboat, 8 March 2022

Wim Zwijnenburg and Roos Boer, "Environment and Conflict Alert Ukraine: A first glimpse of the toxic toll or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine," PAX, 9 March 2022

Cole Smith, “I was a nuclear missile operator. There have been more near-misses than the world knows,The Guardian, 10 March 2022

Ray Acheson, “Opinion: Nuclear weapons put us all at risk. We must abolish them now.Houston Chronicle, 11 March 2022