In a new article on WILPF’s website, RCW’s Ray Acheson observes: “As Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine goes on, Putin’s early warnings about the possible use of nuclear weapons have not faded into the background. Instead, over the past month, it seems that many alleged “experts” and Western mainstream media outlets have been trying to normalise the idea of a nuclear attack. This in turn helps to normalise the possession of nuclear weapons and even the prospect of nuclear war, while also diminishing the experience of those gravely suffering from the bombing of towns and cities with explosive weapons right now. We must refuse to accept this continuum of violence and work to abolish all of it.”
On 22 April it is Earth Day. Let us use this day, and every other day, to work to protect everything that we hold dear, and that could be destroyed in the blink of an eye if nuclear weapons were to be used.
In this edition
- Upcoming disarmament meetings
- Second round of CSP8 preparatory meetings the Arms Trade Treaty
- Upcoming: MSP1 of the nuclear ban treaty
- Upcoming: Small arms meeting in June
- Recently concluded disarmament meetings
- Negotiations for a political declaration on explosive weapons
- UN cyber meeting
- UN talks on killer robots
- RCW publication on drones now available in Arabic!
- New joint WILPF and GENSAC publication looks at masculinities and small arms control
- RCW welcomes a new colleague to the team!
- Gender and Disarmament Database: Recommendation of the month
- Upcoming events
- Featured news
- Recommended reading
The second round of Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Working Group meetings and a preparatory meeting for the Eighth Conference of States Parties (CSP8) will take place in Geneva from 26–29 April. The meeting will take place in a hybrid format, with remote and in-person participation. Let the RCW team know if you would like to follow the discussions (via disarm(a)wilpf.org). RCW will be posting documents, statements, and video recordings of all sessions on its website.
The first meeting of states parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is scheduled to take place from 21–23 June in Vienna, Austria. Austria will also host an international conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons on 20 June. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is planning a civil society forum in advance. If you are planning on joining, please let the RCW team know at disarm(a)wilpf.org. Please note that details about civil society participation at 1MSP have not yet been shared and are subject to developments in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned for details on our website and through ICAN.
As we’re seeing nuclear weapons referenced in the news everywhere amidst Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, we hope that 1MSP can help end nuclear weapons once and for all.
As the antinuclear community prepares for 1MSP, we are welcoming an ever growing number of states parties to the Treaty. The latest addition is Côte d’Ivoire, becoming the 60th state party—and the 11th African state to join. The Treaty will enter into force for Côte d’Ivoire on 21 June 2022– the opening day of the MSP. We also welcome the cities of Modena (Italy), Aghios Dimitrios (Greece), Gavdos (Greece) and Lund (Norway) that have recently joined the ICAN Cities Appeal.
Beyond 1MSP, WILPFers all around the world continue to mobilise against nuclear weapons. WILPF Togo has recently organised awareness raising workshops with civil society, and set up meetings with the Ministry of Security, urging government officials to ratify the TPNW.
WILPF also took part in delivering a petition reflecting public opinion against war and nuclear weapons. The petition was created by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) in collaboration with Avaaz, and was signed by 16 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates along with over 1 million signatures. We delivered the petition to the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs at the UN Headquarters in New York. (Picture credits: WILPF Togo and Suzanne Oosterwijk, UNODA).
The eighth Biennial Meeting of States (BMS8) on the UN Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons is scheduled to take place from 27 June–1 July. Please let the RCW team know (allison.pytlak(a)wilpf.org) if you are a WILPF member and planning to participate in the meeting. The deadline to register is 20 June 2022.
The fourth round of negotiations on the political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas met from 6-8 April in Geneva. Ending the bombing of towns and cities would alleviate much of the immediate and long-term human suffering in armed conflict. Yet some governments continue to try to water down the declaration text, claiming “military necessity” sometimes outweighs humanitarian and environmental harms. Through Reaching Critical Will, WILPF has participated actively in the negotiations as a member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), calling for a strong declaration that puts protection of civilians at the forefront. Statements and written submissions are available on the RCW site, and a report on the latest round of talks has also been published.
States met in New York from 28 March–1 April for the second substantive session of the UN’s open-ended working group on international cyber security. In light of the role that cyber operations have played in the war on Ukraine and ongoing deadlock over the issue of civil society participation in the working group, it was a tense session. WILPF provided oral inputs to two informal consultations for civil society in which we focused on the need to uphold the progress made on gender in the work of the previous group, as well as ideas for how to advance gender-sensitive cyber capacity-building. WILPF reported on the session through its Cyber Peace & Security Monitor and has posted available statements and documents. Currently RCW is preparing a research paper on the proposed cyber programme of action, which will be available in June.
The publication “The humanitarian impact of drones,” originally published in 2017, and updated in 2021, is now also available in Arabic. The study examines various humanitarian impacts of the use of armed drones from a number of different perspectives and regions. With contributions from academics, legal analysts, and survivors of armed drones, this report aims to refocus the debate about drones on the harm caused to people by these weapons as specific technologies of violence. It examines the significant challenges raised by drones to international law, human rights, ethics and morality, peace and security, environmental protection, development, transparency, surveillance, privacy, policing, gender equality, and more.
WILPF and the Gender Equality Network for Small Arms Control (GENSAC) have jointly published a new briefing paper: Men and masculinities in gender-responsive small arms control. Authored by Henri Myrttinen and Mia Schöb, the briefing paper focuses on civilian small arms owners and users. It examines the links between masculinities and small arms in more detail, followed by a discussion of how gender should be integrated into small arms programming. It additionally outlines existing approaches to working on masculinities in the context of small arms, and ends with a series of recommendations.
RCW is very happy to welcome Laura as an Associate to the RCW team! As our previous Associate Katrin is moving on within WILPF as Environment Focal Point, Laura will be supporting WILPF’s advocacy and research on a wide range of disarmament issues, in addition to monitoring and reporting on multilateral disarmament fora. Prior to this new role, Laura had worked with us as a consultant, contributing mainly a project about explosive weapons in populated areas. She has a background in human rights law, having worked with NGOs in Brazil. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the State University of São Paulo and is also currently pursuing the LL.M in International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Laura is based in Geneva, and if you want to say hi, she can be reached at laura.varella(a)wilpf.org.
The publication Feminist human security: Broadening the framework for the interpretation of the resolution 1325 contributes to the debates on feminist human security by providing reflections on how to build feminist peace that places women’s lives and their daily experiences of violence at the centre. Written by WILPF Colombia, the document reflects on the daily experience of insecurity experienced by millions of women in Latin America, amplifying a Colombian feminist perspective in peace building. This publication broadens the view of security by challenging colonial biases and proposing concrete ideas for the construction of sustainable and lasting peace. It challenges an understanding of security that is informed by militarised discourse, promoting the idea that weapons are a solution to disagreements.
26-27 April, Geneva
Arms Trade Treaty Working Group & CSP8 Preparatory Meetings
26–29 April, Geneva
Open-ended Working Group on Conventional Ammunition: First substantive session
23–27 May, New York, USA
Informal consultations of the GGE on autonomous weapon systems
31 May-1 June, Geneva
Global Days of Action on Military Spending
13 April–12 May, global
Global Mobilization to Stop Lockheed Martin
21–28 April, global
Gender-responsive disarmament in policy and practice
25 April, hybrid
Majority of international community condemns nuclear weapons rhetoric amidst Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine
The escalation of nuclear threats amongst nuclear-armed states and their allies has been condemned by several groups from different regions of the world. A group of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates jointly issued an open letter calling for the immediate end of attack on Ukraine and an explicit vow from both Russia and NATO forces that nuclear weapons of any kind will not be used as part of this conflict or any other. Their petition rejecting war and nuclear weapons has already been signed by over 1 million people.
13 states issued a joint statement expressing grave concern at Russian orders to increase the readiness of its nuclear arsenal. Russian President Vladimir Putin had declared that other countries would “face consequences greater than any they have faced in history” if they intervened in its invasion of Ukraine. A Russian Senior politician, Dmitry Medvedev, further said that Moscow’s nuclear doctrine does not require the enemy state to use such weapons first. France’s Foreign Affairs Minister replied to Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons that Putin should “understand that the Atlantic Alliance is a nuclear alliance. I won't say any more".
Arms shipments to Ukraine and use of banned weapons raises concerns
In addition to the nuclear threats, there is an ongoing concern from many organisations about the risk of diversion of current weapons supplied to Ukraine. The amount of conventional arms is increasing, as the United States
authorised an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine (which brings US military assistance to Ukraine to more than $3 billion). The risk of weapons shipments being lost, stolen or otherwise misused is growing as the war in Ukraine enters an uncertain new phase with the offensive in the Donbas region.
The use of cluster munitions and antipersonnel mines with devastating impacts on civilians, has also been observed. Human Rights Watch and others documented Russian use of prohibited cluster munitions starting as early as 24 February in multiple locations in Ukraine. On 2 March, the UK as president of the Convention on Cluster Munitions said it was “gravely concerned,” and many countries have called out Russia for using these weapons. On 29 March, Human Rights Watch accused Russian forces of using banned antipersonnel mines in the eastern Kharkiv region of Ukraine. The mines are outlawed by the 1997 International Mine Ban Treaty due to their indiscriminate effect.
The conflict has already resulted in thousands of casualties and has damaged or destroyed up to 30 per cent of Ukraine's infrastructure at a cost of $100 billion, as stated by a Ukrainian minister.
Revenues from oil and gas projects backed by European and US companies to Russia amounts to $100 billion
Nine European and US fossil fuel companies have paid an estimated $100 billion to Russia following its annexation of Crimea in 2014, according to a study conducted by Global Witness, Greenpeace USA and Oil Change International. Just one company, BP - a British multinational oil and gas company, has paid around $79 billion to Russia, directly fuelling Russia’s ability to wage war. The group argues that these numbers demonstrate that rather than aid the transition to cleaner and more stable energy, US and European oil majors have spent the past decade financing Putin’s regime.
New Ukraine war and disarmament resources page
The Humanitarian Disarmament website has launched a new Ukraine War and Disarmament Resources page to address humanitarian disarmament issues in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The sources include topics such as antipersonnel landmines, the arms trade, cluster munitions, the environment and armed conflict, explosive weapons in populated areas, and nuclear weapons and power plants, as well as general statements condemning the Russian invasion and calling for compliance with international law. The page serves as an important information centre for advocates, journalists, and others interested in humanitarian disarmament issues.
Military exercises in the Korean Peninsula
Later this month, the United States (US) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are set to conduct combined military exercises in the Korean Peninsula. As highlighted by civil society organisations, these provocative military exercises have long been a trigger point for heightened military and political tensions in the region. That is why Korea Peace Now is urging members of the US congress to cosponsor H.R.3446, the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act, in order to support peace and reconciliation instead of military action. Additionally, along with 356 other civil society groups, WILPF has signed a statement calling on the US and the ROK to suspend military exercises and actively pursue a path to peace. The organisations urged the US, the ROK, and the DPRK to take steps towards sincere dialogue and cooperation, not military confrontation and pressure.
European Parliament begins investigation into Pegasus spyware
The European Parliament Committee charged with investigating Pegasus spyware activities began its work 19 April, looking into numerous cases, including accusations of spying against Hungary, Poland, and Greece. The software, created by the Israeli company NSO and sold exclusively to governments, penetrates devices to read texts, listen to calls and activate their microphones. A new investigation led by Citizen Lab, a leading Canadian research group, says the Spanish authorities are most likely behind the spyware attack that took place between 2017 and 2020, which is believed to have cost hundreds of millions of euros.
Yemen’s warring parties agree to two-month truce
In early April, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg announced that the parties to the conflict had agreed, for the first time since 2016, to halt offensive military operations inside Yemen and across its borders for two months. This comes as in early 2022, the country had seen intensified violence through air strikes and the use of drones and missiles.
US approves $1 billion arms sale to Nigeria despite human rights record
The US State Department announced the approval of a $997 million sale of 24 Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters and related equipment to Nigeria. The sale is seen as problematic by civil society organisations because Nigeria’s security forces have long been accused of human rights violations. Due to these concerns, the US had previously suspended arms transfer to the country, but resumed under the previous US administration and the current administration seems to continue this policy.
Canadian government has new contract with Lockheed Martin
On 19 April the Canadian government announced that Lockheed Martin's F35–a system designed to carry out aggressive bombing missions alongside US and NATO allies–had been selected for the CAD $19 billion contract for 88 new fighter jets. Civil society organisations argue that the choice of the F35 indicates a fundamental rejection of the Canadian government's stated commitment to act as a peacekeeping country promoting global stability, and instead lays out a clear intention to carry out wars of aggression. You can learn more about the #NoNewFighterJets campaign.
Join in the Global Mobilisation to #StopLockheedMartin
The Global Mobilisation to #StopLockheedMartin is inviting individuals and organisations everywhere to organise protests in their towns and cities on 21 April, the same day that Lockheed Martin holds its Annual General Meeting. Individuals can sign the petition at stoplockheedmartin.com, which will be delivered to Lockheed Martin's headquarters and various other Lockheed Martin locations as part of the Global Mobilisation to #StopLockheedMartin.
The Moruroa Files win the 2022 Sigma Award
The Moruroa Files, an investigation into French nuclear tests in the Pacific, has won the 2022 Sigma Award for Data Journalism. The initiative’s objective was to fill in the missing pages of France’s history of nuclear weapons tests in Polynesia. A collective of researchers analysed around 2,000 documents from the French defence ministry. The interactive platform, created as a result of the research, includes information that has been hidden from public debate by the French authorities for five decades.
#NoWar2022: Resistance & Regeneration
Registrations are now open to #NoWar2022: Resistance & Regeneration, the World BEYOND War's virtual global conference that will take place from 8–10 July. The event seeks to explore what the alternative to war and violence can look like by highlighting unique stories of change-making around the world that challenge the structural causes of war and militarism. The schedule of the meetings can be accessed here.
Antiwar and climate change activists in NYC demand No War, No Warming
As part of a series of actions this month, climate activists rallied and marched in New York City on 18 April against investments in nuclear weapons, militarism, and fossil fuels. The group marked Tax Day with the "No Wars, No Warming" demonstration outside a federal building in NYC , demanding that tax money should stop being used to fund endless wars and environmental destruction.
María del Vigo Fernández y Elena Couceiro Arroyo, “Destruyamos las armas, salvemos el planeta,” WILPF Spain, 2022
Anne-Séverine Fabre, Gian Giezendanner, Paul Holtom, and Emilia Dungel, “At whose risk? Understanding states parties’ implementation of Arms Trade Treaty gender-based violence provisions,” Small Arms Survey, March 2022
Mark Akkerman et al., “Fanning the flames: How the European Union is fuelling a new arms race,” European Network Against Armstrade (ENAAT) and Transnational Institute (TNI), March 2022
“Ending corporate impunity: The way forward is a bold, gender-responsive international treaty,” Feminists for a Binding Treaty, 14 March 2022
Webinar: “Gendered environmental impact of conflict: Perspectives from front-line women activists,” PAX and WILPF, 15 March 2022
Hana Salma and Emma Bjertén-Günther, “How weapons and ammunition management can enhance Women, Peace and Security,” The Global Observatory, 17 March 2022
Rebecca H. Hogue, “Nuclear normalising and Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner’s “Dome Poem”,” Amerasia Journal, 22 March 2022
Video: “Testimonies of Japanese fishermen affected by nuclear testing in the Pacific,” Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World, 24 March 2022
“VR for Good: Documentary ‘On the Morning You Wake’ Brings Nuclear Awareness to Quest 2,” Oculus, 24 March 2022
“Nuclear Weapons Ban Monitor 2021,” Norwegian People’s Aid, March 2022
“Disarm, defund, dismantle: Police abolition in Canada,” Shiri Pasternak, Kevin Walby and Abby Stadnyk (eds.), 4 April 2022
Doug Weir and Henrike Schulte, "Do mention the war: Why conservation NGOs must speak out on biodiversity and conflicts," Conflict and Environment Observatory, 11 April 2022
Webinar: Towards a more peaceful and stable world: Countering global militarisation and armament,” The Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, 13 April 2022
Jan Jirát, “Wir müssen der Waffenindustrie das Geld entziehen,” WOZ, 14 April 2022
Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, “Statement of the Ukrainian pacifist movement against perpetuation of war,” World Beyond War, 17 April 2022
Tomaso Falchetta, Deborah Brown and Katitza Rodriguez, “Opening stages in UN cybercrime treaty talks reflect human rights risks,” Just Security, 18 April 2022
Ray Acheson, “Don’t normalise nuclear weapons and war—abolish them,” WILPF, 19 April 2022